Working title. Corpus.
This page outlines a project proposal for a new production of my sculptural artwork and its resulting touring exhibition.
“Over the millennia in their cultures, humans make an increasing exodus from nature.” [efn_note]Holmes Rolston III ‘Technology Versus Nature: What is Natural?’[/efn_note]
Humanity’s visual impact on the environment has informed much of my recent artwork.[efn_note]For example my year-long Residency at the Centre for Alternative Technology.
And its resulting exhibitions such as ‘New Fangled Spanner‘ [/efn_note]
I question why human nature is estranged from all other forms of nature. [efn_note] Nature, in the broadest sense, is the natural, physical, or material world or universe. “Nature” can refer to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general. The study of nature is a large, if not the only, part of science. Although humans are part of nature, human activity is often understood as a separate category from other natural phenomena. or unnatural phenomena.(from Wikipedia)[/efn_note]
For instance, Is human action alone defined as cultural and deliberated, whereas everything else is natural and spontaneous?
“Nature is opposed to Art, and natural to artificial.” [efn_note]An idea inspired by an essay by Holmes Rolston III in –Technology Versus Nature: What is Natural?[/efn_note]
These ideas inform and shape my art’s appearance. For example I use a machine to effect it’s making and outcome. For that reason my work can have an engineered quality. Likewise it may seem to have functionality and purpose. The sculptures may also resemble a machine or else be toy-like. They can often have an anthropomorphic quality. And may have shapes associated with the human figure. These associations are intentionally ambiguous. They are a meant as a kind of devised hybridity. It is like modelling an Exquisite Corpse.[efn_note]
An example of the surrealist Exquisite Corpse game by Jake Chapman and Dinos Chapman. 2000
[/efn_note] in three dimension. I use this polymorphing (or mimetic) method to imagine, sculpturally a struggle of both natural and artificial forces in opposition.
Themes for this project
This project expands on these ideas within a cosmogonic[efn_note]Theories of the origin of the universe.[/efn_note] metaphor on origin itself. By which I refer to the creation story associated with Adam and Eve’s expulsion from paradise. That story could be said to question or even deny the place of culture in nature. Here I am using that story to influence, in my sculpture the same question in the context of our present circumstances.
Project Source material and inspiration.
The three colour images below show details from a triptych painting known as The Garden of Earthly Delights (c. 1490-1505) by Hieronymus Bosch. This painting, “is popular (today) because we can see surreal images of our own, modern existence in it.” [efn_note] Taken from The Guardian Jan 2017. Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights shows a world waking up to the future[/efn_note]. Its (500 year old) message linking temptation to disaster may be as relevant then as now.[efn_note]eg. From The Guardian. Monday 12th October 2018.
We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN.
A firefighter battles a fire in California. [/efn_note]
Most now see the message of the painting as being a dire “warning of the punishments awaiting all who indulge”.[efn_note]From Bosch:The 5th Centenary Exhibition by Pilar Silva Maroto. [/efn_note] The first and third panels display scenes associated with the innocence of Eden and nature’s revenge in The Last Judgment. However, the second panel continues to divide opinion as to whether it represents a moral warning or a panorama of paradise lost. That panel seems to celebrate human nature[efn_note] Human nature is a bundle of fundamental characteristics—including ways of thinking, feeling, and acting—which humans tend to have naturally. for its own sake.[/efn_note] It is seen by some as Utopian,”..a place filled with the intoxicating air of perfect liberty”.[efn_note]Belting, Hans. Garden of Earthly Delights. Munich: Prestel, 2005[/efn_note]. Others also consider the fall of man in a positive light, noting that it is not worth being innocent if the price is ignorance.[efn_note]In Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series (1995, 1997, 2000), the fall is considered the moment at which human beings achieve self-awareness, knowledge, and freedom.[/efn_note]
As with that painting, this project has a triptych structure representing before, during and after (the fall)[efn_note]The fall of man, or the fall, is a term used in Christianity to describe the transition of the first man and woman from a state of innocent obedience to God to a state of guilty disobedience.[/efn_note].
Source material. Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch
Proposed sequence of Cell structures.
The main structure of this project consists of three groups of sculptures as roughly outlined above. The three part device is important to the relevance of the theme.The actual outcome may differ greatly in detail. An allowance for experimentation and chance to influence the result is essential to my work. For example, the frame structures may be abandoned as being unnecessarily distracting.
Scale and Materials.
- Each of the three cells are approximately 3 metres in height, width and depth.
- The materials used throughout are mainly thought of as being oak. Oak as a material is relevant to the project theme of incorporating a natural material influence. Oak also has a tendency to continue to move, shrink, crack and change and so effect the outcome long after the making is done.Where suitable, I may also use plaster, wax, concrete and paint.
Cell 1. Tree-man.
[one_half]The first cell contains shapes reminiscent of both tree and human anatomy. Such shapes are repeated through history as symbols of forbidden fruit. These plants often have forms which are also anthropomorphic. Often what I like about these grotesques is the aesthetic of an ugly beauty.
Some of the swollen branches or limbs in these drawings is reminiscent of the Dragon Tree.[efn_note]
[/efn_note] shown to the right of Adam in The Garden of Earthy Delights.
The body-like shape is also similar to the seed of a Tamarind tree [efn_note]
[/efn_note], which is thought to symbolise faithfulness.
I love Piccasso’s hideous representation of Franco [efn_note]
[/efn_note] in The Dream and Lie of Franco as a kind of mandrake or tuberous sweet potato.
Cell 1. Variations
Two or more freestanding objects are shown in some of these drawings. These include two main subjects –
Firstly. A large tree like object with a central form resembling the human body and head shape.
Secondly. A more obviously figurative object with arms etc. Suspended and balanced as if able to rotate. One side is male the other female.
The upright figure shown here contains many shapes. Some of which resemble parts of the human anatomy and its associated function. My exaggeration of these shapes is inspired by representations of the body, including the following examples. –
a) Vitruvian Man.[efn_note]
The proportions of the human figure according to the roman architect Vitruvius. As drawn by Leonardo da Vinci.
b) The Large Glass by Marcel Duchamp.[efn_note]
Also known correctly as “The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even”.
In this artwork the artist has compared the act of existence to the mechanics of machines.[/efn_note]This conceptual artwork seems to view of the body as being merely a vessel of mechanical functions.
c) Cortical Homunculus.[efn_note]
A cortical homunculus is a distorted representation of the human body, based on a neurological “map” of the areas and proportions of the human brain dedicated to processing motor functions, or sensory functions, for different parts of the body.[/efn_note]
A grotesque representation of the human body parts and organs as scaled in terms of its sensual priority.
Finally, the third structure repeats some of the shapes displayed in the two previous structures.
In one drawing here the sculpture is fragmented, blackened and fallen. Another variation shows a jagged stump-like shape placed near a figure pierced by many spikes or pins. A third design imagines the shapes in purely sculptural form. And takes the form of a cluster of massive thorn-like objects.
Cell 3. Variations.
This variation considers the contents in purely sculptural abstract form. The resulting objects resemble shards of broken objects or thorns.
I like the idea that art, like science attempts to break things apart to see what is within.