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Posts from the ‘Art’ Category

“Remember Nature” – a worldwide call by Gustav Metzger

4 November 2015

A WORLDWIDE CALL BY GUSTAV METZGER FOR A DAY OF ACTION TO REMEMBER NATURE

THIS APPEAL IS FOR THE WIDEST POSSIBLE PARTICIPATION from the WORLD OF THE ARTS

THE AIM IS TO CREATE A MASS MOVEMENT ACROSS THE ARTS to ward off EXTINCTION

“The art, architecture and design world needs to take a stand against the ongoing erasure of species – even where there is little chance of ultimate success. It is our privilege and our duty to be at the forefront of the struggle. There is no choice but to follow the path of ethics into aesthetics. We live in societies suffocating in waste.” Gustav Metzger, 2015.

Our task is to remind people of the richness and complexity in nature; to protect nature as far as we can and by doing so art will enter new territories that are inherently creative, that are primarily for the good of the universe.

What we want to do – what is ahead for us is to bring together the world of the arts – to unite in having a day of art actions covering the entire country. We call those who engage in the arts to participate in a day of mass action, to create a collective artwork to Remember Nature.*

Here is my contribution to the Remember Nature project – a photograph of giant icicles I took in Iceland.

icicle

*Copy taken from the Remember Nature press release.

Ruth Sackner R.I.P.

I was very sad to hear that Ruth Sackner passed away last week. When in Miami last year, I was delighted to receive an invitation to visit Ruth and Marvin Sackner to see their extraordinary Sackner Archive of Visual and Concrete Poetry. It was a phenomenal experience. I remember Ruth was wearing alphabet earrings and an alphabet jacket, and she was especially delighted to show off her walk-in wardrobe containing an enormous collection of fabulous letter-clothes. An article from The Miami Herald is pasted below*. Ruth Sackner R.I.P.

*Ruth Sackner didn’t only collect art. She lived it.

Every inch of the Miami condo she shared with her husband, Marvin, was covered with pieces from their art collection, which was all about words.

“I love living in a museum,” she said a few years ago in a short video about the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry. “In fact when we drive up in our driveway we always say, ‘Home, sweet museum.’”

The collection wasn’t confined to their condo. In 2013, hundreds of pieces from the Sackner collection were put on display at the just-opened Pérez Art Museum Miami in an exhibition called A Human Document: Selections from the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry.

Ruth Sackner, along with her husband, amassed more than 75,000 pieces of word art, making it the largest collection in the world. She died in her sleep Saturday at 79.

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Festival of the Unconscious at The Freud Museum, 24 June – 4 October 2015

The Unconscious Revisited at the Freud Museum

*Exciting things are happening at the Freud Museum London this summer. A century after Sigmund Freud’s revolutionary ideas reached a wider public, his final home, dedicated to preserving his legacy, has invited artists, designers, writers and performers to revisit Freud’s seminal paper The Unconscious (1915)

Using a combination of psychological games, scientific and historical information and engaging displays and workshops, The Festival of the Unconscious will encourage visitors to think and learn about the unconscious mind and how it influences our behaviour.

The Museum will become a strange and mysterious place, where writings, objects and artistic works will offer insights into unconscious experience. Newly commissioned films by animators from Kingston University will weave through the house; sound and video installations by London-based art project Disinformation will occupy the dining room, and an installation by stage designers from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, inspired by the work of cosmologist Carlos Frenk, will spectacularly transform Freud’s study. Visitors can contemplate their own unconscious associations through a personal display developed by Julian Rothenstein, co-author of the best-selling ‘Psychobox’. Finally there will be the unique opportunity of reclining and free-associating on a psychoanalytic couch, in Freud’s bedroom.

Project_imageAn early diagram from Freud’s ‘pre-analytic’ work, showing how the brain protects itself from unpleasant experiences by dissipating stimuli from the outside world.

Artistic contributions include The Dream Collector by Melanie Manchot, a 5-channel synched video and sound installation filmed in Mexico City – on view for the first time in the UK. Collaborative artists Brass Art present a video piece which uses Kinect scanners to capture intimate-scaled performances in the museum with sound composed by Monty Adkins. Other works include ‘the unconscious project’ by art therapists teaching on the MA Art Psychotherapy course at Goldsmiths, University of London, while Sarah Ainslie and Martin Bladh will display works offering modern takes on the ‘Thematic Apperception Test’ and the Rorschach ink blot test.

A season of wide-ranging and imaginative events, conferences and workshops accompany the exhibition. Highlights include Digging the Unconscious, a participatory archaeological dig in Freud’s garden, with performance artistlili Spain on 9 August, and a major interdisciplinary conference with keynote speaker Mark Solms on 26/27 September. You can unlock your unconscious with workshops in drama, poetry and art, while Hip Hop poet Reveal will perform and talk about Freestyle Rap and its relation to unconscious communication.

After the exhibition is over, the Festival events still continue with a major conference jointly organised with the British Journal of Psychotherapy. Mentalization and the Unconscious will take place on 28th November, with keynote speakers Nicola Abel-Hirsch, Catherine Freeman, Jean Knox, and Mary Target. Co-organiser and chair for the day is BJP editor, Ann Scott.

Have you ever done something without knowing why?

Despite the fact that the term is now associated with Freud, the existence of unconscious processes in the mind was recognised long before him. What Freud introduced was the revolutionary notion of a dynamic unconscious, working in a different way from consciousness, with its own kind of logic. He posited a part of the mind in which ideas associated with ‘wishful impulses’, childhood experiences and unacceptable thoughts are hidden from conscious awareness but continue to motivate our behaviour. Starting with his own dreams, he went on to show that the unconscious reveals itself not only in the unexplained symptoms of ‘mental illness’ but in countless manifestations of everyday life.

We laugh at a joke, but we don’t know why. A slip of the tongue reveals an embarrassing thought or a hidden intention. Thoughts come into our head, but where do they come from? We repeat patterns of self-destructive behaviour or plague ourselves with irrational fears. It is as if everything we do or say has a hidden dimension, a sub-text. The discovery of the unconscious means that we are no longer ‘masters in our own house’ – we literally do not know who we are.

In 1915, Freud wrote his paper on The Unconscious, which was an attempt to give scientific account of how the unconscious works. It is not an entirely successful paper, grappling as he is with the ‘unknown’. He makes hypotheses, modifies them, tries again. Freud often finds himself in the position of a cosmologist, trying to give an account of what is in a black hole, or what ‘cold dark matter’ is composed of. They just don’t know. But they know dark matter and black holes exist, obey their own laws and affect the galaxies in which they find themselves.

Freud’s metapsychology may not have the same impact as his captivating case histories or his books on dreams, jokes, and slips of the tongue, but his 1915 paper established ‘the unconscious’ as the principal object of psychoanalysis and the key term of its theory.

The Festival of the Unconscious invites visitors to explore Freud’s challenging idea through talks, performances and a major exhibition. As befits such an elusive concept, most of the works on display are not designed to transmit knowledge, but to evoke something of the visitor’s own unconscious. By engaging with them, we hope visitors may catch a glimpse of a world that is both strange and familiar.

*Information taken from The Freud Museum’s website.

“Pure Tongue” exhibition exploring language, 19 June – 20 August 2015

The Pure Tongue exhibition opens today at Galeria Arsenał and runs until 20 August 2016. Artists in the show include Piotr Bosacki and Érik Bullot, whose artworks have previously been shown at PoetryFilm events. Information taken from the gallery’s website is below.

From 19 June 2015 to 20 August 2015
Opening: 18:00
Curator: Agata Chinowska
Place: Galeria Arsenał, ul. A. Mickiewicza 2, Białystok
Artists: Ad manum (Anna Koźbiel / Adam Walas), Piotr Bosacki, Érik Bullot, Ex-artists’ collective (Anikó Loránt / Tamás Kaszás), Ferenc Gróf, Little Warsaw, Małgorzata Niedzielko, Paulina Ołowska, Daniel Salomon, Slavs and Tatars, Société Réaliste

The point of departure for the Pure Tongue exhibition is Ludwik Zamenhof’s thought and his concept of a neutral platform of communication which would lead to cultural and ethnic divisions being overcome. His experience first from multilingual Białystok, then from multicultural Warsaw and, most of all, the situation of the Jewish diaspora motivated him to develop new social ideas whose final result was a universal international language. The first idea Zamenhof formed was Hillelism, involving reduction of social and mental differences between Jews and other European societies. Zamenhof believed that it took a universal language for the Jewish nation to peacefully coexist with others. As he worked on, Zamenhof’s premises became more general, now relating to all people, and the modified concept was termed Homaranismo. Agnieszka Jagodzińska wrote: “Zamenhof went down the road from Jewish particularism to all-encompassing universalism”[1]. Even though Zamenhof is best known as the originator of Esperanto, his ideas reached far beyond the linguistic field, including social, political and religious matters. First and foremost, Zamenhof was the precursor of multiculturalism and he wanted Esperanto to be not only a tool of communication but also a platform facilitating better understanding among nations and, as a consequence, effecting changes in social relations.

The main idea behind numerous attempts at developing a universal (perfect) language was to create a unification tool. The search for a perfect language encouraged a desire to return to a primal (pure) language. This was also the intention of Ludwik Zamenhof – to develop a “pure tongue” (Heb. safa berura) that would create harmony between nations. Walter Benjamin intuitively steered his reflections on translation towards the search for a perfect tongue. In his essay “The Task of the Translator”, he wrote: “Rather, all suprahistorical kinship of languages rests in the intention underlying each language as a  whole – an intention, however, which no single language can attain by itself but which is realized only by the totality of their intentions supplementing each other: pure language.”[2]

One of the main themes of the Pure Tongue exhibition is the myth of the Tower of Babel. The confusion of languages (L. confusio linguarum) that is found in it is regarded as punishment. Therefore, an important point of reference within the context of this exhibition is the reversal of the significance of the myth discussed by Umberto Eco in his book entitledThe Search for the Perfect Language. Eco cites theories suggesting that confusion – synonymous with multiplication or diversity – may be interpreted as a positive phenomenon, whose effects can be, for instance, observed in the development of ethnic bonds and territorial status. This view casts a new light on a wide range of questions pertaining to the politics of language, such as, for instance, the national language versus minority languages, marginalization of minority languages, language as an expression of ethnic identity, determination of one universal language in view of multiculturalism and multiethnicity. These problems seem most topical in an era of European integration. The European Union has decided that official languages of the community are the languages of all the member states. This was done to avoid conflict which would surely arise from introducing an official language that would at once be the language of one of the members (possibly English). It seems likely, however, that further expansion of the UE – and the resulting increase in the number of official languages of the community, will force the Union to choose one international auxiliary language.

The question of an artificial language is also related to the politics of language; developing new languages or eliminating them is also part of this politics. Naturally, politics can transform language to serve its purposes. It is enough to remember totalitarian systems, including e.g. Fascism or Stalinism, whose interference in language was very forceful. Language has always been with those in power. Also, the choice of alphabet, the visual recording of language, was a political and cultural decision, e.g. the choice of the Latin alphabet suggested belonging to a specific cultural region. This led to several linguistic revolutions, as, for instance, Latinization of the Ottoman Turkish language implemented by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Turkey in 1928 or failed attempts to Cyrillicize Polish language in Polish territories under Russian rule in the middle of the 19th century.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states that human thought is determined by language and, as a result, it is language that conditions our perception of the world and state of mind. The thesis that “thinking and language is the same” means that language – to some extent – contains an image of the world. In the light of this concept, changes occurring in language as a consequence of globalization and communication networks (blogs, social services, internet communicators, mobile applications, etc) and related iconography (e.g. emoticons) seem very inspiring. The dominant language here is English – in the state of constant revolution, adopting it to never-ending changes in the grammar of electronic communication.

To sum up, the Pure Tongue exhibition centers on the question of universal communication; it explores the reasons for the desire to achieve it, the motivations behind creating artificial tools of communication in its various forms, including language, alphabet, lettering, or codes, e.g. the Morse code. Inspired by Ludwik Zamenhof’s ideas, it analyses his concepts within the context of current phenomena, both linguistic as well as political or national ones.

Agata Chinowska

translated by Monika Ujma

[1] Agnieszka Jagodzińska, Ludwik Zamenhof wobec kwestii żydowskiej, Kraków – Budapeszt 2012.

[2]Walter Benjamin, The Task of the Translator [first printed as introduction to a Baudelaire translation, 1923], in Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn; ed. & intro. Hannah Arendt (NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich 1968), pp. 69-82.

 

Eye-Tracking: “Drawing With My Eyes” exhibition by Graham Fink at Riflemaker Gallery

Visitors will experience for the first time the creation of images using ‘Eye-Tracking’. The artist Graham Fink will be ‘drawing’ live, using neither hand nor any instrument, other than his eyes. As he directs his own eye movement, lines appear on the page. He will achieve this with the help of software he developed in conjunction with Tobii Technology in China – specifically a Tobii ‘eye-tracker’. The technology works by shining infra-red light directly into the eyes. The reflections are recorded by a camera through multi-algorithms and filters which allow eye movement to immediately be translated to a screen.

Graham Fink     Graham Fink

Graham Fink writes:
I have been preoccupied with faces since childhood. I see them in rocks, clouds, cracks in walls – images I see in my mind’s eye. These ongoing ‘eye drawings’ can now be brought to life without art materials, paint, pencil or brushes. What I see I can draw directly onto a blank background, in this case a computer screen, using only my eyes. 

I draw the lines in my mind’s eye and that is what develops. Sooner or later a face appears. 
I work with this trusting my unconscious. The lines appear like digital markings. 

About Tobii
Tobii is the world leader in eye-tracking, where all technology works in harmony with natural human behaviour. Tobii has transformed research in many fields and enabled communication for thousands of people with special needs.
www.tobii.com *

*Copy taken from the publicity material on the Riflemaker website.

“KISS ME” 900 year-old Viking code deciphered for Valentine’s Day

A 900 year-old runic code used by ancient Vikings has been cracked for the first time, revealing a simple message: ‘Kiss me!’.KISS ME

The jötunvillur code has baffled experts for years as one of the many ciphers that were used to exchange love notes and boasts.

K. Jonas Nordby, a runeologist from the University of Oslo, was able to crack the puzzle of the jötunvillur code after he noticed that two individuals had signed their names on a piece of wood both in code and in the regular runic alphabet. He says that the message is typical of the light-hearted use of runes at the time.

“The code gives many possible readings when deciphered and so cannot have been used for ordinary communication,” Nordby told The Independent. “Therefore I believe it is a kind of playful writing practice that was used to learn the names of the runes and their sound values.”

Nordby says that the exchange of these brief runic messages was a common part of Scandinavian Viking and Medieval society, and that the missives – carved mostly into wood and bone – could be used for anything from love-notes to receipts.

Runes are not a language, but an Old Germanic alphabet that is thought to have been developed some time in the first century CE. Although only nine examples of the jötunvillur code have been found, Nordby says that there are other ciphers that are more common.

An example of the more elaborate rune codes where the text has been written using the hairs of the beards.

Credit: Aslak Liestol/Museum of Cultural History

“Rune sticks and bone was used for all kinds of everyday messages and writing practice,” says Nordby, “And there are lots of ordinary runic inscriptions from the 1100s to 1300s with romantic messages. One examples reads: ‘So much do I love another man’s woman that the wide mountains shiver. Wonderful ring-woman! We love each other so much that the earth explodes!’”

Sometimes, the playfulness of these codes even strayed into the pictorial, with the vertical ‘staves’ and diagonal ‘branches’ of the runic alphabet woven into doodles including faces with beards and the fins of fish.

Runes were used across Northern Europe including England until around 1000 (the use continued in Scandinavia until the 15th Century) and there was obviously some prestige associated with their use. One example from the Orkney Islands reads more like a piece of graffiti, boasting “These runes were carved by the most rune-literate man west of the sea”.

Nordby’s work has been enthusiastically received by the academic community, with Henrik Williams, an expert on runes from Uppsala University, hailing the discovery as “pure detective work”.

“Above all, it helps us understand that there were more codes than we were aware of. Each runic inscription we interpret raises our hopes of soon being able to read more,” he told Science Nordic.

Williams also agrees that in the case of the jötunvillur code it’s likely that the runes were being used as part of the learning process. “They challenged the reader, demonstrated skills, and testify to a joy in reading and writing,” he said.  “But personally I think jötunvillur is an idiotic code, because whoever made it chose a system that is so hard to interpret.”

Article by James Vincent in The Independent published in February 2015

Happy National Libraries Day 2015

To mark the occasion of National Libraries Day 2015, here is a photograph of the Librairie Sound Art at Le Bon Acceuil sound art gallery in Rennes, France, taken in October 2014.

IMG_2991