Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rat Installation with Quick-time copy of animation.

Click on this quick-time inserted copy of the animation that was projected on to the rat installation - to view the carpet sequence documented in the two previous blog posts. Don't worry about the strange colour (consider it mould) and the few seconds it takes before the video starts up, the animation does run smoothly and the colours are sound once it runs. The images had to be rescanned to improve the projection quality: the images scanned from books were not that detailed and or defined enough to see the images clearly. The problem, in laymen's  terms, has nothing to do with the quality of the scanned resolution but rather the setting of the scanner; to ensure it reads the image detail and not the structure of the printed image (made up of dots)

The quick-time video provides insight into the carpet sequence and the animated projected images, whilst the projection on the rats installation is being filmed and edited over the next few weeks. I trust you find it interesting and informative.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Rat Installation with still-images of the projected animation.

Rat installation with animated projection as explained below
Ceramic Alumni UJ Exhibition; the end of an era (1966-2010) 
Islamic Prayer rug,
Anatolia 15 -16 century
Here are the first set of images showcasing the rat installation, complete with still-images of the projection, as exhibited at the FADA Gallery as part of the Ceramic Alumni UJ Exhibition - the end of an era (1966-2010). The exhibition was opened last week; follow the link to the Ceramic Alumni UJ Blog - images of the exhibition opening, the work of staff, students and alumni will be posted soon. To gain insight into the conceptual development of the installation, follow the relevant labels provided below (rat installation). A video will be filmed (next week) of the projected installation; to be edited for publication on this blog and relevant media in the near future.
Viewers experiencing the projected rat installation in the gallery
Carpets and textiles; their relevance and significance.
This particular post sheds light on the chosen textiles, their meaning and significance as well as still images of the display in the gallery. For the purpose of the projection, six carpets and or textiles were chosen, based on their cultural and or religious prevalence and or significance in society today.  The first carpet shown above and in projection (the first image) is that of an Islamic prayer rug; representing the impact of Islamic thought on contemporary society's conflicting views on issues of morality and values. 
Detail of textile Britannia; showcasing British colonies (far left is SA).
The second carpet / textile is from the Victoria era and represents the conservative views entrenched by a christian educational system (specific to South Africa and eventually the heresy of apartheid), inherited from being part of the British Empire; Britannia (British Imperial power and dominance). Religious conservatism and its manifestation in our entrenched prejudices towards 'the other', stems from our cultural and historical significant colonial past. The textile was designed by  William Morris.
Rat installation with animated projection referred to below.

The third textile is titled Mountain Splendour and was made by Carolyn Miller, Mc Kenny, in Texas (1996) - image on the left and projected above. The traditional design and title evokes an allegory from that staple of the nineteenth century home library, Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan.The journey refers to the "City of Destruction" ("this world"), to the "Celestial City" ("that which is to come" heaven) - the narrow spiritual road and the highway leading to hell.
Projected rat installation seen from above in the gallery.
Projected images referred to below

The fourth textile represents Catholicism and is represented by an Renaissance commissioned textile titled The Battle The Romaunt of the Rose - details of the iconography is to be incorporated soon.
Cherry Basket animated projection details provided below.

The fifth textile is titled Cherry Basket Fundraiser, made by members of the Sunday School, First Methodist Episcopal Church, Topeka, Kansas, 1883. Woman have long made quilts to raise money for charitable causes such as Indian missions or church building projects. Red and white were favourite collours for fundraising. The beautiful hand-quilted feathers are embellished with dozens of names. each person had to make a donation to have his name included. (Patterns of Progress; Quilts in the machine age; page 102).

Vigknantaka projected image described below.

The sixth textile is taken from a silk tapestry and depicts a Vigknantaka Thangka - tapestry below and projected animation above.
This icon is dominated by the fierce and powerful figure of Vighnantaka, a protective Tantric Buddhist deity who destroys obstacles standing in the way of spiritual enlightenment. He is dark blue in colour, holds a noose in his left hand with his forefinger raised in a menacing gesture, and brandishing a sword in his right hand.Beneath his left foot is the prostrate elephant god, Ganesha, and under his right foot the prone figure of Shiva. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Rat Installation at the Ceramic Alumni UJ Exhibition.

Rat Installation ± 90 rats shaped to form a carpet
Converged in a warlike standoff
I have completed the first of my rat installations. The first installation will consist of ± 90 rats grouped together to form a carpet. Their weapon-like tails forming the carpet tassels at each end, whilst their bodies are either in a submissive prayer like stance and or animated to converge in the middle in warlike fashion (stand-off). 
Afghan war carpets.
The work however will form the backdrop for an animated projection; the chosen images reinforcing the carpet theme. However the battle depicted here (the metaphor), refers to culture wars, based on conflicting cultural values - those values considered traditional and or conservative and those considered progressive and or liberal. At the heart of the battle is our conflicting views on the following issues; abortion, bioethics, drugs, euthanasia, homosexuality, pornography, sex education and sexuality. I have chosen a variety of historically significant textiles, representing various cultural and or religious groupings, to be projected in a personally directed animated sequence, from a projector attached to the ceiling, directly above the rat installation. Tests reveal that the projection should incapsulate the bodies of the rats and reinforce the overriding theme of the ceramic sculptural statement. 
Afghani War Carpets
as cited at English Russia
The following blog entry will document and reveal the significance of each of the chosen carpets.  A video is to be made of the installation; to be featured on this blog and other relevant media. The work will form part of the historic Ceramic Alumni UJ Exhibition, opening this Wednesday 11 August at the FADA Gallery.This exhibition is to celebrate the end of an era in ceramic education at the University of Johannesburg (1966 -2010). Invitation below.
New second ceramic blog titled, Ceramic Alumni UJ.
I have started a second blog with the view to begin to publish it's valuable and significant role in the art, design and craft community. Follow the link above; click on the title of the post, or the link provided directly above; promoting the exhibition.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

African dream machines continued; Divination I, II and III.

Ballpoint pen drawing, Divination III (1998). 
The ceramic sculptures featured here, are the last in the series of sculptures based on African Headrests (Dream machines). The work combines elements of Africa and Asian cultures, in particular the Zen minimalist, Japanese based aesthetic. African headrests typify this aesthetic in it's design sophistication and splendour. The ceramic statements featured below are based on the sculptural forms, shapes and surface decoration of the following african headrest.  
Headrest, wood, pokerwork, 14,6 x 36,3 x 8,2. Swazi/North Nguni,
as cited in the Catalogue Art and Ambiguity; Page 78.
Nettleton Drawing; Headrest Illustration 345.
African headrests and or dream machines. 
The design of the African headrests are best appreciated for their striking, yet simple and sophisticated forms and shapes. The carver's  innovation is best realised in their creative use of positive and negative forms and shapes. Any designer and or individual that appreciates fine design and has style, will acknowledge their unique and creative qualities. They are arguably the finest examples of three dimensional objects, representing our indigenous African cultural heritage. No wonder the researcher Anitra Nettleton, an authoritarian on African Headrests, their style, identity and their meaning, as captured in the publication titled, African Dream Machines chose to render them by hand, rather than photograph the pieces to compliment the text.  
Nettleton Drawing Headrest Illustration 315

These are not just simple sketches, but rather a manifestation of careful observation and passion for her research subject matter (15 years in the making). The drawings were as a result of copyright issues and refusal by museum authorities to photo-document the work in collections. The end result however is truly a remarkable feat, a reflection of her dedication and fascination with the art objects. The drawings aided the research process as explained by the author in the preface, 'The process of drawing then became a tool of analysis as much as it was a means of presenting visual information' (page viii)  They are on par with botanical studies (drawings). Anitra Nettleton, however executed drawings of each and every headrest she encountered. I stand to be corrected, but that adds up to 435 drawings. 
Divination III (1998)Collection Alfio Torrisi (Spain)
Press-moulded with hand built extensions in Porcelain.

This series of ceramic sculptures, Divination I, II and III incorporates a variety of symbols attached to the same headrest (photographed and documented above), referenced for the form of the frame-like structure (see enclosed ball point pen drawings inserted below). This structure forms the unifying element in the series. 

Each ceramic statement is a methaphor for the meaning of life - man's precarious position balanced between the security of the past and the uncertainty of the future. The difference between the works are visible in terms of the various symbols attached to the press-moulded main frame, further enhanced by the choice of clay and surface development options (Porcelain, terra-cotta and high-fired underglaze colours.  

Divination II (1998), (Collection Neil Lovegrove)
Press-moulded with hand built Extension
The ballpoint pen drawing is inspired by the well known image in the woodblock print by the Japanese Artist Hokusai. The image represents a tidal wave, a symbol with a dual expressive function; that of destruction and regeneration. It therefore posses a question amidst great uncertainty; the wave is poised before it releases it's devastation and or regenerative and cleansing force. The symbol takes centre stage in the frame-like structure of the ceramic sculptures above and below.
The gourds on the left form part of divination procedures; these rituals are used throughout Africa to establish the cause of misfortune and to bring about a peaceful social relations and success in various activities and natural processes. Tsonga and Ndau diviners use gourds containing various medicines appropriate for various clients. Each gourd has a long stopper, with the end carved in the shape of a human figure, which is used as an applicator for the medicines during divination. Reference was made to these objects in creating the figureheads for the two ceramic sculptures above and below. 
The drawing on the left is preparatory ball point pen drawings referencing the divination gourds mentioned above, they are symbols of healing for the nation. The pot-like ceramic figure hovers above the individual works; a reminder of our cultural roots, healing, ancestral communication and the need for steadfastness and trust. The headrest structure is a metaphor for great uncertainty in the form and shape of extreme tension - the wave bursting through a narrow and confined space, adds to the unfolding drama.

Divination II (1998),
Press-moulded with hand built extensions;
 terra-cotta clay, stained with tea.
Ballpoint pen drawing for Night Howler III below. 
Night Howler III (1996),
Press moulded with hand built extensions.
Fired to 1250 degrees Celsius