November 14, 2007
Graphing / mapping through drawing / sketching and the artist teacher

Just a little bit more on graphs. Apart from identifying the rise in graphing / mapping in contemporary art (possibly as a result of our new media driven age) my motivation behind the last post was also to identify that graphing / mapping / illustrating ideas through drawing / sketching seems to play a significant part in the practice of artists who teach and use it in their teaching as a method of explanation.

Many artists teach, however not so many manage to integrate their teaching into their practice as an artist (i.e. teaching as an opportunity to all at once perform, discuss and reflect on artistic practice). Instead it serves as a side-line for them, possibly a means of survival but possibly also because it has shared goals with much artistic practice, communication, ideas led, challenging existing orthodoxies etc.

Pedagogical Sketchbook

The following (in no particular order) is a short list of artists who teach and use graphing / mapping / illustrating ideas through drawing / sketching:

  • Josef Beuys and his Blackboards (mentioned in the last post) which then became works or artifacts / documentation to exhibit.
  • Paul Klee and his infamous approach to drawing of “taking a line for a walk”. Klee taught at the Bauhaus and at Dusseldorf Academy. The importance of drawing / sketching is evidenced by Klee’s publication Pedagogical Sketchbook (image above) written from classes he taught at the Bauhaus.
  • John Maeda, this may seem like a strange one but I think drawing / sketching / mark making plays a crucial part of Maeda’s practice. This is clear in much of his work which uses repetition of simple line, texture, pattern, colour etc. and seems to follow through into certainly some of the early part of his teaching, employing Design by Numbers as a means to teach people how to programme visuals. His teaching has also influenced ex students to create Processing which initially carried on this tradition but has developed since.

Design By Numbers

Who have I missed out here?

Posted by: Garrett @ 3:12 pm
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November 7, 2007
Mark Lombardi: Global Networks

Josef Beuys - Untitled (Sun State)

Graphing or mapping networks allows us to visualise the relationship between nodes in the network / points in the graph and how their links are formed. Graphs in art have been around for quite a while, the earliest frequent use I can think of is in the works and lectures of Josef Beuys (image above, Untitled (Sun State), 1974), the works of Conceptual Artists such as Art & Language, Roman Opalka, On Kawara and Minimal Artists such as Sol LeWitt (in subtle ways) although there are probably earlier examples.

Jeremy Deller - The History of the World

An exhibition at The Drawing Center in New York in 2003, which I found the website of as I was following a trail on an unrelated topic, made me aware of Mark Lombardi’s drawings (images below), graphs of political, social or economic structures. These works seem to mark a re-emerging trend within art to use graphs once again (note Jeremy Deller’s, The History of the World which won the Turner Prize in 2004, image above) and are both beautiful enough to rival Edward Tufte’s superb graphing used for communication design and challenging in making us think about how small / closed / inter-connected these structures actually are.

Mark Lombardi - World Finance Corporation and Associates, ca. 1970–84

Mark Lombardi - Gerry Bull, Space Research Corporation, and Armscor of Pretoria, South Africa, ca. 1972–80 (5th Version), 1999

How does this relate back to networked art? Well net.art has been doing this type of graphing / mapping work for years, from conceptual uses such as MTAA’s Simple Net Art Diagram to more complex (technically) works such as Martin Wattenbergs Idea Line and seems highly reminiscent of works such as Josh On and Futurefarmers, They Rule (image below). So perhaps issues and ideas within new media art are now starting to emerge in the more long running contemporary art forms?

Josh On and Futurefarmers - They Rule

Posted by: Garrett @ 2:47 pm
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November 3, 2007
Nocturne

Nocturne

Stunningly beautiful is Jean-Pierre Aubé’s Nocturne (image above, video below), a work for a lighthouse, two photoelectric cells and eight LED’s. The work employs a pre-recorded video of a lighthouse as a trigger for real time sound generation within a space, effectively networking exterior and interior spaces / locations, previous and current time frames.

On the island of Ouessant, France’s westernmost point, the lighthouse of Créac’h protects passing ships against the treacherous Breton coastline. This lighthouse, one of the most powerful in the world, emits 2 light signals every 10 seconds. I began by making a video of the lighthouse at night, from which I derived a 10-second film loop. The light emitted from the lighthouse was then analysed by 2 photoelectric cells glued to a computer screen. When this light reached a certain degree of luminosity, the light sensors would send out a signal to a microcontroller, which would set in motion a series of events. Functioning as a digital console, the computer would receive the data from the microcontroller and create a sweeping sound in step with the rhythm of the lighthouse.

Posted by: Garrett @ 1:07 pm
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