26. Responses, musings, sausages and paintings

It’s been a while.

The work created over the last there years was zipped up,  put away for a while – to suffocate (or breathe?) in its own threads. Needing time to rest. To be seen with fresh eyes and ideas. To unravel. What I didn’t want to happen is for these pieces to become foreign or forgotten. Just to hibernate and not be bleached by the sun.

And so came a battle of momentum, a flirt with writing (submission of a short story), a jittery obsession with vinyl records – perhaps a pursuit for authenticity/quality, tactile motion, visible tracks; visible lines…Contemplation of ideas…Lots of reading – including Mann’s Magic Mountain

The body as a curse / the tie that binds the mind and the physical body, to nature as ‘a debasement  and curse.’…’beasts of the Milky Way’ … ‘Inner and outer lost their foundation’ … ‘Cosmic monsters of flesh and bone…formed from the solar system.’ … ‘City of cells’… Life s ‘only an infection – disease of matter.’ …

This piece (my first digital drawing)…

Mechanical cosmos

Words I never knew, before reading: Story of Your Life by Ted Chaing…

Semasiographic writing = writing with signs

Semagram = corresponding to a written word in human languages

Logogram = graphs representing a spoken word or phrase.

Life follows an unknown rhythm.

Life as instrument that can be tuned to understand the rhythm.

‘It seems to me that before a man tries to express anything to the world he must recognise in himself an individual, a new one, very different from the others.’ (Robert Henri, The Art Spirit)

Experiments with text:

an element of dream something fluid indeed, here in one room quite dissolved, fragmentary cages scattered in a spiral detached from us.

The image in other nests which for instance migrate in an empty shell. Metamorphosis of their kind should have been credited with such powers.

Underlined words in this short sentence. While reading their own nests the heart of a dream.

Monday 13th August:

Head is caving in. Sun is in and out. Rain is down and out.

First idea for Malmesbury show (The Past Is a Foreign Country) – A response to old work…

Inhale your old self

Cut it up and let it go

(Grizzly Bear, lyrics from Cut-Out)

After much musing –  final idea for exhibition…

Beyond the Trajectory, Pencil, graphite and pen on paper. 2017

Text for exhibition:

The light that swallowed a world –

You are indeed a long time dying. Once again I try to make sense of this moment – discover some truth in this incriminating artifact. I know it is beyond us. It is beyond temporal boundaries. It is within those divergent edges. Unbound transient shifting like memory. To achieve some focus you must avert your vision – like looking at a star. I recall you once told me in a dream: ‘it’s all in the stars’. As I reconsider to reconfigure within this digital pixilation I find the focus – almost by accident. Moving under the action of given forces. A copy of a copy…Dismantled transformed into marks the trajectories become clear. Lines that meet just short of infinity. Abstracting magnifying the optical phenomena. The rails the wheels become liquid metal. Time matter dissolves as the light swallows the world.

Quote from Tom McCarthy’s novel Satin Island:

When oil spills Earth opens its archives…That it takes the form of vinyl when it hardens is no chance occurrence; what those men in body suits on beaches should be doing is not brushing it away but lowering a needle to its furrows and replaying it all, and amplifying it all the while to boot..up and up…’

Inspired by music, waking past the meadow; listening to Moin…

Vegetation takeover…

‘Artists should accept the flow as it comes.’ (Cy Twombly)

Prague is a very theatrical city. It has many aspects. Sprawling underground networks – Do they all link up? – Olfactory senses are pummeled: from candy to sewer, cinnamon to sausages. There is beauty amongst the madness; space within the labyrinth.

Existence between two lifeless infinities.

According to John Latham, everything in nature, from objects to mental images and cosmological phenomena, can be explained in terms of ‘event structure’…’repeated departures from a state of nothingness, whose resulting patterns form the fabric of reality.’

‘Matter is merely mind deadened by the development of habit.’ (Pierce)

‘Giant whispers in colour’ ( A great quote describing Rothko’s paintings in the documentary film: Rothko Rooms)

There is a man I see most mornings whilst taking the kids to school. He is walking his kids too, in the opposite direction – to the other school. We smile at each other, sometimes manage a mumbled ‘hello’. After having dropped the kids off I often see him again on our returns. Like me, he is wearing headphones. Once again we acknowledge one another, nothing more. Today I had this thought: perhaps as we pass each other, our music is the same and completely in sync. of course, we shall never know.

In preparation for the Jam Factory exhibition I decide to create another piece – An amalgamation of sorts, combining the spaces/floor plans mapped out from a couple of David Lynch’s films…All made with graphite and pencil on fabric…

The need to paint has infiltrated my system, much like the killer virus. I feel the need to replenish my palette. Allow meanings to come through process.

First painting for some time…


Jam Factory Exhibition, Oxford (November 23rd 2017 – 8th January 2018)


Before and After Lines Exhibition Poster 2lowThis will be a group exhibition showcasing the art work of two recent graduates and two former tutors of the Oxford Brookes/Swindon College MA Fine Art Drawing course.

Private view is Thursday 23rd 6-8 pm. Feel free to drop by. Failing that, grab a great coffee and wonder on through to the Boiler Room Gallery some time before the beginning of next year.

25. Mental Wireless: Coded Language from a Psychic Realm?

In Jean Cocteau’s film Orphée (1950) the title character listens obsessively to the car radio as it emits strange other-worldly messages, seemingly embedded with a poetic code.


These coded transmissions sound as if they are coming from another realm, perhaps an in-between place – like the electrical malfunctions and audio anomalies in Lynch’s films – a bridge between separate realities.

There is a communication here…some kind of telepathy coming from another realm, beaming mysterious signals across the airwaves…

It feels apt that I have begun delving into the book Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain (1970) recommended by the illustrator and former tutor of mine – Geoff Grandfield. Though it appears to be a highly readable and addictive book from beginning to end, it does feel necessary to dive in and out of different sections. Perhaps it’s just my impatience to get to the weightier parts, the lure of such chapter titles as: Inner and Outer Space, Time – a New Frontier of the Mind, Artificial Reincarnation…

These ideas…Time as a form of energy, patterns of an unknown energy, time as appearing immediately everywhere…’Time links us all and all things in the universe’ (Ostrander/Schroeder, 162)… thoughts changing the density (or perhaps destiny!) of time…

I can’t help but think of Borges’ short stories and Flann O’Brien’s Third Policeman.

Possible titles: Transmission I

What reflects between two mirrors?

 Reading about how telepathy flows more freely in outer space, I think again about Tarkovsky’s film Solaris (1972), based on Stanislaw Lem’s book of the same name…, particularly the ocean.

I have been working on this…


Transmission I


Notes from two exhibitions – Paolozzi at the Whitechapel / Latham at the Serpentine:

Both had a strong sense of decoding through deconstruction. In Paolozzi’s work I could see this coded language of symbols and interchangeable shapes. Both seem to be creating a new language. Latham attempts to decode the bigger picture: the mechanics of the universe…both artists reveled in different media, crossing boundaries. 

… viewing the manifestation of a different (higher) level of thinking…

Lines of connection in the universe

(quasi-) scientific/forensic

…Like circuit boards…

…Morse code…

…Detritus of an abandoned world…


Images from the Eduardo Paolozzi exhibition at the Whitechapel gallery, London – March 2017…

Paolozzi2  Paolozzi3


Images from A World View: John Latham exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, London – March 2017…




And what follows is a process of deconstruction and reassembly – Making art like music. Extracting to create a pulsing coded message…—






A folding of the fabric…






‘Fusing the exploration of inner space with the exploration of outer space’ (Ostrander/Schroeder, 87)



ZoneTest7PrintThe Zone is thus not a purely mental fantasmatic space in which one encounters (or onto which one projects) the truth about oneself, but (like Solaris in Lem’s novel) the material presence, the Real of an absolute Otherness incompatible with the rules and laws of our universe…reducing/retranslating the encounter with the Thing to the “inner journey” towards one’s Truth. (http://www.lacan.com/zizekthing.htm)





Ostrander,S & Schroeder, L (1970) Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain Bantam Books


24. Zones of Interpretation

Plans taken from the mappings of Kafka’s The Trial (1925) are layered, creating a palimpsestic state where all spaces are experienced simultaneously within ‘a vast network…an ocean of possibilities.” (D. Lynch’s Inland Empire (2007))


Pencil on layers of tracing paper



Scaling up and printing reveal the glitches, ravaged textures and determined shadows under a forensic microscope…







This process of interpreting…







Constructing a 3D interpretation of Kafka ‘floor plan’…


Beginning to translate onto fabric…



Portrait of K. (detail)

Interesting when folded….

Accumulates meaning…

Folding of the fabric (time and space)


Portrait of K. (detail folded)



‘No one here has ever come back the same way.’

‘There’s no going straight here…things change here every minute.’ (Quotes from Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979))



Tracking the Zone (detail)

“И небо раскололось, как свиток, когда оно свернулось “

(“And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up”)




23. Architecture of Consciousness

‘Architecture is the first manifestation of man creating his own universe’ (Le Corbusier)

‘When the map covers the whole territory something like the principle of reality disappears.’ (Baudrillard)

img_2269webUntitled, Pencil on paper, 2017

From past readings of Baudrillard’s writings, it is his thoughts on the ‘dematerialization of the real’, a reality that ‘no more exists outside than inside the artificial perimeter’ (Baudrillard, 1981) that continue to resonate. The notion of perimeter in this case could be seen to contain the studio, stage, fictitious worlds or imagination. Beyond that: the internet. In any case the spaces/places being created are environments that operate within their own internal logic. Illogical worlds that are mapped from the spaces and architecture within Kafka’s The Trial (1925) and the films of David Lynch. In both cases (Kafka and Lynch) the spaces and architecture appear to reflect the psychology and or consciousness of the protagonist, creating a psychogeography of internal spaces that are inherently fluid (or at times both fixed and fluid), disorientating and ambiguous. Physical boundaries are in flux. For example, in Kafka’s novel there is a ‘clear delineation between the two sides of the door that creates instead a space within a door’ (Auerbach, D 2011), a space where K. becomes trapped. Both Kafka’s and Lynch’s architectures are clearly controlled by external forces, prone to spatial anxiety, disturbance and interference. The author Richard Martin explains how Lynch’s films ‘repeatedly pivot on a single decisive room…a central chamber,’ that are ‘distinct interruptions in the flow of events around them’ (Martin, R 2014), where conventional expectations are being tampered with: portals appear, secret passageways threaten and boundaries lead to nowhere. From this, contradictions arise, such as: Absence (spaces) and Presence (traces), Restrictions and Infinity. Lynch ‘makes room for delineated spaces to create a struggle between the contained and the unlimited, the anxieties of claustrophobia, versus the threats of boundlessness’ (Martin, R 2014)


img_2263webUntitled, Pencil on paper, 2017


Untitled, Ink on paper, 2017

Ultimately, if we pan out, it  becomes clear that it is the authors of these in-between worlds who are the external forces in control here. As one of Tarkovsky’s characters points out with regard to the Zone in the 1979 film Stalker: ‘There’s no such thing as facts, especially here. Here everything has been fabricated by someone.’…’All this is someone’s idiotic invention. Can’t you tell?’ The director’s influence becomes omnipotent. It is I the artist then who becomes the external influence. The act driven by the drawing process, particularly evident in the analogue process of reworking, layering and reconfiguring.

‘The gap between the progressive ideals of modern architecture and the reality of human relations’ (Martin, R 2014)

Hisarligil’s article describes the process of taking a phenomenological approach to architecture where students were asked to create a Kafka museum after reading three Kafka novels. Ultimately  it is realised that Kafka and the text became a ‘phenomenological experience that open up the design process to ‘new possibilities waiting for interpretations’ (Hisarligil, B 2012).

A number of provocative words and phrases (with regard to spaces and places within the text) were enthusiastically highlighted upon reading this illuminating article:






unapproachable places,




non-geometric spaces…

geographical abstraction,

transformable surfaces’.

Hisarligil also alluded to a process of understanding achieved through ‘the fusion of horizons in the dialogue between reader and text, and in the dialogue between reader and text.’ (Hisarligil, B 2012). A pivotal point within the article deals with this process of interpretation. I got to thinking about my own interpretation of the text/film leading to the viewers interpretation of my work.

Author/Directors interpretation of an idea —> My interpretation of text/idea —> Viewers interpretation of my work

By taking a recognisable visual language such as architectural drawing and subverting the conventional structures and symbols I open up the possibilities of new levels of interpretation through a process of deconstruction and a disruption of the grid-like network.

There evolves something of an architectonic palimpsest (a counter-site that Foucalt refers to as a Hetrotopia: ‘a space of illusion that exposes every real space’) where time and space overlap (as in in Lynch’s Inland Empire) both through changing interpretations of ideas and through a history of marks, time and past accumulating.To reinterpret, imagine and create these labyrinthine worlds, these in-between places is to become a forensic of an unfathomable world. This seems apt in a world where the reality of time and space are uncertain and the real infrastructures are at breaking point.

Through considering these spaces as reflective of profound immeasurable and obscure geometries once again brings to mind the graphite drawings of artist Emma McNally and the boundless plotting of unseen, unknown worlds and pulsating patterns. Here too, the grid-like coded structures that appear to underpin much of her work could easily be interpreted as a complex network akin to the digital realm with its noise, errors and glitches.

mcnally1Emma McNally Detail of Choral Fields 7 Graphite on paper


Emma McNally Detail of Choral Fields 8 Graphite on paper

I have come to believe that both Lynch and Kafka are describing a struggle within a false utopia (Josef K.’s trappings within a labyrinth of bureaucracy and Henry’s isolation and anxieties within the industrial machine in Eraserhead). There is however, in Henry’s case, though intermittent,  a creative resistance and defiance of the seduction of the industrial machine through his imagination and visions.

If we consider digital technology as a version of this false utopia, an alternative to consciousness in the ‘form’ of virtual reality that is being offered, are we not ourselves liable to become disconnected from reality, disorientated in an illusory in-between space governed by external forces?

McNally successfully negotiates these ideas that ultimately offers a little positivity…

It leaves us in a stuttering, stammering, flailing place. Unmoored, disoriented, dislocated and – in the digital age – overwhelmed and urgently negotiating the blurred realm between the supposed free play of simulacra and the gravitational drag of representation. But it’s a place that’s not without great potential for generating new conditions for thinking differently. (McNally, E)


Some work in progress…Working on black-out lining (a lucky bargain) ideal for current thoughts on creating a more theatrical, immersive/interactive experience…

img_2277web Untitled (2017) Ink, charcoal pencil & graphite on black-out lining

img_2278webUntitled (2017) Ink, pencil & graphite on black-out lining




Baudrillard, J (1981) Simulacra and Simulation University of Michigan Press

Hisarligi, B, B (2012) Franz Kafka in the Design Studio: A Hermeneutic-Phenomenological Approach to Architectural Design Education iJade Volume 31, Issue 3

October 2012 Pages 256–264

Le Corbusier (1931) Towards A New Architecture J. Rodker

Martin, R  (2014) The Architecture of David Lynch Bloomsbury Academic

Auerbach, D (2011) The Stasis of Spaces in Kafka’s Trial (http://www.waggish.org/2011/the-stasis-of-spaces-in-kafkas-trial/)


22. Full Circle and Beyond

 ‘The work of art…is neither crested nor chosen, but discovered, uncovered, excavated, pre-existing within the artist. A law of nature.’ (Beckett)

img_1824Untitled,  Pencil, Colour pencil, acrylic 2016

As the figures within the compositions begin to distort, writhe and finally fix like glacial statues in a Bacon-esque unreality I break away to create something beyond the confines of the paper.


img_14663D ‘stage’ construction test, Hardboard, card, masking tape, 2016

The process of construction is a fairly crude one, but I know from past experiences of using such methods that the combination of both lighting and (minimal) Photoshop can raise the thing above crudity. Rough edges can be smoothed. This simply adds to the illusion of scale and space. However, because I like to spend as little time fixed to a computer screen I try and keep these anomalies to a minimum.

A couple of the outcomes…test_print1

Untitled, Digital image, 2016


Untitled, Digital image, 2016


I realize the advantage of various viewpoints and as I move around the set, the object itself (including its crudeness) began to intrigue me. I began to wonder what could be happening backstage, what could I see if I looked from different angles? I could, like Lynch, go within and beyond these artificially created walls.

Looking backstage…



From above…


Before I move on it is worth noting here my fascination with James Casebere’s work. These ‘simple and complex table-top models’ create bleakly beautiful worlds, unpeopled yet embedded with the textures of a forgotten presence…casebere

James Casebere, La Alberca (2000-2005)


James Casebere, Garage (2000-2005)


James Casebere, Samara (2006-2008)


From personal journal:

I have to admit: There was a persistent dissatisfaction in what I was creating. This, I know now, was necessary to drive things on.

All structures and environments can be reinterpreted, reconfigured, as in Borges’ writing, where actions and essence are repeated:

‘Kilpatrick was killed in a theatre, but the entire city was a theatre as well, and the actors were legion.’ (Borges, from short story: Theme of the Traitor and the Hero)

Whilst perusing The Guardian’s Saturday Guide I come across an image and a small piece of text about the artist Claire Hentscker and her latest project Shining360. As described on the artist’s website page, Shining 360 is an ‘audio-visual experiment.derived from the physical space within Stanley Kubrick’s film ‘The Shining.’’



Food for thought…I wonder…What about the non-physical spaces? …

After considering the inclusion of diagrammatical drawings within my work I had a lucky find in the Oxfam bookshop. The book is entitled: A J Handbook of Building Enclosure. Exciting stuff.


Something begins to come together. Not that I am immediately aware of this. It is only now that I piece together these findings that it makes sense with regards to a new approach. Tiny shifts in perception and thought move me closer to an idea. Connections are made between seemingly unconnected things.

‘Films are uniquely suited towards addressing paradox, recursiveness, and world-within-worlds.’ (Christopher Nolan)

I know when an idea is potent and meaty: I become obsessed; I have trouble sleeping as ideas push through and the artwork becomes pregnant with potential.

The idea: Mapping out the illusory spaces/places within films, stories, plays etc. those that contain impossible spaces. To depict otherworldly/out of time realms/spaces through the combination of graphic/architectural language with mood/tone/atmosphere, to describe spaces. Consider sound/tone/light

The ‘etc.’ is important as it could be opened up quite a lot.

Subvert the language of architectural floor plans.



I begin a process of observing/tracking/reading whilst mapping spaces within films and book. This arises to greater appreciation of direction and leads to a more immersive experience. Otherwise hidden layers, corners, psychological spaces and cyclic workings are revealed.

On a small scrap of paper is the question: How do I make architectural plans look sinister?

These spaces are all translated into an elevated viewpoint…


All the movies are about strange worlds that you can’t go into unless you build them and film them.’ (David Lynch – http://journalsoncinema.tumblr.com/post/45188557672/briliant-david-lynch-quotes)













There is a book that I’ve been meaning to read since I purchased it on the date of its publication in 2000. The book is House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. I think that the reason I haven’t gotten round to reading it is because of the apparently impenetrable format: It has an unconventional structure and format, unusual layout, footnotes within footnotes, footnotes for footnotes etc. I pick it up and it falls open to a page with this quote, and only this, on one page:

‘Norberg-Schulz asserts: “Architectural space certainly exists independently of the casual perceiver, and has centres and directions of its own.” Focusing on the constructions of any civilization, whether ancient or modern, it is hard to disagree with him. It is only when focusing on Navidson’s house that these assertions begin to blur.’ (Mark Z. Danielewski, 2000)

I think that it could be time to give this book a go.

21. Absence and collaboration

I think that all the art that I create is in some way collaborative. I am obtaining elements from a variety of sources and reconfiguring them, letting these be my guide. It is the unique juxtapositions that make it my own. Though the process is a collaborative one, sometimes psychic, across time. In this sense I think that perhaps all art is in some way collaborative. A collaboration of what has gone before, of time, psyche and history. My story is my own but it is part of the whole, part of a ‘total truth’ and part of the ongoing act of trying to understand the meaning of life (and death?).

‘A precipitating cause – in something unconscious that has joined them.’ Luc Tuymans on his use of source material/images.

The notion of stage design persists, as does the fascination with illusion within an artificially created world.

The structure becomes a façade that contains and leads to transportive, possibly otherworldly spaces. Defying the structure as the structure itself is in a state of collapse.

As I write this, my eldest is sat at the dining room table constructing a walled garden, which in turn contains a secret walled garden within. The secret garden includes a ‘backdrop’ of trees, suggesting that it continues out, whereas the vegetable garden that surrounds has no back drop/scenery.

Once again I am reminded of Lynch’s Inland Empire (2007): the half built wooded facades where Laura Dern’s character becomes lost amongst disturbed layers of reality. Parallels can be made here with Tarkovsky’s film Stalker (1979):

‘The thing about the Zone is that its always subtly reconfiguring itself according to your thoughts and needs.’ (Dyer, 2012)

‘In any magical realm there is always a deeper recess or chamber of more powerful magic.’ (Dyer, 2012)

This kind of space intrigues me. Firstly, I have to consider space…

Space is considered with reference to the stage designs of scenic designer Edward Gordon Craig (http://socks-studio.com/2014/02/15/to-transcend-reality-and-function-as-symbol-stage-design-of-edward-gordon-craig/ ) in a series of sketchbook drawings, using black ink and chalk…

IMG_0802 IMG_0803 IMG_0805

More appropriation within a space using existing images, traced and reconfigured…



Moholy-Nagy – Use of space and appropriation…

In his take on Photomontage, Moholy’s Photoplastics (http://moholy-nagy.org/art/photoplastics/) combined his own photographs and found imagery with drawing to create striking visual compositions. Moholy cut and pasted and drew until a coherent image emerged.

What is evident is flow within an economy of space…


Moholy-Nagy, L. Jealousy Photoplastic, 1925

Entrances and exits…Deaths and births…

Influenced by Moholy and affected by a recent Radiohead track/video (http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/radiohead-release-stunning-daydreaming-video-ahead-of-new-album-20160506 ) and with a strange need to return to using purely pencil/graphite I created this drawing…


Dreamers, Pencil and graphite, 2016

A series of abstract and geometrical paintings and drawings created by the Russian artist artist El Lissitzky (https://monoskop.org/El_Lissitzky) between 1919 and 1927…

Imagine this (PROUN Series) as a minimalist, inter-changing stage set.


El Lissitzky, PROUN 1-C, 1919


El Lissitzky, PROUN The Bridge, 1920

PROUN is understood as the creative construction of form (based on the mastery of space) assisted by economic construction of the applied material…the builder consolidates them all together in his own experimental investigation…https://thecharnelhouse.org/2013/09/16/proun/

A few weeks ago I scrawled the words: Consider emptiness. Move away from complexity towards purity and simplicity.

Just as the scene in space switches to absolute silence, because of course: nothing can be heard in space, so too this happens for a moment in my work. I think that this comes through some kind of absence. The figure has disappeared for a while – it could be forever. Instead I am left with clues, the suggestion that a human presence once existed.

How did I dare to remove this aspect?

Weren’t the figures absent anyway?

That was the point.



Terra Firma Shift,  Pencil and chalk on paper, 2016


Untitled/Unfinished, Pencil and acrylic on paper, 2016

In some way I would like to achieve this in my work…

Swans tunes are built like spiderwebs: delicate enough to blow on, yet surprisingly durable against wind and rain, elegant but dotted with gruesome shapes in a complex, shifting geometry. p://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/21994-the-glowing-man/

…and I am thinking about this…


Yves Tanguy, Palace On Window Rocks, 1942


impossible spaces…impossible stages…