Documentation of SEeAFAR

Foá + Hosea, Carali McCall, Anne Robinson, Sarah Sparkes, Thurle Wright

Folkstone Triennial Fringe 29-31st August 2014
Deptford X 27th September – 5th October 2014

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Curated by Birgitta Hosea

He will not have been (a) present but he will have made a gift by not disappearing without leaving a trace.
(Jacques Derrida in Re-Reading Levinas,1991)

Seeafar features new work by six artists whose practice traces the presence of absence through drawing, painting, installation, performance and moving image. Recalling the perspective of generations of women living in a state of unknowing as they wait for news or the return of loved ones from overseas, the works explore the tensions between anticipation and memory, separation and speculation. The visionary act of making becomes an empowering process that enables each one of us to think things into the world, to reveal the hidden and make manifest the unsaid.

The Old Truckers Lounge, Folkestone Harbour

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Foá + Hosea 
Traion III (Folkestone), Mixed Media (Graphite/pen on paper, projected animation), Dimensions variable (2014)

In the Traion series, Foá + Hosea respond to the myth of the first drawing, in which Butades’s daughter traced the outline of her lover’s shadow on the wall to hold on to his memory before he left on a journey. Foá + Hosea engage with this dilemma – the impossibility of attempting to hold time – through fixing their digital shadows in place with animation. In the title of the series, the words ‘trace’ and ‘motion’ are merged to reference their process of drawing over film, in which evidence of presence and motion is traced.

Artists’ bio: Maryclare Foá draws to examine the relationship and affects between place and practitioner. Her PhD revealed how sound can be drawing that interacts with the environment. She teaches for Central Saint Martins and writes for Studio International. Birgitta Hosea is a media artist working with expanded animation, installation and performance. Her work and PhD explore performativity, presence, affect and digital materiality. She is Course Director of MA Character Animation at CSM. Both artists have exhibited internationally and awards include Foá – RCA Drawing prize and twice shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize and Hosea – MAMA Holographic Arts Award and an Adobe Impact Award. Foá and Hosea work individually and also collaborate. Recent collaborative works have been exhibited in Paris – Dans ma cellule, une silhouette, Centre d’Art Contemporain, La Ferme du Buisson; London – Draw to Perform, ]Performance Space[; DRAFT, Parasol Unit; Bletchley Park – Ghost Station and Orkney – Papay Gyro Nights.

www.maryclarefoa.com
www.birgittahosea.co.uk

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Carali McCall
Work no. 4 (Restraint / Running) Folkestone, Performance to camera (2014)

In an area of performance drawing, which considers drawing to be connected to movement through the act of doing and physical activity, this performance addresses what it means to use the extreme form of physical activity – running. Using (myself) the runner to articulate an understanding of how the body moves through space, I use the ‘breath’ and the discipline of marathon training to explore how the physical act of running can be a viable form of drawing.

Artist’s bio: Carali McCall is an artist working and living in London from Canada. She completed her MFA at Slade School of Art, UCL in 2006 and has recently submitted her practice-based PhD thesis at Central Saint Martins, UAL. Although training for marathons and ultramarathons have always occurred alongside her art practice, it was not until she adopted Euclid’s definition of the line ‘a line is a breadthless length’ and began to explore the role of the body in drawing that McCall has become aware of potential connections between running and drawing. Since studying the influences and the trajectory of performance art practices, her recent work has been used to explore linear properties beyond conventional mark making processes. Recent exhibitions and presentations of work include, Performing Site, Falmouth University 2014, Draw to Perform, Performance Space, London, 2013 and Again and Again and Again: Serial Formats and Repetitive Actions, Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada, 2012.

www.caralimccall.org

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Anne Robinson
Skinny White Sailor, 4-6 x paintings, 30.5cm x 40.5cm, oil on canvas (2014)
Thrashing In the Static, Single screen video, 10 minute loop (2014)

How far is too far? How can we look over the edge, feel our way beyond the horizon, traverse time zones and cross the bounds of one human life? The two new works presented here, paintings in the series Skinny White Sailor and the song-film Thrashing In the Static, involve a haunting – keeping watch in the night for revenant sailors. In Robinson’s song-films the voice becomes spirit presence. In Thrashing In the Static, the wavelengths of a search for a brother lost at sea soar over the edge across time zones – a ‘traveling eye’ crossing from the Thames foreshore in 21st century London, way back to an island in the South China Sea in 1942, a dream terrain, long away and far ago. The work draws on surrealism, phenomenology and radical philosophies of time to work with uncanny presence, the sorcery of long exposures, high speed filming and painterly surface distorting out time sense.

Artist’s bio: Anne Robinson’s practice encompasses painting, moving image installations and performance and is concerned with the perception and politics of time passing in art.  She has shown work nationally and internationally, recently working with the Commonist Gallery and CGTV on film and singing interventions. She completed a residency in 2013 in Marseilles at De Centre der Space. She has published in: The Journal of Visual Arts Practice and The Journal of Media Practice as well as curating One More Time (2011), Over Time (2014) and being one of the art curators for the Supernormal festival. She has recently completed a PhD on temporality and painting and also works with the moving image in collaboration with other artists and as an educator, currently senior lecturer in Film at London Metropolitan University.

annerobinsonartwork.org

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Sarah Sparkes 
The Haunted Sea and Jane Conquest Rings the Bell, Mixed media (2014)

Sarah Sparkes’ great grandfather was a Magic Lanternist. Using his decaying lantern slides and combining these with a magician’s optical effects, the artist has created a series of works illuminating the ambiguous relationship between the woman watching on the shore and the spectre of the shipwreck at sea. In Jane Conquest rings the Bell a standard maritime narrative is re-imagined, in which a visionary woman looks out from behind the helm of destiny.

Artist’s bio: Sarah Sparkes’ work, as both an artist and curator, is primarily concerned with concepts of immateriality and how this might be visualised. She runs the visual arts and cross-disciplinary research project GHost, which explores how ghosts are manifested in visual art and contemporary culture. Her chapter on Ghost has been published in The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures, 2014. Recent exhibitions include Theatrical Dynamics at Torrance Art Museum, Los Angeles; The Infinity Show at NN Contemporary, Northampton and Haunted Landscapes, University of Falmouth, Cornwall. She is currently developing work for the Over Time project in Greenwich, London and is one of the selected artists for Art in Romney Marsh Churches, 2014.

www.sarahsparkes.com

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Thurle Wright
Crossing, Collage (Found map of Dover Strait and two poems by Matthew Arnold; ‘Dover Beach’ and ‘Calais Sands’), 90x100cm, (2012)
Deep Reading (Extract from children’s adventure novel and old school atlas, glue, on paper), 60 x 20″, (2010)

An oily old sea map and pages from a poetry book: the poems in this work are addressed to a woman at the end of her honeymoon travels. The poet, Arnold, speaks to his new wife as he gazes out to sea at night contemplating the future in a mood of great uncertainty and melancholy. In deconstructing the lines of the poems and stitching them in small paper stages across the map, the physical progress of the sea crossing is referenced, flowing alongside the slow unravelling process of reflecting and writing itself. There is a patient stitching of thoughts, not knowing how it will end. The words themselves become waves and currents, caught in that space between leaving and arriving, at the mercy of the tides.

Artist’s Bio: Thurle’s delicate paper reconstructions stem from an interest in the systems and structures of language, the ordering of knowledge, the collecting, storing and accessing of words. Working in the gap between the concrete and abstract impression of text on paper, Thurle cuts, folds, weaves and stitches lines of words into a new visual format, in which traces of the original mingle with personal, often playful or poetic interpretations. Thurle has shown work widely both in the UK and internationally including the Bookarts Triennial in Lithuania, Deptford X, and Brussels Art on Paper. Her work is in various public and private collections including Brisbane Sate Library. Numerous residencies include work for the V&A Museum of Childhood, Perth Central School of Art and Design, Fremantle Arts Centre, Camberwell Arts Festival and various colleges.

www.thurle.com

Crossing

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P1040464Bonus artwork by Sandra Louison at Folkestone

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Num3er, Creekside, Deptford

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Acknowledgements: thanks to all of the artists for their help in putting together this exhibition as well as Anne Pietsch, Sandra Louison and the teams behind the Folkestone Fringe, Num3er and Deptford X

 

 

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Busby Berkeley

Feeling fruity? Busby Berkeley is an amazing source of inspiration for composition on screen and ideas for how to cut from one series of shapes to another. Here is an example of Berkeley’s visual choreography featuring the fantastic Miss Carmen Miranda in ‘The Lady With the Tutti Frutti Hat’ from the 1943 technicolour musical extravaganza, The Gang’s All Here from 1943.

This film is seriously bizarre. Consider the ending of the film which manages to go from children waltzing in polka dot dresses to hula hoops to disembodied heads!

In this clip from the opening of the Gold Diggers of 1937, there is an example of his style of baroque choreography in which the human form is abstracted into pure pattern. He must have been very influenced by modernist painting and early abstract animations.

Berkeley alienates the female form. His work removes all sense of the individual or personal and presents his dancers as dehumanised shapes of collective flesh that are completely under his control. His style was completely dependent on the high budgets of Hollywood escapism and the cheap labour of depression era dancers. To my modern eyes, his work is beautiful and yet permeated with a whiff of fascism.

By A Waterfall sequence from Footlight Parade, 1933.

Ephemeral Animation: Nenagh Watson

Nenagh Watson is a puppeteer currently researching into what she calls ephemeral animation. She is fascinated by objects that move without human control at the mercy of the elements. Consider the following umbrellas as they are carried by the wind. Their movement is created by natural forces rather than the hands of a puppeteer. Watson uses this motion to inspire works of puppetry:

Observing umbrellas, as well as her earlier work with Polish theatre director Tadeusz Kantor (whom she describes as having said that the umbrella’s metal skeleton explodes like fireworks) inspired Conversations with an Umbrella, a collaboration between Nenagh Watson and sound artist Kaffe Matthews.

Umbrellas, plastic bags, pieces of rope… all discarded items of human debris that fly in the wind or float in the water. From Watson’s Duchampian notion of ‘found’ movement that has been created by chance, she examines moments of tension and freedom, stillness and motion and uses these to inform her work in puppetry. She says her eyes have become opened to the world of random movement around her. For Watson, this is all part of making herself and her presence obsolete in the work, in striving to be without ego.

In her Plastic Bag Labyrinth, shown below, she uses her observation of how air fills discarded carrier bags to create an installation in which the bags are caused to move through the actions of visitors to the installation.

For more information about her working practices, see a review of Nenagh Watson’s Ephemeral Animation workshop at the Central School of Speech and Drama and another account of an earlier workshop.

This post was written in response to her presentation at the Talking Objects Symposium at Loughborough University on 9th March 2012.

Recording the Trace of Movement: Norman McLaren

Scottish / Canadian animator, Norman McLaren, was an innovator who experimented with the technological processes of his time. McLaren’s film Pas de Deux from 1968 is clearly influenced by Etienne-Jules Marey’s chronophotography mentioned earlier. Using high contrast photography and optical printing, the flesh of McLaren’s dancers dissolve into outlines of light. The characters multiply across the image in the shape of the the movements that they dance.

As McLaren was born in the town of Stirling, there is an extensive archive about McLaren’s life and work at Stirling University.

Pas de deux from National Film Board of Canada on Vimeo.

Recording the Trace of Movement: Past and Present

In her current exhibition, Motion Capture Drawings, at London Gallery West (3rd February – 4th March 2012), artist Susan Morris has captured her own movements over a period of time in a motion capture studio and painstakingly converted the data via algorithms into lines, which are printed onto photographic paper. The images resemble a fragile, dense fog of movement.

Her work references Étienne-Jules Marey, born in France in 1830 and a pioneer of motion analysis through his work with chronophotography, which, unlike the sequential images of Eadweard Muybridge, used multiple exposures recorded and combined together in one photograph to analyse the trajectory of a movement. Here is a selection:

Marey’s work was a clear influence on the Futurists and other artists concerned with representing speed and motion in painting. Compare the image above, Etienne Jules Marey, Étude de l’homme, chronophotographie, 1887 with Marcel Duchamp’s iconic Nude Descending a Stair, 1912.

Beautiful as Morris’s images are, they bring to mind a tangled web of technological references to the history of motion analysis that she does not acknowledge. Capturing the trace of movement is the aim of contemporary motion capture technology, beautifully illustrated in Ghostcatching, 1999. In this digital dance piece shown below, movement data from choreographer and dancer, Bill T Jones, has been used by Bill Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar of the OpenEnded Group to create graphic lines. The data was not used ‘straight out of the tin’, but required extensive clean-up and artistic input from Kaiser and Eshkar.

Another example of graphic black and white linear imagery inspired by Marey’s motion analysis can be seen in Norman McLaren’s Pas de Deux.

Bodies Moving Through Space

In the Life Drawing Field Trip that MA Character Animation recently took to London’s Southbank Centre, we looked at the scale and perspective of people moving through urban architecture. Starting in Waterloo Station, we drew people in motion and examined the change of scale from background to foreground. After more drawings in the streets and down by the river Thames, we convened in the BFI Cafe, where it was warm, to look at each other’s drawings and to get feedback from Life Drawing tutor Maryclare Foa.

The whole issue of the shape of physical movement through space is of special interest in the world of performance and especially dance. In the Bauhaus, Oskar Schlemmer padded and extended the bodies of his performers into abstract shapes and choreographed movements that took the form of patterns. Here is a reconstruction of Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet by Margarete Hastings in 1970.

To see more recreations of Schlemmer’s original dance performances see this website for Bauhaus Dance videos.

William Forsythe is a contemporary choreographer and dancer who works with the body in architecture. Here is a clip from One Flat Thing Reproduced.

In the next clip you can see how he works with a development of Rudolph Laban’s notion of the kinesphere – the invisible three-dimensional space that surrounds us – and composes his choreography based on patterns in space.

For more information on this work and links to other fascinating projects, see the Synchronous Objects site.

Animate Projects have just curated an online exhibition Moving Pictures in conjunction with Portland Green cultural projects, who specialise in dance film. This exhibition features projects which combine animation and dance.