Monday, 28 June 2010

Wolfgang Tillmans

When going through the Saturday Guardian (26.06.10), I came across an article discussing the work Wolfgang Tillmans. He was an artist I had seemingly ignored despite the fact that he had a high profile: he did win the Turner Prize in 2000.

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Installation view, Regen Projects
October 23 - December 6, 2008

I was interested in the critical response Tillmans received, which was on the whole negative. It seemed at odds with our pluralistic times. Tillmans’ work, especially in the nineties “used magazines particularly the street style magazine i-D as one of his outlets for his pictures while exhibiting in contemporary art galleries in London, New York and Cologne” (Jobey 2010 p. 16). One can I think, without reading the reviews, understand Adrian Searle’s position, but I am surprised by Matthew Collings’ dismissal of Tillmans’ work.

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Installation view, Regen Projects
October 23 - December 6, 2008

My own felling about Tillmans work is rather ambiguous. However, what drew my attention were his influences. Tillmans is quoted as saying that “all the art that touched me was lens-generated, like Richter, or Polke, Rauschenberg, Warhol” and “of course Dada and Kurt Schwitters” (Jobey 2010 p. 16).

 Silver Installation VII 2009

The Guardian reports on Tillmans’ shift towards abstraction. The production of large inject prints seems to be a bold move. The images he produced “have taken on a spectacular and seductive presence in his installations… like works of a latter-day abstract expressionist” (p.17).

Serpentine Gallery, London, 26 Jun - 29 Aug 2010

While part of his work “developed towards abstraction, another took a more political route” (p.17). In a series of collages titled Truth Study Center, Tillmans “drew attention to the exercise of power behind ideologies of Islamic fundamentalism, Catholicism, Capitalism” (p.17).

Serpentine Gallery, London, 26 Jun - 29 Aug 2010

He is quoted as saying “I know that this won’t change the world. But then again I think the most important  thing is to start doing something” (p.17)


Jobey, J. (2010) "Wolfgang Tillmans: the lightness of being" The Guardian, Saturday 26 June 2010 

Friday, 18 June 2010

Feedback and Reflection

The external has brought up some very interesting observations about my work. It certainly reinvigorated my thinking and energised my reading of the imagery produced by myself and imagery in general.

The externals reading of the work helped to identify problems within the first project. The first part of the work which is called Deepest Autumn seems to be, as I suspected, the most convincing – although this depends on the format or the type of technology it is represented upon (a monitor  or via a projector) the first three minutes the transitions within the montage seem too slow.

The second section, Intimations seems sloppy. The painterly nature of the first section takes a back-seat. The transitions also happen too quickly. A flower dominates part of the second montage sequence.  The external questioned the use of such a motif, arguing that such a forceful graphical element creates a vortex, drawing the eye towards it.  The effect undermines the attempt to evenly distribute the eyes attention across the imagery. The dominant motif undercuts and disrupts the attempt at an all-over design that flows naturally.

The Irritated gaze section suffers from the inclusion of striking yet unsubtle and possibly clichéd imagery. The eye montage is full of mistakes and there are errors within the sequencing that causes a disruption to the narrative.

The comments and the time taken to reflect upon them have proved extremely helpful. Now it is a case of correcting these problems and finding ways of improving on the work.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Work on show

Barnett Newman, Cathedra 1951, installation view, 1958.

Gardner Rea, 'One nice thing about TV...' New Yorker cartoon, 1951.

The above photograph and the wry comment on abstract expressionism from the New Yorker is interesting, because it connects with a way of seeing that is suggested by the digital montages presented below; a slowness of inspection. It is not as slow as looking at a Ming vase or a Braque, but slower than most cinema (apart from the majority of Wenders work or Tarkovsky, perhaps) or indeed television (except late night Big Brother). I also oddly began to think of Sergei Parajanov’s Colour of Pomegranates for the first time in years.

Deepest Autumn: The Irritated Gaze I 2010.

Deepest Autumn: The Irritated Gaze I 2010.

Deepest Autumn: The Irritated Gaze I 2010.

As I watch the montage projected on the screen (via a very high end projector in a lecture theatre) I wonder of the effectiveness of the slowness of some of the dissolves. Are some too quick? Are the elements at the beginning of Deepest Autumn too mundane and slow in terms of there transitions? I consider the colour. The influence of Anselm Kiefer is startling, however I reminded of Robert Hughes criticism of his work. Hughes suggests that Kiefer’s “drawing lacks fluency and clarity, and his colour monotonous” (Hughes, 1991 p.409). Is that what is happening here in terms of its colour?

Deepest Autumn: The Irritated Gaze I 2010.

Deepest Autumn: The Irritated Gaze I 2010.

Deepest Autumn: The Irritated Gaze I 2010.

The Deepest Autumn section seems to work. It is fluid it does not have any jarring moments. On the large screen in the main lecture theatre (the Co-op) all the subtleties of the modulations of deep lamp black and Prussian blue are revealed. The bright white orbs and flashes are very strong and solid. This does not quite play out on a large monitor, where every thing is a little pale, bleached out, exposed.

Intimations: The Irritated Gaze II 2010.

Intimations: The Irritated Gaze II 2010.

Intimations: The Irritated Gaze II 2010.

Intimations: The Irritated Gaze II 2010.

The Irritated Gaze: The Irritated Gaze III 2010.

The Irritated Gaze : The Irritated Gaze III 2010.

Intimations and the Irritated Gaze lack this delicate handling. The final two parts do not have the same paint-like quality as the first section. Objects and imagery are overplayed. Is the all-overness of design maintained? Does it fall into surrealist cliché? I will have to see what the external has to say.

The Irritated Gaze: The Irritated Gaze III 2010.

Outside of an exhibition space, in the street let us say, the projections would not, I don't think, have a hope in hell of competing with the outside world and the spectacle of neon and the street.

The documentation is a little crude, but it does show some of the transitions.

Hughes, R., (1991) The Shock of the New, London and New York: Thames and Hudson.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


I first came across Fuel in October or November 2000: rather late considering that they had been around since 1991. Formed at the Royal Collge of Art by Peter Miles, Damon Murray and Stephen Sorrell they adopted what Alan and Isabella Livingston called "a visually aggressive stance" (2003, p.91).

This particular film, featured if my memory serves me correctly on OneDot TV on Channel 4 in the late 90s or the early part of the new century. I am not sure of the title of this piece. They represented a new trend in collective approaches to design that "seek to reject individual celebrity of a Carson or Brody" (Eskilson, 2007, p. 381).

Further Reading:

Eskilson, S., (2007) Graphic Design: A New History, London: Laurence King.
Livingston, A. and I., (2003) The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Graphic Design and Designers, London: Thames and Hudson.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Dave Whatt

Hull Underground original design Dave Whatt for Remould Theatre Company (no date).

It is hard to categorize the Hull-based creative Dave Whatt. He is an accomplished Blues guitarist, a multi-instrumentalist musician and artist, set designer, photographer, graphic designer, illustrator and writer. He is avant-garde, anti- avant-garde, an anti-poet and, he will hate me for this, a poet. I like to think of him as a polyartist, for he is “a master of several unrelated arts” (Kostelanetz, 2001, p. 486) as well as many related ones.

Above: A kid for two farthings by Dave Whatt. This drawing was I assumed, based on a still from the film of the same name directed by Carol Reed in 1955, I believe now however that it is a based on this book cover for the novel of the same name of which the film was an adaptation, written by Wolf Mankowitz:

No doubt Dave Whatt owns a copy.

'Acting' by Dave Whatt

I am not sure about the source for the above picture or the date.

As you can see many of the works here are representational. However there is plenty of his work that I would describe as abstract, recalling the “landscapes” of Yve Tanguy. Unfortunately I do not have a copy of these works. The surreal nature of such works and of his writing made him the ideal founding member of the Hull Surrealist League.

Dave Whatt's website contains examples of his own compositions: music and poetry and a list of his diverse influences that include early nineties rave:

The Plasmatics:

Captain Beefheart:


The Cramps

amongst others! All great bands and artists!

Kostelanetz, R. (2001)
Dictionary of The Avant-Gardes, New York and London: Routledge

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Inigo Taylor

Contemporary Lense Media and most of the other art and design courses at Lincoln University will have there final year degree show. Exhibiting at Thomas Park House, Lincoln from Friday 4th June (please check for details) will be lense media student Inigo Taylor. Here is a sample of his work on his website: .