The Obliterated Crow uses physical and digital media in isolation, in combination and iteratively to produce sets and series of images to explore real and perceptual change. A series of visual conversation between a crow and the variety of media used to record its flight.
The Obliterated Crow is my first solo exhibition at Murmurations Gallery, Bexhill, from Tuesday 17th May until Sunday 29th May 2016. The gallery is open from 10.30am to 4.30 pm (closed Mondays). Further details below…
Having both a degree in Fine Art and a Masters in IT, I experience the tension and synchronicity of these divergent disciplines. Using physical and digital media in isolation, in combination and iteratively, I produce sets and series of images to explore real and perceptual change.
We are physically and conceptually defined by the tools we use and understand. We anchor ourselves to the spotlights of our competencies, nodes in networks of change surrounded by shadow. I represent perceptual change by exploiting different tools; applying physical and digital media creates many perspectives but simultaneously hints at a singularity.
Apiece of workhides as much as it reveals.Obliteration is inherent to the act of recording; this is true of both art and IT. Obliterated Crow presents a series of visual conversations between a crow, the air and the media used. My conversation began with thecrowon Galley Hill. She tilted her head and made eye contact; I drew her. “Think that’s interesting?” she asked, as she skipped into the air and played with the wind.
On Saturday 21st May and Saturday 28th May there is a `Technical Walk Through‘ where I will discuss the processes used to combine the physical and digital media to produce the Obliterated Crow series.
On Sunday 22nd May and Sunday 29th May there is a `Concept Walk Through‘ where I discuss the ideas that drive my practice and those specifically related to the Obliterated Crow series.
Still images are the critical centre of the crow studio. Their production and collection, the variation of media and presentation, the combination and recombination of multiple images as single, still, images.
The importance of the animation is that it is the process that drives the production of the `still’ crow images. Animation also limits image content choice to the initial phase. After the initial phase the entire focus can be on the qualities of line, tone, colour and image.
The still images are a mixture of digital prints and photo montage produced from ink wash drawings, code mediated gestural line, and digitally manipulated photographs.
Still images are powerful because, unlike an animated image, it puts the viewer in control of the duration and intensity of attention given to each image. It allows the viewer and the artist to re-evaluate each image as they revisit the work and find within it things of which they may not have been consciously aware.
You make each image stand out individually and make it special by that quality of selection allowing you to rework and emphasise elements that work for you.
Using the Processing.org code line (code mediated gestural line) moved the images further away from the quality of verisimilitude often desired in a drawing. Verisimilitude is the degree to which an image looks like an object in the sense of the accuracy of the visual representation.
In terms of animation, I was looking at how during the process of animation our brains move the images back into the impression of visual accuracy – the bird is flying. In seeing the multiple frames I see hints of Plato’s shadows, searching for the perfect artefact of a crow among the many representations of the crow.
Computer Mediated Gestural Line – Crow Line.
While hoping that in the process of repetition aspects of the “Ideal” crow are revealed; a Chinese whisper of distorting shadows going elsewhere needs to be borne in mind.
Brown paper has an absorbency, texture and natural quality which mean that no two pages are ever the same. When you hold it up to the light you will see that there is not one colour but marbled variations of brown tones that reminds me of amber.
I enjoy its associations with wrapping paper – it is utilitarian, the type of paper that you may have to hand when you need to make a note or a quick sketch.
The quality of the line produced by the Code matched to the material compromises needed when working with brown paper and the ink wash. The crow interaction is also a compromise as you have to accept that the crow is free to behave as it wishes in its environment: the artist may only observe and record.
The crow was drawn referencing the line work and tonal work produced in Autodesk and the many photographs I took at Galley Hill. There are a number of different sets, starting with the brown paper sets and a developmental record of production. The first full set was produced on brown paper and lit from the front when photographed; the second was lit from the back when photographed.
Front lit: This set shows the quality of the line work and the ink wash to best effect.
Back Lit: This set shows the interaction between the natural texturised quality of the brown paper and the ink wash image suggesting a sense of depth and colour. The amber tones of the paper reiterate the sense of having trapped the crow in a moment in time.
Ink and ink wash on white paper: This, for me, is a long-standing and frequently used approach and best presents the quality of the ink and ink wash.
Biro on white paper: The line is produced by what is considered a throwaway, everyday object – a black biro. The biro captures the abstraction of the crow with a limited control of line width and tone and the line communicates the sense of the form.
The animation was produced to emphasise that the drawings were all of one, individual crow. There are a number of drawings but only one crow moving and changing space, time and repetition.
The thing I like about crows as a visual source is their varying shapes when in flight. The quality of repetition is fascinating; each time it is the same crow, despite often huge changes in the shapes made.
The first crows I drew were part of a group of crows that spend time moving around Galley Hill, Bexhill, between the cliff top and the beach. This area provides the opportunity to watch, draw and photograph the crows from above as they fly from the cliff down to the beach and from below as they return to the cliff top from the beach. Continue reading →
The nature of art has always been influenced by the tools we have available to make marks. While studying an online Creative Coding Course via Future Learn (www.futurelearn.com) I was introduced to Processing.org and P5.js. This is a software sketchbook, a programming language interface designed for creative practitioners, who want their primary focus to be the visual product, whilst providing the opportunity to explore the code and it’s potential. The code I used for the crow drawings started with a small demonstration piece that was provided as part of the course.
Drawing done using the initial code provided on Future Learn course
I made a number of adjustments to the Code to manipulate the form and quality of the line. Continue reading →
Drawing crows didn’t start as a project (an idea or a series of activities that will lead to a set of work based upon a theme). Crows started on a Monday morning, 1st December 2014, while I was sitting in one of my favourite places to watch the sunrise over the sea. As the greys of the sky lightened and picked up subtle tints of colour, I was distracted by a family of crows. I took some photographs and later that day made some drawings using ink and ink wash on paper.
I `tweeted’ some of the ink and ink wash drawings, and then I started using the drawings as subject matter for code mediated line and tone drawings on my computer tablet. The quality of the line is defined and adapted using Processing 2 Code, but it is controlled and created using gestural lines and a stylus.
At this point `Crows’ was still not a project; it was an exploration of representing crows using different media, with no intent other than the process of learning to see, and represent, something that was in front of me.
So when did it become a project? That’s difficult to say. It became a project long before I realised it had, and I will try to answer that question in my next `Crows’ blog.