Archive for February, 2015

Technology detour

This blog has been quiet a few weeks while I changed up my use of technology. I’ll give a brief outline in case any is of use to others, and so I can compare to actual outcomes later.

Issues:

  • My existing smart phone was a few generations old. I rarely used the phone functionality and found the screen too small to be comfortable for reading or internet browsing on the go. The battery life was getting shorter and shorter.
  • I’ve been doing heaps of textile-related reading, but with no specific college assignment in mind. Interesting and I will remember major concepts, but my notes were scattered in various notebooks and pieces of paper. I’d never be able to find things again.
  • A minor point that tipped me over the balance point – I have a new wrist fitness tracker (www.fitbit.com/), and my mobile phone was too old to talk to it via bluetooth.
  • Wish list:

  • Ability to take notes on the go – say when reading on the bus.
  • All notes stored in one place.
  • Search facilities for all my notes.
  • Screen large enough to read comfortably – saved pdfs, internet browsing, …
  • Still a phone, with my existing phone number – as a secondary requirement.
  • Stylus.
  • Able to snip internet text and photos, annotate, highlight parts, and include search info for use with other notes.
  • GIMP or other image manipulation software.
  • Camera, possibly with ability to connect to my big camera.
  • Earpiece to listen to podcasts, recorded lectures etc.
  • Ability to sync with fitbit.
  • samsung_noteResult:

  • Samsung Note 10.1″ 4G (2014 Edition) (www.samsung.com/au/
    consumer/mobile-phone/tablet/tablet/SM-P6050ZKAXSA
    ). This includes a styles that fits neatly in the tablet, and software that integrates its use.
  • BlueAnt bluetooth earpiece (www.myblueant.com/products/headsets/q3/).
  • Evernote (https://evernote.com/) on both my PC and the new tablet. All my notes end in the same place. There are good search facilities. There are download/export options so I can make my own backups without relying on the cloud, or the ongoing availability of the software.
  • GIMP Inkscape (play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.gimp.inkscape&hl=en). The basic layout and facilities are familiar, but I’m still getting used to the smaller tablet screen and slightly different implementation.
  • It took some effort, being referred to more and more technical helpdesks, but I was able to transfer my existing phone number to the tablet with a suitable sim only plan.
  • A minor point which rounds it out. Not only will it sync with my fitbit, so I can immediately watch my wiggly heartbeat line, but the fitbit has caller id. It vibrates and displays the name of the incoming caller.
  • After only a few days I’m still learning, but loving it. I’m still experimenting with the mix of apps, but the data input is great – there’s a keyboard form that intelligently suggests words etc, but also handwriting recognition that can cope with my lousy running writing on a bumpy bus. I can sit on the bus, reading Textile (www.bloomsbury.com/au/journal/textile/) (paper version), search on the internet for more information about an exhibition or artist mentioned, make notes, snip quotes and photos – all with ease and knowing it will be available on the desktop when I get home. Walking along I have the tablet in my backpack, the earpiece safely in a pouch hanging from the shoulder strap. If a call comes in I get a discreet buzz on the wristband, and can have the earpiece in and call answered faster than I could ever fish out the old phone.

    The next question – is this still the honeymoon period, the rush of new technology toys? I’m hoping it’s the start of much more effective work methods that will support my ongoing studies as a part of general life.

    Indigo sketchbook

    20150104a20150104bThis sketchbook was first seen 9-Jan-2015, freshly made and ready to go. Most days since I’ve been working in it, trying different media to see what results I can get.
    Some general lessons:

    • The paper (110 gsm cartridge paper dipped into an indigo vat) was very absorbent. Thin colours like inks and most felt-tip pens just soaked in leaving little trace.
    • The surface was very fragile. If the paint on a stamp was too tacky the paper’s surface would lift away with the stamp, leaving white paper, rather than the paint being deposited on the surface.
    • The surface would also lift if the book was closed while something was still tacky, with the paint adhering to the baking paper between each page.
    • It was hard to find the right media in the right colours to stand out against the busy patterning of the surface.
    • It was easy to lose the beauty of the indigo patterned surface by covering too much with opaque media.

    indigo_sketch_32A couple of sketchbook pages didn’t make it in. Some were basically repeats. One was overstamped in indigo, which was awkward to do into the book format. The separate A3 page on the left was much better. I really like the effect of the layers of indigo – the initial full dip, then dips of various found things as stamps.
    indigo_sketch_34indigo_sketch_31Another extra followed a suggestion from Nola to use coloured crayons as a resist before dipping into indigo. The results from my quick test were unexciting and I haven’t done a followup. I think more solid areas of colouring would work better, as well as sticking to the lighter colours like yellow and orange.

     

    Reference

    Issett, R. (2007)  Print Pattern & Colour for paper and fabric London: Batsford

    Exhibition: Pop to Popism

    This huge exhibition is currently on at the Art Gallery of New South Wales – http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/exhibitions/pop-to-popism/. I’m going to focus on some works with textile elements in this post.

    Robert Rauschenberg Dylaby 1962
    http://www.rauschenbergfoundation.org/art/artwork/dylaby
    This is one of Rauschenberg’s “combines”, with elements from painting and sculpture. According to Wayne Tunnicliffe in the AGNSW catalogue “Rauschenberg often said that he aimed to bridge the gap between art and life” (p. 20). This isn’t slick and consumerist, yet it incorporates found items of consumer culture including a battered coke sign. The flat surface was a focus in abstract expressionism. Here the canvas has escaped to fall away from the underlying frame and to drape down to the floor. Also in the AGNSW catalogue, Chris McAuliffe writes that instead of an expression of the personal, inner life of the artist seen in abstract expressionism, “Rauschenberg proposed … an art premised on engagement with the world, in which ‘the imagery and the material and the meanings of the painting would not be an illustration of my will but more like an unbiased documentation of my observations’. This suggested that what American art required was not wild acts of assertion but a kind of realism that registered the artist’s responses to the everyday world of affluence and consumerism, media and technology. Rauschenberg charted these responses in layered arrays of found media imagery” (p.62)

    The idea of “combines”, including both painting and sculpture, seems very close to some of the ideas in Fiber: Sculpture 1960 – present (see 26-Dec-2014), particularly in the use here of the canvas.

    Tony Tuckson Pyjamas and Herald 1963
    http://cs.nga.gov.au/Detail.cfm?IRN=63776
    This works seems to contain narrative, the signs of an individual life. The newspaper placard gives a specific place and date – Sydney, March 1963. From a recorded interview with Tuckson’s wife on the NGA website I learnt that the pyjamas were her’s, discarded in a waste bin, and the hessian sacking was some of that roughly sewn by Tuckson to make studio curtains.

    There seems to be the gestures and dramatic sweeps of paint of abstract expressism combined with these found domestic objects. Denise Mimmocchi notes in the catalogue that this work “has clear affinities with Robert Rauschenberg’s combines, the hybrid form of painting and sculpture” and “Tuckson may also have intended a personal narrative through his collaged objects, yet of greater significance was his use of the canvas as an experimental ground for investing the painted gestures of abstract expressionism with the impact of real-life objects” (p. 152)

    As well as occupying an interesting place in art historical movements, this work has an impact, it holds the viewer’s gaze. For me the textile elements are particularly effective in evoking the domestic, the personal, the story, as well as in helping the artist break away from the flat surface.

    Enrico Baj General 1961 http://artsearch.nga.gov.au/Detail.cfm?IRN=107603 and Le Baron Robert Olive de Plassey, Gouverneur de Bengale 1966 (I couldn’t find an online image)
    In the AGNSW catalogue Anneke Jaspers writes “Baj noted that his creative agenda was not explicitly political, but had long been engaged in debunking ‘official stupidity'” (p. 128). Both the works in the exhibition are collages or assemblages of found items, including a lot of textiles (fabric, braids, tassels…). The General is posed like a child jumping from behind a door and shouting “boo”. His body is made of ineffective “camouflage” fabric, a visually noisy mix of cream, red and green, his chest is covered in sash and medals, his hair a mess of twisted fibres. The General is overtly masculine, apparently powerful, and yet quite ridiculous.

    The Governor of Bengal is happy in his bubble of power, also clearly masculine, with the trappings of power in medals and braids, backed by fabrics that are everything traditional, and apparently dazzled by the modern and hip with eyes of Beatles badges. A ridiculous figure, a puppet – and to me quite sinister, a potential petty dictator blind or indifferent to his misuse of power.

    In both works the textiles used are more than random found objects. They bring layers of history and meaning, showing the pomp and military/political power of these dangerous, stupid, limited men who fill the frame with their self-importance.

    Colin Lanceley Love me stripper 1963
    http://cs.nga.gov.au/Detail.cfm?IRN=45148
    The textile elements of this work are small in area, but very effective in the information they give. Lacy stockings and holed undergarments leave no doubt about the profession of the women shown.

    Claes Oldenburg Giant Soft Fan—Ghost Version 1967
    http://www.mfah.org/art/detail/giant-soft-fan-ghost-version/
    This is a very large sculpture of a desk fan – made of canvas, wood and polyurethane foam. Suspended from the ceiling it droops, deflated, casting grotesque shadows. It is shaped by gravity – Oldenburg’s “favourite form creator”. From Alexandra Gregg in the AGNSW catalogue: “With its oversized scale, lumps, bumps and crevices, the sculpture takes on an anthropomorphic guise and reminds us of the not-so flattering parts of our bodies. Its droopy limpness gives it a feeling of being tired or bored”. Also “By making us pay attention to these familiar objects in such unexpected ways, Oldenburg’s art is more an acceptance of the everyday world than a critique of consumer society” (p. 106).

    I find humour and a wonderful clear-eyed observation of the world in this work. It’s also exciting to see one of the major (potential) qualities of a textile, its drape or response to gravity, used to such good effect as an integral part of the work.

    As a group these works had me thinking again about all the different qualities and associations textiles can bring to an artwork.

    Reference
    Tunnicliffe, W. and Jaspers, A. (eds) (2014) Pop to Popism Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales


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