Finally started to make again! In January this year I was invited to be the guest artist in printmaking at the University of Texas at Austin. During this time I began working in the fabrication department with Professor Eric McMaster (Lecturer, University of Texas at Austin; Manager, Digital Fabrication Lab) to create a laser cut matrix. The laser cut tests are part of a body of work that aims to bring together ideas associated with ‘Remake’ and physical making approaches that align with Post-digital practices. The image above entitled After Clement Valla was constructed at UWE to begin visualising some of my ideas for the series.
Laidler, P. (2018) Satisfaction Guaranteed, Beneficial Shock, Issue 3, pp 78-83 ISSN 2399-5173
I was recently invited to write and illustrate an article for the Unconventional Cinematic Adventures Magazine Beneficial Shock. Each issue sets a themed topic for writers, illustrators and designers to research and respond to – in an unconventional nature. The first two publications presented the themes of food and the mind, the third issue posits sex as the theatrical field of inquiry! Needless to say I pitched a technological angle that referenced SciFi – keeping in mind that all good Science Fiction entertains possible futures!
The fully illustrated article (and many others) on the theme of cinematic sex can be found on the Beneficial Shock website but for now here is a preview of the beginning pages and opening paragraph.
The Pleasure Bot, the Gynoid, the Electric-Gigolo, or my personal favorite the Romeo Droid are just some of Science Fiction’s contributions to the development of the android as sex worker. Notably (and as any Sci-fi aficionado would remind us) such technological foresight is often a precursor to our own – not too distant future. It will therefore come as no surprise that the development of artificial intelligence and virtual reality are considered to be the missing link within the sex industry and the manufacture of technologically-enhanced products and experiences. Similarly, many esteemed futurologists are predicting that by 2050 (not 2049) artificial intelligence will have become so integrated within society that it will be commonplace for humans to have sex with robots… Now scrub that image out of your head and let’s remind ourselves that all technology (if we listen to Charlie Brooker) should come with a warning sign. Sexnology (that’s Sex + Technology) is probably pretty high up there on the cautionary list, but whether we like it or not people ‘The robots are coming’ – no pun intended!
Laidler, P. (2018) Mapping Post-digital Practice in the Graphic Arts, Printmaking Today, Vol 27 No 2 Summer, p.15 ISSN 0960 9253
It has been suggested by a range of established commentators that digital technology may have potentially created a ‘mental change’ within the creative process of making images and objects. Although this statement is somewhat broad and our ability to understand change often requires a certain amount of time to have passed (before the significance of an event may be better understood) the compulsion to begin considering these ruminations has been central to my own practice and the subsequent initiation of the ‘Looking Through the Eyes of Machines as Students’ exhibition. The project is an international print exchange between Graphic Arts programmes at UWE (University of the West of England, Bristol, UK); MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, USA) and UCM (Faculty of Fine Arts of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid). The curatorial premise for the exhibition is a practice based inquiry that aims to begin mapping a Postdigital response to making in the graphic arts. The exhibition presents a cohort of emergent student and graduate practitioners from the disciplines of Fine Art Printmaking, Graphic Design and Illustration and will be exhibited at the Impact 10 Printmaking Conference in September 2018. Full version of article available at Cello Press
I was recently invited to write and illustrate an article for the Unconventional Cinematic Adventures Magazine Beneficial Shock. Each issue sets a theme and cinematic perspective for writers and illustrators to research and create responses of an unconventional nature. The first two issues have been under the themes of food and the mind. The third issue presents sex as the themed topic. Needless to say I pitched a technological angle that referenced SciFi – keeping in mind that all good Science Fiction entertains possible futures!
Originally titled as Simplistic Summits & Technological Plummets: On the edge of the Uncanny Valley the written component adopted a speculative aesthetic theory that was applied to the development of the replicant – using the original Blade Runner film. The role of the visual was not to necessarily ‘illustrate’ the text but to continue the speculative voice within the writing. The realisation of this illustrative approach considers existing methods and aesthetics that one would associate with ‘idea generation’. The subsequent adoption of the maquette seemed like an appropriate form – as an object that embodies possibility. Similarly the method of making aligned with the development of untested thoughts and the spontaneity associated with bricolage.
I also thought about having to write alongside ‘proper writers’, not academics that write but writers who’s art / craft is the written word. Subsequently found myself writing ‘… as a visual speculator’. Not compensating at all!
“One is playing with the world referred to by the image and the other world which is the image itself”
Michael Craig Martin
Some thoughts about Mr Martin’s observation on images and how they represent objects, albeit objects that we know primarily as images.
Something interesting things about props:
Many props are ordinary objects. However, a prop must read well from the house or on-screen, meaning it must look ‘real’ to the audience – or its appearance must resemble ones visual expectations of the object. Many real objects are poorly adapted to the task of looking like themselves to an audience, due to their size, durability, or colour under bright lights, so some props are specially designed to look more like the actual item than the real object would look – strange yet interesting.
Film props have an interesting physical presence as they are objects that are originally encounter through a mediated or often a screen based representation and therefore come with a certain amount of anticipation as physical objects. These expectancies are multifaceted, in so much as they are bound up in a specific type of image world where the object is designed for its onscreen and subsequent two dimensional presence. This potentially adds a further layer to Michael Craig Martin’s observation on how images operate -depending on which world we originally encounter them in – real or fictional. When drawing this kind of object one is accessing a further ‘world referred to by the image’ – the cinematic world. For example the prop is often bound up in nostalgia, connected to a narrative or wedded to a monumental protagonist who’s DNA resides within the fictional surface. Like Craig-Martin, it is interesting to consider what remains when flattening the object into two dimensions or in his own words, “You can see in my paintings, I’ve taken away the context, I’ve taken away the shadows, I’ve taken away expression, I’ve taken away the personal, and yet so much remains.” My own inquiry considers what type of minimal representation maybe significant to best capture a mediated quality of an object, and in this instance how a props fictional function can be preserved in an artefact that oscilates between multiple worlds.
See links to Craig Martin’s work on the Artsy website here.
It’s about print but it’s not a print:
I think it is fair to say that we all have pivotal moments as artists / makers / printmakers – I’m referring to the liberating ones. For instance when we encounter a process, person or artwork that appears to hold our attention in such a way that it starts to connect previous activities and, or ideas. Yours truly had such a happening after watching the film Copy Shop by Virgil Widrich where my engagement with the predominantly process-led discipline of printmaking became a little clearer. During my MA my initial leaning for wanting to make prints (although I didn’t know this at the time) came from looking at pictures in books and thereafter becoming fascinated by the inherent quality of print as a reproductive medium. Whilst studying, discussions predominantly centred on making as an activity before the difficult ‘why’s — this often led on to conversations about the ‘quality of mark making’ or the ‘relationship with surface tactility’. I quickly became aware that there were definitely two different reasons for making prints.
I’ll do the short story version. What I took from Copy Shop was that it considered both the aesthetic quality of a reproductive process and the inherent nature of print as a sequence / narrative for the work. The beauty of Copy Shop (or at least for me) was that the resulting work did this without having to be realised in the medium of print, yet the ideas in the work have a strong reference to print. This approach (outside of the: discipline looking in, idea) probably influenced later works that I produced such as the painting series Print is Dead and the Roombeek photographs. From a research perspective I also believe Copy Shop is a useful example when discussing the parameters of the discipline.
Anyway thank you Virgil Widrich I’m pleased you made Copy Shop for me to see, think about and copy a little bit.
“Most people presume thinking has to do with words that are either spoken or thought, where as visual thinking does not have these words”
Stephen Shore, West Third Street, Parkersberg, West Virginia, May 16, 1974.
Found an interesting video link the other day that got me on to thinking about Michael Polanyi’s tacit knowledge and photography amongst other things. The link is a short documentary entitled American Beauty about the Photographer Stephen Shore who describes elements of his practice. Shores methodology was the bit that subsequently reminded me of Polanyi’s famous aphorism “We know more then we can tell”. With a certain sense of irony Shore describes (in his own words) a ‘wordless’ thinking that takes place during the creation of one of his photographs.
Shore goes on to inform us that he spent ten years learning the formal properties of photography. Because of this sustained period of learning Shore explains that he does not (consciously) need to think about these formalistic devices when taking photos. Similar to the forging of a ‘tacit knowing’ much of the previous conscious picture making strategies have receded into Shores subconscious, leaving mostly instinctual decisions. By essentially freeing the mind from directly thinking about the formal / technical elements of the work Shore is able to ‘think’ about where he is going with the picture. This and other descriptions by Shore appear comparable to an iterative form of learning, common to the properties of tacit knowledge.
Know your tools:
Shore utilizes the inherent qualitative aspects of the large format photograph such as clarity and detail for example. These qualities provide Shore with the visual representation of what he describes as a ‘heightened state of awareness,’ equally pertinent toward his interest with a clear and focused attention of the everyday world. One particular insight by Shore regarding the experience of time through the photographic image made me think of the photograph and its relationship to reality. Shore explains the speed with which we experience a photographic image when looking at the print (normally a few secs) – compared with the actuality of time that can reside within a photograph (exposure time). The experience of time through a photograph is allusive to us although visually acknowledgeable, as Shore summaries in saying “there is a sense of time being compressed in a photo”. It is this reminder of how image and reality differ that got me thinking about my own interest in the prominence of image over reality.
“The camera in all its manifestations is our god, dispensing what we mistakenly take to be truth. The photograph is the modern world” – Thomas Lawson
With this in mind it’s amusing to consider the photographic exposure length as having the prevailing influence upon the time with which we can only experience the images depiction of reality. Or a kind of synesthesia where the exposure length maybe experienced as ‘weight’, here a seven-minute exposure compared to that of a two second would feel lighter! There’s possibly an artwork in here somewhere!