FIELDWORKS: Russell Beard

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In the final one of the series of MFA solo exhibitions in ASN’s Tent Gallery, Russell Beard presents a selection of intaglio prints and sculptures in a minimal and poetic use of the space.

The works are the result of an on-going exploration at the intersection of Heideggerian philosophy, deep ecology, and quantum mechanics. It constitutes part of an on-going investigation into the origins of our own vital materiality, the nature of growth and how certain properties emerge from complex chaotic systems amid the on-going oscillations between the creative, generative forces of life’s perpetual becoming and the dissipative cosmic processes of entropy and decay.

With a background in science, speculative realism and documentary storytelling, Russell questions whether our current theories about the nature of things – the essence of matter at the very smallest scale, correlates (or not) with our lived experience of the world. Is it possible to communicate truthfully what is not immediately perceptible at our human spatio–temporal scale? – is there a way to access the immense complexity and vast cosmological differences in size from the Plank length to the edge of the universe?

“Fieldworks” is a body of work based on a close reading of the current theories of loop quantum gravity and the intuitively familiar principals of granularity, relationality and indeterminism.

Produced by applying pigment to paper at high pressure with chemically etched metal plates – each print appears as continuous colour field but on closer inspection they separate into discretely quantized lattices.

Emerging from the highly complex mesh of spectral lines and particles is an order generated by a four-way symmetry conveying a sense of the sacred, similar to a mandala or a form of religio-spiritual symbolism, that hints at the similarities between Buddhist philosophy and the quantum mechanical world view – the equations of which predict the contents of the periodic table of elements and provide compelling scientific proof that the nature of reality is indeed a constant flux of interacting fields of energy suggesting a profoundly relational underlying unity of all things.  

This show is the latest in a series of artistic investigations into our vibrant materiality – and an attempt at not simply representing the nature of reality at the finest granular scale available to us but (as with the so called “redox reaction” central to the etching process – which sees an exchange of electrons from copper sulphate and zinc) it is an engagement with materiality at the quantum level.

 

WHAT IS PRESENT

DAESIN “WHAT IS PRESENT” or “THE EVANESCENCE OF ALETHEIA”

30/30 cm Intaglio Print

 

EINSTINES MOLLUSC

“EINSTEIN’S MOLLUSC”

30/30cm Intaglio Print

A heuristic representation of the space-time field, “which ripples and bends like the surface of the ocean” C.Rovelli

 

GOD_S SENSORIUM

“GOD’S SENSORIUM”:

30/30cm Intaglio Print

Newton’s explanation of the space between us – this could be read as the nature-culture nexus or a meeting of Heideggerian “EARTH” with its un-masterable chaos and complexity  – and “WORLD” of mans culture, ambition, purpose and the unending urge to step outside of time, to survive death.

 

 

“nature art creates machines that change attitudes, paradoxical devices that upgrade human consciousness changing peoples relations with one another and with non humans… we need art that does not make people think (we have quite enough environmental art that does that ) but rather that walks them though an inner space that is hard to traverse”  T. Morton Hyperobjects p184

 

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‘…hair strewn and tangled feet…’: Alix Villanueva

Alix Villanueva’s exhibition “…hair strewn and tangled feet…” is the fourth of a series of MFA solo shows in Tent Gallery.

The exhibition interprets the yet-to-be-defined term “cosmoecology,” which first caught Alix’s attention in Despret and Meuret’s “Cosmoecological Sheep and the Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet.” The term gestures to how each being’s way of living and dying impacts on an other’s. The prefix “cosmo” alludes to the making of worlds, as well as celestial bodies and associated beliefs. For this reason, Alix uses “cosmoecology” to explore how folklore and the ‘strange’ might be used to make sense of a contemporary ecological moment riddled with uncertainty.

 

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In order to enable a vision in which ghosts and witches act as ecological agents, the exhibition enlists three anthropocentric ghosts, the fragments of a conflicted healing ritual and an attempt on paper at thinking about ‘cosmoecology’.

The ghosts, sooty and exhausted, loom in the first room. They are greasy, from having been conceived in buckets of discarded fat. They are oily and dark, gesturing to oil-spills and destruction, and at the same time, they are aquatic, organic in their shapes. Their materiality is anchored in ‘excess,’ all that oozes from surplus, from waste, from used up coffee grounds and ‘chippy’ fat…

 

 

Midway between the two exhibits sits a disruptive thought, over-spilling on its pages, uneasy and calling for a radical re-centering. It begs for a disruption of narratives of success, which prove toxic to environmental health, interspecies relationships but also and very often other humans.

 

Within the main exhibition space, between the two glass walls, “A Healing at Cramond” is re-staged. Part of Alix’s last solo show, this time the installation is in the open gallery space.

The exhibit holds the vestiges of a ritual.

 

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In attempting to explore how chronic pain experienced by an individual might actually be understood on an ecological scale, a healing ritual has been carried out on polluted shores of Cramond. Chronic pain often leads the suffer to look for alternative sources of healing, as very little answers are given by modern medicine on the cause or cure of such ailments.

 

 

In Scottish and Irish literature, the Cailleach Bhéara, the witch figure, the hag, the healer, does not offer direct remedies to ailments – no direct fix. Rather, she points out the disharmonies between this world and the Otherworld, the sacred natural. Such disharmonies are suggested to be the root cause of ill health. With that in mind, the chronic pain suffered by one becomes cosmoecological. Rather than existing as one individual person’s suffering, it engages with “multiple beings, gods, animals, humans, living, and dead, each bearing the consequences of the other’s ways of living and dying” (Despret and Meuret 26).

 

 

The folklore does not replace the science , but rather re-positions the way in which the pain is thought about. It is not contained ; it does not belong solely to the individual. It must be thought about holistically, bringing in causality and effect, examining how we live, how we interact with the entanglements we are part of rather than as an individual.

 

Ó Crualaoich, Gearóid. The Book of the Cailleach: Stories of the Wise Woman Healer. Cork University Press, 2006.

Despret, V. and Meuret, M. “Cosmoecological Sheep and the Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet.” Journal of Environmental Humanities, vol. 8, no.1, 2016, pp. 24-36

 

ASMA ALMUBARAK: TRACES OF LANDSCAPE, reconfigurations of nature

 

In the third of a series of final year MFA exhibitions in Tent Gallery, Asma Almubarak, presented her research in the spatial aspect of the relationship between humans and nature. Her main focus was how to shift the viewer’s perception of interior space to emphasise a positive psychological impact through an abstracted representation of landscape.

Asma’s exhibition presented her research in two manifestations. The first, in Tent Gallery was a painted wall piece incorporating texts, the second also used text combined with moving imagery, in a related, projected work in our Cinema Space.

 

Based on existing research, both works examine the creation of therapeutic spaces, which produce substantial and rapid psychological and physiological restoration from daily life stress and reduce negative emotions. The work in Tent allowed viewers to create their own image about nature and landscape, through the use of colour and poetic texts, exploring and embedded in architectural space. The work is one of a series of projects looking at imbuing architectural space with a sense of the natural.

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The other work used gentle, projected imagery mapped onto a suspended fabric, again with a poetic text written by Asma ,in response to direct observation of the landscape. This created a dynamic, immersive space, which further explored the psychological impact of the work on its environment.

 

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Response-ability

World Wetlands Day was marked on February 2nd in the ASN studios by three presentations linking creative practices and wetland conservation in Scotland and South East Asia.

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Nadiah Rosli gave background information to the South East Asian Haze, which could be seen from space and was caused by illegal burning of tropical peat swamp forests for plantation of palm oil and pulp paper. Arriving for postgraduate study in Scotland in one of the worst Haze Years of 2015, Nadiah spoke about how she then realised how the restrictions posed by smoke had become to seem ‘normal’ for her friends and family in Malaysia. People in cities like Kuala Lumpur (thousands of miles from the fires in the Indonesian region, Sumatra) had begun to take it for granted that their shadows had disappeared because of the smoke in the air, and to use social media to record great joy (using the Arabic phrase Alhamdulillah) if small patches of blue sky appeared during the Haze season.

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Showing the participants of the strange smell of a palm oil sample, Mungki Dewi talked about how she began to work with palm oil as a material during the first year of her ASN Masters programme. An exhibition at the ECCI during the 2016 Edinburgh Science Festival included her artwork, Hand. At first sight viewers might see the shape as a human hand, but looking close up you can see it cannot be. The orangutan handprint was made of palm oil, which has a strong odour that offers another sense to the work. Orangutans are badly affected when their swamp forest homes are burnt, and Mungki’s work speaks the irony of human, who is biologically closely related to apes, was the one that caused the loss of their habitat.

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Kate Foster explored how she might respond to the degradation of wetlands in South East Asia from her base in Southern Scotland. An earlier piece, Lac-Tek explored how orphaned lambs consume tropical palm oil as one of the ingredients of artificial ewe’s milk, dispensed by a machine on a Scottish Borders farm. Her collaborative work with Nadiah for 2015 ArtCOP addressed “Questions of Scale” and sought ways to connect different places over time. Kate suggested further ways to make links through her new work on peat land restoration with the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership.

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The second part of the event was an exchange of palm oil-free food, rujak/rojak buah (Indonesian/Malaysian fruit salad with sweet peanut sauce) served together with Selkirk bannock from the Scottish Borders.

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Mungki Dewi is a postgraduate student from Indonesia at Edinburgh College of Art in the second year of the Art Space Nature programme.

Kate Foster is an environmental artist developing a peatland project with Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership in Scotland, linking this to tropical peatlands through a M.Res. in Interdisciplinary Creative Practice at Edinburgh College of Art. Further info: http://www.inthepresenttense.net

Nadiah Rosli is a freelance environmental journalist from Malaysia with an interest in science, culture, and grassroots initiatives. She gained an M.Litt. in Environment, Culture and Communication in 2016 from the University of Glasgow. Contact: nadiah.rosli@gmail.com

MUNGKI DEWI; TENT PROJECT & IN TIME

ASN final year student, Mungki Dewi, recently presented a further two outputs from her ongoing research into biophyllic imagery being used to slow viewers in the urban environment. Both projects used video, specifically filmed in the landscape by Mungki.

The work is developed from current research into therapeutic aspects of biophyllic art practice. See also –  Blue

REFLECTIONS ON WATER SURFACE

Mungki’s Tent exhibition explored the ideas of using moving imagery to project calming, natural imagery – bringing the landscape into the city.

 

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Stills from the films

 

 

Six analogue monitors were displayed within Tent Gallery, oriented to be viewed from outside, each monitor showed films of reflections captured on water surfaces.

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The length of each film and the sequencing varied, with black screen edited in. This created a dynamic display, starting with each monitor displaying different films, then some displayed the same film whilst some displayed blank screen. The sequenced, rhythm of the display echoing the movement of the filmed imagery.

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IN TIME

On Thursday and Friday, 25-26 January, IN TIME was back-projected from the upper floor windows of John Knox’s House in Edinburgh. The tranquil film captured the movement of leaves blown by the wind in glistening sun light, in a mesmeric flow. The presence of ‘green’ in a ‘grey’ environment acted as an unexpected visual experience in the city’s bustling High Street.

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‘De-compose/Re-compose’ : ASN1

In late December, ASN 1 held a follow-up exhibition, De-compose/Re-compose, a further development of their initial response to their field trip up to The Flow Country. The students individually explored different aspects of the landscape to develop and communicate alternative perspectives of the natural environment. 

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The artworks were conceived as aesthetic explorations of conceptual and formal ideas coming from the direct observation of natural processes and structures. Those explorations engaged with different visual languages and media, including video, drawing, sculpture, and installation. 
The creative process was informed by ideas from ecology and biology in different contexts, through scientific meetings and workshops. The dialogue with scientists added layers of complexity to the initial scope and opened a more specific approach towards the representation of the landscape, which was reflected in each of the individual pieces.
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CYANOMETER by Andrew Ioannou – Solo Exhibition in Tent Gallery

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In this exhibition, Andrew composed a series of minimal interventions within the architecture of the gallery space. These explored the passage of time through observed changes in light and colour.

By observing the sky and documenting solar and lunar events he records the human experience of time by framing it in the context of astronomical movement, the study of light and our subjectivity. Composing work that visualizes the passage of time in one instance, he highlights how our comprehension of time is a small insight into a vastly, broader physical process.

WINTER SOLSTICE, Edinburgh 2017

A series of 96 photographs taken on Thursday 21st December 2017 (the day of the winter solstice)

The same patch of sky, over Edinburgh, was photographed every fifteen minutes over the 24 hour period, from midnight to midnight. The work is presented in a line, like frames of a film, to denote our linear experience of the passage of time.

WINTER SOLSTICE, Edinburgh 2017 is the first work in duet, which will be completed with the process of documenting, identically, the summer solstice on June 21st. The two works will thereafter be shown together.

Andrew intends to extend this work further in SOLSTICE LINES, by photographing and comparing these solar events at numerous other locations.

 

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LUNAR ECLIPSE, Colour Swatches

Referencing NASA’s recorded footage of the then most recent lunar eclipse. Andrew painted a series of squares that illustrate the moons ‘changing colour’, during this lunar event. The five colours are shown sequentially, adjacent to an exact representation of the colour of moon rock. The work highlights the subjectivity of the phenomenon of observed colour and how it relates to broader processes.

 

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SKY, Colour Swatches

Recorded over the course of one evening Andrew displays the changing colour of the sky, from day to night. In contrast to the reds depicted in LUNAR ECLIPSE, Colour Swatches, this work engages with a differnet area of the colour spectrum and documents the changing light that is scatter in our atmosphere, indicative of time.

 

Sky Colour Samples