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THE SITUATION GALLERY SEPT E MBER 2013 / ISSU E 1 : : IL LUSTR ATIO N

CURATED BY ERIKA ASHLEY COUTO & KATERINA KOROLA Cover art: “Rapunzel” by Maridza Kim Sarah

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CURATORIAL STATEMENT In the world of contemporary art, so often preoccupied with post-minimalism and awed by the technological sophistication of new media production, drawing and illustration practices sometimes seem a well-kept secret. Nonetheless, drawing is alive and well in the work of emerging artists. Increasingly, and this despite art market tastes and art school tendency to subordinate draftsmanship to the conceptual, young artists are taking recourse to drawing as a means of creative expression. Of course, this should not be surprising. After all, since the Renaissance, disegno has been discussed as a privileged foundation of the arts. The Surrealists, seeking to prove the universality of human creativity, turned to drawings (by children and the ‘insane’) as evidence. Similarly, many psychologists and semioticians have posited drawing as a fundamental mode of human communication. Although we must be wary of accepting wholesale the presuppositions implicit in these discussions, these accounts, from Vasari to André Breton and beyond, all point to one conclusion, which despite its pellucidity often passes unnoted. Since at least since the advent of cheap paper, drawing has presented

itself as a singularly accessible mode of art-making, a privileged site of entry into creative self-expression, and a natural mode of communicating ideas both complex and simple. This first issue of Situation Gallery is dedicated to redressing this historical omission by teasing out the hidden potential of drawing and illustration practices in the work of emerging artists internationally. Before proceeding further, however, it is important to establish our terms. What is drawing? According to the Drawing Center in New York, a drawing is a “unique work on paper.” A glance at the work of the young artists featured in this issue, however, points to a need to re-evaluate this definition. In Jon Carling’s illustrations, the artist’s emphatic use of found paper calls into question the primacy of the line, raising paper from the status of ground to that of figure. For Maridza Kim Sarah, drawing functions as the means to explore a vigorously corporeal world of twisting lines and limbs, whether it appears in the final product (as in her Rapunzel Complex series) or is channeled through another medium. Marianne Lang, similarly, calls into question the medium specificity of drawing and illustration. In her work, drawing functions 2

as a privileged element of installation, extending beyond the boundaries of its traditional paper support into the threedimensional. What emerges from this work is the need to re-evaluate and refine our definition of drawing as not so much a medium as a process, one which has the ability to draw on and function across a diverse variety of practices (traditional illustration, new media work, installation) and discursive sites (the gallery, the book, popular advertising, and even YouTube). Drawing thus emerges as a practice with a long and polysemous history. It is a means of expression that is as fundamentally human as it is chimerical. And, although its subtlety can easily occlude critical attention, it is well worthwhile to keep our eyes sharp to the merits of this difficult-to-pin-down practice in the work of today’s young artists. This, if nothing else, is the message Situation Gallery’s exhibition-on-paper hopes to impart.

CO-CURATOR KATERINA KOROLA


CONTRIBUTORS THE SITUATION GALLERY SEPTEMBER 2013 / ISSUE 1 : ILLUSTRATION CO-CURATOR

ERIKA ASHLEY COUTO erika@situationgallery.com Erika Couto is a Master’s Degree candidate in the Department of Art History at Concordia University. Erika’s research, funded by a Hydro Quebec Graduate Award, focuses on the man/ nature co-relationship in the Maguire Meadow. Forthcoming publications include an investigation of female subversion in MTV’s Teen Wolf and a look at the topic of addition in post-1980s Inuit art.

CO-CURATOR

KATERINA KOROLA katerina@situationgallery.com Katerina Korola is a senior undergraduate at Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, pursuing a joint Major in Art History and Film Studies. Her interests include travel narratives and the essay film, spatial theory and architecture, and the role of contemporary art vis-a-vis ideology. She is Editor-in-Chief at the Concordia Undergraduate Journal of Art History and in her free time enjoys indulging in creative writing. Her academic writing has been published in Offscreen.

MANAGING EDITOR

JESSICA MONUK jessicamonuk@gmail.com Jessica Monuk, a recent graduate, is a practicing artist residing from both west and east regions of Canada; mediums that interest her are sculpture and nontraditional drawing. Paired with the concept that objects might be designated rather than made, Jessica is influenced by methods of interaction demonstrated through Minimalist and Relational Aesthetics movements.

DESIGN

MEL PALAPUZ mel.ev212@gmail.com Mel Palapuz is a 2nd year Design student at Concordia University. Street art, street culture, architecture and urban design also fascinate her. She was born and raised on the West Coast. Collaborations most welcome.

FEATURED ARTISTS

JON CARLING JULIAN PETERS MARIDZA KIM SARAH MARIANNE LANG

FEATURED WRITERS

JALEEN GROVE ERIKA ASHLEY COUTO ZOYA MIRZAGHITOVA

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TA B L E OF CONTENTS

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Jaleen Grove

6 — 13

Jon Carling

14— 27

Evaluating Illustration Aesthetically

Featured Artist

Erika Ashley Couto

28 — 35

Maridza Kim Sarah

36 — 49

Marianne Lang

50 — 61

Julian Peters ‘Self’ Portraits

Featured Artist

Featured Artist

Zoya Mirzaghitova 62 — 66 The Three Cultures

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HAYAQWUS AND THE CROSS OSCAR CAHÉN 1951

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EVALUATING ILLUSTRATION AESTHETICALLY BY JALEEN GROVE

Jaleen Grove is Scholar-in-Residence for the Cahén Foundation, which preserves the art and illustration of Canadian artist Oscar Cahén, and she has published several monographs and articles on illustration. Grove is also Assistant Editor of the ‘Journal of Illustration’, and Assistant Editor of the forthcoming ‘History of Illustration’ textbook. She resides and makes art in Hamilton, Ontario.

In recent years art historians have begun to question the twentieth century taboos surrounding illustration. As the theorization of visual culture has progressed, the reticence to appreciate drawings and paintings made for magazines, advertisements, books and ephemera is increasingly acknowledged as symptomatic of a historical moment, now passing. That moment can be characterized as a time when “fine art,” intent on staking out new territory, was defined as superior to applied artistic practice on the grounds that “true art” was supposedly without

use, more concerned with philosophy than pragmatics (the concept was developed by Kant from prior social class distinctions between artist and craftsman, and sociologists of art have since identified many avowed and disavowed uses of fine art in maintaining class identities). Because illustration was unrepentantly made for a utilitarian purpose (as most art was, over the centuries) it was downgraded as a foil—“not-art”—and as a result its enjoyable and historically relevant aesthetic characteristics have not been widely acknowledged for their artistic value. 7

The twentieth-century was likely unprecedented in its rapidity of social and technological changes, and illustration was accused by many of hastening some of the more negative outcomes of this process. But just as Baroque Dutch still life painting is today considered a document of the immense wealth and moral quandaries in the wake of early modern commerce, so too can the commercial art of the high modernist period be seen as a fascinating record of the changing lifestyles and values of the twentieth-century.


People who have developed their appreciation of fine art over a long period, perhaps beginning before visual culture became a trendy catchphrase, may have never looked at illustration art with professional understanding or detachment. First, illustration really is out to get you (that’s why it’s interesting) and so it’s natural that a thinking person should view it with suspicion. Second, the tools of connoisseurship in the mainstream art world have developed few instruments of interrogation appropriate to illustration, and so when asked to evaluate it, many experienced collectors make judgments that miss the boat. There have, however, been a select few art collectors and scholars who never followed fashion, and who over the years have developed these tools. Some came from backgrounds in printmaking or book arts. Others were business executives who understood that illustration can promote a good idea as easily as a contemptible one. Many were just fans who got hooked because illustration complemented their subculture or life experience and was handed down in the same manner as so-called “folk art.” Meanwhile, illustrators themselves kept the memory of their favourite artists alive by preserving their colleagues’ estates, instituting History of Illustration lectures in their own art classes when Art History departments refused to offer them, and establishing their own archives and museums at places like the 100-yearold Society of Illustrators in New York. These insiders have created semi-private networks and built impressive collections

that have recently begun to tour major museums. The 2001 Norman Rockwell retrospective at the Guggenheim necessarily had to draw from many private collections, since museums neglected popular illustration for so long. So how do the people who saved a hundred years of print culture history from the garbage dump evaluate excellence? They certainly use much of the same criteria that followers of gallery art do, because they too are educated broadly in art history. So were many illustrators. The familiar standards of technical proficiency, emotive feeling, historical relevance, influence and innovation hold, although the pantheon of leading figures, media, “isms” and groundbreaking moments are different. There is a whole other vocabulary as well. Illustration merits a different manner of evaluation because of the following intrinsic characteristics: Communication First and foremost, illustration is about communicating a concept. Consider the ancient art of rhetoric—elements of language such as metonymy, synecdoche, understatement, amplification and so on all have corresponding visual strategies. Decide whether the tactic used is appropriate to the message and executed with visual eloquence. Text-image relationship Most, though not all, illustration was accompanied by a caption, a title, a gag, a 8

set of instructions, a label, or a story. In what ways does the illustration make the text’s meaning clearer? More interesting, in what ways does the illustration change the text’s meaning? Has the illustrator actually enhanced and creatively commented upon the text, rather than simply mirrored it? What are the implications when the illustrator is also the author? Wham! factor Visual communication is intended to make you feel something, and feel it strongly, whether it be to make you laugh, shame you into action, horrify, titillate, or put you at ease. The power of the inthe-gut Wham! is what makes people bond with the image, and it is one measure of an illustration’s success. Don’t be ashamed to fall in love with something corny, gory, sexy, sentimental, funny—the seductiveness, delicious creepiness, guilty pleasure, or what have you is exactly what makes the work relevant and desirable;, what makes you identify with it or recoil in horror. How successful—and how beneficial or dangerous—is that? Aura Walter Benjamin argued art’s “aura” (its worshipful aspect) was being killed by mass reproduction—but there’s a case to be made that reproduction increases aura by making something ultra-known and meaningful in multiple contexts (think of cheap woodcuts of Christian saints bought by pilgrims, the iconic portrait of Che Guevara, or the movement of the generic cowboy Western into local popular


cultures worldwide). Aura is one part Wham! factor, one part cherished symbol, many parts travel. No work of fine art gains iconic status without reproduction either. Intertextual cultural references If you see a rabbit carrying a pocket-watch, would it not remind you of Alice in Wonderland? Popular culture frequently delights in making injokes (think of The Simpsons). This puts a whole new spin on the concept of originality. Sometimes, a copy is just a ripoff; other times, it’s a homage. You get to decide which. Often, illustrators spoofed famous works of art, news items, or other illustrations, or something quite arcane. When such winks can only be decoded by an initiated subculture, the work becomes a special document giving historical and cultural insight to that subculture. This plays an important role in how subcultures legitimize themselves to members, and become materially manifest within the parent society. Creative Latitude For decades fine art has decried that illustration was “prostitution,” in part because the illustrator supposedly always bent to the will of the client. Scores of artists who “had to” do illustration to feed their painting habit have promoted this negative idea—they, however, are the ones who never liked illustrating to begin with. The deserters’ perspective made modern art look cosmetically as if it never took patronage or fashion into consideration. The contrast was actually quite unfair to dedicated illustrators whose creative satisfaction comes

from being deeply engaged with a team, a community, a patron (rather like contemporary artists working in “relational aesthetics”). Any illustrator can tell you that working with a demanding team requires more creativity, not less. A close examination of many top illustrators’ careers will show that they often took a creative lead in their collusion with authors and designers with stylistic envelope-pushing and communications problemsolving. Historically, denigration of illustration was initiated by jealous authors (such as Dickens) who resented being asked to write text to go with illustrations, and who disliked it when illustrators gave new meaning to their stories. Additionally, where the fine art market demands consistency to build a brand-like signature style the artist is known for, in illustration this is optional, and can be a detriment over time. For every illustrator who became a specialist, there are several who worked multiple visual personae, even under pseudonyms, or who simply changed hats whenever the urge or necessity came (Bob Peak was one, popularizing very calligraphic line drawings and hot, flat colour fields in the 1960s, and slick photo-realism in the 1970s). Although illustrators have often campaigned to have their creative input more valued at the early design stage, by comparison the illustration world has afforded more creative latitude—and pressure to keep on innovating—due to it needing to constantly develop new markets and maintain current ones without getting stale.

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Political incorrectness Visual communication generally has to get its point across quickly, and so there evolved a kind of shorthand for depicting people that everyone knew stood for specific personality types. These “types” can be traced back in time in emblems, popular theatre, literary genres, and traditional puppetry. While not all types are objectionable, types frequently reflect political and social values of their origin, and thus can be very racist or sexist. After repeated use, we call them stereotypical (after the printer’s technique of making an exact copy printing plate from the original). Some uses are conservative, others radical, such as comics and caricature, which operate like a medieval court jester’s act as a balance of power. Illustration scholarship uncovers the historical factors that resulted in certain visual traditions, and analyzes the effect they had. Sometimes what is now considered insulting actually began as a compliment; other times it was outright hatred. Collections of politically incorrect material help ensure that history is not forgotten or denied, or doomed to repeat; depending on the political climate, they can even protect freedom of speech. Some collectors reclaim questionable imagery in order to “own” and redefine it. Continuity vs. originality Where modern art movements such as abstract expressionism searched for new ways of making meaning because old forms were thought to be corrupt or dead, illustration kept continuity between past and future, finding old forms were not depleted after all. Old could


be updated to usher in the new; sometimes illustration quoted and popularized avant-garde art, where otherwise that art would have merely alienated people. Meanwhile, illustration had its own innovators and avant-garde in each era. Having no care for conservation, Illustrators were free to use whatever materials gave the best results, leading to a large degree of innovation with unconventional media. In modern art, originality is paramount. In illustration, innovation depends on the nature of the project and the intended audience. Sometimes the message is strengthened by adherence to tradition: think of Christmas themes, for example. On the other hand, a radical take on Christmas might be perfect for a particular audience. The key difference is that illustration does not simply value an avant-garde approach because it is experimental. Illustration also asks, “Is it effective?” An equally important criterion is whether or not the work is an outstanding exemplar of its particular genre: does the pin-up have the requisite long legs? Is the botanical illustration formally beautiful even as it meticulously and accurately describes the species? Each sub-section of illustration has its own set of rules—it’s up to you to decide how well the artwork exemplifies them or gainfully bends them. Both approaches are valid. Print media An understanding of the technical limitations, technical advantages, and distribution channels of different types of printing technology is essential to appreciating why a given illustration looks as it does.

For instance, pulp magazine art was made in extremely saturated colors because the poor paper dulled ink down so much in the final printing—and pulps relied on lurid color to attract the eye on the newsstand, because they often didn’t often sell by subscription. Pulp collectors look for this snappy color because it is integral to the form. In “slicks”—glossy magazines—often black and white artwork would have been embellished with spot colors, which were not painted on the artwork but instead specified with an overlay and applied by the printer. This, along with the fact that the master printer makes aesthetic decisions about the colour balance and quality of the ink and paper, which the illustrator (or art director) often approved after inspecting a proof, warrants considering the printing press as an artistic medium in itself, not just a mute reproductive technology. The illustration connoisseur should understand the difference between offset litho, rotogravure, chromolitho, photogravure, wood engraving and so on—and remember that many illustrators consider the print to be the final artwork— not their drawing. Condition Illustration art was sent to the art editor, designer, or graphic artist, who then glued down registration marks and marked it up with instructions to the printer in lead or “non-reproblue” pencil. These are normal and so do not merit as serious a downgrade as might be the case if scribbling and glue appeared on gallery art. A conservator can remove them if they interfere with the art; some prefer to leave them because they are 10

integral to the medium. The illustrator him or herself may have used white-out or blue pencil along with black ink to create line art. This should not be considered poor condition, or bad craftsmanship, because it is inherently how the artist is supposed to work under the eye of the camera, which does not register the blue or white (see comment re: final art above). Illustration was frequently not made or handled with any consideration for posterity, and so a little tolerance of occasional deterioration is in order. First the unconventional materials that afforded creativity may also have been unstable. Second, original art was often thrown away once it was published and many pieces on the market today were literally pulled out of the bin, worse for wear. Some collectors tolerate marks and missing parts as battle scars of survival of a once-denigrated medium, the history of the material object being as interesting as that of the image itself. Overlays may be missing, colours faded, collaged items flaked off. Compositions may look strange and unbalanced, because they were designed to be seen with type. Again, you must consult the printed pages (called tearsheets) to get an idea what the original art looked like and decide whether its deterioration affects its value. Display While illustration art can look great on the wall, this was never its intended purpose. Some illustrators and comics artists express doubts about whether their work ought to be in museums, installed without its accompanying text. The practice


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of enjoying the illustration in its intended medium (a book, or album cover for instance) and at its intended scale (much illustration is painted larger than its printed size) is integral to the art form. Also, the artwork can look quite different if the printed final included spot colours and other printing effects. Don’t be surprised if an illustrator doesn’t seem to care about museum or gallery shows! Their work gets far more exposure in print. See if you can respect the intent of the original even when displaying the work as art – having the printed rendition on hand, for instance. Periods and styles Illustration is often said to have begun with hunters depicting their game on cave walls. Some prefer to define illustration as only images accompanying text, usually books. Still others limit it to images reproduced mechanically, while another contingent feels illustration is any explicitly narrative figurative work in two dimensions. Each of these attempts (and there are more) to define illustration are flawed, but all agree that illustration entered a new phase in the 19th century with the development of cheaper paper, automated printing presses, greater distribution networks, and rising literacy. Out of this came the notions of “mass” media and “mass” thinking, where unprecedented numbers of people were exposed to the same ideas. While true in principle, the notion of “mass” breaks down upon closer examination. Certain illustration styles were frequently paired with certain subjects, which in turn appealed to a specific subculture, strengthening that

group’s individuation. Regional variations occurred. Genres splintered into subgenres, each brewing its own variation of visual culture and audience. The connoisseur of illustration does not see an undifferentiated mishmash of commercial art— he or she sees subtle semiotic nuances pointing to kinds of people, values, lifestyles, places, and time periods. Key periods 1830-1860 Stone lithography allowed illustrated periodicals to flourish, bringing infamy to caricaturists and cartoonists especially. 1850-1870 Wood engraving enabled cheaper illustrated book and magazine production, while chromolithography boosted fine art reproduction and pictorial advertising. In the USA, Civil War reportage accelerated the consumption and production of illustrated news. 1880s Invention of the halftone allowed photographs and artwork to be reproduced without being filtered through the hand of the engraver, bringing illustrators recognition on par with that of fine artists. 1890-1920(ish) The “Golden Age” of illustration, when print was the primary medium of communication and illustration was used as much as or more than photography; Illustrators were at their highest point of being in demand and were celebrated and paid as artists of high repute. Visual advertising became a serious social force.

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1920-1950 Illustrators gradually lost ground to photography; the high/low divide between fine art and illustration downgraded the status of the latter. Pulp fiction and pin-ups peaked 1930-1950. 1950-1970 Magazines began to fold after 1950 due to TV; younger illustrators began to rebel and illustration became more experimental and conceptual. The new field of graphic design took over much of the autonomy and creative input illustrators formerly had. Studios began to close and proportionately more illustrators became freelancers. Illustrators began compiling a history of the field. 1970-1995 Editorial illustration enjoyed much freedom of speech and prestige; after 1990, cheap “stock” art available digitally began to ruin illustrators’ livelihoods. 1995-2010 Illustrators began to selfadvocate collectively; underground comix rejuvenated the industry and made illustration hip again in fine art and design. Many illustrators found new roles in animation and new media, and new respect as creative leaders. Scholarly interest in illustration began. Styles, schools, and studios Whereas many fine artists voluntarily banded together to form groups or collectives devoted to a specific artistic goal, illustration “schools” evolved organically out of the more famous studios where especially successful


illustrators worked. A studio was a business where many illustrators were employed (somewhat exclusively) on salary and/or commission. The studio also employed salesmen, photographers, retouchers, and others to help get and produce camera-ready art for advertising agencies and other clients. Brandywine – not a studio, but a colony following the teacher Howard Pyle, who is best-remembered for his pirate characters, which set the type that informed the film Pirates of the Caribbean. Brandywine is a region near the Delaware art school (sometimes misidentified as “Chadds Ford”) where Pyle taught circa 1900. He encouraged artistic autonomy and painterliness in students’ work (primarily illustrating fiction). His most famous students include NC Wyeth (established the standard for heroic adventure and action stories), Maxfield Parrish (his classicized, romantic metaphor of puberty, Daybreak, was one of the most reproduced images ever), and Jessie Willcox Smith (illustrator of mothers and children). Sundblom Studio – Haddon “Sunny” Sundblom was a Chicago illustrator who established a large studio from the 1920s to the 1950s that handled much advertising. He demanded his staff learn to paint like he did because he had contracts that depended on consistency for branding (most famous was the Coca Cola Santa Claus). This style is sometimes called “buttery” and is what most people think of when they imagine classic American advertising illustration: very upbeat and

idealized with strong realistic modeling and life-like depiction of light and texture. His more famous followers include Andrew Loomis, who wrote the most complete textbook for illustrators; and Gil Elvgren, the pin-up illustrator. Cooper Studios – this studio employed the most famous boy-girl illustrators of the 1950s, such as Coby Whitmore and Jon Whitcomb (think sexy housewife romance stuff in gouache). By the late 50s,however, they had hired Murray Tinkelman, whose early whimsical black-andwhite pen drawings hearkened back to early modern woodcut and eventually evolved into tightly cross-hatched, surreal commentary, a move that signaled the shift to conceptual illustration. Pushpin Studio – at the front of the turn to conceptual illustration was Pushpin Studio, founded in 1954, where Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast practiced a tight integration of text and image, bridging illustration and graphic design, and ushering in a postmodern approach where antique sources mingled with the new. They did not shy away from popular culture at its most base, and they embraced the immediacy of “bad” drawing. Glaser’s most iconic work includes his 1966 psychedelic album design for Bob Dylan; Chwast is known for subversive irony, such as his 1967 anti-war poster, End Bad Breath. Talking with illustration collectors Unfortunately, much of twentieth-century art theory has resulted in enormous, 13

antagonistic walls between the world of modern/contemporary art and that of applied art. As a result, when representative collectors meet, they may be mutually shocked at how ignorant or prejudiced the other party seems. Suspension of one’s preconceptions and a willingness to listen are imperative to making these halves whole again. Doing so allows us to see how the two have influenced one another and how they are not so different after all. Museums and Galleries Specializing (or with large collections) in Illustration NY Society of Illustrators Museum of American Illustration (NY) Norman Rockwell Museum (MA) New Britain Museum (CT) Delaware Art Museum (DE) Brandywine River Museum (PA) National Museum of American Illustration (RI) Illustration House (NY) Crystal Bridges Museum (AR) Coming soon: Lucas Cultural Arts Museum (CA) House of Illustration (UK) Chris Beetles Gallery (UK) Galerie 9e Art (France) Ehon Museum Kiyosato (Japan) In Canada, the only comprehensive collection of illustration art was recently deaccessioned by the Glenbow Museum and it rests in storage pending finding a permanent home. Individual illustrators’ fonds may be found in a smattering of institutions. Significant cartoon collections are held in the National Library and Archives, McCord Museum, and Simon Fraser University.


INTERVIEW WITH JON CARLING Oakland-based artist Jon Carling’s work has been described as imperfectly precise, and otherworldly. Childhood imagination haunts his drawings, as they often swing from pure fantasy to dry terror. Working only with pen and pencil (and the occasional spot of color), he weaves creatures and environments that recall 19th century book illustration, while incorporating transcendent and sinister themes. One of the most striking aspects of your work is their emphatic materiality. Where do you get your materials?

I find my paper at various thrift stores, junk shops, estate sales, antique dealers and used book stores. The discovery of some old or strange piece of paper is always exciting and inspirational to me. I have found that the aged, unique quality of a surface really sparks something in my imagination when I sit down and work. I keep drawers full of collected papers and just grab a stack when I need to replenish the bundle that I carry around with me everywhere I go. I also like to make really simple and cheap sketchbooks out of sheets of new writing paper, stapled together with my binding stapler. I use them for everything really. For ideas or notes. They are the source of the drawings I have been publishing in the “Sketchbook Exhibits” series. I am putting out a volume of sketchbook drawings every month this year. I try to make drawing as painless and convenient as possible. I have found over the years that all of the preparation that many other disicplines require can kill the inspiration of the initial idea for an image. Not to say I haven’t painted in the past or won’t in the future. I wish I was a better painter and sculptor. I plan to really concentrate painting in the future, but, for now, drawing with pen and pencil is very satisfying.

Do you modify your surfaces in any way? If so, what do you do?

Typically, I don’t do anything to the surfaces I use. I think the less preparation I can get away with, the better.

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Describe your process. What comes first? Do you have an idea and then find materials that will suit it or do your drawings emerge from looking from the uniqueness of the page?

I approach my drawings many different ways. I always keep an idea book, where I scribble down ideas and little phrases. I will refer to this book whenever I am searching for a new drawing idea. I might sketch out the rough template for a drawing and carry that rough sketch around until I am inspired to finish it, this could be over the course of a year. I have many drawings in many stages of completion that I always have with me. I think I avoid finishing drawings by starting new ones, so, I am sure to always keep them with me. Other times I will sit down and draw with no concept worked out at all. Just draing and letting the picture compose itself as I draw freely. I always have a few long form ideas in my head, a continuing story line I am working out for some future book project. Having all of these different approaches allow me to steer clear of having creative blocks.

Most of your work is black and white. What is it about the contrast between these two that appeals to you? Your drawings are quite minimal in that they rarely ever contain any sort of background (i.e.: grass, sky, any other details to give the viewer a context as to where the scene is taking place). Can you elaborate on this?

Most of my sketchbook drawings are stark, black and white images simply because I am usually out somewhere scribbling while I wait in line, or sitting in a coffee shop. For the work I do on found paper, the texture and aged quality creates a color scheme. So, I don’t see that work as purely black and white. Right now, color doesn’t play a big part in completing my ideas. I have used color quite a bit in the past, but in recent years, I just haven’t missed it. Same goes for including landscapes and backgrounds, I have done many fully composed illustrative scenes, and plan to do more, but, in the past few years, I have been simplifying my work to express ideas . That said, I wouldn’t say all of my current work lacks backgrounds or scenery.

We noticed a lot of references to Italy or Italian in your work. Can you tell us what inspired that? Do you consider yourself to be responding or in dialogue with Renaissance illustration?

Europe has always been a kind of magical, far off place in my mind. I have always loved Egyptian, Greek and Roman mythology and the way it resonates through the ages. I grew up pouring over several collections of myths and faerie tales, I still read them. I would describe the relationship as more of a connection to my childhood rather than a true resonance with a specific country or culture. That said, my family is fourth and fifth generation Italian-American, so there has always been that component in my life. A few years back, I set up a series of shows in northern Italy through some friends in Reggio Emilia. They run a publication called YouthlessFanzine which is an Arts and Music underground magazine. They found my work by chance and asked me to do a cover illustration for them, and then, an interview. We got along so well that we decided to put on a big show in Reggio Emilia, which I traveled to Italy to help set up. It was my first time over seas and an incredible experience. Since that show, Youthless Fanzine has set up a series of boutique shows for me in some of the surrounding cities.

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Is there a link between nineteenth and twentieth century sci-fi and your works? For example, St-Exupery, Redwall, etc.?

Sure, but not really to the people you have stated. I think we are all influenced by sci-fi. We live in a time speculated to be futuristic by old science fiction. We fancy ourselves as a sort of pseudo-sci-fi civilization. Look at the modern cars and technology. Most of it has been shaped by the great imaginations of the past. For me, there is a stronger direct link to some of the early twentieth century illustrators like J.R. Neil and McCay. They have this incredible line work combined with really imaginative characters. Early twentieth century Russian animation is another one… I love their versions of old children’s stories.

What do you think about science?

This is a vague question. I can stab at ideas, but there is nothing to stimulate anything specific in my reaction to the overall subject. Science is an essential element to modern life. I enjoy drawing while watching nature shows, or the ones about our universe. Quantum mechanics is fascinating, although I don’t quite understand it. Science is the savior and ultimate destroyer of modern man. I am reminded of an old quote by someone, I can’t remember who, it goes: “I know what time is, but when you ask me to explain it, I don’t.”

You seem to have a fascination with the technological and the surreal and fantastic. These two seemingly opposite worlds seem to collide in your work. Can you elaborate on what you think the connection is and how imagination can propel technology?

Imagination is what created technology. I don’t see them as opposite at all. I think modern technology (beginning in the 20th century) appeared sort of anti-organic, because of how clunky and monochrome it all was in its early stages. But, now as we reach this new era of science and technology, the organic and mechanic are merging into something not yet realized. 3D printing and C&C machines are just the beginning of this new wave. Modern technology is by its very nature “Surreal and fantastic” and will continue to be ever more so. I am interested in the future application of artificial intelligence. It is frightening to realize the growing use of drones and A.I. in military and government programs. I am certain that we will see most armies consisting mostly of smart drones in the next 25 years. Eventually, we will see every service job transform into an automated function, airplanes, buses and cars. Fully automated factories and fast food restaurants will be the norm. The great challenge for us is told hold on to our humanity as we become mechanized.

There seems to be a certain bleakness or disenchantment with the world that resonates through your artwork. Do you see yourself as a pessimist or an optimist? Why?

I don’t really see myself as either. I am hopeful, for the most part. I have mood swings and conflicting ideas every day. I consider it an optimistic act to create art. Reality is disenchanting and bleak on the face of it. In human society as well as nature, there is indifference. I think it is the essence of bad art and music, when you ignore the indifference and use a rosy filter on everything

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Bottom part of “Emma and the Ghosts” by Jon Carling, 2012.

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“THE CLOCK” BY JON CARLING, INK ON PAPER 18


“STRANGE VIZIR” BY JON CARLING, INK ON PAPER 19


“HEAD PROGRAMMER” JON CARLING INK ON PAPER

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“MAIN ATTRACTION” JON CARLING INK ON PAPER

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“ACROBAT” BY JON CARLING

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“COWBOY AND DINOSAUR” BY JON CARLING, 2008

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EMMA AND THE GHOSTS JON CARLING INK ON PAPER 2012

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II.

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THE FLY JON CARLING INK ON PAPER 2012

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SELF-PORTRAIT: SCHIELE JULIAN PETERS WATERCOLOUR 2013 28


JULIAN PETERS ‘SELF’ PORTRAITS BY ERIKA ASHLEY COUTO

The first piece of art that I owned was a caricature done by an artist at the local mall. When I pulled it out a few months ago while moving, I could not help but laugh at my own childish pride and narcissism as I hung it back up on my walls. I remember showing my portrait to anyone who was unlucky enough to visit my grandmother’s house for long enough to pay me any mind. Montreal artist Julian Peters’ Self-Portraits are rife with this same sense of innocent pride. An ever-evolving series of drawings, the artist renders his self-portrait in the style of artists who have come before him. Peters’ face travels through space and time in the series, emulating portraits of the

Renaissance, the British Imperial Period, and yes, even the cheap mall artist. The portraits transport the viewer through the canon of portraiture with the common feature of the artist’s face, manipulated and shaped to fit the model, but with the same distinct features: the bushy eyebrows, prominent nose, full lips. Peters seamlessly slips into the roles he has chosen in emulating the portraits: merchant, aristocrat, leader, artist. Peters’ works rely on the popularity of the images that he has chosen. The viewer feels as though they have seen Peters’ portraits hanging on the wall of a museum or flipped past it in a textbook somewhere. And yet, at the same time, the image 29

seems foreign. The artist’s face never quite seems to blend into the rest of the carefully emulated portrait. The viewer may not know the title of a painting, its artist, or even its time period, but they know the faces that are supposed to be in each one. Instead, they are presented with the same face, that of the artist, and it seems out of place in every single one.


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SELF-PORTRAIT: DURER STYLE JULIAN PETERS 2012

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SELF-PORTRAITS JULIAN PETERS GRAPHITE ON PAPER 2012

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Julian Peters is a comic book artist and illustrator living in Montreal. In the last couple of years, he has focused primarily on the adaptation of classic poems into comics. He is also currently pursuing a master’s degree in Art History, with a thesis focusing on Dino Buzzati’s “Poema a fumetti” (“Poem Strip”) and the “visual novels” of Martin Vaughn-James.

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INTERVIEW WITH MARIDZA KIM SARAH Characterized by heterogeneity of method, palette and genre, Maridza’s work combines aspects of figurative sexuality, painterly abstraction as well as pop art. The end result is more akin to a form of collage through weaving, embroidery and threading of subject matter, techniques and material like a bastard hybrid of painting and drawing. The subject matter she gravitates towards leaves room for interpretation: referencing childhood fairytales, movies, fashion, games, philosophy and art history, she meditates on relationships past, present and future, whether real, projected or fantasized and question aspects of sexual identity by exposing mythologies surrounding the feminae, seduction and gender roles.

I know you as Audrey, but why do you identify with Maridza Kim Sarah?

Maridza is a variation of the traditional Catholic ‘Mary’, only with the oomph of a flamenco dancer. Kim is for Kim Novak, an American actress, as well as to inspire the delicate and kind demeanor of one of my mother’s Korean friends. Sarah is for Sarah Bernhardt, a famous French stage and film actress and Audrey is for Audrey Hepburn, for a touch of elegance and class. Little did she know that they would all be applicable, instigating what would become an everlasting bond between my identity and fairytale references.

This partially explains why there are so many references to fairy tales in your work.

Partially, sure. It might also have to do with growing up very fast. Maybe it’s my way of hanging on to a little bit of innocence despite the adult nature of my subject matter. Or maybe, I’m on my way to dispelling this idea of a happily ever after and becoming a full-grown adult after hanging onto what was left of my childlike innocence.

Physicality and material are two strong aspects that present themselves in your work, are they important to you?

I’ve been extremely lucky to have a very supportive mother that placed enormous emphasis on autonomy, encouraged me to aim high and reach for my dreams, to develop the tools necessary to achieve my goals.

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CONT’D...

I think of myself as a very resourceful woman – using my mind, my body and intuition to experiment and manipulate the materials. I’m inspired by their inherent signifiers, and using this intuition is a way for me to keep the work honest.

So it is safe to say that much of your work replicate your life and its experiences.

The ‘events’ in my work are often just that: experiences, fantasies and projections weaved together in my own form of synesthesia/ ideasthesia. Somewhere between illustration and abstraction, on materials that I’ve collected for their inherent signifiers (like bed sheets I shared with an ex-lover, for example).

Your earlier work involves narration and illustration, however more recently you have utilized abstraction; and then pairing the two together, could talk about this transformation and mutation of techniques?

Yeah, I vacillate between the two. I guess my background in film animation and videogames promoted an illustrative aesthetic. It’s very relatable and descriptive. On the other hand, when trying to express ideas that cannot be formulated so literally, abstraction is the only way to go. Right in-between is where I’d like to get to at this point. Finding a balance between the illustrative and conceptual aspects is the quest I’ve engaged on these past couple years.

You often use what is referred to as traditional methods of drawing - pencil/graphite/ charcoal on paper- do you connect with this idea of tradition?

Ok, I can be out there with my subject matter - I mean how I interpret things can be pretty complex, but my application is fairly traditional - the whole idea of making my own pigments and getting involved with the whole process of creation is rooted in this question of tradition. What I have to say is unconventional, how I choose to express myself is quite the opposite. I guess I’ve always been quite fond of hovering in the margins, working with rules and breaking them with exceptions.

How about art history?

I don’t really have an art historical background - my background is in pop culture, videogames and comic books. That being said, I realize that I am emulating what other artists have done, but realize this mostly after the fact. An exception would be the pastiche I made of Cecily Brown’s Pyjama Party as it was a complete reversal of process. Choosing a reference from art history, from an artist who is female and feminist, with so many other art historical references within her work and appropriating it all with my own soup of color selection and compositional choices. I mean, everything has been done, right? But I haven’t done it all, therefore I generally prefer to experience it from within and discover history rather than emulate the past with the purpose of making it present.

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AU NATUREL MARIDZA KIM SARAH HOMEMADE BEET DYE AND ACRYLIC 30” x 40”, 2013

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AU NATUREL IV MARIDZA KIM SARAH ACRYLIC AND PASTEL ON CANVAS 30” x 40”, 2013

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AU NATUREL TRIPTYCH D MARIDZA KIM SARAH ACRYLIC AND PASTEL ON CANVAS 3 x 16” x 16”, 2013

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RAPUNZEL IV MARIDZA KIM SARAH GRAPHITE ON PAPER 60” x 36”, 2012 (L) FULL ARTWORK (R) IN DETAIL

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RAPUNZEL IXII MARIDZA KIM SARAH GRAPHITE ON PAPER 36” x 60”, 2012

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RAPUNZEL IVI MARIDZA KIM SARAH GRAPHITE ON PAPER 36” x 60”, 2012

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PYJAMA PASTICHE 46


MARIDZA KIM SARAH ACRYLIC AND OIL ON CANVAS 72” x 48”, 2012 47


TERRITORIAL PISSING MARIDZA KIM SARAH ACRYLIC ON CANVAS 36” x 48”, 2011

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INTERVIEW WITH MARIANNE LANG Marianne Lang deals with spaces. Although her works always take up their position within different environments and action fields, all contents originate from her own personal surroundings. These she selectively integrates with the artistic context in the form of quotes or simulation. Although consistently intent on preserving the aspect of authentic feeling and experience, she stages a charade that blurs the boundaries between reality and illusion.

We’ve noticed that a romanticized version of nature features prominently in your artwork. It seems as though you are almost engineering a nature that no longer exists. What is it about nature that fascinates you? Do you spend a lot of time in nature?

When I was a child I spent a lot of time outdoors, went for long walks and played alone in the forest. Therefore nature appeals to me on a certain level of perceptive sensitivity. In the city I discover contrasts and interactions between everyday architecture and an artificially distorted kind of nature. This process of domestication is part of our lives and affects, educates and forms us all of the time. I very often deal with this feedback phenomenon within my work. Personally, I am still happy to be in the position to preserve my healthy balance between urban life and country side.

Your work seems to complicate the division between interior and exterior space, particularly in your Double Sight series. Can you speak more to your intentions behind the pieces?

Similar to a photographic double exposure the pencil drawings show one exterior and one interior simultaneously. The viewer looks at a hilly landscape with woods and fields, settlements and farm buildings in the distance, while at the same intensity a simple inside space can be seen. Like facing a reflecting window glass you can recognize both sides at once, with the difference that you don´t really know on which side you are standing. One is left in the drawing by their workmanship in the dark about which side you as a viewer is now available. It is a matter of interpretation, whether you look inside or outside the window. It creates a riddle, which perceived scene is regarded as the real view and which one is the mirroring. At last both actually are just images.

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You seem to place a high degree of importance on materiality - both natural and artificial. What is it about raw materials that fascinates you?

Many of your works seek to expand spaces within preexisting architecture. There is something almost fantastic about it. Is there a utopian drive behind your work?

On the one hand all those materials are alienated, by being transferred to an artistic or artificial medium. Ice crystals get engraved in glass, a pressed clay brick is reproduced as a drypoint, the chopped wood logs imaged with ink soak into the paper, a furry pattern is branded onto wood grain, etc. On the other hand, the shown structures and materials always represent a kind of actual condition. The objects tell a story about how they arose and what could be their destiny, under which circumstanced they were gained and maybe further processed, where they did come from and where they will go. Depending on the captured moment the motif can be experienced as a very narrative one, although in the strict sense it´s only a deceptive and fictitious image of an object, playing with expectations.

The buildings I am dealing with can be found directly in my personal and artistic environment. Often I reduce, deconstruct and rearrange the spaces and extend them with stylistic quotations. Unlike professional architects I don´t have to care about any requirements or human needs. Rather I focus on pure aesthetic aspects. My audience should not expect architecture from me, but fine arts. It is more about interpreting the existing world, than building a new utopia.

Many of your more recent artworks seem to showcase your own personal spaces. Why is it important for you, as an artist, to privilege your own living and working spaces as inspiration for your art?

Perhaps this may sound a little bit traditional, but in my point of view artists should always reflect their own experiences. The most brilliant art concept is boring, if it lacks in authenticity and form. You must know yourself and your surrounding pretty well, in order to act self-confidently and imaginatively.

Describe your ideal room.

Empty - so you can fill it.

We noticed that your degree is in Painting and New Media, but your work relies heavily on drawing while painting is virtually absent. What is it about drawing specifically that allows you to communicate your intentions as an artist that painting cannot achieve?

Drawing is clear, precise in statement and form. Painting decorates, digresses, it has more possibilities to interpret. If you want to play with reality and illusion, your assertion should stand as firm as possible - especially in case of a deliberate lie leading the viewer astray. However, if you want a clear vision, you have to choose the tool that supports you own significance the most.

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We noticed that your degree is in Painting and New Media, but your work relies heavily on drawing while painting is virtually absent. What is it about drawing specifically that allows you to communicate your intentions as an artist that painting cannot achieve?

Drawing is clear, precise in statement and form. Painting decorates, digresses, it has more possibilities to interpret. If you want to play with reality and illusion, your assertion should stand as firm as possible - especially in case of a deliberate lie leading the viewer astray. However, if you want a clear vision, you have to choose the tool that supports you own significance the most.

You also work heavily in video, but your work, to date, does not seem to combine drawing with video. Can you speak to this? Do you think that there is a future for combining drawings with newer forms of media in art?

Mixing media only make sense if there is a reason to do that. As a visual artist, it is a challenge and a part of my job, to get access to all technical procedures that I require for my current work. My recent projects mostly have been realized with classical methods, but I don´t want to rule out that future works will demand a completely new direction. To answer the question: Since drawing per se is on the rise, I can imagine that within the next years there will occur a lot of exciting and surprising inputs and hybrid phenomena. That´s something we can look forward to.

How do you feel that your work relates to architectural processes or methods, especially as an installation artist who works with real spaces as much as fictitious ones?

My aim is to question common habits of seeing things and to create potential ideas that do not have to adhere to physical laws, static preconditions or legal requirements. Maybe for professional architects my unconstrained and independent approach seems to provide new perspectives and defines space in an alternative way. I design my concepts in the form of construction drawings and three-dimensional models. So indeed there are many parallels, but my work cannot be classified as a part of this field.

Do you feel like architectural drawings have been freed from their utilitarian purpose after the introduction of AutoCAD? Can it now be a creative medium?

Conventional architectural drawings as well as designs on the computer are just instruments to develop and visualize ideas. For me as an artist it is totally irrelevant whether an instrument is brand-new or antiquated, whether it is old school or trendy. Of course there always exist visual prejudices and associative references towards certain media, but what really counts is to find aesthetic criteria, which always vary, depending on the type of project you want to realize. Besides, the medium itself is never creative, but the person who selects the right tool for the right purpose and knows how to deal with it in a proper way.

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“Fertig Parkett” by Marianne Lang, 2012

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KWH 4.0 MARIANNE LANG PENCIL AND INK ON PAPER 40 CM x 30 CM EACH 2012 55


FERTIGPARKETT MARIANNE LANG PENCIL ON PAPER 24 QM (L) 2011 (R) 2012

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INHERENT LINES MARIANNE LANG WALL DRAWING, INK (L) 2011 (R) 2013

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DOUBLE SIGHT MARIANNE LANG PENCIL ON PAPER 150 CM x 110 CM EACH 2013 60


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THE THREE CULTURES BY ZOYA MIRZAGHITOVA

Zoya Mirzaghitova is an undergraduate Art History student at the University of British Columbia, where she is Editor-in-Chief of the ‘Undergraduate Journal of Art History’, Assistant Editor for the ‘Canadian Literature Periodical’ and a Gallery Assistant at Satellite Gallery in Vancouver. She is pursuing a career in curating and is interested in contemporary art and how it can be made accessible to the general public.

In 1959, C. P. Snow addressed an audience at Cambridge with a speech that he has since dubbed “The Two Cultures.” He spoke about art and science and their polar opposition to one another. This opposition can still be observed today: those in humanities and those in sciences interact very little and are often not only ignorant of the progress the other is making, but also not interested in it. Snow claimed that the only solution to this rift in society was a drastic change in education. He was of course thinking of major colleges that dictate the school curriculum as students prepare for scholarship exams. More than 50 years later this rift still exists. Despite changes

in education, it is growing more extreme in light of the increasingly narrow specializations available to young professionals today. Although Snow asserts that there is “no place where these cultures meet,” I argue that the very tools these two cultures use, drawing and illustration, can be used to bridge the gap between them. Drawing has been used for centuries to communicate ideas. It is a language that both the sciences and the arts speak, and thus can logically be used as a means to unite the two. More than this, I will argue, drawing and illustration provide the means to bridge the larger gap between these two cultures and the general public. 62

In his writing, Snow advocated for a drastic change in the education system by illustrating the fatal flaw in the intellectual society. He divided intellectual culture into two fields, science and literature, though for the purposes of this discussion it would not be farfetched to group all the humanities and the fine arts with literature and mathematics with the sciences. As a member of both cultures, has personally experienced the utter disinterest and hostility directed by one towards the other . Due to this antagonism the members of each culture know next to nothing about the other, and this ignorance was Snow’s greatest concern.


Scott Massey’s Heat=Light=Heat, video installation (2013).

Since his lecture, many have picked up this topic in their writing. Among them, author Victoria Vesna suggested that computer technology could bridge the two fields. Eugene Odum, on the other hand, has argued that ecology could become the meeting place for the two, while Takashi Tachibana and numerous others support Snow’s call to change education. One unanimous opinion resonates with everyone — the gap between the arts and the sciences has only become worse. In a later essay The Two Cultures: A Second Look, Snow forecasted the creation of a third culture that would unite the two. I, however, would like

to propose a different definition of the ‘third culture.’ It is not a solution but rather a piece of the problem that Snow seemed to have missed — the general, unspecialised public. Snow focuses on the academic community; however the gap between both of his two cultures and the rest of the population is just as great and perhaps even more concerning. It can be argued that the general public fits under the humanities camp as those are generally deemed more accessible. However, as I will argue in more detail later, this is not always the case; many aspects of the arts are restricted to specialists. The ideal solution may be a new culture, combining the others; however the first 63

step to the formation of such a culture is the forging of bridges between those which already exist. Drawing is the tool that allows this first step to be taken. Drawing has frequently been called the “foundation of the visual arts” but it is, more broadly, “basic to human communication,” as its function in both art and science demonstrates. Although its application in the sciences is perhaps less obvious, the sciences nonetheless rely heavily on visual material to communicate concepts. Students are encouraged to draw graphs and sketches when solving math problems, biology students draw when observing specimens, and every branch


Screenshot from Henry Reich’s MinutePhysics.

of science uses diagrams to illustrate often dense topics. As Nigel Holems, a prominent information designer, has said: “Drawing is the basis of all diagram creation.” It communicates, clarifies, and moreover, it is not linguistically exclusive. On the other hand, the arts, both literary and visual, are in themselves a communication tool, and drawing is the foundation artists use to engage in this communication. An artist uses drawing to plan and map ideas that the finished work, whether in the drawing medium or not, will communicate. More importantly, however, drawing is a very approachable medium for people of all levels specialization. Doodles, sketched maps on napkins, quick diagrams, etc. are a part of everyday life which truly positions drawing as a basis of communication. It is an equal playing –field, accessible to both people at all levels of education, and here lies the importance of the drawing medium, since finding such an equal playing field is

an important step to fostering communication between all the cultures. With the close connection between art and drawing and art’s communicative nature, it may be tempting to conclude that the connection between art and science can be forged by explaining science with the use of art. That art can be the connecting language between science and the general public. One must still consider, however, the level of interpretation required by art itself, especially contemporary art. Although it is tempting to deem art more accessible than science, it can nonetheless remain conceptually unreachable. Just consider the vast resources dedicated to interpretation in major museums or the importance of doctorate degrees in the humanities. Even the few artists who have dealt with scientific topics in their work cannot be considered a sufficient bridge between the cultures, as they tend to use scientific concepts 64

for inspiration rather than focus on communicating these concepts . Indeed, few artists or art writers attempt to truly educate themselves about the concepts they reference in order to fully understand them. An even those who make this effort often see the scientific foundation of their work as something lost on the audience. Vancouver artist Scott Massey’s work provides a clear example of this situation. Unlike Snow’s example of the poet who adopts scientific terms without understanding them, only to deploy them in a mystifying fashion, Massey took time to research and discover more about the scientific basis of his work. . Snow would certainly approve, however Massey is nonetheless representative of an elite few. His work is not any more accessible to the general public than the science behind it and demonstrates the communicative limitations of contemporary art.


Screenshot from Henry Reich’s MinutePhysics.

His exhibition at the Charles H. Scott Gallery in Vancouver, Let’s Reach c Together, is described in the curatorial essay by Cate Rimmer as attempting to “explore cosmology, quantum physics and universal constants.” One of the works exhibited, Heat=Light=Heat, “makes visual the relationship between a common tungsten light bulb and quantum physics.” It is composed of a “single, unedited take” of a large light bulb turning on and slowly heating up. Half way through the video a raw egg is broken and placed on the bulb where it stays as it begins to cook. In the artist’s statement Massey references Max Plank’s use of the light bulb in his discovery of ‘quanta’ or packets of energy, in which light travels. Though it in no way ‘makes visual’ the whole of quantum physics, it effectively illustrates a quantum phenomenon called ‘black body radiation’. That quantum phenomenon, central to the piece, explains the changes in the

colour of light, though it is not mentioned in the accompanying text. This absence begs the question of whether the artist himself has a strong grasp of the concepts he illustrates. In his interest in scientific history and discoveries, Massey is what Snow calls for in his speech — an artist interested and educated in science. Though if Snow wanted a third culture where everyone is educated in both art and science this is not something that would aid its creation, as the general audience member would not be any closer to understanding the scientific concepts behind the work. The art can be appreciated, but the scientific concept within it is not easily accessible to those who do not know what to look for. Even when the artist understands the scientist, the majority of the population still remains in the dark. Therefore, despite everything, the problem of disjoined cultures persists. At this time, we may return to drawing as a unified language 65

between the camps. Though an artistic medium in its own right, drawing also possesses an inherent communicative clarity that allows it to function equally well in scientific contexts. Like Massey, Henry Reich, a graduate physics student and vlogger, uses art to explain science in his work; however his use of illustration results in a much more accessible piece. His series of YouTube video works entitled MinutePhysics uses an illustrated narrative to explain complex scientific concepts. Though such YouTube video works combine the techniques and methods of drawing, illustration, film and literature, they are rarely taken seriously as fine art. Regardless of whether such videos can be classified as art or not, however, they draw on art’s basic tools to create an approachable work that clearly illustrates science and makes it accessible to the unspecialized third culture. Rather than address divided camps, such works reframe the principles of art and science in


such a way as to render them accessible to the larger public, regardless of specialization. MinutePhysics videos are short, hand-drawn, recorded illustrations accompanied by a spoken narrative. The videos vary between 2 to 3 minutes in length. They clearly and concisely explain the scientific concept at hand using narration and drawing. A quote is written on the ‘About’ page, an artist statement of sorts: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” . The series does just that – it explains simply. Perhaps too simply, since it remains hard to accept these videos as art, since they lack the emphasis on the conceptual that is typical contemporary art as we recognize it. In assessing this type of work we must keep in mind however, that, as James Elkins argues in his book Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles, it is often the art historians and interpreters who bring this additional, conceptual meaning to the work. Elkins argues that “we are so inescapably attached to pictures that appear as puzzles and unaccountably uninterested in clear meanings and manifest solutions.” What Elkins words reveal is a prejudice in the art world towards the obscure and ambiguous, which explains why works with clear meanings are rarely accepted under the rubric of fine art. As ironic as it is to read extra layers of meaning in to this work, it is possible to see it as a call to a simpler form of fine art. Science, which previously seemed the most inaccessible of the cultures, has been able to connect to art and, through drawing, to the unspecialized public. On the other hand, art has become an increasingly dis-

tant culture, divorced from the larger public. Although drawing is a common language between all the camps, and although it is the basic building block of art, contemporary fine art fails to retain its clear and communicative nature. The more layers of meaning are added, whether in literature or visual art, the more that meaning is obscured from the audience, precluding full understanding and engagement with the works presented. I am not calling for simple and obvious artwork. However it is interesting to note that despite its pretenses to accessibility and universality, it is the culture of fine art which seems to most resist transparent communication. Drawing, although a basic tool of the arts, nonetheless figures as a means to bridge the distance between disciplines, and between specialists and the larger public. Though not perfect, we can thus see drawing as a fundamental first step towards communication and understanding between cultures. It bridges linguistic barriers as well as those between fields and between different levels of specialized knowledge. Although the rift between arts and sciences as well as specialists and public has been frequently remarked upon, this rift has yet to be resolved. MinutePhysics, while using art to make scientific concepts more approachable, engages with art only as a tool. It has this aspect in common with Scott Massey’s Heat=Light=Heat, which makes scientific concepts the material for art, however does not make either more accessible to the public. Thus, it is not enough to simply foster exchange, as Snow advocated, between the culture of the arts and that of the sciences. What is needed is for 66

a connection to be forged with the rest of society. Drawing, as we have seen, provides one possible method of doing so. A. French and Edwin Taylor. An Introduction to Quantum Physics. (New York: Norton & Company: 1978), 572. Cate Rimmer, Scott Massey: Let Reach c Together (Vancouver: Charles H. Scott Gallery: 2013). Charles P Snow, “The Rede Lecture, 1959,” Two Cultures: And a Second Look (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 1964), 172. Daina Augaitis, For the Record: Drawing Contemporary Life (Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery, 2003), 13. Eugene P. Odum, “Can Ecology Contribute to C. P. Snow’s Third Culture?” Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, Vol. 78, No. 3 (Jul., 1997): 234. Henry Reich, “About,” https://www. youtube.com/user/minutephysics/about. James Elkins, Why are Our Pictures Puzzles (New York: Routledge, 1999), 258. Nigel Holmes, “Information without Language,” Drawing- The Purpose, eds. Leo Duff and Phil Sawdon (Chicago: Intellect Books, 2008), 89. Takashi Tachibana, “Closing the Knowledge Gap between Scientist and Nonscientist,” Science 5378, Vol. 281 (1998): 778. Victoria Vesna. “Toward a Third Culture: Being in between.” Leonardo 2, Vol. 34, (2001): 121.


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ISBN: 978-0-9879327-0-9 $10.00 CAD 70

The Situation Gallery  

Issue 1: Illustration

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