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“Do not admire yourself. Do not let yourself shut up in a revolutionary school which has become conventional. Do not allow commercial speculation. Do not seek official glory. Draw your inspiration only from life.” - Francis Picabia

Francis Picabia, along with Marcel Duchamp, pushed the limits of Dadaism beyond it’s own self appropriated confines of World War I revolution and agitation, with the addition of surrealist contextualisation. This enabled the ‘anti-art’ movement of the Dadaists to out live the cultural epoch in which it was originally conceived. In 1916, Dada originated as a haven for polemics, poetry, and abstract art throughout World War I. Originally coming from eastern Europe, namely Romania, a number of artists such as Jean Arp, Sohpie Tauber, Hugo Ball, Hans Richter, and particularly the influential writer and performer Tristan Tzara, migrated to ‘neutral’ Switzerland to engage in what Tzara referred to as “a detonation of anger...and buffoonery...with a world racked by war...boring dogmas...and art which did nothing but reflect this limited universe.” (Alexandrian, 29;1970) The current zeitgeist contains the lingering ideologies of the early Dadaists (although they lay arguably latent). In a time when we can live in a country at war for the last five or so years, whilst all the while being totally detached from it’s political implications, speaks volumes about the societal state of ‘art’ and philosophy in general. Although not overtly political, the art of our time reflects the concurring sense of indignation and oppression that was

apparent at the conception of Sartre’s ‘existentialist’ proceding the Great Depression of World War II, but with the addition of overwhelming apathy. I am of the viewpoint that apathy is a great facilitator of creativity, but apathy without a sense of ‘culture’ is deplorable (cultural not in the sense of education, but awareness of the social climates in which we exist) Even the dictionary definiton states “widespread apathy (particularly) amongst students” Are we really striving towards an existence with which we are not content with? Tzara stated that Dada was not a movement but a state of disgust, “a declaration to the rights of fantasy.” (Alexandrian, 29;1970) Something that is rapidly becoming pertinent. In 1918, Picabia visited Switzerland and met Tzara, hurling himself and all his enthusiasm into Dadaism. The Paris based ‘Litterature’ group (consisting of poets; Andre Breton, Luis Aragon and Philippe Soupault) then contributed to taking Dadaism into a new realm of cultural dominance as Picabia became “the moving spirit of these happenings” (Alexandrian, 43;1970) where many surrealist principles were developed during this Dada period. In Paris, 1919, the anti-literary review ‘Litterature’ (inspired the french poet Guillaume Apollinaire and his quest for the ‘new spirit’ and the

spontaneity of things) originated with a similar manifesto that proliferated most of Europe at the time - “It was a revolt against aesthetics in the name of total freedom and inspiration.” (Alexandrian, 27;1970) Apollinaire taught that the poet must always be the accomplice to the painter, a firm ally in the conquest of the unknown. (ibid) Further to these sentiments, I personally find myself greatly inspired by surrealist literature of this period, the most poignant example being Andre Breton’s surrealist novel ‘Nadja’, a compelling love story written over a ten day relationship with a patient of pioneering french psychologist Pierre Janet. Although the text is considered semiautobiographical, and the style of writing suggests an over riding sense of realistic journalism, with the inclusion of actual locations throughout Paris, the reader is left with an ambiguity as to wether Nadja actually exists, or is simply a manifestation of the ‘freedom’ that Breton is pursuing.

“There are sophisms infinitely more significant and farreaching than the most indisputable of truths.” - Andre Breton

Sol LeWit on his sentences on conceptual artgoes someway to describing the correlative process of concept to idea. LeWitt “revolutionised the idea and practice of drawing and realigned the relationship between an idea and the art it produces. LeWitt’s art is not about the singular hand of the artist; the idea behind the work surpasses the work itself.” Ver y rarely does someone find themselves in the privileged position to articulate a well crafted thought, to be placed in a social realm for either scrutiny or adoration. This is why I consider myself an exponent of a ‘theory based aesthetic’, something that means as much in its absurdity and abstractness as it does in its initial informative conception, finding parity in style and substance.

I feel my work to be more successful the more abstract it is. The sense of curiosity is what drives a person to seek knowledge, to perhaps gain a degree of fulfillment from approaching a topic from an unfamiliar perspective. I feel this sense of fulfillment personally, when I can articulate myself concisely. I hold each piece as a comparative success if it enables me to learn something from it, whether it be from a design perspective or a conceptual perspective. Art has to be in a sense self reflective, a perpetual journal of thoughts. A series of images were created to highlight my personal interests, particularly in science and philosophy, in an attempt to understand how the ‘metaphysical brain’ works, in both the ‘how’ and ‘why’ contexts.

“A work of art may be understood as a conductor from the artist’s mind to the viewer’s. But it may never reach the viewer, or it may never leave the artist’s mind.” - Sol LeWitt

Inspired by French philosopher Rene Descartes, and his work in ‘Discourse of the Method’, each piece is accompanied with text as Descartes discarded perception as unreliable, and took only deduction as a method of understanding. Irrevocably this places my work in the realm where engagement with the thought of an audience is paramount. A type of continual discussion of the tabboos and concepts raised, and a questioning of the artist and his/her philosophies. Whatever the fallacies and conundrums existence reguritates, the steadfast ideology is that everyone wants to leave a legacy, no matter how modest and insignificant, no matter how self important and futile - no one wants to be forgotten.


Organised religion is a topic that weighs heavily upon my current work, as this stems from interests in philosophy, renaissance art, and to a degree science. The poeticism of renaissance art is palpable and shrouded in mysticism, something which I find inherently fascinating, such as Rafael’s tapestries in the Vatican to Michaelangelo’s murals in the Sistine Chapel. The details are unparalleled and have an intense realism that is juxtaposed within an inarguably surrealist context. Most of the works from the Renaissance period hold subtle mysteries to them, from Rafael’s use of the golden triangle, to DaVinci’s allusions to biology and precision of the human proportions, to Michaelangelo’s fascination with the brain and psychological metaphors. All of these artworks adhere to the devoutly Christian zeitgeist in which they were created, yet each artist gave glimpses into their personal interests. ‘The creation of woman’ on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel also holds a small discovery, where the artist’s fingerprint rests in the eye of Eve. This subtle fingerprint acts a signature, a representation of the artist ego and legacy. This acts in much the same way as the scrawling on the insides of public toilets. The universal principles are the same - no one wants to be forgotten. This is why I hold such a high regard for literature, perhaps even more so when dealing with abstract art and design, to give a comprehensive overview of the theories behind the works. A sort of self eveident explanation of thought, and something that is perceivably ubiquitous in conceptual art.

‘Curiosity and Absurdity’, the title of a series of works that focused predominantly on the use of geometry and ‘psycho-shape-analysis’, was a study into general forms of escapism, and general forms of geometry. Religion is a subject that’s psychological affiliations both interest and annoy me greatly, and quickly became one of the main topics explored within Curiosity and Absurdity, along with the ideas of Carl Jung and The Mandala - The circular symbol that signifies the self and individuation. Jung’s collective unconsciousness and universal archetypes theory suggest further the link between the psyche, religion and geometr y. From the ancient greek sculptures of Phidas, of which the Golden ratio originated, through to renaissance art of Rafael and his use of symmetry and the golden triangle, to surrealism, such as Dali’s Sacrament of the Last Supper, where Christ is positioned in the centre of a pentagon, constructed via the golden ratio. I enjoy greatly the indignant self importance that humans bestow upon themselves. It provides an infinite amount of humour and paradox. It inspires both my artwork and my creative writing, which in turn provides a brief explanation of the thought processes behind each concept, as in ‘The world is a fish balancing on a pyramid.’ (The fish being an adopted Christian symbol from Pagan traditions, and the pyramid being a symbol that is replete throughout nearly all modern religions - possibly because of their Egyptian origins. The image also alludes to the Muslim belief that the world rests on an infinite number of Tortoises.)

Other works in this series are placed firmly within the realm of philosophy, such as, ‘The subject, predicate’, inspired by Immanuel Kant’s ideas of existence. ‘The Apocalypse is fleeting’, inpsired by Jean Paul Sartre, to the ‘Curiosity and Absurdity’ tarot cards, inspired by the work of Neitzsche, Heidegger, Sartre. This mentality is also carried over to other mediums, such as illustration. In The Borland Fabrication exhibition, the illustration installation was directly influenced by the Sylvia Plath poem ‘Balloons.’ Impressionist art also featured within the illustrations as a re-appropriation of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s style in ‘Women bathing’ (Musee D’Orsay, 96; 2008), where the figures consist of seemingly concentric circles to ease the viewers gaze, like that of the Mandala. This is a style that I am personally attracted to as I find myself subject to its calming effects, not to mention its pleasing geometric aesthetic.

Curiosity and Absurdity Ontology Tarot pack The Borland Fabrication


Interpretation is a very important word that sums up our entire reality. As mentioned by american conceptual artist Mel Bochner, this makes the importance of language insurmountable in framing an idea. Something he writes about in his manifesto entitled ‘Language is not transparent’ (Grabner, 1970). This is reflected in a collaborative project entitled ‘Elephant’, where letters were produced from materials found in a single room to convey the english idiom of ‘Elephant in the room’. This piece also plays on the style of Austrian graphic designer and typographer Stefan Sagmeister. Use of language is also represented in the series of four collages entitled ‘Language and thought’, which were created as a collaborative language experiment to see the results of how illustrators from different nationalities interpreted the same things differently, and if this was dependent on their culture and/or environment. What follows is the pretext to the experiment (which never developed enough to present), that was to be the introduction to a book, showcasing all the pieces of artwork collaborated on: LANGUAGE AND THOUGHT. Inspired by the philosophical work of Ludwig Wittgenstein and the work of linguist Stephen Pinker, this publication hopes to explore the phenonemon of perception and conceptualisation within a creative domain. Featuring artists from across the globe, each image goes beyond the boundaries of conventinal language into a realm where visual interpretation is heightened. In this is where the experiment lies.

Because of the purely pictorial nature of this exploration, and its inextricability with the construal of p ersonal perception, as opposed to social perception, the importance of language to distinguish between, and organise ideas, is increased. Do we think within the boundaries of our imagination, or the boundaries of our language? This is a question of Linguistic Determinism (the notion that all thought is determined by language) and Linguistic Relativity (that difference in languages concoct a difference in thought), something that is proposed by the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and Ludwig Wittgenstein himself. However, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis has many flaws, in that “the stock of words in a language is not a closed inventory, permanently cramping its speakers’ thoughts, but constantly expanding as people respond to cognitive needs.” (Pinker, 129; 2007) If I think of juxtapositions between a host of objects that wouldnt usually enter the sphere of social thought, would that concept arise from a wide vocabulary or a broad imagination? The answer seems at first quite muddy. For example, to think of a complex concept such as two things that exist separately, but when used together create something greater than the sum of their parts, I would not require knowledge of the noun ‘synergy’. However, even this very explanation of the example is an oxymoron in itself. It is an expression of semantics, language defining itself with language, a sort of ‘Having its cake and eating it’ form of linguistic cognition.

This notion is the main cause for the misconception that we think ‘in’ our native language. “...that language frames events is fascinating, but it is only an extension of the obser vation that we use language to communicate.” (Pinker, 127; 2007) This would then suggest that when language is used to term ‘things’ as existing or happening separately from other ‘things’, it does so as a means of communication and not as a means of cognitive thought. A picture represents only an icon (As illustrated by Rene Migrette’s Treachery of Images and Key of dreams; ‘C’est ne pas une pipe’.) and icons lie within the realms of the cultural semiotic system. These, in turn, help construct our reality. “A sign must have both a signifier and a signified. You cannot have a totally meaningless signifier or a completely formless signified” (Saussure, 101; 1983) Jacques Derrida’s philosophy of Deconstruction also follows a similar principle through something he termed as ‘Differance’. (Bass, 6; 2008) “Différance therefore pervades all philosophy because all philosophy is constructed as a system through language. Différance is essential to language because it produces “what metaphysics calls the sign (signified/ signifier)”” “...a sign must point to something beyond itself that is its meaning so the sign is never fully present in itself but a deferral to something else, to something different.” (ibid)

Elephant In The Room Booklet

This alludes to the polysemy of words in our vocabulary and draws attention to the importance of context. For example, the noun ‘chair’ changes upon the context of the conversation, i.e, ‘Sally sits on the chair’, or ‘Sally is editorial chair of the newspaper’. The first is a subject-object proposition, where Sally changes the state of the chair by sitting on it, whilst the second is a subject-predicate proposition, where the subject Sally is being described as something, as opposed to doing something directly. (Pinker, 109; 2007) Polysemy aside, this linguistic nuance appears broadly in semiological interpretations of signs and signifiers. For example, if we take the signifier ‘chair’, the sign of a physical chair appears in the minds’ eye. (in my case a basic wooden chair) Yet by the definition of the individual’s own experience, ‘chair’ implies a rule that all ‘chairs’ should follow this cognitive pattern. The paradox lies within the definition. Chair: “A separate seat for one person, typically with a back and four legs.” So, by this definition, a chair has a specific purpose, thusly, for a person to sit on. However, take this paradox; I can sit on my bed, my bed has four legs and a ‘back’, it is also designed for one person. Moreover, I can also fall asleep on a chair. So, my dilemma is, is my bed a chair, or my chair a bed? There are no hard kernels under the semantic shells of ‘things’. No object is truly ‘in itself’ and existent without interpretation, much like a photograph or painting. An image doesnt honestly portray reality, as by its very nature it can only portray a glimpse of an isolated interpretation.

Take for example, a photo of Mother Teresa in Calcutta. One may see it as a truly virtuous and selfless image, whilst the other, an attempt to perpetuate malnutrition and poverty. (I use this example in conjunction with Richard Dawkins’ quote from the God Delusion, whereby he illustrates the “cockeyed judgement of the nobel peace prize winner when she stated, “The greatest danger to peace is abortion.”” (Dawkins, 333;2007) Thus creating a dichotomy of heroine and villain. I chose this example specifically as the Mother Teresa image is a social convention of ‘moral Christian virtue’, and highlights the fact that we are left to struggle with our initial interpretations. To enable us to categorize our reality, and to use language as a means to understand what we think about, is a constant process, perpetually altering with new experiences and gained knowledge (often resulting in neologisms), yet assumptions of the world are often cemented within a society. Incidentally, this is one of the main reasons why ‘faith’ is often an encouraged quality within large social circles. This is what Nietzsche referred to when he asserted that logic precedes things. There is not one unique and privileged description of the world and there are no ready-made objects for us to bump into. Rather, we categorize our sensory phenomena in a way that suits our ends and purposes (Hales, 829;1996) i.e. If I want to sit on an object that has ‘chairness’, it becomes a chair, not a bed, and vice versa. A similar notion is found in the work of French philosopher Rene Descartes. ‘Cogito ergo sum’ is considered the foundational element of Western philosophy. Translated into english it

reads ‘I think, therefore I am’. In his ‘Discourse of the Method’ Descartes considered this the first step to realising an indestructible truth. “I saw on the contrary that from the mere fact that I thought about doubting the truth of other things, it followed quite evidently and certainly that I existed.” (Descartes, 14;2005) Descartes thus states that the essence of the self is ‘to think’ and everything else cannot be corroborated beyond interpretation. (As tested in his ‘Wax Argument’.) In this manner, Descartes constructed a system of knowledge, discarding perception as unreliable and instead admitting only deduction as a method. ‘If I were to be deceived into thinking I did exist, when I did not, I would have to exist first to be deceived’. ‘I am’ is the first person singular present form of the copular verb ‘to be’, and thus both statements require a predicate about the subject they are positing. Naturally, as Descartes rightly pointed out, both assertions predicate ‘things’ within reality. I am a ‘thinking thing’ (the first item of definitive knowledge). As soon as the individual realises itself as an object, objectiveness is transmitted onto things that surround to continue the sense of self. This often happens through negation of other things. The square is a square because it is not a triangle. Sally is a chair of a newspaper because she is not a waitress. ( I use this analogy as an allusion to Jean Paul Sarte’s example of the waiter, to highlight the being-in-itself and beingfor-itself phenomena) Everything we internalise and objectify lends itself to semiotics.

Images from the collaboration project ‘Language and Thought’ By various artists from England, Italy and Belgium

“Language gives access to accumulated records of other people’s experiences, and confirms the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness of reality. We are all too apt to take concepts for data, words for actual things.� - Aldous Huxley

The image entitled 'The world is all that is the case' is taken from the opening statement of Ludwig Wittgenstein's 'Tractatus Logico Philosophicus'. This thesis alludes to a sense of humble resignation that would otherwise succumb to a fervent hand of metaphysics, with no real place in reality. It suggests that what we can think of, we can think of clearly or not at all, and that any proposition that can be expressed in language, can also be clearly answered. There are no fundamental problems, only confusion in the transition from thinking, to expressing the thoughts in language. With our subconscious use of language however, conjures the ideology that all questions that are grammatically correct are deserving of an answer. This is also a common misconception. For example, the question, 'What does red smell like?' is grammatically correct and seems enough to elicit a valid response, such is our faith in language as an honest communicator of reality and all its qualities. The subject of the question, 'red', is objectified as an entity, and thus can conceptually be thought of as being odorous. This is something that is highlighted by Bertrand Russell in the statement "this is red", a clarification and not a subject-predicate proposition (as in Tomatoes are red - the subject being 'tomatoes', the predicate being 'are red') but rather of the form of

'redness is here', that red is a name, a thing coexisting in a bundle of other things, hardness, heaviness, smelliness, etc. (Hales, 833; 1996) This is just one fallacy of language and the conceptualising by the mind of semantic discourse. 'Red', as an object of form, being able to be present in a room as a tomato is present in a salad, is simply a lexical illusion. As mentioned previously, a byproduct of social convention and lexical illusion is the 'God's-eye-point-of-view' so commonly rejected by Nietzsche. "He suggests that logic is embedded in our language that still makes ontological mistakes that our religion did. Our faith in grammar generates our faith in logic, which isn't much better than faith in God" (ibid) That is to say, 'God is red'. The corroboration or refutation of this assertion is purely ontological and lies firmly within the grasp of that large metaphysical hand. The image itself infers as sense of infinity. The Penrose Triangle is a visualisation of geometric impossibility. The viewer can spatially perceive the object in 3 dimensions, yet in reality it cannot exist objectively. In this sense it mimics the lexical illusion of propositions, in that it is a visual illusion, and nothing more. It is simply a matter of perception or 'being-for-itself'. (the waiter can never be the waiter as an apple is an apple, because first it is a human.)

The white sporadic lattice work illustrates the conduit metaphor that is replete throughout developed languages. The conduit metaphor acts in the same manner as 'this is red'. It allows intangible concepts such as knowledge, identity, thought, to be construed as possessions to be passed around. "Knowing is having, and communicating is sending, without it knowledge would never accumulate and language would be useless" (Pinker, 84;2007) It is the thing that binds thought inextricably to semantics. To paraphrase Roland Barthes, it is the cloth in which understanding is woven. The image entitled Syntax (the arrangement of words and phrases to create well formed sentences) is partly inspired by a passage from Gustave Flaubert's novel, Madame Bovary; "For none of us can ever give the exact measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows, and language is the cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity." It implies that language is an imperfect medium of expression. Indeed this refutes the claims of Wittgenstein's philosophic principle of linguistic determinism (something he later doubted himself), and thus the SapirWharf hypothesis, in that language

“For none of us can ever give the exact measure of his needs or his thoughts or his sorrows, and language is the cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.” - Gustave Flaubert

shapes thought, as opposed to accesses thought. The statement 'What we cannot speak of we must pass over as silence' is the seventh premise of the Tractatus Logico Philosophicus. "Wittgenstein's sentence and the argument that leads up to it is that the essence of the world is beyond the reach of human thought and words. Words can describe 'known facts' about the world, but that is all. Among the many things that lie beyond words are ethics, aesthetics, the meaning of life, the immortality of the soul, the nature of language and logic, and the fundamental structure of the universe. Wittgenstein asserts that most philosophical confusion arises from trying to speak about things that can only be shown." (Robinson)

The blue expanse of the collage in relation to the imperfect circle (reference to Jung's Mandalas) signifies this limitation of language. Linguistic determinism experiments have taken place on monkeys and young children with consistently similar results, in that both participants have elicited emotions towards objects without the presence of language. The eclectic array of images within the circle point to this fact, of thought transcending language throughout conscious organisms.

“Knowing is having, and communicating is sending, without it knowledge would never accumulate and language would be useless.” - Steven Pinker


All of the prior text was written by myself, Joel Galvin, preceding the 14th August 2009. The date is now 17th September 2009.

Within this relatively short period of time, unforeseeable personal experiences have occurred that have changed my general perception of myself, and my working processes. The nature of recent events transformed my excursion to the European Exchange Academy into a form of therapy, to delve into unknown waters head first, with the hope of emerging once more. Never before had I been in such an intimate group of international artists, yet the surroundings of the desolate hospital buildings of Beelitz gave me the incessant feeling that I didn't belong there. An existential breakdown of large proportions ensued, and I grew a moustache. What am I doing here, surrounded by fine artists when I am a graphic designer? Shouldn't I be making work for clients rather than exploring conceptual ideologies, and searching for this introspective thing called 'the self'? Should I be doing anything at all? What's the point? Sissyphus all over again, and all over again, and all over again. In such a situation, my previous self would have turned to a list of dead philosophers for advice. Reading this now, I can't help but think that this means of dealing with personal conflict is absurd, and so, I turned to the fellow artist, all philosophers in

their own right. Their advice existed in the immediate emotions of my surroundings, and proved to be immensely influential. "Don't value your ideas before you do them." said a swedish fine artist of the Rittveltd Academy. The process of making art, I thought, is not like making a cup of tea. I cannot visualise the apotheosis of great art, as it has no definitive end, but I know that I like my tea in a mug, with boiling water, milk and no sugar. The process of making art is constant, the process of making tea is not. DaVinci said "all art is never finished, only abandoned." In a graphic design context this could be translated as, nothing is really 'finished', only given to a client. Tobias.... a rotund and boisterous figure with a ginger beard, a nervous twitch, and a tattoo of the word 'KOPIA' on his right inside forearm sat with me one day for a quiet discussion. Tobias told me that the tattoo of the word 'kopia' is simply translated into english as 'copy'. This is something that cropped up in a discussion of originality within my work, my self, and within artwork generally. Nothing is ever really original, only a reflection of something within a surrounding. This almost begs the question of why artists, in any sense of the word, can claim authorship of their work. This is one reason why Tobias used the alter ego, Sir Princess Toby of Sweden,

when producing his artwork. An attempt to externalise himself from his own creations, to perhaps create an imagined sense of objective analysis. This is the idea that I already shared with him. I am Joel Galvin, and my work exists under the pseudonym 'Ventral is Golden', where the feeling of anonymity and disassociation can be achieved more effectively. A similar thesis on the originality of writing in Roland Barthes' 'Death of The Author', applies that the sense of documenting and contextualising creates a 'new artwork' that is dead from its origins, and exists on its own merit, to be interpreted in a different semantic field to whatever inspired it. "No longer with a view to acting on reality, but intransitively,... finally, outside of any function other than that of the practice of the symbol itself, this disconnection occurs, the voice loses its origin, the author enters into his own death, writing begins." (Barthes, 41;2006) Tobias is a great philosopher, and I learned more from him in one week than I had learned from one month of reading popular philosophy. "I feel that I over think my work when trying to get my point across" I said "Just don't over think that meaning to your work." Tobias replied "If you intend to slap people in the face with your meaning, the only thing they will realise is that they have been slapped in the can't be angry at the rain for being wet." And with this last sentence, came an

overwhelming sense of everything. "You can't be angry at the rain for being wet." What I was trying to achieve with my work was to change the audience's way of thinking to mirror my own, but what I hadn't realised is that art is primarily for the self, a window into the internal workings of the artist, something to be discovered and not projected like a spot light, blinding the viewer. All my previous work seemed insignificant and without personal emotion. In addition to this, my search for an objectivity within life, art and everything, became clearer to me, but esoteric to my audience, and thus generally irrelevant. There is a difference between telling someone what to think, and implying that they could think a certain way. Wouter von Leeuwen, a dutch artist from Utrecht, who is also schooled in graphic design, proved to be at unsuspecting times of the day, extremely inspirational. "So what is fine art Wouter?" I asked "Fine art is masturbation" "So what does that make design?" I replied "Prostitution." said Wouter. I thought about this over a bland dinner from the nearby neurological hospital to decide whether it gave a clear representation of the practice I found myself in. I decided that it did

make sense, and with slight rewording, I believe it to be a pertinent mantra for anyone deliberating the art vs. graphic design debate. "Fine art is masturbation, design is prostitution - but at least you get paid for prostitution."

“Outside of any function other than that of the practice of the symbol itself, this disconnection occurs, the voice loses its origin, the author enters into his own death, writing begins.� - Roland Barthes

Harry Heyink, the organiser of the EEA Academy, told me to write down what I thought art was for me. I wrote, "Art is for me, a constant recording of experiences - a journal of misunderstandings." My response was inevitably influenced by the literature I was reading at the time, William S Burroughs' 'Naked Lunch'. A transitory, psychotic episode of the thoughts and actions of a narcotic addicted protagonist, with an obsession for young males. Burroughs' style of writing is inherently abstruse in a broader sense of meaning, but like most of The Beat Generation literature, the protagonists are despondent anti-heroes, almost provoking the reaction of being misunderstood, whilst all the while yearning for a sense of spiritualism and acceptance. From this I now consider myself not a graphic designer and also not an artist. I think I am slowly learning to appreciate and embrace ambiguity. It is my newly acquired comfort blanket, and is inherently allowing me to explore myself honestly, and without the need for any necessary conclusion. Simply an ongoing dysfunctional memoir of life - an irrelevant masterpiece. If I would consider myself anything, it would have to be a paradox. Dada filled its statements with incoherence, on the grounds that life itself is incoherent "Art should be a monster which casts servile minds into terror" (Alexandrian, 31; 1970) advocated Tzara in the Dada Manifesto 1918. Marcel Duchamp also presents inconsistencies in his reasons behind his methods of production. The Ready Made became an intricate operation of the simplistic, put together with a

"kind of moral algebra" (Alexandrian, 38;1970) yet in his aesthetically detailed paintings he submitted himself to the collaboration of chance and the regime of coincidence. (ibid) This sense of self-paradox also bore a project called '*Probably This May Potentially At Some Point Become Quite Important.' which initially materialised as a recorded collection of over-heared thoughts and throw away sentences over a period of two weeks whilst strolling through the serene, surreal forests of Beelitz, through to the alcohol infused evenings of Lehnin. From this, two booklets were created, along with a hand painted typographic wall piece. The rhythm of the text was inspired by Burroughs' 'cut, paste' technique of creating arbitrary syntax. I saw my own process as a way of structuralising the ephemeral, to fabricate meaning where meaning was either absent or insignificant. This proved to be a successful means of producing literature that would, after restructuring it, inevitably portray a brief insight into my frame of mind at each distinct point, that directly related to the environment that I found myself in at that exact time. (each sentence a location in space and time). Even if the literature held no immediate sense to me, I would continue writing and discount as little of it that crossed my mind as possible, only judging it in retrospect. I saw this as an attempt to distill the foundations of pure imagination, something that French poet and playwright, Antoine Artaud held within his philosophy, that 'imagination is reality, no more real than dreams and illusions. Reality was a consensus that the audience accepted, just as they do when they go to the theatre.'

In this sense I was a subject in my own play on reality, where the distinction between the imaginary and the real became imperceptible. Partly inspired by the previous project on Language and Thought, my writing also rekindled and partially facilitated an obsession for collecting photographs of chairs (in any format, mainly found; antique and modern) in relation to the chair's semiological and therefore cultural symbology. I am drawn to something so ubiquitous in both physical usage and linguistic usage that has a sheer presence that defines it to be ignored. Something as simple as the chair can highlight an entire semantic and metaphysical logic that transcends the interpretation of what constitutes reality. For me, 'the chair' is a more universally useful ideological symbol than the crucifix, and it is something that holds less pretensions. From Bruce Nauman's hanging chair installations (Diamond Africa with Chair Tuned and South America Triangle) and Van Gogh's painting of the chair, through to American conceptual artist Joesph Kosuth's 'One and Three Chairs' interactive installation, all play on the semiological connotations of this ordinary object. Kosuth's work also alludes to Plato's Theory of Forms, which asserts that non-material forms and the material world of change known to us through perception, posses the highest and most fundamental kind of reality. The Forms that we see are not real, but instead a mimicry of the real Forms of things. Much like Plato's allegory of the cave expressed in Republic, where the inhabitants of the cave perceive the shadows cast on the walls as reality, rather than the unknown forms that initially cast the shadows.

With all the cultural and philosophical hankerings aside, I do quite genuinely posses an affinity towards the 'common chair' and its often understated significance, whether being from an extremely varied aesthetic or a strictly ergonomic point of view. (See previous notes on Language and Thought) This interest inspired me to create a series of images entitled 'The Transcendental Chair', which consists of a varied selection of antique chairs, layered onto scenic or desolate landscapes. The choice of title has an ironic overtone with the association of transcendent, (meaning both 'unique', 'beyond compare', and 'beyond or above the realm of physical human experience.') with the common noun 'chair', which as previously mentioned, elicits a mental totality, that theoretically, exists only because it has been used as a means to an end, i.e, when we need some 'thing' that is specifically for sitting on. The noun 'chair' is thus empirical, but the mental image that is mustered, is transcendental, as it may not have ever existed as it does in the mind's perception.

*Probably This May Potentially At Some Point Become Quite Important & The Transcendental Chair


Stop animation and Jan Swankmajer (particularly 'Conspirators of Pleasure, Alice and ‘Food pt 1’ and 2) have also played a big role in influencing my creative outputs. Fr o m a n a nim a t i o n m a d e and exhibited in Berlin called 'Desselnietemin' (dutch for 'in spite of the way things are'), which followed the poetic delusions of a plastic horse yearning to be a cardboard butterfly, only finding himself in precarious situations when flying, the horse reverts back to his original state and enclosure with a new positivity on his banal surroundings, (The moral, if there is one, is a combination of being content with making mistakes and day dreaming about better things, as long as you eventually stay grounded to some degree. Experience, even bad, is the key to a higher sense of fulfillment.) through to a stop motion love story entitled 'Sometimes I like to float in half filled porcelain boats', which highlights the universal journey across various terrains on a deck chair with a teapot, searching for a girl on an identical deck chair with a mug. Something we can all relate to. The development of this animation progressed into a commercial music video project, which facilitated the reanimation of the original idea. The animation is now being used by 'The Lodger's single, entitled, 'Have a Little Faith in People'. O t he r vid e o works inc lud e 'Conversations with the otherwise inanimate', where otherwise inanimate objects become naturally animated to the soundtrack of either a spontaneous or pre recorded conversation. The only one thus far is entitled 'Berusten' (dutch for 'Indifferent') and features a duologue about the state of apathy and the struggle to do 'something', played to the visual of an

intermittently spinning Yorkie biscuit and raisin wrapper. Other videos include ‘Oesophagus’, a one minute video produced during the EEA where for the entire duration I suffocate myself with whipped cream and defy gravity at the same time. ‘Donkey Boy’, a short absurdist film with an experimental narrative with allusions to love, isolation and ecstasy. ‘Dance Like Your Name Is Pythagoras’, a short stop animation to depitcing an anthropomorphic triangle. The animation was designed to synchronise by chance with music played in clubs and bars. All videos are played at local Leeds art bar A Nation of Shopkeepers.

Screen shots of animations taken from


Another ongoing project is a self initiated creative literature 'anthology', posited as a single piece of self reflective writing, consisting of three chapters. Using the method of '*Probably this may potentially at some point become quite important.' I collaborated with a fellow writer on a book entitled 'Funny World; The interpretation of a dog.' The purpose of the book is to give a detailed surrealist recording and restructuring of personal events, in an attempt to give an impression of the colour blue. (The meaning of any artwork is always secondary to someone.) This became a six month project of pure documentation and occasional first-person, reflective writing. The analogy of the bubble is a means of this artwork's justification. 'The spherical nature of the bubble is just so as to provide it with a means to exist, however briefly this may be. The book shares the existence of the bubble; firstly to exist, secondly to be noticed, and thirdly to be remembered, however, if only transiently. Even the bubble has a legacy. This is the common psychological propensity that all human conventions and formalities share. As a result of the almost arbitrary syntax of the book, another two books have been produced as a result. Recurring themes play a distinct role throughout this 'esoteric' novella, the most significant (or least significant, depending on your interpretation) being the presence of the number 3. Reference points throughout the book to Lacan's Symbolic Order, the Trinity, and geometry (notice the serendipitous occurrence of 3 in these paragraphs alone) justified the necessit y of creating a book of annotations and

explanations, and a visual book, consisting purely of scanned images. Needless to say, after the completion (or abandon) of this book, I felt a great weight lift from my shoulders. The moment of catharsis had passed, and the period of writer's block ensued. "I can't remember the last time I wrote something coherent that was bigger than a single sentence. Every day without fail, I attempt to deduce the reasoning behind this, placing events into chronological order, and then realising that I don't know what day it is. I look through at the disjointed paragraphs, strewn across the pages like the last fragile leaves that Spring had forgotten about. "I have this incredible feeling of 'falling into myself'." It read. I try to contextualise. Maybe I've fallen too far, or not enough. "Where ever you are, you're always in between two things." Sometimes, we take the feeling of loneliness for granted. I took a short stroll through the forest and met a philosopher walking his dog. "Doesn't matter where you go" He said "There's always mud." Traversing the unmapped terrains and running through untouched landscapes of the mind, sometimes only gives you muddied shoes. I guess the unwitting philosopher was right. During this phase of creative block, I resorted to other people writing in my book. This reminds me of an unrelated question my dad asked me recently. "Isn't that...what d'ya call it... Blasphemy?"

The only conclusion I can draw from all of this theorising, is that I'm happy... and who wants to read about that?"

Photomontage images inspired by Funny World excerpts


Whilst ref le c ting ove r p ast photographs of my time in Berlin, I came across a photo, of a series of books by Ed Ruscha, which were on exhibition in a small gallery at the time. The bluntness of titles such as 'CRACKERS', 'Varoius Small Fires', and 'Twenty Six Gasoline Stations', struck a chord with me in the way in which the exactness of a statement still holds a certain ambiguity towards the content. As we all rely (sometimes too heavily) on words to communicate concrete ideas, the dichotomy that can be created between title and content I find infinitely fascinating. With this in mind I looked to create and collaborate on a series of books, both visual and textual, that in their 'exactness', created a covert sense of mystery. The books follow loosely a sentiment outlined by Bruno Munari regarding his 'Continuous Structures' sculpture series. (for the purpose of this context, I have substituted the sculptures for books) "The only fixed and invariable thing is the basic element, but even this becomes variable according to how many are used and how they are arranged in the object as a whole. We need to give the spectator more room to penetrate into the work itself. This is a form of art that adapts itself to the artistic sense of the beholder. In times past, people wanted the artist to explain in very clear terms exactly how he saw the world in every detail... Art that is too defined, conclusive, and limited to one aspect of a thing, leaves a man of today standing isolated and apart: either he accepts the fait accompli or he gets nothing form it. In an open work of art, a person participates much more, to the extent of being able to change the work of art according to his state of mind." (Munari, 169;2008)

Typical examples of this were 'We Tried To Contact Aldous Huxley But He Wasn't Answering His Phone.', 'Breathe Openly Throughout And Repeat' and 'Life, Death and Rebirth'. ‘We Tried To Contact Aldous Huxley But He Wasn’t Answering His Phone.’ is a booklet inspired by ‘The Doors of Perception’ and ‘Heaven and Hell’ by Aldous Huxley. It consists of automatic drawings that were drawn whilst looking into a stroboscopic light with closed eyes, in an attempt to ‘nonchemically’ recreate the effects of Mescaline, to see “the other world at the back of the artist’s mind.” ‘Breathe Openly Throughout And Repeat’ is complied of simple, recurring imagery, created by the juxtaposition between an earring, and a man from the 1980’s, demonstrating various workout exercises. The underlying ‘meaning’ of this booklet explores the repeating patterns of existence, firstly in a pseudoquantum physical sense, and secondly in the socially commonplace practice of ‘keep fit’. The identity of the male never changes, and his movements in each exercise are recurring. The earring is a triangular fractal, constructed from tetrahedrons - the three dimensional representation of the non-bonded carbon atom, which conveniently, becomes carbon dioxide when breathed out into the atmosphere. Carbon is also the most recurring of elements within living organisms. (And the link between existence and triangular fractals is created).

‘Life, Death and Rebirth’ are a set of three poetry booklets, highlighting exist ential and metaphysical relationships with arbitrary subjects about the scientific world around us. The books act as an exercise in how we relate to the ‘reality’ of fact based text, and how easy it is to subvert the desired meaning. All the poems are inspired by the technique developed by the surrealists of automatic writing, to lay bare the ‘mental matter’...and to separate it from thought, which is only one of its manifestation (Alexandrian, 47;1970) In Ex is a booklet of photomontages compiled of images on interiors and exteriors. The images have an inherent aesthetic value, mimicking the style of John Stezaker, but with the inclusion of the quote at the end of the booklet, the perception of the images are prescribed a dif ferent context. “Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind.” The significance of the quote relates to Immanuel Kant’s ‘Transcendental Idealism’ in his ‘Critique of Pure Reason’. Kant argues that “we can know the claims of geometry with a priori certaint y (which we do) only if experiencing objects in space is the necessary mode of our experience. Kant also argues that we cannot experience objects without being able to represent them spatially. It is impossible to grasp an object as an object, unless we delineate the region of space it occupies. Without a spatial representation, our sensations are undifferentiated and we cannot ascribe properties to particular objects.”

Series of artist booklets


Clockwise top left : ‘A Series of Vibrations’ Dust and Dessert Magazine, Austrailia ‘And Jesus said to John’ A Nation of Shopkeepers, Leeds ‘Demi Gods’ Draft Exhibition, Leeds Ventral Tote bags PaperScissorStone & The ArtMarket, Leeds Systematic The Subculture, Leeds Limn Live illustration night, Leeds Macho D(x)i Magazine, Spain Underdogs Beautiful/Decay, USA


‘25 Things That Have Recently Crossed My Mind’ Print series published by PaperScissorStone


WhiteWhiteBrownTwig is the collaborative work of myself and fellow artist photographer Emma Parry. WhiteWhiteBrownTwig focuses less on the philosophical aspect of the artworks, and more on the playful aesthetic, where all the series’ are derrived in someway from personal experience. It is a blend of aposteriori documentation with lo-fi, experimental means of production.

“When all the trees stop smiling, and the calming sea begins to disappear, we will retreat to our secret places, where the hidden colours and forms of our existence are made clear, and the mountains become curious giants.”

It is an attempt to reconcile the tangible aspects of collage, paper, film photogpraphy, with the intangible elements of nature and metaphysics. Typical examples of this are the photography series ‘Come and Kiss Me’, ‘Secret Places and Curious Giants’, ‘I’ll See You Somewhere In Between Reality and Someone Else’s Dream’ and ‘One Day Last September I Think It Was July’.

‘One Day Last September I Think It Was July’ Film photography taken during a period of social gatherings, sometime in bet ween July and September, directly drawn onto with pen.

‘Come and Kiss Me’ consists of digital photography with the inclusion of four geometric shapes floating within the scenery. These shapes represent the ‘absolute’, an objective manifestation of desire and myth, hence the title ‘Come and Kiss Me.’ ‘Secret Places and Curious Giants’ Drawings and collages on pages of a road atlas. Inspired by a personal piece of creative writing.

‘I’ll See You Somewhere In Between Reality and Someone Else’s Dream’ A series of found photography slides, depicting a strangers’ family holiday.

These images allude to the found cinema stills of John Balderssari. “Early in his career, Baldessari began incorporating images and texts in his photo-based art. He appropriated pictures from advertising and movie stills, juxtaposing, editing, and cropping them in conjunction with written texts. His resulting montages of photography and language often counter the narrative associations suggested by the isolated scenes and offers a greater plurality of meanings. The layered, often humorous compositions carry disparate connotations, underscoring how relative meaning can be.” (Guggenheim) Top : Come And Kiss Me Bottom : I’ll See You Somewhere In Between Reality And Someone Else’s Dream’

A selection of images from ‘One Day Last September I Think It Was July’


“All the art magazines spoke of nothing else but their gigantic artistic productions; and everyone laughed at me and my useless machines” (Munari, 15;2008) The precursor for the series of mixed media collages entitled ‘Useless Machines’ was Bruno Munari in 1933. As Munari stated “people knew me as the man who made these useless machines...then these friends of mine discovered Alexander Calder...What is the difference between my useless

machines, and Calder’s mobiles?” (ibid) Munari’s machines were inevitably similar to Calder’s mobiles, but served an entirely different purpose. (that of giving a fourth dimension to the early abstract paintings of Italy (ibid). This series of Useless Machines flirt with the concept of ‘uselessness’, in that their very existence facilitates the ‘process’ of observing - the ordering of visual stimuli. The subject of the art thus become the viewer, existing as an

otherwise Useless Machine thenselves, there to absorb the interpretation of the world, only to regurgitate it onto their surroundings. In short, the useless machines are people, and the worlds in which they manifest.


Clockwise top left : Do Postmen See All Colours... Sets of hand collaged postcards All postcard designs on poster Useless Machines and Worlds TwoPointFive Exhibition Balloons Venonum Showcase Break Your Socks Commissioned poster design for live art event Mountains and Trees Hand painted t-shirts


“is the exploitation of the chance meeting of two remote realities on a plane unsuitable to them.” - Max Ernst

Photomontage and collage are dominant elements within my work, something that is attributed to my interests in Dadaism. This medium is so successfull as there is an abundance of material waiting to be interpreted, but such a difficult medium with the expressive possibilities of collage, seem so simple that one is tempted to think that anyone could employ them to equal effect. Photomontage is considered to have been conceived by the Berlin Dadaists, particularly Raoul Hausmann and Hannah Hoch around 1919. Max Ernst, a major contributor to the theory and practice of Surrealism, challenged and disrupted what he considered to be repressive aspects of European culture, in particular Christian doctrine, conventional morality and the aesthetic codes of Western academic art. Until the mid1920s he was little known outside a small circle of artists and writers in Cologne and Paris ( A prominent member of the Berlin Dada group, Ernst first produced his first photomontage booklet upon his arrival in Paris in 1922, entitled ‘Rehearsals and Misfortunes of the Immortals’. A series of collage novels were to emerge from this period in collaboration with french surrealist poet Paul Eluard ; ‘A Week of Kindness’, 100 Headless Women’ and ‘A Little Girl Dreams Of Taking The Veil’.

Ernst described collage as ”the exploitation of the chance meeting of two remote realities on a plane unsuitable to them”. The notion of pseudonym was also present in the symbology of Ernst’s paintings and collages. Loplop, Superior of Birds, was the manifestation of the self, and referenced Ernst’s childhood obsessions and dreams of anthropomorphic birds and bird faces. With this in mind, I collaborated with and designed a photomontage booklet as a homage to Max Ernst’s childhood preoccupation, simple entitled ‘Birds’. The great thing about the ‘book’ is, irrespective of the meaning, it still exists as a tangible object, to muse over, as you would a sculpture, or a piece of interactive art. For ‘that’ moment, in between picking it up to putting it down, the ‘book’ becomes the immediate world, something to get lost in. People are drawn to the mysterious as curiosity precedes everything. If the nature of the universe presented itself to us, the nature of everything would be explained away and become meaningless. This is why people are drawn to religion. They want the mysterious to be explained. This is precisely why art is psychologically appealing to everyone (whether they know it or not), as the art becomes a transient universe, and the artist becomes a god, there simply to create the unknown.

The book allows a momentary sense of escape, to be wrapped up in a world created with an interpretable purpose that gives the illusion of linear narrative. Andre Breton wanted the surrealists to be modest recording devices, to reconcile the dream state in a synergic attempt to form a ‘super-reality’, with the foundations firmly rooted within reality itself. Of the ‘Bureau of Surrealist Enquiry’ of 1924, Breton and the surrealists sought the collaboration of the public audience that brought into question things beyond the hegemony of the time, asking question such as “What kind of hope do you put into love?”. All modes of creativity became one single output that simply brought into question the philosophical opinions of existence. Breton stated “...we have no intention of changing men’s habits, but we have hopes of proving to them how fragile their thoughts are.” (Alexandrian, 50;1970) The disintegration of the common modes of reality and myth will always prove to be fascinating. I am intrigued by the space that lies between reality and our perception of it, how often we fall idly between this divide, and how, on many occasions, we are so blissfully unaware we are doing so. A selection of Birds


Sarane Alexandrian Surrealist Art Thames and Hudson, 1970 Andre Breton Nadja 1960, Grove Press, translated by Richard Howard Sol LeWitt fah188/sol_lewitt/paragraphs%20 on%20conceptual%20art.htm, accessed November 2009 Sol LeWitt h t t p://w w w.a r t i n f o.c o m/n e w s/ story/25514/backstage-stars/ accessed November 2009 Rene Descartes Discourse on Method h t t p : / / w w w . w s u . edu/~wldciv/ world _civ_reader/ world_civ_reader_2/descartes.html, 2009 - http://www.earlymoderntexts. com/pdf/descdisc.pdf accessed December 2009 Pierre-Auguste Renoir Women Bathing, Musee D’Orsay Artlys, Versailles, Musee D’Orsay, Paris (96; 2008) Mel Bochner Language is not transparent 1970, Michelle Grabner mel_bochner/ accessed December 2009 Stefan Sagmeister Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far Steven Pinker The Stuff of Thought Penguin book group, 2007

Ferdinand de Saussure Daniel Chandler Semiotics for beginners Documents/S4B/sem02.html Saussure, Ferdinand de ([1916] 1983): Course in General Linguistics (trans. Roy Harris). London: Duckworth accessed September 2008

accessed on November 2009 Bruce Nauman h t t p://v e n t ra li s g o l d e n.b l o g s p o t. com/2009/10/buruce-nauman.html ht t p://w w w.a r t sjo u rn a m/ man/2009/07/bruce_nauman_and_ artistic_pres.html

Jaques Derrida h t t p://e n .w i k i p e d i a . o r g /w i k i/ DeconstructionDerrida, J., 2002. Positions, translated by A. Bass. 2nd edition, introduction by C. Norris. London & New York: Continuum (6;2009)

Joseph Kosuth h t t p://v e n t ra li s g o l d e n.b l o g s p o t. c o m/2 0 0 9/12/j o s e p h - k o s u t h . h t m l - h t t p://w w w.m o m a.o rg/ c o l l e c t i o n/b ro w s e _ re s u l t s. php?criteria=O%3AAD%3AE %3A3228&page_number=1&template_ id=1&sort_order=1

Richard Dawkins The God Delusion Black Swan, 2007

Jan Svankmajer h t t p://v e n t ra li s g o l d e n.b l o g s p o t. com/2009/10/jan-svankmajer.html

Nietzsche on Logic Steven D. Hales, 1996 ht t p://d e p a r t m e nt s.b l o o mu.e d u/ philosophy/pages/content/ hales/articlepdf/nlogic.pdf accessed December 2009

Ed Ruscha h t t p://v e n t ra li s g o l d e n.b l o g s p o t. com/2010/01/ed-ruscha.html collection/ar_home/ 4:6685/4968/84322

Ludwig Wittgenstein Tractatus Logico Philosophicus html accessed on December 2009 Robinson, Claire : http://www.answers. com/topic/what-we-cannot-speakabout-we-must-pass-over-in-silencestory-7 accessed on December 2009

Bruno Munari Design as Art Penguin Modern Classics, 2008. Editori laterza, 1966

William Burroughs Naked Lunch Grove Press, 1959

Antoine Artaud Theatre of Cruelty of_Cruelty

Immanuel Kant h t t p : // w w w . l o n d o n - o r a t o r y . o r g/p h i l o s o p h y/p h i l o s o p h i e s/ epistemology/trancendental/body_ trancendental.html accessed May 2010 John Baldessari http://www.deutsche-guggenheim. de/e/ausstellungen-baldessari01.php accessed May 2010 Max Ernst http://w w w.all- _ 20 th _ century/ernst_Max1.html accessed May 2010

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