Attending Gilda Williams’ course on How to Write About Art

Yesterday I attended Gilda Williams’ ‘How To Write About Art’ course at the Whitechapel Gallery. It was a brilliant and highly informative day – Gilda gave lots of good advice about ways to develop (and spot) good writing, which she supported with clear examples. She also asked the class to write a short piece about one of the works in the Whitechapel’s current exhibition, ‘Electronic Superhighway (2016 – 1966)’, and encouraged everyone to give each other feedback. My text is below. I chose to focus on Jonas Lund’s contribution, entitled ‘VIP (Viewer Improved Painting’), 2014, consisting of a self optimising digital painting, 50″ monitor TV and a gaze tracking camera. View it on his website page here.

What is your favourite colour? What is your preference, blue or pink? After standing for several seconds in front of Jonas Lund’s work, ‘VIP (Viewer Improved Painting’), 2014, it becomes clear that we are being asked this old and clumsy question. Perhaps it reminds us of similarly black-and-white questions we used to receive from peers in the school playground.

Whether we know the answer now or not, Lund’s ‘VIP’ sets out to tell us. It does this by presenting us with two luxuriously long flat-screen television screens that have been turned on their sides and stick assertively from the wall, jostling for the viewer’s attention. They slowly feed us fuzzy blocks of colour, splodges of dark blue are surprised by splashes of sunburnt pink. The edges of different  blocks blur together in a way that is reminiscent of Rothko’s abstract paintings.

Our eyes naturally dart towards the changes in colour, the areas of movement and energy. As we are fed these colours, the monitor, parked confidently on top of the screens, records which we are drawn to and starts to only show those that we like. Rarely do we see an artwork that takes such pains to please us and offer up its images for our own individual delight. Lund’s work is, after all, entitled ‘VIP’. We expect special treatment.

And yet, a sense of unease pervades this experience. We are aware of being watched, our actions are obviously  recorded by a camera and our personal preferences broadcast on a public screen. Over time it is obvious we are only given a limited number of colours to choose from, so our preferences are manipulated by this robot, just like they were by our friends back at school. Peer pressure has not gone away. Instead, as this artwork suggests through its mechanisms and media, it has exploded with the copious amount of technology and online interactions that surround us every day.

 

 

 

Crafts Magazine: another review published

I was very pleased when the editor of Crafts Magazine contacted me to commission a review of Ellen Sampson’s current exhibition at Northampton Gallery. Sampson is a shoe designer and and is also over half way through a PhD at the RCA where she is exploring the affective life of shoes.

My review is published in the January – February issue of Crafts Magazine, 2015. My copy of the magazine arrived on New Years eve: 2015 has got off to a good start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See my earlier blog post about the first writing commission that I received from my favourite crafts magazine, which is attached to Crafts Council.

 

Through Our Hands: New magazine on contemporary art & quilts

Through Our Hands magazine front coverThrough Our Hands is an online platform developed by Annabel Rainbow and Laura Kemshall promoting contemporary artists and makers, specialising in quilts. One of their aims is to help quilting gain a wider and refreshed recognition in the wider world. The project’s beginnings coincided with an exhibition on quilts, featuring Annabel’s work, at Leamington Spa Museum and Art Gallery in 2012, which I reviewed for The University of Warwick Student newspaper.

They have just launched their new, online quarterly magazine featuring artists’ work, interviews with makers, tips on quilting techniques and exhibition features. I was very pleased that Annabel asked me to contribute to the magazine with a piece on the Matisse exhibition in London.

The link to the magazine is here.