Embossed quark hole showing the anti-clockwise spin direction of the membrane. Detail of Lithium mesh (bottom right – 1 of 3 holes).
Debossed quark hole showing the clockwise spin direction of the membrane. Detail of Lithium mesh (bottom right – 2 of 3 holes).
Embossed quark hole showing the anti-clockwise spin direction of the membrane. Detail of Lithium mesh (bottom right – 3 of 3 holes).
Lithium mesh: This painting/sculpture shows a number of drill holes and saw cuts. The bottom right set of 3 ‘quark’ holes (single quarks shown above) were all created at the same time or rather as one complete expression. Yet we may observe both ‘up and down’ qualities on the 2D picture plane. This is possible when the geometric state of the membrane is altered (curled) in a way to allow such events to occur before it is then unravelled to the 2D flat plane for observation – the principle idea behind Membrane Art. For more information see Quantum_Brushstrokes or Membrane Art.
Lithium mesh was highly commended at the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize, 2016.
Membrane Art holds true — Regardless of whether the events made on the surface are painted, sprayed, poured, drilled, sawed, stamped, cracked or any other kind of mark making, the curved nature of the membrane creates the structural expressions for the work — and provided the work is presented in a flattened 2D form for observation — it is a consequence of the aesthetic thought.
It is the curved nature of the membrane that creates the structural interpretations — and when the work is presented in a flattened 2D form for observation — the trajectory path appears to be different.
The trajectory path (broken line) of the drill hole follows a short and straight path in complete space (unseen).
When the curl is unravelled, the trajectory path (broken line) remains the same as it was above. Yet the path seems longer, goes back in time and appears networked differently when we observe it from this (human) viewpoint.
‘I’m inclined to think that…the 3D world is an illusion. The ultimate precise reality is the 2D reality on the surface of the universe’, Leonard Susskin*
*Source: What is space? 48:30s, 2015 www.youtube.com
Note 1: The holes (3 white marks on the membrane surface) should be viewed as the vectors created within the field. They aren’t necessarily the particles themselves but the negative space that’s require for them to exist on the 2D surface.
Note 2: A second phase dimension has been neglected from these diagrams.
The photograph above is of my working notes which appears on the reverse side of my ‘Highly Commended’ art piece, Lithium mesh. Although you will not see this side of it on display at the prestigious Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize 2016 exhibition – it shows my thoughts and the science of my working method. For more information about the science behind it, see the following blog (Proton brushstrokes) or download the PDF file Quantum brushstrokes
To see the finished mounted work, visit the South Australian Museum from 10 June until 31 July 2016. Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize_Gallery
Artist statement of work: Lithium mesh
Quarks & leptons are the building blocks of matter — I’ve created a series of events, using curls & waves, that interpret a geometric construct of a particle’s properties. The curved structures create a framework that allows for connections and entangled systems to manifest. Finally the surface is flattened to 2D-form for observation. The viewer experiences the unravelled results — challenging perceptions that things are often not what they appear to be — a tangible expression of how nature at the very small scale may be formed, by complicated structures and events that are concealed from us.
*Source: What is space? 48:30s, 2015 www.youtube.com
Note: A second phase dimension has been neglected from this diagram. Download the PDF file Quantum brushstrokes for more.
The Observer recently wrote a very interesting article titled, Are Painters out of ideas? In it they suggest that they are, ‘as it is just too difficult to be truly original with paint these days.’
Of course, ‘mimicry—either the naive or purposeful kind—is not new, nor is it illegal.’ But what caught my attention was the statement, ‘that there are only so many variants of color, brushstroke and composition to discover, especially once you get into formal abstraction. And in fact, the art world had seen an explosion of simplistic wall works over its recent boom years, many of which rehashed post-Minimalist or process-based ideas from the ’60s and ’70s in order to produce a high yield of nearly indistinguishable abstractions.’
While I essentially agree with the premise of this, I don’t agree that all has been explored. I believe what I call the ‘quantum brushstrokes’ opens a door to abstraction that is not borrowing, stealing, appropriating, or copying from the past. It is authentic, real and relevant to anyone, like me, who has a keen interested in expressing the aesthetics of our natural universe.
See full article here: http://observer.com/2016/02/are-painters-out-of-ideas/
For more download: Quantum brushstrokes
Lithium mesh (detail): A series of quantum brushstrokes.
For the second time running, I’m a finalist in the prestigious Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize 2016. Prize winners will be announced at the South Australian Museum at 10:30am on Thursday 9 June 2016. Whatever happens, I’m thrilled to be part of the exhibition to be held at the South Australian Museum from 10 June – 31 July 2016. For more info: http://www.waterhouse.samuseum.sa.gov.au/
More about Quantum brushstrokes
Visual entanglement exhibition on until 3 June 2016
RiAus, 55 Exchange Place
Adelaide, South Australia 5000
10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday
For more about Quantum brushstrokes
It seems to me that the efficiency of creating this diptych (Carbon 12) is a clue as to why life forms are favoured towards a carbon-based structure. This painting was completed with only 6 drill holes and 3 saw cuts as one entangled expression, yet we can observe — a sea of 72 quarks (holes) and a cloud of 39 electrons (cuts).
About the painting: Created as a series of quantum brushstrokes, it interprets the geometric construct of the respective particles properties, ie, protons, neutrons, electrons. The various curved structures create a framework that allows for connections and entangled systems to manifest. Finally the surface is flattened to the 2D-form for observation. The viewer experiences the unconcealed and simplified results rather than an accrual of the method used – a possible model of how the natural world is formed, even at a tiny scale, by complicated structures and events.
For more see Carbon 12 (network) in the flesh at my latest exhibition:
RiAus, 55 Exchange Place
Adelaide SA 5000
10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday
on until 3 June 2016
More information about the work: Quantum brushstrokes
This is an attempt to express a classical interpretation of how fundamental particles may have evolved. Also it tries to address some of the principle questions about why certain particles and initial conditions have been favourable for life to evolve while others have not.
I must emphasise that this aesthetic interpretation has not been tested or verified in any way, shape or form (it’s a ‘fruitloopery’ interpretation from a fringe dweller). Nevertheless it is an invitation to think about what fundamentally cannot be actually directly observed – a quantum particle (not yet anyhow). Therefore the aim is to provide a platform for a visual dialogue that postulates current particle physicists theories, so that we may then have a tactile understanding of their thinking and subsequent discoveries. Afterall, developing bite-size visual queues is a particularly humanistic quality beneficial for understanding our world and each other. Without that, the practical implications may not be as readily realised.
At the same time, this is an extension into the art practice I call, Membrane Art — that is, how geometric curves provide the framework for events to manifest and evolve, yet the flat picture plan is an agent of how we observe them — necessary to help us analyse and contemplate what has happened.
I trust that with further understandings this aesthetic practice will evolve and be further enhanced in time.
Building brushstrokes (Quantum brushstrokes)
The building blocks of matter are made up of two kinds of brushstroke expressions:
- Quark brushstrokes : Quarks are represented by drill holes created on a particular kind of curl (strong interactions) — a quark is a tiny particle which makes up protons and neutrons.
- Electron brushstrokes: Electrons (leptons) are represented by saw cuts created on a wavy surface (electromagnetic interactions).
Whichever brushstroke expression is used the similarities to the way a brushstroke mark is made on a flat plane remains the same — there is initial contact, movement across and then an exit off the surface.
Note: The saw cuts and drill holes are vector spaces left behind within the field and not the particles themselves. That eventuates as a consequence of it.
Favourable curled structures
The curled membrane represents the geometry of the strong field needed to create the particles that interact with it. The drill holes produced on this curvature structure is similar to the way a brushstroke mark is made on a flat plane – there is initial contact, movement across and then an exit off the surface.
1: This side view of a curled membrane represents how strong interactions are created. One drill hole can express a multiple flavours of quarks. When entry occurs at the point where two convex surfaces are close together and the exited point is a concave structure – a proton is created (two up / one down).
2: If the curl is spun 180° (half spin) then a different set of events occur. When entry occurs at one convex structure and the exit point is at two concave structures that are close together – a neutron is created (two down / one up).
3: Flat view: The aesthetic is realised when the membrane is opened out and the depth is compressed. Nothing disappears, it just changes form. This generates the human visual experience, a metaphor for how we perceive.
Quarks eventuate out of the six different spacial geometries as shown above (3 proton-style quarks, 3 neutron-style quarks). In practice, however, vector fields that holds the quarks are often malformed at the time of creation. It doesn’t matter that the same drill-bit size was used to cut through all the various curvature constructs, you can expect variations to size to occur. Whether or not this is due to the condition of the tool used, extra debris or other surface conditions allows for a multitude of variations to manifest. Nature is fickle, so if quarks are created in this way then you can expect that given time (billions of years or so) decay or other high entropy processes may then ‘clean up’ the vector spaces to allow for a more full-bodied quark type to evolve and become favourable for atom formation.
Favourable wave structures
The wave membrane represents the geometry of the electromagnetic field needed to create the particles that interact with it. The saw cuts on this curvature structure is similar to the way a brushstroke mark is made on a flat plane – there is initial contact, movement across and then an exit off the surface.
1: This side view of a wave membrane represents the electromagnetic field. The geometric relationship creates ‘hidden’ structures for the work.
2: This shows how one expression (a cut made by the circular saw) can appear to be in two places at the same time.
3: Flat view: The aesthetic is realised when the depth is compressed. Nothing disappears – it just changes form. This generates the human visual experience, a metaphor for how we perceive.
The saw cuts and drill holes are vectors created within the field and don’t necessarily represent the particles themselves. Smaller sedimentary-style matter (strings) may fill the void left behind to create the so-called elementary particle. In practice, for entangled (networks) to occur, electron brushstrokes by default might contain more parts or substructures then the ones we know. For example, the bottom fold which contains no cut, is still a part of the overall structure. It creates the visual connection (distance) between two saw cut expressions when we observe them on the flat plane.
I have not considered the scale differences between leptons and quarks in the development of this work. Curled structures might have eventuated before wave structures. They may simply be a by-product of curled up ones.
Creating atoms (protons, neutrons, electrons)
with second phase dimensions
We can now use both drill holes and saw cuts to create vectors and other interactions on the surface of the membranes. To create entangled (networks) a second phase dimension is hidden within the geometry of the curvature constructs at the time of creation. In practice, this second phase dimension must be large enough so that it can be held in place by the outer dimension at the time of creation — too small, it misses, rolls around inside and remains unconnected.
1: This electron was created with additional hidden structures (phase dimension) to express a ‘cloud of electrons’ that are entangled as one expression as seen on the opened out perspective.
2: Multiple quarks can be created with additional hidden structures (phase dimension) to express a ‘sea of quarks’ that are entangled (networked) as one expression as shown on the opened out perspective.
3: Flat viewpoint – all sorts of expressive combinations can be created with quantum brushstrokes that relate to fundamental particle formations. Yet the flat picture plane is necessary to help us analyse and contemplate what has happened.
If the same size drill-bit and saw blade is used to cut through all phase dimensions then it could be that the hidden dimensions is as large (possibly tighter and more fragile) then the dimensions we know. For entanglement to occur, particles by default must clump together to form stable groups. So when smaller sedimentary-style matter (strings) fill the space left behind they may entangle with all phase dimensions as one expression.
For more see:
RiAus, 55 Exchange Place
Adelaide SA 5000
10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday
on until 3 June 2016
This exhibition is an expression of my understanding of quantum physics. I’m attempting to communicate how fundamental particles may have evolved. Quarks & leptons are the building blocks of matter – I’ve created curls & waves that relate to the physical properties found in these particles. The curved structures also create a framework that allows for connections and entangled systems to manifest and evolve that couldn’t happen any other way.
Starts: Monday, 22 March — 3 June 2016
Opening night: 23 March 6—7pm
RiAus FutureSpace Gallery
55 Exchange Place, Adelaide South Australia
Open: Monday — Friday, 9-5pm
I’ve just signed a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with RiAus (Royal Institution of Australia Inc) for a solo exhibition called Visual Entanglement. This exhibition will be held at the Science Exchange in the FutureSpace Gallery from Monday 21 March to Friday 3 June 2016 (10 weeks).
Recently, many scientific discoveries have been shaping and redefining our understanding of the laws of nature. So, the objective of this exhibition is to make the science of this (quantum mechanics in particular) seem more approachable to everyone. By putting the ‘observer’ (the human aesthetic values) into the framework, I’ll be able to develop a narrative through a series of visual expressions that cannot be described independently, ie, they’ll be entangled.
As science and aesthetics is an integral part of the ethos of MembraneArt, more than any other exhibition I’ve done before, I’m looking forward to working with RiAus to present and fulfil this objective in a meaningful way.
In the example below, three cuts were made to an undulated membrane surface. This was then stretched and mounted to the two dimensional picture plane. So the top three expressions (cuts) were created at the same time as the bottom three. This illustrates how expressions can be in two places at once. A further explanation is given below.
Membrane Art: An aesthetic thought:
1) Side view of an undulated membrane; The geometry of the membrane creates a ‘hidden’ construct for the development of the work.
2) Top angle view: From this view we can start to see how one expression (in this instance, a cut made by a circular saw) has appeared in two places at the same time.
3) The stretched out view: The aesthetic is realised when the depth is compressed (membrane stretched). Nothing disappears … it just changes form from an undulation to a flatter state. This generates the human visual experience, a metaphor for how we perceive.
Note: Undulations can take any form. They could be fixed or unfixed, angled or straight, shallow or deep, loose or tight, crumpled or smooth. Whatever the undulations, it controls the process of paint flow, cuts and scrapes.
Come see me paint Membrane Art. Unframed watercolours for sale on the day. Mary Harris collection will also be on display. Meet 7 other artists. Fun activities and workshops for children.
Friday, 28 August 2015
10am (official opening) — 2pm
Mary Harris ‘Bundilla’ Reserve
114 Walkerville Terrace, Walkerville
The grid is defined by the geometric form of the membrane at the time paint was poured over the surface. So when we observe the image on the flat 2-dimensional picture plane it appears distorted. Interesting how the low lying parts of the folds have defined the grid edges. This is unseen until it is fully stretched and mounted. For a full explanation see About Membrane Art in the menu.
See MA#49 in the fresh at the Energy Travels exhibition – Angas Travel for the SALA Festival 2015. On until 31 August, 2015.
A sneak preview of my latest exhibition: On until July 26, 2015. Pop in for a coffee and browse. Brick + Mortar, 49 George Street, Norwood (next to the Norwood Town Hall).
Left: New work MA#49. Right: A work in progress, illustrates how the membrane creates the basic structure before it is flattened onto a two dimensional picture plane.
From left to right: MA#45, MA#48, MA#11.
There has been a 40 year shift of priorities away from the aesthetics of painting, both abstract and representational, in favour of a political, sexual, sociological and environmental interest in art-making activities. ¹ ² The cultural focus is now so predominant in art, particularly the ‘pop’ versions, which are led and controlled by the so-called Art world, it’s no wonder that the aesthetics—so crucial to the development of art itself—get little attention at all. ³ In the larger arena of intellectual and cultural life, it appears that we are comfortable with presenting work on the basis of the thematic ‘content’.
The lack of focus on aesthetics has not gone unnoticed. Mainstream art critics, dwindling as they are, have found themselves occupying an almost uninhabitable critical space for which they get drowned out. Recently, Andrew Frost wrote an opinion piece for the Art Guide defining where art is at the moment – in limbo waiting for things to eventually wash out. 4
Whatever the cause, the historical permutations that have led to the situation art critics and artists now find themselves, is largely irrelevant. The real driving force for innovation must come from artists’ themselves. This obviously has to happen before the art critics have something to say about it. And nor should it be up to individual talent. It requires group impacts on aesthetic thought, not individual talent working alone, but art movements working collectively to create visual-shifts that set the kind of agenda on our cultural life that was clearly present during the last two centuries up until the 1960’s, which is recognised as the peak of radical innovation emulated by a healthy mix of fresh and established talents.
Artists can do as Andrew Frost suggests—just wait for things to wash out, or they can act now. To act now you need a reason. You might think that this extended ‘aesthetic drought’, was reason enough, but clearly not. Likewise, hoping that things might naturally materialise because astute artists will suddenly find the resources and impetuous to collectively act is, unfortunately, not how it works either. I believe change is more likely to occur because commerce demands it. The fact remains that the aesthetics of art has been lagging behind the economic and cultural advances being made elsewhere in human endeavours, particularly in the sciences 5. Oscar Wilde put it, ‘life imitates Art far more than Art imitates life’. By this he was talking about all forms of expression. However this is not what we have been witnessing in the realm of painting. A correction is well overdue and commerce could be the vehicle that brings it to life once again.
After all, as a bare minimum, it should be expected that the artists’ obligation is to execute work that speaks to the mainstream consciousness, and builds on our material heritage, not just simply adds to it.
This brings me back to the aesthetics. I believe that I’ve found a reason—I call it Membrane Art. It provides a purpose and direction out of which a discernible aesthetic language has materialised. The release of Membrane Art: An evolving expression aims to start a conversation to break this long-held thirst. Whether it will prompt further discussion into the understanding and validity of those insights remains to be seen.
¹ Art Pulse, Interview With Barry Schwabsky, 29 June 2011. See headline quote and his 13th comment. Barry Schwabsky interview
² Hilton Kramer, Does abstract art have a future? The New Criterion, December 2002. Hilton Kramer
³ German artist Katharina Grosse asks the question why there is a lack of discussion on the aesthetics of colour, April 2015: Painting with Color | ART21
4 A Critique of Pure Unreason, Andrew Frost, January 2015: Art Guide story
5 Book publication: Insight Radical – Where Science Meets Art, 2013. Project and Editor note’s by Carl H Schiesser and Renee Beale, p4-7. Online Abstract: Insight Radical
I’ve recently been attempting to paint the physical phenomenon that is quantum entanglement. I’m trying to achieve this by showing that marks (particles) produced on a ‘membrane’ surface can be in multi-places at the same time. I’m doing this by first folding or undulating the surface in such a way so that I can apply one action to create many marks at once. When they dry, I’ll be opening the membrane up and stretching it to a frame as part of my study into whether I’ll encounter any technical issues.
My aim is to hint at how the science may be understood. Furthermore, by recreating the mechanics at a macro level, it could help to illustrate how things might become entangled in the quantum mechanical system. Because the results are static and displayed retrospectively, it could help our understanding of the theory, including the EPR paradox.
Exhibition(s) to come in due course.
Note: It’s a condition of all my work that I’m partly or completely unsighted to the events created. So we shouldn’t pass judgement on the merits of these ‘works-in-progress’ until they’ve been cropped and fully stretched — in a restful state for observation.
Barry Schwabsky recently wrote: “Picasso, though he is still the popular byword for ‘famous artist,’ has been sidelined.” http://bit.ly/14G7cY3.
That maybe so but its certainly not the case for my work and Membrane Art. As it is the cubist principal of showing ‘multiple viewpoints’ on the picture plane that underpins Membrane Art. Take a look around this website and you’ll see why and more importantly how I’m trying to extend it. Membrane Art_150617
The title of her exhibition might say ‘Chemical Reactions’ but it is the membrane and how Mariah Robertson manipulates it that creates the basic structure for her work. The chemical reactions are the relative results of events that have occurred on the surface. This illustrates why I believe the ‘absolute’ aesthetic thought, Membrane Art is a legitimate art movement, as it is the thought itself (whether its subconsciously or consciously derived) that prevails under any conditions or circumstances. So, artists like Mariah Robertson are able to use different mediums, techniques and processes to achieve results that hold Membrane Art principals. Watch how she does it. This is a beautiful process of discovery!
Stories Well Told recently interviewed Malcolm about the RiAus exhibition, Under the Surface.
Stories Well Told (SWT)
Malcolm, a finalist in the prestigious Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize for 2014, has always been interested in science and the internal workings of nature.
In Membrane Art his canvas becomes a metaphor, recreating layered, multifaceted organisms.
His artistic process ends with recreating the way human visualise science.
SWT: How do you examine what’s ‘Under the Surface’?
Malcolm: My objective is to investigate nature. To understand surface and space the challenge has always been to imagine the complexities of our world beyond the limits of our visual abilities. So, by questioning the way we observe, it became apparent to me that a fresh approach was needed to the way we paint. In particular, to decipher the physiology of our world in a way that relates to the multi-dimensional aspects of it. There are more dimensions than the ones that we can obviously see like height, width and depth.
SWT: What fresh approach to painting did you come up with for Membrane Art?
Malcolm: One way to achieve this was to paint on an uneven or undulating surface. This canvas provides a re-enactment of nature and its multi-dimensional values. And then, at a later date, the canvas is flattened, becoming two-dimensional. The human experience is demonstrated by compressing the depth, creating a visual metaphor for how we observe.
SWT: So are you comparing complex science to human observation?
Malcolm: I’m not comparing them, I’m acknowledging them as one and the same. What I’d like people to see is that when a scientist theorises that we live in a multi-verse, it’s not because they’re conveniently trying to hide extra dimensions to make their calculations work, it’s usually because they make their observations facilitated by tools. Through these tools they can make more observations, more precisely than those our basic senses are equipped to handle.
SWT: Are you following this same scientific method in making your art?
Malcolm: Actually, in my art I often undulate the surface so tightly together that I can’t see where and how paint might flow or blend together, so I’ll rely on my other senses of feel and experience to calculate desired events. This is the unseen physiology. Then opening the work and making it as flat as possible shows that the events that occurred when it was in an undulating state haven’t disappeared, it’s just changed form on the surface.
SWT: Where is Membrane Art heading in the future?
Malcolm: I’ve created a new work exclusive to this exhibition, titled MA#47. Rather than just using paint, I’ve taken a circular-saw and made 12 individual cuts on the undulating linen. In this instance I used two undulations, so 12 cuts across the canvas have turned into 24 cuts when flattened. This hints at particle physics, where it’s possible to be in multiple locations at the same time. Its only when we observe the cuts on the flat two-dimensional surface do we realise that there’s a relationship between two particular cuts that couldn’t have possibly have occurred unless the surface was in a different state.
The RiAus exhibition ‘Under the Surface’ is on until 26 September 2014.
Dr Leonora Long a science writer at Neuroscience Research Australia recently took an interesting look at my Membrane Art. See article
MA#47, oil on Belgian linen, 2014. On display at RiAus until 26 September, 2014.
12 individual cuts of a circular-saw on the undulating (folded) surface, have materialised as 24 cuts when opened out. This hints at particle physics, where it’s possible to be in several locations at the same time. Its only when we observe the cuts on the flat 2D surface do we realise that there’s a relationship between two particular opposite cuts that couldn’t have possibly have occurred unless the surface was in a different state. A metaphor for the way we observe.
‘In art and science we are now in a delta, at the end of the long flow of progress. In a delta there is no clear direction but there may be many choices. The best we can do is to enjoy the choices that we have and to be genuinely and creatively eclectic’. Robert Bateman. MA#41, Finalist and Highly Commended, Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize 2014. South Australian Museum
Malcolm Koch presents 8 Membrane Art paintings (4 new works) and a not to be missed work-in-progress. Plus Christopher and Therese Williams present a collaborative sound and video work, combining Christopher’s soundscape composition with Therese’s real-time video drawings. 1 August – 26 September 2014 Under the surface The Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus) The Science Exchange: 55 Exchange Place , Adelaide SA Open: Monday–Friday 10am–5pm RiAus FutureSpace-Gallery
Opening night: Thursday 31 July 2014, 7–9pm. Wine supplied by Chaffey Bros. Wine Co and Dunes & Greene. Canapes will served on the night.
This is a group exhibition (5 artists). I will have 5 paintings on display. Please RSVP email@example.com
Recently, my painting MA#41 was highly commended in this year’s prestigious Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize, an international competition that invites artists to investigate the environment around us and present their own perspective on natural science. It’s an achievement just to be recognised. Likewise, I’m also thrilled to be invited to exhibit in the RiAus FutureSpace Gallery during this year’s SALA festival, where a similar synergy between the arts and science has been occurring. This support of the arts highlights how artists can interpret common themes, issues and thoughts in a multitude of different aesthetic ways that can engage mainstream audiences in science. Hopefully, by humanising scientific pursuits we may together speak a common language for all humanity.
As an artist, I like to say that my art is founded in science. I call my work ‘Membrane Art’ and believe it to be an absolute aesthetic-thought. This is distinct but not separate to the mounted-pieces that are about to go on display in the FutureSpace Gallery, titled Under the Surface. These are the relative-thoughts, the by-products of the absolute-thought which each have their own individual story to tell.
When making a claim that something is ‘absolute’, as is done in science, you need to be able to provide strong, quality evidence to support the theory. For almost 10 years now, since the idea for ‘Membrane Art’ first came to me, I can confidently say that I’ve achieved a body of work and a method of working that can consistently confirm this as so.
It was the 19th-century scientist and philosopher Hermann von Helmholtz who wrote, ‘Everything is an event on the skin’, and these words seems so poignant when you consider the process I employ to produce each piece — quite simply, I undulate the surface before I paint on it, hence the terminology ‘Membrane Art’, as it is the membrane (canvas) that creates the basic structure for the work. Why I paint in this way stems directly from my understanding of nature and the way it appears to be. To understand surface and space, the challenge has always been to imagine the complexities of our world beyond the limits of our visual abilities — you can’t solely rely on the flat 2D surface; it just doesn’t work. So, by questioning the way we see, it became apparent that to understand the presuppositions that shape our world, a new visual language was required.
Undulating the membrane was a liberating thought, and it also allowed me to employ modern thinking in physics and geology for which I have a keen interest. I started by experimenting with various materials and techniques, including sizing my own linen to try to build an innate understanding of it. Since then, I’ve been able to demonstrate that I can repeat the idea of absolute thought, in a variety of ways, and under any conditions and circumstances. And just to prove it, I’ve created a new work exclusive to this exhibition, titled MA#47. Rather than just using paint, I’ve taken a circular-saw and made 12 individual cuts on the undulating linen — in this instance I used two undulations, so 12 ‘actions’ have turned into 24 cuts. This hints at particle physics, where it’s possible to be in several locations at the same time. Its only when we observe the cuts on the flat 2D surface do we realise that there’s a relationship between two particular cuts that couldn’t have possibly have occurred unless the surface was in a different state.
At this point, I must emphasise that undulating the surface is not the complete idea of Membrane Art — the work must eventually return to the flat 2D picture plane, a key part of the absolute-thought. This shows us that the undulating membrane provides a re-enactment of nature (containing multi-dimensional values), and the flat plane generates the human experience (by compressing the depth), a visual metaphor for how we may observe. This is further illustrated in the exhibition by a piece I call ‘undulating-work-in-progress’, and is indicative of how all mounted works are created.
Absolute aesthetic-ideas don’t come around very often. Given recent scientific discoveries about the laws of nature (like the Higgs Field), Membrane Art could well be the contemporary visual language of our times.
I trust you’ll enjoy the exhibition. I’d love to hear your feedback!
All works are for sale. Any enquires call me direct on 0419 864 987
Under the Surface will be exhibited in the Futurespace Gallery at The Science Exchange from Friday 1 August 2014 to Friday 26 September 2014. bit.ly/1zakEho
I’m very happy to announce that I was Highly Commended for work MA#41 at this year’s Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize. With the high quality of work on display, this is a very satisfying achievement. It does mean that my work will form part of a tour to the National Archives of Australia in Canberra later in the year.
The exhibition opens this weekend at the SA Museum: www.bit.ly/1jV37X2
As an art critic, Peter Drew has created a six part online series called Art vs Reality. All aimed at providing information, insight, humour and well-researched opinion on today’s Artworld. After each episode he invites comments from viewers and then ‘grudgingly’ responds to them. So, I was chuffed (possibly slightly flattered) to get his favourite comment to episode 3. ArtvsReality_response (approx. 2 minutes in)
Watch his entertaining series as it unfolds over the coming months: ArtvsReality
Here’s my comment in response to episode 3 (Street Art vs The Art market):
As you point out, Art like everything else repeats itself. So assuming that we are about the cycle of 1874, then the question might be: What is the modern-day equivalent of Impressionism (an Absolute aesthetic-idea) that can present a real alternative to the Artworld? The answer may evolve through subcultures but its only through Absolute ideas that provide the artist with a common philosophy or goal, so that he or she, or collective group, can bring about a sense of purpose and direction that may thrive once again outside the salons.
Transcript of my speech made to 70+ guests at the opening cocktail party of Membrane Art exhibition at the Adelaide Convention Centre (Centre ArtBeat) on 4 June 2014:
So, what preoccupies the perennially tormented mind of the contemporary artist? Quite simply; the language of aesthetic-ideas (aesthetic-thoughts).
But what I want to talk to you about tonight — is how this visual language can be delineated into two parts — absolute and relative ideas. Absolute being what is complete, and relative being something that is dependent upon humans. I particularly want to make this distinction as it relates directly to my art. Art always needs to steer itself away from becoming monotonous, so by defining the merits of ideas itself — or at least by bringing it to your attention — I believe robust, imaginative and independent forms of inquiry may continue to exist. As it is only through the development of absolute-ideas that art has a future that may authentically explore the issues to be debated, the ideas to be contested, and the images yet to be re-imagined.
The mounted works you see on display, are my relative-ideas. Each one has an individual story to tell. The undulating-works-in-progress you see here (below), represent the absolute-idea and is indicative of how every one of my paintings is created. But before I explain this, let me first define, these terms.
RELATIVE: They are relative because they stand in relation to certain conditions or circumstances. They relate to individual human beings. This is what artists execute 99.9% of the time. Pick a topic: Politics; environment; social; religion; sex; make a comment or highlight an issue about it, and hey presto! — you have an exhibition that everyone can relate to.
ABSOLUTE: Absolute-ideas, on the other hand, do not stand in relation to any conditions or circumstances. They prevail at any time or place and under any circumstances. It is a first order thought and can’t be denied or refuted. For example, the idea of Cubism is absolute — show multiple viewpoints on the picture plane. This is a truth that has stood the test of time. So much so, that Cubism has influenced generations of artist, creating a multitude of outcomes with this basic principle.
The objective of absolute-ideas is to provide the artist with a common philosophy or goal, so that he or she, or a collective group, can bring about a sense of purpose and direction. Whatever the means, you either — respond with it, or react against it.
So what makes these undulating membranes absolute?
10 years ago, almost to the month, it hit me. If I could just undulate the surface before I painted on it, I might be able to capture the pervasive features that shape our natural landscape — then at a later date, compress the depth by returning the work to the flat picture plane.
This was a liberating thought, and it quickly became obvious that it was a much larger idea then just about landscape, it was science. However, with no obvious historical art references to show me the way, I continued experimenting on my own, trying various materials and techniques, including sizing my own linen, as well as trying to overcome technical issues. But most importantly, I needed to be able to repeat the idea, in a variety of ways, in order to build a body-of-work that could confirm my assertion — Membrane Art holds the principle view: that the confluence of events in nature and human observation occur as one and the same. DISCUSS: [The undulating membrane is nature. The flat-plane is observation. The membrane creates the basic structure for the work. Through the act of compressing the depth, after applying a series of multiple dimensional values, you begin to reveal a truth about the human experience of observation. Nothing disappears! It just changes its form on the surface].
10 years on, Membrane Art prevails as an absolute aesthetic-idea. It can’t be mistaken as a technique or process, as it is about understanding space and surface in order to build the relative-ideas. It shows us that we are blind to the internal workings of nature. I hope that by displaying these undulating-works-in-progress — and explaining the methodology behind my thinking — you can see much more work can be achieved which has not consciously been recognised anywhere. More importantly, I hope that other artists embrace or challenge the idea, as it is often through the collective group that good ideas gain momentum and flourish for the benefit of all.
Absolute aesthetic-ideas don’t come around very often and given recent scientific discoveries about the laws of nature (like the Higgs Field), Membrane Art could well be the contemporary visual language for our times.
I’ve been selected as a finalist in the prestigious Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize for 2014 (Category A – Paintings).
This highly competitive event is one of Australia’s most prestigious art competitions. With a total prize pool over $100,000, makes it one of the richest arts’ prize in Australia, attracting many national and international entries.
The competition invites artists to investigate the world around them and present their own perspective on natural science. Since, my work (Membrane Art) has its basis in ‘science’, as you can imagine, I’m just thrilled to be recognised.
Prize winners will be announced at a media call at the South Australian Museum at 10:30am on Thursday 24 July 2014.
This is an article I read in 2003. It inspired me to think on a completely different level. Here the American art critic, Hilton Kramer summarises Abstract Art from his wealth of historical insight, outlining its checkered history, discussing its harshest critics and then hypothesis as to why he thinks it has become so marginalised in galleries and museums all over the world. Pointing towards Minimalism in its effects to diminish the aesthetic scope and resources of abstraction may have marked a terminal point in its aesthetic development from which it has not yet recovered. If he was alive today, would he be able to see Membrane Art as a clear sense of purpose and direction as do? Does Abstract Art have a future?
By understanding that a surface interconnects and defines space, provides the means to create a vocabulary that can be found in our physical world. This vocabulary may repeat itself but its in the way that you perceive it and how you go about putting it together that provides endless differences.
The Hughes Gallery is displaying one of my pieces. I haven’t seen this work for six months and looking at it again on display I still believe its one of my finest. The Hughes Gallery: Fullarton Park Centre, 411 Fullarton Road. 20 March – 17 April 2014. Mon-Fri.
Slight change of dates: The Adelaide Convention Centre (Centre ArtBeat) will be displaying my artwork for approximately 8 weeks. The official opening and cocktail party has changed to Wednesday 4 June, 5 – 6.30pm. Dandelion Vineyards will be supporting the opening. Yummmmm!
5 of my large oil paintings have made their way to Veda – Art & Interiors: This is the collaboration between Tony Bond (AP Bond Art Gallery), Paul Swain, Paul Gerard, Zoe Elvish and Jacqui Hooper. Its a great idea – check it out at 140 Barton Terrace West, North Adelaide 11 – 4pm most days.