Monday, 18 January 2021

Gallery Dodo Update, Paper Festival Update, Bookmark Edition, Orbit Instagram Residency

New year new us. We’ve had some updates on the Brighton show, the first being that it’s most likely going to be pushed back about a month. For us, this doesn’t really change anything as we’re not that busy due to the big c. It might mean that Scott is able to attend the show which would be nice since we haven’t actually met in person. In terms of the actual work, the foam for the yellow piece has arrived and looks great. We ordered 5 again as it’s cheaper than ordering them one at a time but we didn’t realise how large they actually are. With the smaller ones they make good gifts but giving one of these away would be quite imposing. We’ll find somewhere for them I’m sure!

The two new paintings have been put into production and once they’re completed all the works will be done. We were going to have 2 which are landscape orientated but realised that all the other work is landscape too, so went with some more recently portrait one’s we had made. One is for Ronnie Rocket, an unrealised film by David Lynch which has a great story. After finishing Eraserhead, David Lynch spent two years writing a script for a new project entitled, Ronnie Rocket. He met with one film studio, describing the film to them as being "about electricity and a three-foot guy with red hair"; the studio never got in touch again.

Lynch then met Stuart Cornfeld during this time. Cornfeld had enjoyed Eraserhead and was interested in producing Ronnie Rocket; Cornfeld was working for Mel Brooks and Brooksfilms at the time, and when the two realized that Ronnie Rocket was unlikely to find sufficient financing to be produced, Lynch decided his next project would instead be The Elephant Man.

Lynch would return to Ronnie Rocket after each of his films, intending it at different stages as the follow-up not only to Eraserhead or The Elephant Man, but also Dune, Blue Velvet and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

In 1987, after having released Blue Velvet, Lynch once again attempted to pursue Ronnie Rocket. He visited northern England to scout a possible filming location; however, he found that the industrial cities he had hoped to use had become too modernized to fit his intended vision.

The project also suffered setbacks due to the bankruptcy of several potential backers; both Dino De Laurentiis's De Laurentiis Entertainment Group and Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope were attached to the project at different times; both production companies went bankrupt before work could begin.

Due to De Laurentiis owning the rights it ended up in legal limbo for a while following their bankruptcy. Lynch stopped actively pursuing Ronnie Rocket as a viability in the early 1990s. However, he has never officially abandoned the project; frequently referring to it in interviews as "hibernating".

The other matte painting is for Werner Herzog’s unmade film The Conquest of Mexico. Herzog wanted to make a movie about the European colonization of Mexico but from the perspective of the Aztecs.

Francis Ford Coppola tried to produce the movie in the late 1970s but his production company crashed after Coppola's "One From the Heart" flopped in 1982, and he failed to get the $20 million in funding for Herzog. Herzog tried to shop the script around studios in 1996, but without luck. John Milius (screenwriter of Apocalypse Now) was even rumoured to be rewriting the script but this also never came to fruition.

Herzog has been playing with themes of colonialism and conquest throughout his career, and his ideas for this film were eventually disseminated into others. The film lives on through these other works and perhaps the fragments could be pieced together from watching his subsequent movies.

The final update is that we decided on the title, Never seen and yet believed in. It’s slightly inspired by the bible quote 'blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed', referring to being blessed if you believe without evidence. We enjoy the similarities between ideas at large and religion. Both are things which aren't tangible in their own right but their effect is how they're quantified. It relates to the gaps in our paintings and foam work, plus Scott’s blinking neon. Also, has a good link to Scott’s booklet - artists text trying to convince the world that what they are being is brilliant with words but no physical evidence.

The Paper Festival in Manchester was unfortunately cancelled because of you know what. A real shame but is what it is.

Scott’s invited us to submit a design/artwork that’s going to be screen printed onto a bookmark and sold as an edition. We had a good time thinking up loads of fun ideas and they mostly fell into two groups; recreating things that are used as bookmarks e.g. old shopping lists, and ideas that reference what a bookmark is for – pausing or saving your place in a book. An initial design that we liked was a small corner of the page that looked like it was folded down. It’s a little more design-like than a conceptually driven artwork but it does look satisfying.

We’re going to be partaking in an Instagram Residency at the end of this month with an organisation called Orbit. It’s a great online platform to promote, support, and engage with emerging artists & creatives run by Elizabeth Challinor. We’ve followed previous participants of the residency and have really enjoyed learning more about artists we’re only slightly familiar with. We wanted to do our own version of this and decided that it would be best to focus on us being a collaboration. We’re often asked questions about our collaboration; how does it work? Or who does what? There aren’t set answers to these questions because it differs from project to project but since we’ve been working together for a while now, we’ve refined a system that works for us. The way we work is very beneficial to our practice and we believe it could assist others (especially during this next lock-down) in finding new ways of sharing their initial ideas with fellow artists in an informal setting.

We’re going to open up our collaborative process and show people how we operate. The residency will begin with us sharing our numerous methods of communication ranging from emails, to Facebook messenger, to shared Google Docs. Included in this would be some early works we made together. Following that, we’re going to share a range of current works that are in production, what stage they’re at (some further along than others), and what the next steps are to advance them. Next, a selection of recently completed pieces and finally any upcoming projects. And on the Instagram stories we’re going to share promotional memes that include our website in funny ways.

Monday, 21 December 2020

The Noisy Cricket completed

The small gun works arrived! We were very pleased with the cut but we didn’t specify that it shouldn’t go all the way through which means we’ve ended up with a tiny cut out of the gun itself in blue foam. We’ve since had them recut and they look perfect!

Making frames for them was proving difficult; it was far too expensive to get it done exactly how we wanted it or if we got it made less expensively we would have to alter it anyway. Finally, we thought we may as well test trying to make them ourselves; we intend it to be a fairly long series and being able to make them cheaply would be great. It actually went perfectly and we’re really pleased with the result!

The title is Division of Persepctive (The Noisy Cricket). Not sure if we’ve written about the origins of the title before but dividing perspective is a method of showing a 3 dimensional object in 2 dimensional space. This addition of a dimension is exactly what we’re attempting to do with these fictional objects; give them a life beyond the screen, another perspective. 

We’ve just put in the other order for the yellow point of view gun so we’ll most likely receive that in the new year and we’ll start on the frame for that. Then it’s only the two paintings to go and we’ll have prepared everything for the Brighton show! Fingers crossed something else materialises after that…

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Gallery Dodo, Bird table, Matte paintings, foam inserts, mirrored tray frame

Going back to work and moving house are just a couple of the reasons for a 5-month break of writing. Still not sure if I’m totally over moving but I’m sure I’ll get there… 

A fun development is that we’ve got a two person (or three depending on how you look at it?) show coming up in March next year. It’s in Brighton in a small space within Phoenix Art Space. It’s being organised by Jon and Dan under their Gallery Dodo brand and there’s a 4 month programme of exhibitions which all look great! Ours is with Scott Robertson who we only knew through Instagram but always really enjoyed his work. His text pencil drawings were the pieces we knew him from (This is just a picture, 2018 was a particular favourite) but we also loved a recent piece where he erased all the markings from a wooden ruler and titled it ‘The Immeasurable’, very thoughtful and clever. 

Anyway, together we’ve come up with an exhibition that centres around the ideas and the moments that surround them. Scott’s going to show a piece called 'The Weight of Another's Words' which is a small pallet loaded up with anything every written about his work but for this show he’s mentioned that he might ask the same writer to add some bits about our work which is super exciting. He’s also going to show a new neon work which we shan’t spoil but we’re very looking forward to seeing it in the flesh. We’re going to show 2 new matte paintings and then the foam insert for the point of view gun. 

Jon and Dan mentioned that there might be a possibility to sell some editions through the Phoenix Gallery website so we’re developing another smaller foam insert piece based on the noisy cricket in Men in Black. Still relates to the exhibition but is smaller/more affordable! It’s really good to have something to work towards after this year feeling like it’s almost stood still… 

In general art-making we’re still battling with how to display the paintings showing the view from portraits; they feel like they need an additional visual push. Something on my mind at the moment is a mirrored tray frame because the work all about looking back into what a subject can see which is what a mirror does; the piece is essentially putting a mirror up to the room that it was in. Another idea was hanging it at the artists eye level but this feels very subtle and could easily be incorporated into the mirrored tray frame if we wanted to. 

In terms of finished artworks there’s quite a few to tick off the production list. We’ve been going back and forth with an idea about The First and Last House (a pub located at the most Southwesterly point in mainland Britain) and all the pieces have finally fallen into place in the form of a bird table built in the style of the pub. As the name suggests, The First and Last House is the first or last house depending on whether you’re arriving or leaving at Land's End, England. The prevailing wind direction of the UK is a southwesterly wind from the Atlantic. This wind is of foremost importance to migrating birds, who prefer to have the wind behind them. The finished work looks good and now lives in Sid’s dads’ garden so hopefully will be enjoyed by some birds!

We’ve also finished the indented note piece and got it properly framed for an exhibition in Manchester. Framed by a excellent framer, artist and all round lovely guy Jack Carvosso – recommend checking out his work if you don’t know him. It was next to impossible to photograph but eventually managed. 

And finally we managed to get the first completed matte painting stretched and shot. Website updates galore!

Monday, 29 June 2020

Plinths, Foam, Blind Embossing, Sherlock Holmes

Been making some very slow progress with the missing sculpture plinth. Got another few layers of different colours of paint on and it’s looking a bit better. Still plenty of progress to be made but also just getting to grips with what works best in terms of colours and masking options. It’s definitely going to be a slow burner to be chipped away at when possible. 

Got some quotes back for making the fictional gun foam insert. Some were surprisingly expensive but the more I looked the better it got. The other thing was that the price was significantly reduced when buying a few at a time. Looks like they’re going to be additions of 3 or 4 depending on the size. 

We’ve been thinking more about the display of them and initially be thought they would be good in the Perspex boxes we’ve been making for others works. However, after discussing it a bit further we thought that an aluminium tray frame would be more consistent with the idea. It would also be powder coated to match the grey of a Peli case. We’ve also landed on a title for this series of works; every work will be The Division of Perspective and then in brackets there will be the name of the weapon or tool. Dividing perspective is a method of showing a 3 dimensional object in 2 dimensional space. This addition of a dimension is exactly what we’re attempting to do with these fictional objects; give them a life beyond the screen, another perspective. 
There have been some open calls we’ve been finding and today we saw one for paper artworks to be exhibited at Manchester library and it made us think about a work we’ve had on the list for a while. It’s all to do with writing indentation clues in films; when people write a letter or a note, it's possible that the pressure of their pen or pencil will create indentations not just on the paper they're writing on, but on any paper that's underneath it, too. In some sorts of story (particularly Mystery Fiction, though not exclusively), making use of this fact is a well-established investigative technique. If you want to know what someone wrote on a notepad but the note is no longer there, just look at the next piece, possibly shading it with a pencil to bring out the contrast. 

Writing Indentation Clue - TV Tropes

It’s the invisibility and discovery aspects that really interested us and it reminded us of blind embossing/debossing; a printing technique that doesn't use ink, where you stamp a mark of something into a material, leaving an indentation. We wanted to create a work where a small scrap of paper had something blind embossed onto it but wasn’t scribbled over like in films, it’s still invisible, still waiting to be discovered. After researching further into it, we found that it was mentioned by Sherlock Holmes when telling Watson how he got his information as "a fact that has dissolved many a happy marriage". However, in this case, he uses the blotting paper to obtain the reverse message, as the writer had used a pen. We then decided that we would both use the quote and blotting paper for the piece. In terms of display, the scrap is going to be shown in a white frame, and within a wonkily angled mount. The idea here was that we’re continually adding elements to the piece but since they’re all of the same colour they’re not actually enabling the note to be seen more directly. Usually a frame and a mount are used to point out the object within, but these ones don’t manage that. We’re going to call it You see, but you do not observe, which is another Sherlock Holmes quote.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Painting the Aphrodite of Knidos plinth, new photos of old works, improved matte painting, new cucoloris work

The green paint arrived for the empty plinth work! The first attempt hasn’t gone too well at all but we’re revising our method and we’re going to prime it with a thin layer of grey so hopefully it’ll stick more to the edges. I don’t think I ever explained the significance of the Aphrodite of Knidos to the work. The artwork itself is a recreation of the plinth for the lost artwork, Aphrodite of Knidos by Praxiteles. The original sculpture was destroyed but hundreds of versions and replicas of it were made across the ancient world, in full size and miniature, even appearing as the design on coins. The sculpture lived on even though its initial form was gone, which is exactly what we’re trying to do here, the footprint enables the statue to keep being remade in people’s minds. 

Re-photographed the blue sign with the new production method. Initially, we produced the piece using a vinyl film which was stuck onto the front of the aluminium. Now, we get it sprayed on top and it has a different feeling; much more tactile with the layer of paint. 

The better matte painting has arrived and it really is better in every way; the painting is more accurate; the canvas is proper fabric instead of a plastic-y texture. We’ll definitely be using this company for future jobs. Thinking more about getting the Sim paintings fabricated, it would be a lovely grid or line depicting the progress. They would all be made the same size (20 x 25cm) to convey the uniformity of the painting process, both within Sims and in the physical painting process. It’ll be fairly expensive since there’s 10 paintings but it’s just another one of those works that can be put into production once the money is there.

A new idea that’s just at the beginning of being formulated is to do with a device in film-making called a cucoloris. It’s used in lighting for film, theatre and still photography, and it’s a template for casting shadows or silhouettes to produce patterned illumination. They come in a variety of different styles but the objects themselves look almost like abstract artworks. Our initial idea is to make custom cucolorises which would have been used in particular scenes with unique shadows and display them as wall mounted sculptural works. Maybe the scenes will be imaginary or they’ll be ones from actual films, still plenty to think about. They would be laser cut out of wood and we’re still in the process of thinking about how to convey more of the idea of casting shadows.

Monday, 1 June 2020

Artists and Friends Podcast, Matte paintings, and the point of view gun from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

And another week just slips by scarily quickly…The podcast is continuing to take up a lot of my time but I’m really enjoying it! And I would prefer to be over prepared than under prepared. And I’m especially enjoying it now that we’ve got people coming on to be interviewed and we get to talk to them about their process and particular work; that really makes it very fulfilling and so different to just discuss people without them being there. We’ve got an episode coming out tomorrow with Robyn Nichol who’s an artist we’ve really enjoyed for some time and have actually bought some of her work previously. We’re also doing an episode on Channel 4 Random Acts videos and interviewing a couple of really great artists, Zaiba Jabbar & Cath Shayler, who have previously produced films with them. 

But things are still slowly progressing with our own work. We’ve decided which fictional weapon will be the first to be cut out of foam; it’s going to be the point of view gun from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The way the gun works in the film is that when fired at someone it makes them see things from the person that fired it’s point of view. And this feels like the most appropriate one we’ve found so far, considering it’s very similar to what writers, or set designers, or directors are doing when they produce a film, or a book, or a play; enabling people to see your point of view, building a story or item from your mind and putting it into the physical world so an audience can see it too. We’ve decided that all the foam pieces are going to be black on the top layer and then colour beneath is going reference the colour of the original weapon or tool, in this case yellow. I’ve included an outline and reference image to both the weapon and the foam example below. 

The first matte painting test arrived! It looks really great on the wall and it’s lovely to see one of these in the flesh! I’ve been living with it in the house and it hasn’t felt too dark and dingy to have up which is something I was worried about. A slightly strange turn of events is that another company that I asked for a quote has accidentally completed another painting of the same scene. This painting actually looks a bit better than the one we already have; the detailing is just that little bit more defined and it’s an overall more accurate copy of the original image. We’re getting sent that one as well and we’re potentially just going to give the first one away to someone as an undocumented piece – or perhaps it’ll be an edition of 1 with 1 artist proof, who knows! I've linked both paintings below, I feel like you can definitely tell which is better.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

New film proposal, Matte painting progress, Sim paintings, Podcast devlopments

This week has been a little quieter for our own making. We’ve applied for a couple of call-out with a new film idea which is semi-lockdown based. The film itself is a vlogger reviewing a film about the power and mystery of imagination. They go into detail when describing certain aspects of the movie such as the dialogue and how the film made them feel. However, they are vague when it comes to actor’s names and the title is never disclosed. We’ve framed it around the thinking that ideas always unfold unhindered in our minds and unlike in film, are only limited by our imagination and even if we’re stuck inside, our ideas can take us all over the world and hopefully beyond. Hopefully someone likes the idea but there’s so many people who will be applying at the moment we’re fairly certain we won’t be chosen. Either way, it’s a fairly easy work to produce and all the hard work has been done, all that’s needed now is to execute it. 

We’ve finally got a progress image of our first matte painting! It looks pretty good and it’ll be very exciting when we eventually receive it. We still haven’t worked on another one yet but we’re definitely going to think more about it this week. 

Something we’ve been thinking more about recently is the sim paintings. These are paintings done by Sims within the game and there's a painting for each 'level' of the Sim's ability. It was a work about how art is percieved within popular culture and more specifically video games. We were thinking about getting them painted all the same small size. Perhaps it’s because of getting the new matte paintings and seeing that it’s fairly easy to do. The only thing would be that because there’s so many of them it would be fairly expensive to produce all of them. Maybe something for another funding proposal… 

The reason there’s been a bit of a slow down in terms of our own practice is that the podcast is taking more and more time. It feels like every week it takes a little bit longer to prepare. Now that we’re doing longer episodes and have an Instagram which we post on every day it is becoming all-encompassing. Not that it’s not enjoyable – it’s great to be able to talk about things we’ve been looking at and even get to talk to some great people. An example being that this week we interviewed Grace Lee from the YouTube channel What’s So Great About That?. She’s someone I’ve following for some time now and I went back and rewatched all her videos which didn’t feel like a burden at all, quite the opposite! Perhaps it would be different if this was our source of income and we did our art on the side but it definitely feels like this potentially isn’t sustainable when life returns to normality. A day of researching, a day of recording and editing, and then writing all the Instagram posts, all while working 5 days a week…We’ll see! If you haven't heard of her then you really should check out her channel, they're beautiful video essays on all kinds of media.