The relationship between photography, moving image and painting

Today I have been reading about the relationship between photography and painting from Painting Today, ed Tony Godfrey, Phaidon Press Ltd 2009.  Chapter 4 Photographic. I am interested in what painting and photography is, how they relate and what they can do.  In an earlier blog I  discussed the idea of not only making work out of ourselves but the work making us. The idea that an engagement  in painting makes me whole again ( following ideas and feelings of loss and mourning) through restoring  an inner peace , this leading to ideas and feelings of being one with the world again. Photography and video assists me in capturing moments or glimpses of time and experience. Not necessarily to represent the reality of the moment or experience but to capture that which is unexpected or previously overlooked.  The small nuances in nature which upset our perception of the world as we might know it. When photographing I am looking for the unexpected, mysterious, vulnerable or incomplete, the fleeting moment which is ambiguous.  Photos can take me back in memory but also project me forward to imagine a future. I am using photography and moving image to improvise on what is seen through exploring a vulnerable beauty. I am looking for the pathos in the experience of nature, that which excites tender emotions or is meditative.   For me painting, photography and video are interchangeable – I am searching for the imperceptible transition between them.  The ability to segue  from one to the other  without pause.  I use photography and moving image to capture sensations.  They give me distance from nature and allow me to improvise freely from it fluctuating between abstraction and representation.



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Contemporary Painting

I’ve been reading the introductory essay by Barry Schwabsky,  Painting as Art?  in New perspectives in Painting, Phaidon Press Ltd., London  2002. Some ideas from the essay are worth noting including that  contemporary painting is essential conceptual. Schwabsky states what gives contemporary painting its specific importance to art in general is its engagement with the body of both the maker and the viewer. Painting can be viewed as desire, the desire for painting. Schwabsky views Abstract Painting the most naked form of painting as possible. He questions what if any are the specific capacities of painting which can be exploited? And states that there is a different consciousness in contemporary painting than there was in Modernism.  In  Schwabsky’s view there is no longer a question of the best way to make or see a painting – as none are all-encompassing. There is an opening up of painting in this sense. In the work of Richter for example there is a refusal of paintings to be self contained.  This is a flexbility in Contemporary Painting that wasn’t present in Modernism.  A painting is not only a painting but a representation of an idea about painting.  Therefore it is possible to work both in abstraction and representation as the painting is not there to represent the image the image exists to represent the painting  – the painting’s idea of painting.  So in a situation where anything goes self-invention becomes the primary subject that unites all otherwise distinct or ontradictory projects. Contemporay painters could state we make ourselves out of our work. The main concern is how to make a painting. So what is the specific contribution  that painting can make to artistic thought?  According to Schwabskyit has to do with cultivating the tactile dimension of things, a plastic relation to materials that is a proprioceptive activity (ie it provides a sense of the body’s position by responding to stimuli from within the body through sensory nerve endings in muscles, tendons, and joints) because of the potential for continual feedback between matter aned sensation.  The aim is to evoke this response in viewers moving the engagement in the work (the noun) to the verb. Thus the work of contemporary painting is concerned with its capacity to be reflexive as paintings. They are paintings but also allegories of painting.  Contemporay  painting in Schwabsky’s view is an invitation to direct experience.

So what significance has all of this for my practice? It justifys my desire to paint – painting for me is part of a process of renewal through my bodily engagement with it. The desire to paint is materialy based in the sensations that can be evoked through the process of painting that may trigger a change in my cognition. It is the evocation of this desire for engagement through the sensual capacity of media  that I hope to affect in viewers.

The nature of painting.

This blog is to share some ideas about my work and hopefully clarify my thinking along the way.

I’ve been thinking about the materiality of paint and what I want my paintings to look and feel like. I know I want my work to occupy the space between reality and abstraction – perhaps to hover ambiguously between these two ends. I like the materiality and aqueous nature of paint, its slippery, messy and imperfect and suits my intentions for my work well. I would like my work to operate through sensation, to evoke feelings and a range of emotion associated with the poetic space of loss and renewal. On one hand the confrontation with loss;  the fear, anxiety, vulnerability, grief and sadness associated with loss and the slow difficult movement to renewal (often for me through repetitive action) to  that which is lush, rich, fertile, productive and engaging.  Previously when painting I have hovered between styles trying to locate my way of working. Perhaps this struggle to find a location within the materiality of paint media will be the material focus of my work relating directly to my concerns.

My photographic work and moving image works seem to be more coherent – they look consistently like my work – there is a vulnerable beauty associated with them. At the focus of this work there is an uncertainty, an imprecision, an incompleteness and a transience – they are not truthful documents of the physical likeness of reality.

I’m interested in the relation between photography and moving image and paint. Perhaps researching the work of  and writings about Gerhard Richter  is a good place to start together with the writings of Walter Benjamin. One question I am interested in investigating is whether photography and moving image as mechanical reproduction can be auratic? Walter Benjamin states the photographic image cannot hold aura. I believe my work is an attempt to  do this.

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