memory. language, art. wittgenstein. books. ceramics.

all sorts of thinkings on memory, language, art, wittgenstein, books, etc, while I am getting on with my MA

Saturday 18 December 2010

Snow makes me very happy

We built this snowman today: a happy happy snowman :-)

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Drawing: the world is independent of my will.

"The world is independent of my will" (TLP, 6.373)

I had this A3 drawing ready for the MA Xmas party. Unfortunately, Lambeth dug up our road without warning today. Resurfacing. As a result I could not get to Camberwell.
Suddenly, Wittgenstein's quote seems very relevant.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Burning books - no8


The Getaway

I am taking books, that no longer have the society that supports them (uh! I have got a barn full of them!) and I reduce them to an immensely fragile state - so fragile, that they may disintegrate in hands - just like the memory of the times, that they represent.

Saturday 11 December 2010

Burning books - no7

I have started accumulating samples now to produce more predictable results.

The results are ephemeral and somewhat other-wordly indeed, but not so fragile, that I would not be able to touch or transport them.

I am taking books, that no longer have the society that supports them (uh! I have got a barn full of them!) and I reduce them to an immensely fragile state - so fragile, that they may disintegrate in hands - just like the memory of the times, that they represent.

Friday 10 December 2010

Porcelain airplanes.

Paper airplanes. In porcelain.

Headstones. Shatter. Gone.

As a late teenager I had a screensaver on my computer, that showed different ways to fold paper aircrafts. I do remember making one that actually flew.

Byproduct: glass in porcelain experiments.

Byproduct of experimentation with glass and porcelain. The light from the other side, coloured by glass.

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Burning books - no6

I cycled back grinning today. Isn't it glorious when things go right!

I have got the text. Yes, I have got all of the text on the pages of my books. They look ephemeral and other-worldly, translucent and extremely fragile. Beautiful. I am finally happy about something I have done.

Except - they are the wrong kind of books and, therefore, they have the wrong kind of text. My wheelbarrow is arriving to London in afew weeks time. In January, when the workshop reopens I will start firing them.

I am taking books, that no longer have the society that supports them (uh! I have got a barn full of them!) and I reduce them to an immensely fragile state - so fragile, that they may disintegrate in hands - just like the memory of the times, that they represent.

Thursday 2 December 2010

Thursday at Degree Art

Inflate Deflate (Karin Schlosser)

Degree Art has got a Christmas shopping show on now. Some very nice pieces indeed. My favorite was Karin Schlosser (above). Oh, and Julia Bailey, who's work I liked at our last year's MA show.
Anyway, everything is
extremely reasonably priced. Most of the pieces are well under a hundred! How do they manage that?

PS Unfortunately, I got caught up in a conversation with VJ, from Degree Art, and forgot to take the photos. There are more photos available from their website.

Wednesday 1 December 2010

ESSAY. Yeppee! and the problem of borders (book arts)

Essay submitted, done and dusted!

That essay research was certainly hugely beneficial for me: it answered a few important questions. Unfortunately, it has also revealed a few problems. For example, it is not helpful to come to this area of books from linguistics, having had focused on language and meaning structure  all those years (a bit like arriving to the wrong religion school: god is the same, but perspective is different). While it might be exploratory to question where the book/text/page/etc. starts and where it ends, I see those things distorted by the cognitive linguistics. Aristotelian classification does not work. Mental categories have prototype structure and fuzzy edges (uh. clever me.). Therefore, my category of books can extend right into periphery without questions about borders: no starts, no ends.

Well, this looking for borders is what I  find frustrating. Once they are established, some things become "in" and others - "out". For example, Johanna Drucker offers an alarmingly narrow view of what a book is. All of the stuff of my previous pages about the burnt books would be "out". Alternatively, it could be called "periphery".

Instead of trying to build the walls, to keep the wrong kind of books "out", it might be more productive to establish prototypes for the categories, so the rest of the group could locate itself somewhere around it. Just a thought.

Sure - it is not as simple as that. I was reading Stephen Davies recently. He mentioned "disjunctive definition". It sounds very Wittgensteinian, but - certainly more to the point (from my point of view).

Thursday 25 November 2010

ESSAY. Yakimono. David Maisel.

Library of Dust is a haunting series of images by David Maisel, who photographed a collection of corroding copper canisters containing the cremated remains ("cremains") of patients at the Oregon State Insane Asylum from 1883 to 1971. The canisters are beautiful. The topic is disturbing. The abandoned remains have reacted with the copper to create colourful deformations on the canisters that often appear to be bubbling over. Bubbling over with death, neglect, the effects of mental illness, yes, but at the same with the spirit of individuals who have finally come to embody beauty. The asylum itself is decaying when Maisel first visits, and the photographs depict large slices of peeling pain and tiles curving free of the floor, a reflection of the previous disorder. These photographs will lead to pensiveness and quiet wonder. The visual poetry is beautiful, bewildering and bewitching.

Yakimono - a Japanese word for ceramics - literally means "firied" (yaki) "things" (mono). That explains everything!

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Burning books - no5

I will be taking a break now until 11.30, to give myself some time to finish my essay.

I cannot wait to get back!

I am taking books, that no longer have the society that supports them (uh! I have got a barn full of them!) and I reduce them to an immensely fragile state - so fragile, that they may disintegrate in hands - just like the memory of the times, that they represent.

London (or the lack of it) from Vauxhall Bridge.

16.11.2010. Misty morning. I was cycling to RA. While the rest of London was almost mist-free by 8.30, Thames was still impenetrable.

Friday 12 November 2010

ESSAY. Biblioclasm. Araki Takako.

Look what I have found! Araki Takako!
Araki Takako is an internationally acclaimed ceramic artist, particularly well-known for the "Bible" series on which she has been working for more than twenty years. Araki is an atheist, but her father was a Zen priest. The prolonged and painful death of her brother, a faithful Christian, from tuberculosis, focused her doubts on the value of religion. She sees the bible as both a symbol of Western culture and a symbol of the vanity of Christian belief. Her obsessive metaphorical work sparked by her brother's death serves as an eulogy on the powerlessness of faith. The brittle decaying Bibles are composed of layers of thin fragile clay sheets which she has silk-screened with text. Their decaying fragility contains its own message that ultimately the Word is ephemeral. Araki devoted herself to the family profession of flower arranging until 1952 when she began to study painting. From 1960 to 1961 she studied sculpting in New York before returning to Japan where she studied in different pottery centres. Her reputation for sculptural ceramics was established in 1979 when she received the grand prize at the Japan Ceramics Exhibition.

I find her work very powerful. That same feeling I get when looking at Oscar Munioz videos. She produces a statement without being aggressive.
There is stillness and a meditative quality in Araki's ceramics.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Burning books - no4

I have managed to preserve some text. I will try repeat this is a more controlled way. I have left some more samples with Tim to be fired.
Who is Tim?
Tim is the most patient and helpful technician I have met. He runs Chelsea College of Art ceramics workshops. It is such a friendly and creative place to be.

To be continued.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Books in stop-motion

by Ian Hammond

ESSAY. Biblioclasm. Dieter Roth.

Dieter Roth (Swiss, born Germany, 1930-98). Literaturwurst (Martin Walser: Halbzeit) (Literature Sausage), 1968. Book of cut-up novel, water, gelatin and spices in sausage casing, overall: 20 11/16 x 16 3/4 x 4 ¾ in (52.5 x 42.5 x 12 cm). Publisher and fabricator: the artist, Reykjavik. Edition: 50 with different formats and texts. Dieter Roth Foundation, Hamburg. © 2006 Dieter Roth Foundation, Hamburg.

Johanna Drucker would not call this a book. My mum would not call this a book. Most people would not call this a book. Daily Mirror had been reduced to pulp, a semi-raw material, recycled mush as a sausage stuffing.

Sure - it is not a book in the codex sense of it. Book-object? How do I classify it?

Can chicken sausages be called chicken? What would J.Sainsbury do?

ESSAY. Helen Lessick. Metaphor.

Linguistic signifier of the metaphor stands as a metaphor for the sign itself.
That is one very confusing thought, I've just had.

Anyway - very clever, Helen Lessick. Very clever.


Monday 8 November 2010

ESSAY. Biblioclasm. Barbara Hashimoto.

Barbara Hashimoto is very good at destruction. She has a history a firing books and displaying piles of shredded junk mail.

I have been trying to find somewhere to see her ceramic books myself. Having seen Yohei Nishimura's book at the National Arts Library at V&A, I was touched and inspired by the ephemeral lightness of it. Hashimotos books seem to lack that quality. It would be really good to see them first hand.

ESSAY. Iconoclasm. Rauschenberg. Willem de Kooning.

Robert Rauschenberg
Erased de Kooning Drawing 1953
© San Francisco Museum of Modern Art © Robert Rauschenberg/VAGA, New York and DACS, London 2006
Traces of ink and crayon on paper, with mount and hand-lettered ink by Jasper Johns

- And for you?
Robert Rauschenberg:
- It's ... poetry.

Erased Willem de Kooning is the king and queen of deletion in art. I wonder if Rauchenberg deleted each line by line, so the act of deletion physically resembled the negative act of drawing?

If Rauchenberg was Whiteread, he would have tippexed out the drawing.

Covering up is not the same as erasing. Obliteration leaves a hope of recovery, a chance for an archeological dig to reveal the original. Erasure is like burning. Destruction beyond retrieval. No Ctrl+Alt+Backspace.

Friday 5 November 2010

Anna Parkina at Wilkinson Gallery

First Thursday again!

Anna Parkina: Egg In The Fist at the Wilkinson Gallery London
13th Oct - 21 Nov 2010

Gooden Gallery: 'NierghtravAOnWint’sIf A Teller: a book in 8 chapters and 4 dimensions'


These pictures are from First Thursdays in November. Gooden Gallery has got this window project space, which changes every week. Very interesting concept. Each work growing out of the previous one to form one whole.The window space is treated like a blank book (similar to Barbara Rosenthal "Homo futurus"), which gets filled in according to the instructions. Page by page, week by week.

'NierghtravAOnWint’sIf A Teller:
a book in 8 chapters and 4 dimensions'

September 16th - November 25th 2010

Artists participating: David Berridge, Wayne Clements, Cinzia Cremona, George Eksts, Anna Francis, Hugh Gilmour, Daniel Lehan, Simon Lewandowski, Richard Price, Barbara Ryan, Ben Woodeson



Chapter 1:GEORGE EKSTS (24th - 30th Sep)

Chapter 2:WAYNE CLEMENTS (1st - 7th Oct)

Chapter 3: DANIEL LEHAN (8th - 14th Oct)

Chapter 4: DAVID BERRIDGE (15th - 21st Oct)

Chapter 5: HUGH GILMOUR (22nd - 28th Oct)

Chapter 6: ANNA FRANCIS (29th Oct - 4th Nov)

Chapter 7: CINZIA CREMONA (5th - 11th Nov)

Chapter 8: BARBARA RYAN (12th - 18th Nov)

BEN WOODESON (19th - 25th Nov)

Each chapter lasts one week and is visible 24 hours a day from the street / Each artist will construct a chapter / Each chapter will be embedded in the previous one / Each will change, incorporate or move aside what is already in the space to develop a series of unfolding chapters / The work is rule-based.


1. 8 chapters will follow a preface and in turn be followed by an afterword

2. The order in which artists make a chapter has been randomly determined in advance.

3. Each chapter will be a response to the previous one.

4. Material can be introduced into the space but not taken out. Anything can be altered, moved, reconstituted (even destroyed) but must stay there till the end.

5. The rules are a part of the work so subject to the same rules.

6. New rules may be introduced but not removed.

For more information on the 24 SEVEN curators' project click on the 24 SEVEN icon above or email:

Burning books - no3

Another experimental casualty: 1956 edition of Around the World in 80 Days. It's a shame I had to burn that! I grow fond of nice things very quickly. Some nice results here. I have managed to preserve the text. Totally legible!

To be continued.

I am taking books, that no longer have the society that supports them (uh! I have got a barn full of them!) and I reduce them to an immensely fragile state - so fragile, that they may disintegrate in hands - just like the memory of the times, that they represent.

ESSAY. Biblioclasm. Raphael Vella.

Bilioclasm! What a great word to remember!

Book burning, biblioclasm or libricide is the practice of destroying, often ceremoniously, books or other written material and media. In modern times, other forms of media, such as phonograph records, video tapes, and CDs have also been ceremoniously burned, torched, or shredded. The practice, usually carried out in public, is generally motivated by moral, religious, or political objections to the material. (Wikipedia)

Last week I read parts of Raphael Vella's PhD thesis on artistic biblioclasm. It has a very extensive literature review, which has helped me to track down a few valuable names. His own work is rather political. Sure, public book destruction can be an extremely powerful political act. On the other hand, book burning is often a result of spring-cleaning. Publishers pulp away excess copies on daily basis.

Interview with Matt Fishburn from

Abe - Why are books burnt so often?
MF – “People love a celebratory bonfire, especially when it can symbolize a letting go of the past: burning old photos, marking a graduation by burning a hated textbook, or the like. This is one of the things that people I discuss my book with seem to implicitly understand, and indeed are often able to tell a similar story from their own past - just the other day someone told me that they had burned their provisional (driving) license once they properly graduated. Tellingly, in the US (and no doubt in other countries) many universities had an impromptu tradition of turning a blind eye to their graduating class burning their textbooks at the end of semester in a great bonfire. Indeed, when the Nazi fires were first reported in 1933, this was one of the most common comparisons made - the fires in Germany were, after all, organized by students and took place relatively early in the new regime. Nor is it idle to point out that such burnings are always a great spectacle. In Berlin there were marching bands, torchlight processions, group singing and college songs, parades, movie cameras, and members of the cultural elite.

“This is not meant to trivialize the impact of any such bonfire. Most officially sanctioned fires are designed to control, and to announce what they stand for and what will be accepted under their rule. Burnings like those of the Nazis have something in common with the early modern burning of books in Europe. They announced what would be acceptable in future, and in the process shaped the new public sphere. The book burnings are the symbol; the repressive legislation that came in its wake was what enforced it.”

Here is a snippet of an interview with Raphaell Vella by Susan Johanknecht, who is my course leader.

Susan Johanknecht: Can you discuss the word 'biblioclasm' in relation to your practice?

Raphael Vella: I’ve used the word to refer to work that destroys or alters actual books. It applies especially to artists who work with books as a sculptural medium, like the British artist John Latham, who I met in 2005. As you know, I’ve produced site-specific installations and sculptural work using books or book pulp – these are all examples of artistic biblioclasm. On the other hand, drawings of books are not, strictly speaking, examples of biblioclasm, unless they are made on book pages. My relation with biblioclasm has evolved quite a lot: from sculptural work in relief or three dimensions and installations to overprinted book pages. In 2006, I took the process a step further, or rather, I took it back to drawing. But this is not a straightforward representation of biblioclasm. In many cases, it is no longer a type of drawing that expresses directly an object placed before my eyes but a type of drawing that has already passed through other media – like television, or combinations of sculpture, photography and digital software – before ending up on a sheet of paper. The pages from religious books are still there, but the political implications of these drawings do not always permit me to treat them simply as objects of direct experience, but also, or especially, as ideas we learn through other sources. Sources like television and the Internet.

Wednesday 3 November 2010

unrevolutionary Turner Prize 2010

Richard Dorment - Daily Telegraph

One thing you can say for Tate Britain's exhibition of the four artists shortlisted for this year's Turner Prize: it isn't often that you see the most over-rated and under-rated artists in Great Britain side by side. The relentless promotion of Dexter Dalwood's cack-handed paintings of imaginary landscapes and interiors frankly amazes me.

How felicitous, then, to find a gallery filled with the work of a real artist, the Spanish born Angela de La Cruz, whose work has never, I think, received the recognition it deserves. Until you've seen her work, you will never know how visually powerful a heavy piece of fabric can be. Read The Telegraph's full review

Jonathan Jones - Guardian

The Turner Prize is about finding and rewarding brilliance, and it should be able to convince us that someone on the shortlist might turn out to have a touch of genius. Two of this year's list, the Otolith Group and Dalwood are, in my opinion, duds - as far from genius as it is possible to get. Which leaves two worthwhile contenders, Philipsz and de la Cruz (for my money Philipsz is a good early bet if you're after a winner, and may well capture imaginations when the exhibition opens its doors). But two decent artists out of four is not enough. Read The Guardian's full review

Michael Glover - Independent

The verdict? Neither especially good nor especially bad, but moderately mediocre.

The Turner never succeeds in ravishing us visually. It doesn't make us weep in despair either. Things could be worse, but can this really be the best art made in Britain by a man or woman under 50? Read The Independent's full review

Rachel Campbell-Johnston - The Times

What is contemporary art coming to? The answer at the moment is far from clear. This year's Turner Prize feels haunted by a mood of wistful nostalgia. Contributors go back over the past to look for ideas that, like small change that has slipped between sofa cushions, have been lost for a while in the interstices of culture.

But, once they have got hold of them all, they don't seem to add up to very much. By the end of the exhibition, the visitor is left feeling almost as empty as the gallery in which he sits. Read The Times's full review [subscription required]

Ben Luke - London's Evening Standard

This is an underwhelming Turner Prize show. There is plenty of interesting art here, but I am just not sure that the prize is performing its proper function. It is still, after all, intended to promote discussion about "new developments in British art", but other than the Otolith Group's dense, studious installation, none of the artists are doing anything particularly surprising or fresh. Read The Evening Standard's full review

From BBC

I suppose, I must be an unrevolutionary, mediocre and underwhelming kind of person, but I really enjoyed the show.

Monday 1 November 2010

Moomins in stop-motion

First, of all, I am a great - oh really really great - fan of Tove Jansson. I have read the moomins, I love her illustrations. I have also read The Summer Book (this summer), which mush be the most beautiful piece of slow rolling fiction I have even come across.

So - we went to see Moomins and the Comet Chase 3D (U) today, as part of London Children's Film Festival at Barbican. Fantastic stop motion animation. Really beautiful, clever and bonkers - just the way moomins should be. And Bjork's song sounds so right there!

Surprisingly I did not enjoy it quite as much as I assumed I would. Is it because I am used too much to Tove Jansson original illustrations?

German-Polish fuzzy-felt moomins:

Here are the Russian Mommin Comet Chase. Not too dissimilar from the above! However, I strongly disagree with the frilly Moomin Mama's apron.

Here is another Russian moomin animation. Bizzare mooomins! Or are they moomins?

These are the Japanese moomins.

Saturday 30 October 2010

Burning books - no2

I have been experimenting with firing books in various ways, trying to preserve the ghost of them. The result is so fragile, that they should deteriorate by themselves, just like the memory of what they represent will.

To be continued.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

Oscar Munoz: how to be political and metaphysical

I have only just come across Oscar Munoz. Prof. Catherene Ewes suggested him at the tutorial yesterday.
I find this work terribly alluring. The subject is sensitive. The performance is simple. It could be political and metaphysical at the same time.

In Columbian artist Oscar Muñoz’ “Re/trato,” a 2003 video projection that was displayed in the Latin American exhibition at the 2005 Venice Biennial, a hand repeatedly tries to paint a portrait on the concrete sidewalk. As soon as the brush finishes one part of the painting, the other part begins to disappear. The artist paints with water, and the hot sun evaporates the image before it is completed. The portrait can never be seen as a whole. This work uses an ethereal material--water--to address the transitory nature of human existence. Munoz also uses appearing and disappearing portraits in his artworks as a metaphor for the numerous people who have mysteriously disappeared in his native country.

Sunday 17 October 2010

Frieze Sculpture park : Sanchayan Ghosh

I love the idea of a visitor walking away with a small piece of artwork. Not just a memory of it, but an actual piece. And if it is something as beautiful and delicate as Shola flowers!

Sanchayan Ghosh did put a note encouraging visitors to take A flower. Did he realise some people would be clearing his lawn by a bagfull?

An act of destruction
or an intended result?

He says: the work aims to interrogate ideas surrounding nationalism and identity. I say: it reflects on the ideas of greed and consumerism, unfortunately.