We’re Live!


RECURSIVE  is now live.

I’m very pleased to launch the blogsite, facebook and twitter accounts for this new project. You can find out more about the exhibition on the PREMISE page, see the artists involved and view the artworks in the show on the ARTISTS & ARTWORKS page. We’re very pleased to be showing this fall at NO FORMAT GALLERY in Woolwich. You can find out more about that on the VENUE page.

Why have we launched so early? Because we invite you will join us in a dialogue on the inner recursive thought process we all experience. Delueze said it best when he said in Difference and Repetition, “We don’t repeat because we repress, we repress because we repeat.” Digital communications have made this point even more poignant because of the various ways we now share information about ourselves.

What do you repeat?

Leave a comment on this blog and let’s start the conversation. Follow us too, we’ll be delighted to have you.


22 thoughts on “We’re Live!

    1. Thanks David, they’re both fantastic! Have you gotten tired of the phrase? I recall that was a phrase you used to type when you were testing a system. Has the meaning changed for you now that you’re no longer a systems engineer?

      1. The phrase has become a recurring theme, a key starting point for many explorations. So, in one way, it is more important now that it ever has been. Before it was just a test phrase, now it is a key to so much more. And no, I am not at all ‘tired of [it]’.

      2. That’s a really important aspect of repetition, the dividing line between mindless meaningless repeating and when it becomes the impulse to creating new meaning. I’m curious, do you think this transformation happens only through experience or does it happen in other ways too? For example, your test phrase became the means to create new meaning as your experience changed from interacting with it as a systems engineer to interacting with it as an artist. Do you think a similar transformation would have happened if you had not had the change in experience? I mean could a transformation like this happen from use in general knowledge or must it be experience related?

  1. I think we filter every new input based on what has gone before. We can, of course, make a conscious effort to leave experience out of the equation, but would our unconscious mind ever allow that to actually happen? My new (ish) situation, being a full-time artist, creates so many new inputs to process it seems entirely rational to filter those inputs based on experience. In doing so, I find new ways to reuse ideas from my previous life (career). My art is from me and I am my experience.

    1. That’s true. I think what I’m wondering is if experience is the only impulse to change meaning in a repetitive subject? I suppose if I were to sit and think about a subject, I could come up with new meaning, especially if I applied thought experiments to the subject, but this suggests experience is still the motivator to new meaning even if it is ‘virtual’ experience. Is knowledge and meaning expanded in any other way except through experience? I can’t quite see that it is, but maybe my thought experiments are too limited at the moment!

  2. I dont think I am saying ‘expanded … through experience’. I am saying expanded against a background of experience. Many things can trigger change, many of them external and beyond our control. We build new knowledge on the foundation of what we already know. Sometimes the new will undermine the old and other times the new reinforces the old. I have found the best way forward is to think rationally and not let experience become dogmatic (experience again). Always be willing to learn and grow. Repeating what works is a fundamental part of creating a stable situation. Repeating what works is a good way of testing any new situation to see if it should change what we know works. I think of this as an input – action – feedback loop (my black box idea again). Repeating the loops with variations to test what happens. To test what works best. To discover what is new. Variations can be self generated (e.g. your thought experiments maybe) or external (e.g. an often used and much loved material out of manufacture – thinking as an artist there). As you can see repetition is a key part of my process.

    1. This is an interesting discussion for me at the moment because I’m reading a book called Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in Visual Arts by Graeme Sullivan. I’ve just reached chapter 5 called “Visual Knowing” which discusses this very topic. Sullivan says this,”[i]f we believe that the outcome of inquiry is the creation of new knowledge, this means that knowing, or the capacity to use our understanding in new ways, will always be incomplete. Although this sense of unknowing propels the imagination, there is always an element of completion as our new knowledge helps us understand things we did not know before.”(p121) Considered in relation to repetition, this suggest we are locked in a cycle of repetition through the creation of our own knowledge. Leap of logic on my part or interesting point?

  3. I think that leap is absolutely fine. If we read up on the scientific method (1) I think we would find it applies to all forms of knowledge, not just (what we might consider to be) science. In short, it involves these steps: observe, formulate, predict, and test. Then, if the test results match the prediction, we have a working theory, a foundation of new knowledge. Knowledge that can be used to take the next step in understanding. And then, to take the next step, we repeat the method. And so it goes on…

    (1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method – there are many other sources.

  4. What do I repeat?

    Each video or still image series starts with a drawing…the drawing gives me a feeling…the feeling usually reminds me of a memory…the memory gives me an idea to ponder with regard to the collective human experience…the idea becomes a sort of solid experience/feeling like shame or manipulation or fear…this eventually leads to choreography, photography, more drawing, etc. and then turns into a piece.

    But as I am working on the piece, new input happens and my original ideas, visions, etc. shift. This is the part of creating that is so interesting to me…how in working on a piece, I start to notice all sorts of things “out there” and “in here” – externally and internally – that shift and alter my intension/vision/point of reference.

    So, the shape this takes for me is like a point that expands out…then at some point in the process, I do another drawing that starts this whole process over again in a different direction and onto a new piece.

    The repetition for me seems to be that I always start at the same point and the process is almost invariably the same each time.

    So, yes, I would agree that I am locked into a loop at some level, because each piece seems to lead to the next based on what I do and what I notice. And, as CodedImages said, “Repeating what works is a fundamental part of creating a stable situation.” pretty much characterizes how I work. I seem to need a great deal of stability for creativity to happen…even if I abandon the stable situation at some point in the process.

  5. I have been concerned that I indulge in mindless repetition. But if I shift my viewpont a little, does the mindless become respectably obsessive? Being an artist without ‘ideas’ is problematic. That’s not to say that what is done cannot be reflected upon, rather that what underlies the repetition, which is not a repetition, is a return to a memory somewhat in the manner that Constance Humphries suggests. The need to return is consequent upon an insistent feeling, a residue of memory whose content is hidden. It carries with it the difficulty that what is done is a kind of guessing. ‘Is it this?’ ‘Is it this……..?’ Tensions are temporarily suspended in the question.

    1. It’s interesting that all of you are suggesting a shift in point of view to bring about a change in your process (back to experience again). Curiously, the shift seems to be a way to come at the same underlying subject (or maybe emotion even) from a different angle. If Deleuze is correct, ‘we don’t repeat because we repress, we repress because we repeat’, it seems as if uncovering the repression (or perhaps the memory) takes repetition to both hide and uncover it?

      I’m glad you mentioned memory David, because I was wondering how memory plays into this. Memory is such a repetitive process, and to apply what Constance said, it often starts from the same point, and I think, often it arrives at the same point in a recursive cycle of self examination. Your point Constance that “[t]he repetition for me seems to be that I always start at the same point and the process is almost invariably the same each time” is really interesting too because my studio process almost never seems to be the same, though my curating process is the same each time. In one, I find the repetition stifling, in the other I find it liberating. How can it be both?

      1. Some connected thoughts. Context is everything. Different parameters will yield a different outcome. We apply recursion and vary some parameter(s) with each repetition, either deliberately or accidentally. If all the parameters remain the same, then the output would always be identical, and we would be stuck in an infinite loop of exact replication. All recursion requires an end clause, a set of parameter values where the recursion will stop. Also, different contexts suggest different rules. We are far too complex to ever be happy with one set of rules for all circumstances. We are quite capable of organising apparent contradiction. We just need to search a little deeper to find the changed parameter used to justify the alternate position.

  6. These are interesting thoughts about repetition and memory. I have read that each time we visit a memory, the memory actually changes and the more times we remember, the more the memory itself changes. We think we are having the same memory, but in fact, it is different, Perhaps, it is possible then that each time I begin a piece, I think that I am repeating when in fact, because of what was learned, introduced, etc. last time through the loop (so to speak), the process is slightly different…and over time this builds on itself to create something new each time even if it feels/seems like it is the same. I can also relate to repetition be stifling…the very same process that I apply to my work now was absolutely excruciating (as in impossible) when I tried to apply it painting. Perhaps it is the activity (circumstances, goal, etc.) that dictates whether repetition is useful or not.

  7. Puzzling is the relationship between work and artist. Through these conversations and picking up bits of Lacan etc my notion of what I am doing is changed. When Constance writes about ‘beginning a piece…’ the notion pops into my head that with what I do, the piece ‘….begins me…’ as it were. (and a little clumsily put) Somewhat like the sardine can looking at Lacan, possibilities stand in my way and direct my actions. It is in part to do with the notion of choices, repetition, and what it might mean to create as opposed to reproduce. As with David, all meanings are contextual. My returning is to a self contextually constructed. That ‘I’ am repeatedly contextually recreated is misread by the ‘me’ as its own agency. It may just be that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing!!

    1. Thank you two Davids and Constance, this is a really great conversation with some really chewy morsels. For me, what underlies all this is the question of our identity being a simulacrum, or a copy of our own selves. I’m deeply involved with this question. The issue of the changing nature of memory you mention Constance is an example. Memory is a copy of a lived experience, it is a natural occurrence which is fundamental to the creation of our identity. Though it is an oversimplification on my part to suggest simulacrum is only a copy, it is more complex than that. It is also a generative source through repetition, just as you describe what you think is repetitive, may in fact be new experience in working; the repetitive allows the new to emerge. David M., that is a very important point, “[t]hat ‘I’ am repeatedly contextually recreated is misread by the ‘me’ as its own agency.” That is the very question, where exactly is the dividing line between recreation and agency? Where is it that the context stops and the will moves forward? And David R., I think the same question applies to what you’re saying,“All recursion requires an end clause, a set of parameter values where the recursion will stop.” Can we ever know if it is our own agency is setting the end clause or if it is a mutable context changing the rules? Do we have agency or are we constantly just adapting and modifying to keep up?

      1. I must add that I’m always a little uneasy using the word ‘agency’. I always feel like I might be saying “the agency of the agency is its own agency” which is an absurdity of course! I’m certain you wouldn’t be able to start your weekends without that confession 😀

  8. Hello, thank you for posting the information about the art fair. I finished the fair and now, I can check the comments.
    I’m just writing you about what I had in mind. I have read that people who are afflicted with schizophrenia cannot draw an entire circle. So that they repeatedly draw unfinished circles on the paper.
    And also, in some cultures, the circle represents the whole universe. In Japan, we also have the idea of each of us having an inner universe. As an artist, I achieve this circle by making a series of works. To gather the entire universe within myself.

    1. Hi Hitomi, really glad to hear from you. Yes, the circle is such an important symbol in so many cultures. In a way, drawing a circle itself is a repetitive motion. I mean there is something about drawing the line back around on itself in order to meet the point where it began. It’s a curious thing, I’ve had several discussions the past few days about the trajectory of finding the self in relation to a particular place, which often involves travelling to that place. Its not that far removed from your desire to gather the universe within yourself. Personally, I love circles. I think they are my favourite geometric shape.

  9. I am trying to get a handle on this word ‘Recursive’. It was new to me so I struggled to understand what it means and what it’s used for. From looking it up in online dictionaries it seems to have some specialist technical meanings in reference to computing and artificial intelligence as well as more general definitions.

    At the moment my understanding is that it means repetition with learning or learning through repetition. I think we are all familiar with the later as it is the most common way of learning. We use it to learn to walk, we use it to learn to talk, we do things again and again so we get a feel for them and get better at them until we are so good at our basic skills that we can extemporise. It is the main way of learning craft or ‘tacit’ skills, techniques we learn with both our bodies and our minds. In this sense I go through a recursive process each time I make something, even each time I write something I am practicing skills I already have and using them to make something I have never made before. I have done writing before but I have never done this piece of writing before.

    I see this process, and the whole creative cycle as having a spiral form rather than a circular one as it always brings you back to a place slightly ahead of, or at least different from the place you started.
    I would like to draw this rather than describe it but I don’t think this comment box will allow anything except words. ;-? and the odd ’emoticon’ perhaps. I always find I want to extend whatever medium I am working in and this comment is no exception!

    1. Thank you Simon, a very insightful comment. Curiously, this will lead into my upcoming post. Just as you’ve discovered for yourself the meaning of ‘recursive’, I think my next discussion question will really make you spiral! Do your drawing and then send me a jpeg of the image, I can post that on the blog if you like. Perhaps not a direct drawing in the comment box, but a close proximity.

      Stay tuned, a new post and some news coming soon…

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