RECURSIVE

“Beautiful, well considered show.”

“Wonderful exhibition – lightness of touch – forceful ideas and work!”

“Beautiful and playful reflective show – got me thinking”

Thank you to everyone who visited, participated and engaged with RECURSIVE, for me as curator, it was a fascinating investigation. A very special thank you to Hitomi Kammai, Ant Pearce, Simon Fell, Susan Francis and Dr Angela Fell for their enthusiastic cooperation and support throughout the project. A kind thank you to media sponsor Art Pie, all the artists who participated in the Art Pie open call, and Matthew Wood at Second Floor Studios/no format gallery, their support is very appreciated.  Here are some final images of the installation, along with a panorama view of the main gallery.

And as a final word on repetition, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite songs from the Talking Heads…

RECURSIVE installation (c) 2014 Jane Boyer

All Photos: Jane Boyer

RECURSIVE installation (c) 2014 Jane Boyer

RECURSIVE installation (c) 2014 Jane Boyer

RECURSIVE installation (c) 2014 Jane Boyer

RECURSIVE installation (c) 2014 Jane Boyer

RECURSIVE installation (c) 2014 Jane Boyer

RECURSIVE installation (c) 2014 Jane Boyer

RECURSIVE installation (c) 2014 Jane Boyer

RECURSIVE installation (c) 2014 Jane Boyer

RECURSIVE installation (c) 2014 Jane Boyer

 

 

Artists/Curator Talk

In conjunction with SLAM Last Fridays, RECURSIVE will be open until 8:30pm. It’s also Halloween night – I’ll leave the contemplation of repetitive and recursive tendencies in this tradition to you!

Artists/ Curator Talks, starting at 6PM at No Format Gallery.

Join us for an informal discussion with the artists of RECURSIVE. We’ll discuss personal history as muse and they way these artists have used it to create their works in the show.

A series of marks, neither measured nor equidistant, (c)2011 Jane Boyer

Details

Date: 31 Oct 2014

Time: Starts at 6pm GMT

Venue: No Format Gallery

Admission is FREE

Address: Second Floor Studios & Arts
Harrington Way (off Warspite Road)
Woolwich
London
SE18 5NR


Here is a short excerpt from our discussion that evening. Susan Francis talks about her work and the significance of titles:

100 Kids

On Friday, 24 October 2014, RECURSIVE is going to be transformed by the questions of 100 thirteen and fourteen year olds – OMG!

Greenwich Free School – Year 9 will be joining us as part of a tour around Second Floor Studios & Arts.

They’re on a one day visit to no format gallery, Thames Barrier Print Studio, the Education Space and one-on-one (well, one-on-100) professional visits to artists and makers studios.

I’m ready though. I think I know how to answer, ‘Wots that then?’


The question I had most today was, “Miss, I don’t know what to draw, what should I draw?”

It was a delight to watch these kids ponder the artworks. Sometimes they were utterly baffled, sometimes they simply enjoyed their own creativity, and at others they really engaged with the works, looking carefully as they drew. Speaking with one of the teachers, I learned that Greenwich Free School is a new school in its third year and they are just beginning to build an arts education programme. Today’s visit to RECURSIVE was their first experience of a white cube space.

The encouraging thing behind this story is the parents. The parents of Greenwich Free School wanted their children to receive education in the arts and so the school is working to meet their demand. The new east wing of the school, which houses the art studios, will open next year. Any child educator and good parent knows the importance of learning through sensory stimulation and broadened experience, this is what art in school provides. Today I saw some kids who felt self-conscious about their lack of drawing skills, but were curious about other issues related to art, like why some smudges were worth millions. Other kids were proud of the drawings they produced and this gave them confidence. Overwhelmingly, the task they enjoyed the most was working collaboratively to create a still life drawing. Each mark was their own mark in the bigger picture.

Here are some pictures from today…

GFS_students1_reduced

GFS_student drawing_reduced

GFS_students 3_reduced GFS_student work 1_reduced

GFS_students 2_reduced

GFS_student work 3_reduced

‘HOW THE PAST PUSHES ITS WAY INTO THE PRESENT’ WITH DR ANGELA FELL

Ecstasy, (c)2010 Hitomi Kammai

Ecstasy, (c)2010 Hitomi Kammai

12 October 2014

RECURSIVE: How the past pushes its way into the present

Dr Angela Fell, Jungian analyst and psychotherapist, presents a discussion on how the past pushes its way into the present, in conjunction with RECURSIVE.

I have been a Psychotherapist, then Jungian Analyst for over thirty years and during that time I have worked with quite a number of artists, some of whom have become well known and some of whom are struggling to become established. I would say that one of the aims of the analytic work is to unlock the blocks to living a creative life and that creativity is a sign of health, perhaps the main one.

The title of this exhibition, Recursive, is an interesting one. I am going to take it to mean ever-recurring patterns: patterns within patterns that repeat infinitely. This image is useful when thinking of our personal issues.

Dr Angela Fell

We hope you will join us for this stimulating discussion. Entry is free to all.

Details

Date: 12 Oct 2014

Time: Starts at 2pm GMT

Venue: No Format Gallery

Address: Second Floor Studios & Arts
Harrington Way (off Warspite Road)
Woolwich
London
SE18 5NR

Take the Jubilee Line to North Greenwich station, then buses 161 of 472 from bus stop A. Get off the bus at Warspite Road stop, one stop after Royal Greenwich University Tech College. Walk to the end of Harrington Road, left through the entrance barriers and straight down, the gallery will be on the right.

The Weight of Absence

Ssshhhhh (c) Susan Francis

Ssshhhhh (c) Susan Francis

And the final interview in our short series, a discussion with Susan Francis. Susan is very active in her practice. She is currently involved in the touring exhibition Cicatrix, is artist in residence at Solent University, and is working on a commission with 5x5x5 Creativity which is supported by Bath Spa University. I’m very pleased she is part of RECURSIVE.

I recognise the fragile and precarious place from which Susan draws inspiration. It’s a place of transience, persistence, aggression and silence, encompassing the full range from positive to negative in human experience. It’s a place of innocence which has been compromised. Susan says,

“The two works [in this show] derive essentially from the momentary, that which, at their point of inception, were already a fleeting history. Process and presentation allows first the artist and then the viewer to lift them from their transitory lifespan, dissect and linger over their context, removed from the confines of linear time. I am interested in these fleeting moments, mundane and transitory. Not with the emotional eye of the related, but with the detached gaze of the observer. Presentation, or whatever it is an artist does, is simply an invitation to take part in that exchange.”

  1. You often stand outside of the subjects of your work, as a voyeur watching and observing. Why do you take this position and what role does it play in thinking about your own experiences? Do you worry that viewers may assume these are your experiences?

I suppose I haven’t intentionally taken the role of the outsider in my work but rather I feel I have naturally transferred to this position as my work has developed. It stems, I think from a range of stimuli. I grew up in Belfast in the 70’s where, despite the Troubles playing out around us, my parents kept the door firmly closed on sectarian politics and divisive cultural traditions, a step which, although taken in good faith, perhaps denied us the almost tribal sense of belonging shared by some of my peers. We neither fitted the cultural, educational or ancestral norm. We purposely took the position of outsiders.

Also I have a great draw towards narrative in my practice and every narrative, of course, requires a narrator, a position which permits a certain safe distance from which to view more subversive or emotive subject matter.

Thirdly, progression into video, which runs alongside the objects and installation, has very much allowed me to step back into the position of the voyeur, in a sense allowing me to join the onlooker behind the lens of the camera. It is a position I enjoy.

Do I worry? No.

  1. Is there a big difference in your mind between the work you produce with objects and the work you produce in film? Are there commonalities? And what makes you choose one medium over the other?

I can understand why this seems an obvious question to the onlooker, but as the artist, this dichotomy never really features in the process of making work. At any one time in my studio, the floor and shelves are full of objects, materials, sketchbooks full of scribbled ideas and the computer full of images, sound excerpts and gathered footage, all of which feed in and cross over within the themes I am exploring. At times film will progress to working with objects and vice versa, or, at times, remain entirely separate.

Commonalities come down to the working process, the weighing of absence against presence in installation, object against space and likewise in film, image against blank screen, sound against silence. The balance of these elements for me is critical and it is this balance that concerns me both on and off screen. But each work chooses its own media.

  1. Is repetition important to your work or your working method? If so, does this cause you to repress aspects of your artistic intention or does it liberate your intention?

Repetition manifests itself practically in my work less so recently I suppose but continues to linger more so in the development of a conceptual language. A background in the Protestant church (my grandfather was a vicar in the Church of Ireland) has led to an early relationship with symbolism and the transformative role of repetitive liturgy as a vehicle to understanding, so in a sense, it is a structure I am comfortable with. It has, however, the potential to bring about stagnation and I do recognise, as you say, how the use of repetition could so easily slip into a repressive force as much as a liberating one. As such I use repetition with great care and a certain amount of trepidation in my work. Recently I have been dipping in and out of Bourdieu’s Distinction which illustrates just how locked we our within the historical and social framework we were born into. At our most basic molecular level we are, after all, the product of repetitive creative structure so it seems only natural that we should create in this vein. Using it as a process to propel us forward however is where the secret lies I guess. Participating in this show will no doubt encourage us all to examine our relationship with repetition more closely which I’m looking forward to.

Clever Cow! (c) Susan Francis

Clever Cow! (c) Susan Francis

 

The External Authority

Father and Son (c)2014 Ant Pearce

Father and Son (c)2014 Ant Pearce

An imprisoned existence is probably not the way most of us see our own lives, but Ant’s view that “man is condemned to exist imprisoned” is not far from the mark when we consider the struggles involved in attempting to live life on our own terms. There is always a barrier to achieving this end. Interpreting Freud’s Id, Ego, and Super Ego structure, Ant’s work centres on the outside restrictions imposed from childhood by the ‘external authority’. Also influenced by the writings of Dostoevsky, Kafka and Camus, his work presents the notion “that the omnipresent external authority is what brings about man’s aberrant destructive behaviours.”

  1. Your External Authority series is an elegant expression of Freud. Can you tell us how your method of thread drawing helped you to convey such a complex psychological concept in simple terms?

The thread drawings came about through experimenting with the materials over 3 stages. Once I had developed the technique to a level I found interesting I needed to find something to associate the result with. Having studied aspects of Freud’s ideas regarding the model of the human mind during my MA dissertation I felt that the two seemed to match. It was a case of working backwards, finding a viable explanation to back up the visual work rather than coming up with a visual solution for a specific set of ideas, as is so often the case.

  1. In much of your work you deal with the ‘external authority’ as the controlling force of our desires and behaviour. Where does personal responsibility and choice come into that dynamic?

I do not believe it is my place to comment on an individual’s personal responsibility and choice. That is the responsibility of the individual. I simply try to observe and reflect.

  1. Much of your work seems to question underlying issues and motivations in human activity. What are your thoughts on repetition and repression?
Blue Shark IV (detail) (c)2013 Ant Pearce

Blue Shark IV (detail) (c)2013 Ant Pearce

This has been the most difficult question to answer, or at least the one I had to think about most. I read the words “we repeat because we repress” but struggled to understand them. Having discussed this, with a trusted friend and psychoanalytic psychotherapist, in relation to my own behaviour as well as behaviour documented by Freud regarding children in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, I have concluded that repetitive behaviour is driven by two main principles – firstly that the result will be different from the last time, and by that I mean what is ‘desired’ in the mind of the person repeating – this seldom if ever happens. Secondly and more importantly, it is about control, or the ‘illusion’ of being in control and moving through a state of displeasure to a state of pleasure. The only aspect of my work which I see that touches on ideas of ‘repetition and repression’ is this ‘illusion’ that we as human beings are in control of ourselves, let alone anything else, and the inevitable fact that we will return to a state that is inanimate.

 

Something Human Inside

An Elderly Rose, (c)2012 Hitomi Kammai

An Elderly Rose, (c)2012 Hitomi Kammai

This month in the lead up to the opening of RECURSIVE October 9th, I’ll be posting short interviews with exhibiting artists Hitomi Kammai, Ant Pearce, Simon Fell and Susan Francis. We’ll explore some of the issues involved in their work related to repetition.

Feel free to leave a comment below, we love a good discussion!

Hitomi’s sense of wonder is manifested through the tension between opposites in her work, what was destruction turns to emancipation. Inspired by her own life experiences, Hitomi creates simulations of a lived reality presenting a poetic view of simulacra through her work. It is through this repetitive dialogue with opposites and simulation that Hitomi looks for humanity; in the dichotomy of who we project ourselves to be and our true nature.

  1. You say in your artist statement, you want your work to entice people to explore the universe of the artificial. What is in that world you want people to find?

My works are a description of human existence. In my works, people can find my surprise and wonder about ourselves. We live in an environment surrounded by human-made objects and thoughts. Even nature is modified by us. Living in this circumstance, it seems to me we construct enormously. Yet, everything is actually about to disappear in a moment. So why do we do it? It’s just how our existence is. In the end, we are also a part of nature. We are made to live our lives as much as we can and burn our energy till we die just as the other animals do.

  1. How do you feel about simulation? Do you think it is necessary or has it separated us from nature and ourselves?

[It] helps people to understand nature. For example, when I paint a face of a model, I need to know that less details can be seen in the shadow part than in the lighter side. Without understanding these facts of how the nature is made, the painting does not [come] close to a realistic appearance. But in terms of art practice, I don’t think it is necessary. Of course we love nature. But nature is not only art. It seems to me the traditional education of studying paintings that are copies of nature is killing the originality of students. I used to do several hundreds of still-life and nude paintings. When you paint the same objects, your hands come to remember all the process of putting this colour here, that grazing there, and so on. Because of doing too much of it, it made it difficult to get out of these decided ways of painting. I studied them more than 15 years ago but I still don’t think of painting models again, as I feel I could not paint free from what I have been taught.

  1. Your work is quite various. What would you say is the common link?

It’s the result of my passion to look for an always better artistic expression. When a series of works achieves a good quality, I think how I can make my expression even greater rather than continuously making the same works. If you look at art history, you can find that artists who had plenty of creativity renewed their expression several times in their artist life.

However, the theme of my works is always “Humanity”. Some works do not look like that apparently, but if people pay attention then they can find out that my works always contain something human inside.

For instance, my film titled “ecstasy” was first set by the given subject of eroticism during a film-making workshop. I wanted to shoot something different from the others. So I decided to describe how the feeling of eroticism occurs from a scientific point of view. I chose to film light bulbs that are man-made curious objects and give me electric inspiration. By using light bulbs, I thought of showing oestrogen and progesterone, hormones that produce the feeling of ecstasy in the mind. I continued working with the film after the workshop was finished. Initially, it was only some images about an encounter. But after two years, it evolved into a whole story of desire and love.

Hello, (c)2009 Hitomi Kammai

Hello, (c)2009 Hitomi Kammai

Discussion Four

recursive jitter (c)2014 David Riley

recursive jitter (c)2014 David Riley

recursive

‘What if there was no repetition’ generated a really great discussion, well worth a read through the comments. Here are some contributions which came out of this discussion, starting with some work created by David Riley: Recursive Jitter and Recursive. David has been brushing up on his creative programming. If you click on Recursive Jitter it will take you to the active programme, the image here is just a snapshot. Recursive is a simple example of recursive programming code. You can see more of David’s work on his website, CODED IMAGES.

In addition, LOLFACEMCTHISONE shared the fascinating world of quasicrystal structure. Not only are their physics different to other crystal structure, and are non-repeating structures, but medieval Islamic art was producing these forms in mosaics such as the Girih tiles 500 years before they were discovered in the West. Here are some images from google of these structures:

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What if there was no Repetition?

Sel-similarity barb (c)2014 Jane Boyer

self-similarity barb (c)2014 Jane Boyer

My own artwork is leading me to research the mechanisms, structures and relationships between simulacrum and autobiography, this naturally involves repetition – a lot of repetition. RECURSIVE has been a starting point for this study in a way, by peeling the layers of repetition and sort of mulling it over. We’ve discussed some of what repetition is, how we react to it, when it frightens us, and whether it even exists. All this begs the question: what if there was no repetition?

After thinking, ‘oh, that would be interesting…’, then I panicked. Can you imagine a world without repetition? It would be a world of singularity and we would have no reference points, no memory, no experiential knowledge, no rhythms.

What do you think? Can you imagine a world without repetition? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear your thoughts.

 WHAT IF THERE WAS NO REPETITION?