IA13 Degree Show

July 31, 2013

End of degree number two! I was lucky to have three pieces in the show; two in the main Interactive Arts show, and one specially commissioned piece by the Manchester School of Art for the roof terrace on the new building.

This year I used Zen poetry as my main influence because its philosophy of constantly asserting the transience of our existence is something I wanted from my artwork. I feel that light has this transient quality through its visibility and invisibility which could then be used to visually activate the meaning of the poetry. With this in mind, I defined my project as creating a modern Zen scroll.

Sun Scroll at midday

Sun Scroll at midday

‘Sun Scroll’ is a Zen poem revealed by sunlight. It addresses themes of transience, emphasised by the transient sunlight. The projected words appear differently throughout the day and year depending on the angle of the sun.

'Leap And The Net Will Appear'

‘Leap And The Net Will Appear’

‘Leap and the net will appear’ is a Zen saying that I appropriated into a piece of text art activated by light. You know the light’s path but you can’t see it all, requiring you to trust in the leap to the text.

'Sun Bowls' on display

‘Sun Bowls’ on display

The ‘Sun Bowls’ contain extracts from Zen poems that refer to a transience of existence echoed in the use of glass and light to illuminate the words. The shifting lighting conditions within a room changes the visibility of the words – sometimes readable from above, others from the projection onto the surface below, and occasionally not at all. The bowls are intended to be lived with and viewed over a period of time, becoming part of the owner’s personal context and place.

'Sun Bowl' in the home

‘Sun Bowl’ in the home

I’ve had a couple of months to ruminate on this photography book by Rinko Kawauchi. I like to make a cup of tea and sit down with it, gently turning the pages bound with a Japanese binding technique, and admiring the way the photos have been placed together.

The pictures are varied in subject matter but all give the impression that they have been happened upon by Kawauchi during a lifetime of  travelling around, camera poised to capture life through her perspective. She uses her camera’s settings skillfully and artistically, over-exposing on some to give an ethereal effect; in the case of her Japanese blossoms the images lift my spirits and bring a smile to my face each time I look at them.

Rinko Kawauchi Blossom picture from 'Illuminance'

Each picture subtly relates to the next, be it the echo of a shape or colour, a line of light in a swimming pool travelling across to the strips of light on a tube train; or energetic splashes of water from swimmers to the static dew droplets caught on spiders’ webs.

Rinko Kawauchi from 'Illuminance'

Then there is the light. As the title of the book suggests, light, even in the darker pictures, is the essential tool to making each picture so special. Orbs of light are scattered across the body of work, appearing at intervals like old friends, never seen to the naked eye, but caught by the camera’s lens.

Rinko Kawauchi Light picture from 'Illuminance'

The moments she captures make up the stuff of life, and with her help, we notice beauty in some of the most inconsequential of subjects. A new colour palette and way of looking at surroundings emerges, and for that, I find this book visually and soulfully nourishing.

Rinko Kawauchi from 'Illuminance'