Monday, 23 March 2009

Robert Smithson

Robert Smithson: Corner Mirror with Coral

The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 270
Smithson's three mirrors in a corner create a structure both lucid and elusive: as each mirror reflects the space around it, it multiplies the reflections in the other mirrors, creating an image with the symmetry of a crystal. Mirrors appear often in Smithson's art, as do fragments of the natural world—here, there are pieces of coral piled in the angle where the mirrors meet. Smithson also combined mirrors with heaps of sand, gravel, and other rocks, matching nature's brute rubble with its precise visual twin. (The delicacy of the lacy pink coral is unusual in his work.)
The pairing of matter and reflection corresponds to another duality:
on the one hand, unshaped shards of stone or reef; on the other, art,
culpture, and the indoor space of the gallery.

One of the earthworks artists of the 1960s and 1970s, in other pieces smithson manipulated the natural landscape, sometimes simply and temporarily, through mirrors, sometimes drastically, with a bulldozer. Corner Mirror with Coral relates to his "Non-Sites," indoor works containing substances from an outdoor site elsewhere. Both cerebral and powerfully material, his art shows a fascination with entropy, the tendency of all structures and energies to lose their integrity. In this work a perfect form—the mirrors make three sides of a cube—is made illogical and illusory, for the coral seems to float in midair.


This was a trip to london with some friends during February and I used the time to take some architecture shots as London has so many more interesting buildings/places to photograph.
This images shows the juxtaposotion of old and new - the old buildings lining the street leading down to the new high rise modern office block. I like the how the buildings frame the building in the distance giving a sense of the old heralding the new.

Derelict buildings fascinate me - what was their previous purpose, why are they now abandoned? Old buildings made of red brick and full of architectural design features became redundant with the rise in modernism and with new factories and warehouse being built many companies moved buildings with updated technology and space. This left many beautiful old buildings left to deteriorate and fall down or be pulled down. This happened a lot but now more and more of these buildings are being preseved and turned into state of the art appartments.

This unusual building is one of the very old ones that because of its unique shape and position managed to stay in use


I really like the shape/design of the glass created on this building, like a giants steps.

Smithson is also interested in derelict sites. This is a former industrial site which has fallen into disrepair and neglect. What was its purpose - was it a factory - why did it become abandoned.? Again the questions of what and why - again possibly it could be due to a number of factors - possibly lack of business, economic decline or the need for more modern facilities.

Surreal Landscapes

Surrel Landscapes

Link to Robert Smith and Land art video - how the jetty was constructed

Robert Smithson's monumental earthwork Spiral Jetty (1970) is located on the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Using black basalt rocks and earth from the site, the artist created a coil 1,500 feet long and 15 feet wide that stretches out counter-clockwise into the translucent red water. Spiral Jetty was acquired by Dia Art Foundation as a gift from the Estate of the artist in 1999.

Although this is an inspirational piece questions could be raised about the pollution in the water and the effect that the jetty had on marine life and the ecological system. Nature normally changes itself over a long period of time where the impact of change on the environemnt is slow and absrobed through the process or through natural disaters which cause drastic changes to a place or space which can have a detrimental effect. By creating such large pieces of land art it is certain to effect the natural process of things.

Whilst undertaking a recent project about surrealism I was experimetning with changes in the landscape and was looking to create images which could be linked with the aftermath of destruction or devastation due to fire or nuclear fall out. Using photoshop to manipulate the images I was able to change the environment thjat I had photographed without actually causing any major destruction to the naturally beautiful place.

This series of images are meant to interpret new life coming from devastation and the clear blue water is meant to symbolise fresh start.

This image is similar to that of Smithson who photographed the effect that the spiral jetty had caused in the water. The pollution was caused by the stones which coloured the water red.

My surreal landscapes are inspired by by both Robert Smithson and Simon Norfolk

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Bill Brandt and Bill Viola

Bill Brandt

Bill Brand is brillliant Surrealist mainly using the female form. For the era that he was working on these images they were rather ground breaking. He took a series of images using a wide angle lens which showed the human body in unusual spaces and places. The images taken from different viewpoints showed the body as elongated and distorted loosing all sense of scale and proportion. Brandt was interested in shape form and scale. He was looking at the relationship between the human body and natural shapes and forms as well as distortion. Angle and camera viewpoint helped to create the body into abstract shapes which look to large for their environment or part of the overall composition.

When Brandt photographs outside, he takes his nudes to a whole new level wherein body and earth blend into one, fingers become stone and limbs are in unison with the landscape
Link to article on Brandt

Underwater photogaph of my own feet. The close up and underwater magnificationhas created a sense of distortion and disportionate scale.

Two photographs by Brandt showing distortion and unusual scale using feet.The first images shows what appears to oversized feet in a small room and the second shows how a foot has been used to blend into the environment and becomepart of the overall compositon of the beach.

I captured this image of another student who was relaxing in this silent space with the idea to show that even those that can hear can experience the silence of being underwater and that the use of hearing and voice is not necessary to feel comfortable in a place.

Bill Viola

Bill Viola is an artist best known for his video installation work and Viola’s video installations are total environments that envelop the viewer in image and sound—

The link below gives a detailed description of Ascension 2000- which explores human emotion and the part that water plays when you are submerged.

See Bill Viola - An Ocean without a shore on you tube - link below

Bill Viola created a film in which he is encapsulated within a small confined underwater space -

This is a self portrait captured underwater lying on the bottom of a swimming pool. Within this image I am exploring my natural and comfortabe existence underwater. To me being underwater has no alternative affect on my senses. I am unable to hear and have no veral language above water so I am at home in a silent underwater space.

Bill Brandt

Within this image Bill Brandt is experimenting with scale but I am looking at the relationship here of the ear - and sound - and the silence of being underwater to the noise and sound of the sea. A link between silence space and that of tranquil space. It is said that the sound of the sea is calming and relaxing but having never experienced that I am unsure as to what it sounds like. I do have an infinity with water and find that when I am near it , on it (surfing) in it ( swimming) or under it (diving) I am totally at home and do not feel out of place - a sense of inner calm and tranquilty - a sense brought about by feeling rather than by hearing - my silent space.

Brandts images which were a distortion of the human scale in an environment lead me
back to land and that of images that I have taken on my travels and my deisre to always place myself ( or should I say my feet) within an image showing a distortion of scale, persective and reality.

The above image shows the London 'gherkin'and I took the image by lying down on he ground and raising my legs. If is a distortion of reality and truth and could also be viewed as a reflection .
My desire to create images like this came about on my travels when I felt the need to be creative using local landmarks or iconic buildings. The intention was to produce an illusion or surreal viewpoint which showed the relationship between the human form and that of the build or natural environment.

Utopia and Dystopia

What is Utopia and Dystopia

The following is a description of what Utopia is -

Utopia is a name for an ideal community or society, taken from the title of a book written in 1516 by Sir Thomas More describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean, possessing a seemingly perfect socio-politico-legal system. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempted to create an ideal society, and fictional societies portrayed in literature. "Utopia" is sometimes used pejoratively, in reference to an unrealistic ideal that is impossible to achi
eve, and has spawned other concepts, most prominently
The word comes from
Greek: οὐ, "not", and τόπος, "place", indicating that More was utilizing the concept as allegory and did not consider such an ideal place to be realistically possible. The homophone Eutopia, derived from the Greek εὖ, "good" or "well", and τόπος, "place", signifies a double meaning that was almost certainly intended. Despite this, most modern usage of the term "Utopia" assumes the latter meaning, that of a place of perfection rather than nonexistence.

Lots of people dream of living in a Utopia - where everything is perfect. In a fantasy world this may be possible but most certainly not within the real world.

The opposite to Utopia is dystopia -

Dystopia is a negative utopia: a totalitarian and repressive world
A place where no one would really chose to live...

This image is an example of a city which looks like it would be a nightmare to live in. High rise buildings that look like you would be a prisoner in your own home. No greenery, no life.

Sacred Places

Sacred Places

Sacred places around the world have been a mystery for centuries. I have listed below a few interesting sites plus weblinks to many more.

I am fascniated by these ancient sites and wonder what they were used for and how they were constructed. some stones re so huge and without the use of modern technology and machinery it is amazing that they were able to be moved.

Sacred sites are the most loved and visited places on planet earth. Since prehistoric times they have exerted a mysteriousattraction on billions of pilgrims from every region and religion. These holy places have the power to heal the body,enlighten the mind, and awaken the soul. Anthropologist and National Geographic photographer Martin Gray spent 25 years as a wandering pilgrim to study and artistically photograph nearly 1000 sacred sites in 80 countries. This web site features Martin’s sacred art photographs and shows the location of sacred places and pilgrimage shrines around the world

Easter Island
It is one of the most isolated islands in the world but 1200 years ago a double-hulled canoe filled with seafarers from a distant culture landed upon its shores. Over the centuries that followed a remarkable society developed in isolation on the island. For reasons still unknown they began carving giant statues out of volcanic rock. These monuments, known, as "moai" are some of the most incredible ancient relics ever discovered. The people of Easter Island called themselves the Rapa Nui. Where did they come from and why did they disappear? Science has learned much about the enigma of Easter Island and has put to rest some of the more bizarre theories, but questions and controversies remain. Explore this site to get the latest information on the island's history and current research.

Mystery surrounds this 5,000 year old monument in the
centre of the World Heritage Site. Visit this prehistoric
South West site and decide for yourself whether
Stonehenge was a place of sun worship, a healing
sanctuary, a sacred burial site, or something different
altogether! An awe-inspiring family visit, Stonehenge
is a powerful reminder of the once-great peoples of the
late Stone and Bronze Ages. Erected between 3,000
BC and 1,600 BC, a number of the stones were carried
hundreds of miles over land and sea, while antlers and
bones were used to dig the pits that hold the stones.
Modern techniques in archaeology, and the series of
recent digs, have helped to shape new theories about
the stones, but their ultimate purpose remains a

Monday, 9 March 2009

Fantasy cities

Fantasy Cities

Comic book places like Metropolis (Superman) and Gotham City (Batman) are huge sprawling cities which are a mix of unusual buildings constructed of different shapes and designs.

A metropolis is usually a significant economical, political and cultural center for some country or region, and an important hub for regional or international connections and communications

Gotham City is a fictional city appearing in DC Comics, and is
best known as the home of Batman. Batman's place of
residence was
first identified as Gotham City

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

How to create Fantasy landscapes and cityscapes

I found this book in the library - (ISBN 978-2-940361-96-0) its great for creating fantasy landscapes and cityscapes for anyone who is interested in surrealism. It is basically a step by step guide on how to work digitally and produce amazing places which don't exist in reality but do within the realms of dreams and fantasy and escapism from normal places . A Utopia

Max Ernst

Max Ernst was a German artist who lived in France. He was a Surrealist who created works which were large scale and featured places and landscapes which were surreal using a number of different techniques including collage, assemblage and frottage. ( a technique which included rubbing textures onto paper etc with pencil of charcoal).
Frottage, which realizes the surrealistic principle of 'psychological automatism' ERNST.

I like this work because it is so strange and creates an illusion of fantasy and escapism.
Frottage, which realizes the surrealistic principle of 'psychological automatism',

Unusual architecture

Unusual Architecture

This complex in Mitaka, Tokoyo has been designed with only one purpose in mind: to keep octogenarians constantly alert within the confines of their own Electric Kool Aid apartment.
According to the designers, The Reversible Destiny Lofts have been designed under the philosophy that comfort makes you grow old quick, and that the elderly need to be kept on their toes by having physically challenging interiors.
Lopsided floors force the resident to maintain a good sense of balance , strangely located light switches insist we feel around for the light, whilst small veranda doors will ask you to crawl and bend to enter.
Hey, while we’re designing $750,000 apartments based upon keeping the elderly on their toes, why stop there? Electrical sockets that belch acid! Floors that break away, plummeting those who tread upon them into holes filled with used hypodermics and razor wire! Ceiling fans that periodically descend to decapitate those underneath them! It’s like Battle Royale for geriatric housing.

Japanese Apartment Block - Tokyo [The Cool Hunter]

This underwater hotel, slated to be finished in 2010.A 7 story hotel will open in Istanbul, Turkey. This might start a whole thread of new underwater hotels and maybe even fork out to new underwater cities.Visitors to Istanbul will soon have a chance to view the most spectacular ocean views on the planet. A seven floor, seven-star hotel is being built underwater on what was formerly a tobacco factory. There will be exhibition halls, and restaurants, and all rooms will be sea facing.

To view more unusual hotels and locations click on the link

Contemporary Architecture

Contemporary Architecture

Buildings with complex and innovative designs are being constructed all around the world, in particular in the middle east where buildings are reaching new heights. These amazing buildings are becoming desirable homes amongst the very rich.

Designed by New York-based architects, Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture of Asymptote, the construction of Strata Tower in Abu Dhabi just begun and scheduled for completion in three years. This 24-stories tower will be the tallest building in the Al Dana precint at a height of 160 meters.

Dubai Towers, Istambul

Another innovative design with twisted skyscrapers spiralling upwards.

Neo Surrealism

I found this website on neo surrealism which I have added a link to.
The fact that the artist has created a building on a ship creates a sense of place even though the dead can't go home. This is a very dark image which creates a sense of fear and entrappment in a inescapable place. Silent and eerie.

Title: Flying Dutchman Phantomdescription: According to folklore, the Flying Dutchman is a ghost ship that can never go home. The Flying Dutchman is typically spotted from afar, sometimes glowing with ghostly light. The most famous Ghost ship in fiction, a ship crewed by the not living.

Title: The Sand Castledescription: Most castles, from the earliest times, followed certain standards of design and construction. Many early castles and certain later ones were nothing more than simple towers. The tower houses of Britain and England are an example of this type.

This image evokes good memories of sandcastles on the beach and holidays, a place where families go to relax and have fun. It gives a sense of neutality!

However the dark brooding skies could be a message that perhaps all is not what it appears!!

Surrealism - Man Ray


Surrealism is an artistic movement and philosophy that first gained popularity in the 1920s. Initially, surrealism was an offshoot of Dadaism, which posited that traditional art should be replaced with anything "anti-art" and triumphed the ridiculous, the absurd, and a basic disregard for form. Andre Breton was the initial proponent of surrealism in literature and the visual arts. Much of his emphasis was on accessing the unconscious, as viewed by psychiatrist Sigmund Freud. Surrealism was a reaction to the philosophy of rationalism, which many felt had caused, through the Industrial Revolution, the disaster of World War I.

Surrealsim had a great effect on me because I then realised that the imagery in my mind wasn’t insanity. Surrealsim to me is reality. John Lennon

Man Ray

Solarised images
of the female form - creating a surreal body which takes on the persona of a metal object, silver and unreal .... he makes people look as though their faces are of aluminium. They become sort of sleek and metallic like the mascots on the front of those rather swish, fast cars. They become these super-people, also slightly inhuman, slightly robotic." (Mark Haworth-Booth, Photo-historian)

Man Ray sought to create a Surrealist vision of the female form and began to utilize such photographic techniques as solarization, dynamic cropping, over enlargement and over development in an effort to create a dreamlike effect in his artwork.

His use of the Rayograph helped him to create a new, profound look to his photography, stressing the importance of light and shadow rather than the object itself. These camera-less images created by placing objects on light sensitive photographic paper and then exposing the paper to light assisted Man Ray in the creation of his visual poetry.


Links to information on Man ray