Contextual research

FMP - Christopher Wool, Roman Opalka, Idris Khan

During the recent 1:2:1, Wendy McMurdo suggested to take a look at works of Christopher Wool - a painter working with the motif of letters in his large format works.

Christopher Wool

According to Wikipedia “Wool is best known for his paintings of large, black, stenciled letters on white canvases” a radical and recognisable "word paintings" in which he refers to common phrases or quotes.

I like more his later works which are spectacular. He combines the static, define shapes of the printed letters with the dynamic, spontaneous, gesture lines. Some works dimensions exceed the human scale what brings the shapes of the letters closer to abstract forms than the symbols with recognisable semantic value. He works also with silkscreen and it think those are my favourite. He seems exploring the confrontation of the dynamic, emotional human calligraphy with the austere, machine-made typographic forms.

Other artists I know who explore visually the motif of writing/letter/code:

Roman Opalka

One of the most famous conceptual Polish painters. His works are fully dedicated to digits which he placed on the canvas in the same hypnotising manner for most of his life. In 1965 he begun the series “"1965 / 1 – ∞"” and painted the continuously growing numbers for the rest of his life. All paintings are the same size and have the same neutral background (with some brightness variations).

Idris Khan

I saw Khan’s works last year at Victoria Miro gallery in London. I thought about them and his other works quite often recently in context of my luminograms with source code. He exploits writing and letters in his monumental paintings and sculptures. The monochrome compositions built up with layers of sentences and words are very characteristic to his practice. Despite their coherent aesthetic qualities, the context and meaning in Khan’s works, in oppose to for example Opalka’s works mentioned above, is different in each project.

I like the poetic and contemplative character of his works. The layers of the lines of letters, words and sentences are a mysterious, abstract code.


FMP - Research

Shape of Light at TATE Modern

My planned trip to London to visit the 'Shape of light' at Tate Modern coincided with the Offprint book Fair and Photo London Fair at Somerset House. As I expected it was way too much to see during one day. Luckily I started at Tate and spend a lot of time inside the beautifully design rooms of 'Shape of light' without rushing.

It was one of the best exhibitions I ever saw. I haven't seen many, especially during the last six years which I spent hibernated in the village, but enough to have some reference. It is perhaps partially a result of my interest in abstract, unconventional photography woken up during the last year of the course but I am convinced that this exhibition would stay in my memory even if that was not the case. It wasn't just the demonstration of the variety of photographic techniques and approaches. The collection of works was interesting, engaging, thought provoking and inspiring. 

I was amazed especially by the Babara Kasten large mixed media quadriptych. The combination of the abstract painterly texture and the photographically captured moire forms was surprising and beautiful. I didn't know that the combination of those two mediums may result in such an amazing manifestation of the integrity as they are widely perceived as opposite.


The other works which I knew from her website surprised me too with the scale and detail quality. 

There was quite a few artists showcased that I've never come across in my research. 


IC - Week 10 - William Larson

I remember researching the William Larson's works in the Sustainable Prospects module but back then his works did not resonate with me as much as now. I don't understand fully his method but what I am able to comprehend about his "electronic drawings' is quite incredible. His digital collages were created long before the computer software offered that opportunity to artists ((1969–1978)) and are "some of the earliest digitally generated works of art".

Here is a short explanation of the process of generating an image I found on the page of Gitterman gallery which represents Larson:

"Larson used a Graphic Sciences DEX 1 Teleprinter, a sophisticated early fax machine, which converted pictures, text and sound into digitally-generated audio signals. These signals were transmitted over a telephone line and a stylus burned the image onto a special carbon-based paper, creating a unique “electronic drawing.”  He was able to manipulate these images by altering the voltage of the output during the printing process, by moving the stylus during printing and by sending multiple transmissions to the same page, electronically layering images, text and visual representations of sound." (Gitterman gallery)

I find these series of works, which he called Fireflies, very inspiring. The seemingly chaotic, nonchalant configurations of forms are in fact perfectly balanced compositions. 

He combined the fragments of photographs, typography and abstract shapes into one dynamically generated image enriched with the artefacts specific to the used apparatus. The compositions, although generated by the machine and non representational, evoke the dynamics of the organic structures. The use of photographs (their fragments in fact), as a malleable tissue stripped out of the narrative aspects really speaks to me.

Althought those works are aesthetically and technically far away from my own realisations, I can see some tangential aspects like for example multiple layers, fusion between the analogue and digital, artifacts generated as a result of qualities of the tools.

About ten years later (1988) David Hockney experimented with fax machines as well, although his approach was totally different. 

Studying the Larson's works made me think again about the idea of embeding/projecting the fragments of images on top of the original one which I was playing with after the IoP Symposium at Falmouth. During one of the talks, I think it was Gary's McLeod one about rephotography, I had an idea of adding a layer of what is in front or behind the place I photographed by projecting the fragments of the image. I shared the idea with Steve Tyrell and couldn't wait to give it a go. It turned out to be not as easy as I expected and I gave up because of some technical issues - the conflicting frequencies of the recorded video, projector. I asked my colleague at work today about potential solutions and have one tip to check. There is not much time now due to upcoming assigments so it may be something to play with after the submission.

IC - Week 9 - Research

Antony Cairns create his interesting and distinctive works with the unique chemical-based techniques. 

A fragment of the description of one of his publications, (the 'LA-LV') explains roughly his methods: 

"All images in this volume were shot using Agfa APX 35mm film which was then reversal processed to make black and white transparencies. These chemically-altered photographs have hence been Duotone printed; deep black on silver ink, resulting in a metallic effect, remaining loyal to Cairns' characteristic style of printing on aluminium." Kominek Books

He explores similar methods for many years what makes his whole practice visually consistent and thanks to that, to stand out more from the crowd. Definitely  something I can only dream about at the moment. I am too impatient, or perhaps I could say too curious to spend a lot of time honing one method or subject"I like his simple but strong graphically photobooks. Some of them are very unconventional. I am looking forward to seeing his work at Tate Modern in May.



IC - Week 9 - Actions at Kettle's Yard

Actions. The image of the world can be different - the exhibition in the renovated Kettle's Yard gallery I visited yesterday following my tutor's - Paul Clemens recommendation. It doesn't happen very often that I visit an exhibition as it is logistically difficult and I often find quite disappointing the whole exhibition experience. Traveling far to see a couple of images displayed on the wall which I can as well see online or in a book is not always justified, but sometimes, or maybe in most cases, rather necessary to engage with work and understand its power.

There was a lot of recognised names among the artist invited to take part in that show. I wanted to see in particular the works of Gustav Metzger, Idris Khan, Naum Gabo and less known but brilliant conceptual artist Katie Paterson although I kind of knew that the large number of artists and not very big gallery space means a quite minimal representation of each of them. And I was right but it didn't matter. It was a good experience to refresh my knowledge about some artists I sort of neglected in the last years like Naum Gabo or Ben Nicholson. Funnily though the Gabo's sculptures trapped in the acrylic cubes gained a different dimension - I was drawn to the lines-edges of the geometric cube more than the sculpture inside. It is surely the sign of my current mode of obsessive observation of the light and 'involuntary forms' but perhaps also a strong sculptural quality of the transparent box itself. Maybe it is a matter of scale, it would work differently if the box was much larger than the sculpture inside and the relation of those two objects was weaker.

Kettle's Yard House is an exceptional place. The idea that works of art, in a lage numbers, can be accumulated in the domestic settings opened for everyone, is a great one. No photograph can gives this remarkable place a justice. It was such a great experience to be there, be able to seat on the chairs and sofas and contemplate the spectacular objects, walk throught the rooms and observe the functional configuration of objects, the relationship beetwen them, the interplay of dynamically changing light, shadows and reflections...


Exhibition: "Actions. The image of the world can be different", Kettles Yard gallery

IC - Week 9 - Photogenic painting

I 'googled' today the phrase 'photogenic painting' as I often think of it in context of my works and I found Barbara Kasten. I am seriously amazed with her early works from 70’s (Photogenic painting and Amalgam series in particular), and I strongly identify with her way of seeing and thinking about abstract forms, light and painterly potential of photography. 

Barbara Kasten, Refraction III, 1979, Crayon on photo linen

Barbara Kasten, Refraction III, 1979, Crayon on photo linen

Casten trained as a painter and, as she stated in the interview for Aperture, she was pushing the boundaries of painting, drawing and sculpture by the use of photography, not the other way round. She wasn't interested in the representations of the spacial relationship between the photographed objects she constructed but about the end result - the two dimensional 'object' which is a representation of the complex visual arrangements of light passing through the translucent forms. 

She wanted to remove any sense of representation and that's why she chosen the plexiglas to work with predominantly. Her works refer to aesthetics of Constructivism and Bauhaus school.

Some fragments of her comments from the interview:

"...we have no identification with meaning of the subjects matter, and I am not after the meaning of it, I am after the experience of it"
"....I am not so much interested in photography that looks like a painting as I am in photography that has a structure to it"...

When going through literally every single page on her website, I found out the information about the planned exhibition at TATE Modern which will be for me a real treat:

From the 2nd May to 14th October "The shape of light" will be demonstrated in the works of such artists like Barbara Carsten, Man Ray, Alfred Stieglitz, Lashlo Moholy-Nagy and others. 

IC - Week 6 - Moire

Another attempt this week to understand better the moire pattern which is an important part of my works. Moire is a common optical phenomenon usually considered as an unwanted side effect, esspecially in photography and film. In my works it appears not just on the fragments of the image affected by the overlaid patterns as it usually happens, but on the whole image because it is the camera and screen sensors interacting with each other, not the camera and the photographed subject. When recorded on the photograph it became a layer of abstract pattern cought in one of its infinite states...  

When researching this subject I have found a couple of interesting artists and they publications.

Takahiro Kurashima
The 'Poemotion 2' by Takahiro Kurashima and published by Lars Müller turned out to be an amazing visual feast demonstrating really increadible evidence how "interactivity is also possible in the format of the analogous, bound book". I was a bit disappointed though with the fact it is a purely visual piece and there is not even one line of written word there.

From the publisher note:

"The abstract graphic patterns in this slim volume start to move as soon as the reader overlays them with the special film enclosed: moiré effects create complex shapes, make circles start to spin, and set graphic patterns vibrating. New in Poemotion 2 is the use of color. The observer discovers playfully how optical overlaps between colorful figures and shapes come about, are set in motion, and then disappear again." Lars Müller Publishers

Karsten Nicolai

Karsten Nicolai aka Alva Noto is apparently a well known multidisciplinary artist, especially at the European stage. I have never came across his works before though...only now when looking for the informations about the moire phenomenon.

He is an visual and sound artist and for him there is no border between those two disciplines. His spectacular projects combine sound, visuals, space and architecture. He devoted a multiple projects and publications to the moire phenomenon. The book is out of sale but I bought another one: "Parallel Lines Cross at Infinity" with the selection of his most important projects. The art, nature and science fusion in a really high end form.


Liz Deschens

Liz Deschens is another artist who address the intriguing phenomenon of moire. She is a contemporary visual artist dealing with photography in an experimental way. Her well known "Moire" series is produced using the analogue records and cameraless technique (photogram). 

The note from MoMA page about the aquired Deschen's image:

Liz Deschens #Moire25  2009

Liz Deschens #Moire25  2009

"To create this work, the artist took a sheet of perforated paper, placed it against a well–lit window, and recorded two exposures on eight-by-ten-inch black-and-white negatives. She then superimposed the two negatives slightly off-kilter on an enlarger. Printed on color photographic paper, the final image features a unique moiré pattern and a startlingly vibrant optical effect." (Moma)

I like what she said about photography- totally agree with her:

“Photography has always been a hybrid,” (...)“I’m really defiant about the idea that photography is this or that. Black-and-white, color—I’m not interested in that. Narrative, non-narrative—those are ways of oversimplifying the discipline, so that you can just dismiss it. If you put something in a category, then you don’t have to think about it anymore.” (Greenberger, ArtNews)

The interesting form of moire effect is its audible form of two sound samples with slightly different speeds overlaid. It would be a great addition to my images. 


IC - Week 6 - Project development - Uta Barth

I bought the album about Uta Barth almost year ago. Her works were mentioned in one of the presentations in the first module and I instinctively felt I should look at her works closer. I have read some chapters and looked at the images for a couple of days and put in on the shelve. What I saw was interesting and I sort of thought I get it but now I know that my understanding was shallow and quite not there yet. I have been shooting the quotidian scenes in my house at that time but my focus was on the narrative meaning.

When I look at her works today they mean so much more. It is I guess due to the fact that the way I see through the lens changed a lot during the last year. I have different expectations of the photographic medium as both, spectator and author. It is not as much a matter of a different way of looking at the world but more the realisation of what I can and want to do with a camera (or rather in collaboration with a camera), how I can capture those essential elements which are important to me photographically, how to extricate them from the literality.

With the spectacular "Grounds' series Uta Barth introduced the new qualities of the image recorded with a camera offering a viewer not an expected subject matter but the new experience of looking.

(...) "Bart has claimed that it is less 'what it is that you are looking at' that matters in her work, than attending to the activity of looking (...) Barth's insistence on foregrounding the act of perceptual attention, rather than the object depicted, offers a neat summa for approaching the breadth of her practice" (Lee p.47)

Bart signified something which was so far playing a role of a secondary background or even undesirable effect of camera vision, into the rank of the intentional subject matter.

There is a quite obvious link between my most recent works and the spectacular and well known Barth's aesthetics - the significance of the blur. In my works though the photographic blur is used with different intention and is given a different status.

Barth is focusing on the characteristics of perception and invites viewer to reflect on the way the human eye can see in comparison to what can be seen and recorded through the camera lens. In my photographs, the shallow depth of field resulting in the soft, painterly blur, is a way to reduce the objects to unrecognisable abstract shapes which construct the composition on a different, abstract level. For the same reason, as well as to convey the sense of space between things, I include only fragments of them in the image frame.

There are a couple of other similarities to Barth approach (apart from the blur) in my recent practice. The same as Barth, I focus predominantly on the space around me, my private home and office where I spend a half of the day during the week. It seems to be an infinite source of motives as nothing is ever the same.

It isn't though my deliberate decision to limit the areas of my interest to those spaces, it happens naturally partially because of the practicalities but most of all because I don't feel the urge to search for the inspirations, they're everywhere and it is just a matter of a deep, receptive observation. 

I consider expanding my project to the external world. It will be still the space subordinate to my daily routine - the one hour journey to work - but the scale and character of the forms I am interested in out there is for obvious reasons different. I spoke about that with my tutor Michelle Sank and was rather encouraged to give it a go. 

I am afraid those worlds will not fit together but there is nothing to loose and the body of work from the road may just become a separate project.



  • Lee, Pamela; Gilbert-Rolfe, Jeremy; Higgs, Matthew  (2004) "Uta Barth", Phaidon Press

IC - portfolio reviews - new references

The portfolio clinique and the portfolio reviews during the IoP Symposium at Falmout University were a unique chance to speak face to face with experienced practitioners and photography teachers. I signed up for as many as I could without worrying that particular person's area of interest is totally different than mine. I thought it will be good to hear all the variety of opinions or questions and I was right.

The huge advantage of the multiple reviews was the necessity to articulate the short statement/introduction for each of the reviewers which forced me to think of the concise and informative description. 

At the end of the reviews I had a quite precious reflection about what is still important for me, which ideas are exciting to talk about and which I am already bored with or feel they're exploited and not worth to develop further. Talking about the same almost ten times during the short period of time really has that effect. During the last reviews I focused mainly on those works which felt most interesting for me, skipping the other series I initially considered relevant. 

I got the impression that the reviewers were genuinely interested in the methods and techniques I developed during the last months especially the most recent one based on the idea of rephotographing the image on the computer screen and through that adding the layers of virtually generated patterns (moire, screen grid).

The list of new precious references I obtained during the reviews:

  • Elisa Sighicelli
  • Richard Caldicott
  • Anthony McCall
  • Jess Bonham
  • Anna Lomax
  • Geta Bratescu
  • Peter Fraser
  • Mitch Payne
  • Rachel Whiteread
  • Vilem Flusser "Towards a Philosophy of Photography"
  • Jane Bennet "Vibrant Matter"
  • Harman, Tim Marton "Object oriented ontologies"


IC - Week 2 - Contextual research

When reading the David Campany's essay about Robert Cumming I took notes about the some artists he refers to in the context of the experimental and conceptual legacy of Cumming's practice: Anne Hardy and Peter Puklus. I have never come across their works before.

Anne Hardy

"Anne Hardy produces large-scale photographs of constructed interiors, which she creates using found objects and everyday materials. These unsettling spaces show the recent aftermath of ambiguous activities or events, but the occupants are always absent from the picture." Helen Sumpter, Time Out

The constructed place filled with objects and their arrangement which doesn't resemble the expected utilitarian attributes of home, office, institution etc. is an amazing idea. It is a place where the forms can exist free from acquired meanings and functions. 

Equilibrium (umph, ohwh, ah, clk clk)  diasec mounted c-type print, 212.5 x 164.2 cm, 2016

Equilibrium (umph, ohwh, ah, clk clk) diasec mounted c-type print, 212.5 x 164.2 cm, 2016

Anne Hardy,  Falling and Walking (phhhhhhhhhhh phossshhhhh crrhhhhzzz mn huaooogh) , (detail) exhibition view: Art Night, London 2017

Anne Hardy, Falling and Walking (phhhhhhhhhhh phossshhhhh crrhhhhzzz mn huaooogh), (detail) exhibition view: Art Night, London 2017


Puklus is one of those artists whose practices are so diverse that it is really hard to describe they works in a few sentences. It seems to be quite characteristic to young generation of artists whose conceptual and experimental approaches reflect somehow the impatience of contemporary life. 

It is worth though to make an effort and try to understand what the specific projects are about and find that core characteristics of they way of seeing, thinking and making images.

Puklus's approach is conceptual and eclectic. He is photographing various subjects to illustrate the concept - the single photograph is usually only a component of the story he wants to tell. The photobook seems to be his favourite, and very effective, channel for dissemination those heterogeneous and miltidisciplinary concepts. He published so far three photobooks, all pretty succesful.

"Handbook to the Stars" is one of them. I like the very casual and open idea of images with some connections not clear even for the author. Images which 'follow their own pattern'. It is good to remind myself that the idea to do something interesting can be sometimes very elusive but if it is important enough for author - that's all what is needed. It is enough to create a project which in a form of a adequately designed photobook for example can be intriguing and significant.

Handbook to the Stars

"There is a reason why Peter Puklus’ first publication is called Handbook to the Stars, a subtle manifesto of his Ars Poetica. With this handbook he attempts to portray his own universe and provide insight into how his photographic works relate to each other: like galaxies in relative proximity to one another that are bound together by their own gravitational force. The images function alongside one another and through one another, have no sequence or chronology, but exist individually even as they form interconnections and follow their own patterns. Hence they do not necessarily fit on a page in this book; the imaginary distances keep the images in place. This implies that they may appear fragmented, sometimes small, sometimes large, precisely as they coexist in Puklus’ universe of images." (Claudia Küssel) 

"The story of the endless capacity of human mind, how we are able to connect unrelated things together just because we want to understand our universe. The book has no single topic or theme: it contains still-lifes, city-scapes, portraits, interiors, nudes, etc. and it is up to your imagination how you connect them or which connection you follow. Finally, with the book installation I am proposing a solution, but it is not the only one." (Peter Puklus)

Handbook to the Stars,  Peter Puklus website

Handbook to the Stars, Peter Puklus website

The Epic Love Story of a Warrior

"Puklus’ photographs are almost always inspired by an arbitrary and seemingly disparate constellation of sources. The images and sculptures in The Epic Love Story of a Warrior have been triggered by found pictures of historical events, memories, and objects. Retrieving these references, Puklus retreats into his studio, and transforms them into a visual language entirely his own. Here, he constructs a game of association for the reader. How much can he reduce the components of an image while we are still able to pinpoint the event it depicts?"