lens

In the crazy whirly moments before we left for our road trip / holiday last year I managed to prepare some pocket lens prototypes. They needed to come with! To be tested in new environments!

Pocket Lenses developed over years. They have become an analogue synonym of our digitally engaged society.

Lenses were a natural conclusion to the work I do. Sculpting solid (and sometimes blown) glass by grinding and polishing I invoke light to do crazy things. Light is all around us. It is the substance (or wave) that informs us of our surrounding, bouncing off everything we see.

Some light is also emitted, such as the screen you are reading this on – looking into a “window”. Looking through glass. Looking beyond the surface…

Before I get carried away by the etherial and profound lets get back to the Pocket Lenses.

One of my first iterations on the theme of looking and being seen predated smart phones. Mask and Mask Blue questioned the experience of looking through the “mask lens” and being seen looking through the “mask lens”. This was a very intentional play to engage the spectator in becoming an active part of these sculptures.

Steel handles UV-bonded on the sides of the masks encouraged the viewer to lift the sculpture off of the stand. Once the mask is held to your face to peer through your arms and elbows complete the suggested shape; to complete the sculptural concept by uniting the participant with the object and transforming these into the “full picture” – which in turn is what the surrounding spectators see and experience.

More than ten years later the world has evolved into an ever more inter-connected landscape in which individuals are peering into hand held glass lenses, looking at the world and showing the world their perspective, digitally. 

Pocket Lenses are the next generation of interactive sculptural interventions, bringing the here and now closer to your immediate experience.

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The Silverstone Caricatures are new sculptures currently on show in my solo exhibition, “Air” at Art Lovers 1932.

I have been combining rocks, steel and glass for some time now, consciously giving each element a roll in the theatre of sculptural narrative.
The rock is solid, strong and ancient. It is a part of this silica crust we dwell on with a history exceeding even life, as we know it, by far. In this sense it is telling a story, informing the spectator of the randomness, nae, chaos the cosmos contains.
Lifting the stone and appropriating it for my intended use as an element in a larger story I contextualise the seemingly arbitrary thing that was lying around. I personally feel that the simplicity of this act reveals the power we as humans have, to terraform our environment to suit our desires. This thought echoes throughout human history, from primitive stone tools to modern architecture.
In my latest series of exploits, the “Silverstone Caricatures”, I take this concept even further. Completely covering the stones with silver spray paint I change their ancient history, scars, surface with immediate effect. It almost feels like sacrilege when I spray them… but then again large amounts of earth are torn up and pulverised every minute all over the world. Ironic?
Drilling holes has been part of my larger rock projects which I am continuing with these smaller sculptures. Inserting and bending steel rods I use structural logic to attach my lenses.
Metaphorically the lenses play the roll of sight, of seeing or observing. But, who is observing? Is it the painted rock looking at us or are we scrutinising the rock?
These individual lenses are the pivot point on which my concept hinges. They create the portal between both parties, initiating the narrative and conversation between both observers.
I intentionally use the phenomenon of pareidolia, eliciting a reaction of animating the inanimate, giving it “life” through interaction by the spectator.
It all sounds so serious but as a matter of fact I am having fun. I hope to instil the same emotion of quirkiness and childhood discovery through my sculptures for the spectator that I experience.

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Air – A Solo Exhibition

Air opened last Friday. After many weeks, days and hours everything in my head congealed into physicality. I am happy.
The exhibition was opened by Samuel Isaacs, with wise and positive incantations.
Now there seems to be a hiatus, a break in the process. And it is exactly this process which has become important to me. The process has been a personal journey to fulfil my desire of making, of creating that idea from merely a chemo-electrical impulse lingering inside the cranium into a tangible thing.
All spectators at the opening night were pleasantly engaged within the space. Several patrons said that they loved the interaction, being drawn in and experiencing the within and beyond offered by the contained landscapes and immediacy I created.
Apart from the photographs (which are intended as reference and focal points for the Portals to the subject, “Air”) the spectators themselves played with the Portals lenses, peering and giggling at each other. Another intended spinoff was photography, people taking shots with their digital phones of each other and themselves. Even the chosen format of the photographs and the Portals themselves echo the square shots on Instagram and other social media channels.
The difference though is a sense of immediacy and not the quick consumption of second hand experiences.
Before entering the room an eye peers into the show and sets the scene, to look and experience. A fan moves air which in turn starts moving all the elements inside the exhibition space – photos fluttering and sculptures swaying.
The theme is serious. Air is invisible. It is life sustaining. We forget about it.
Air influences our weather, our quality of life, we all breath it in and exhale, irrespective of our social standing, race, health or age. We even share its molecules with other species and without air nothing living would survive on this planet.
Then why? Why do we neglect to look after it?
My inspiration came during a trip to Dubai last year. I noticed the inside spaces within buildings having a cooler, more comfortable air than outside. My attention was drawn to feeling, experiencing the invisible. I started taking a very conscious interest in ducts and fans. Also the movement of air, inside artificial spaces, and when exiting, outside. I still do.

For those that can, please make a turn past Art Lovers 1932 in Pretoria#AirExhibition will run till 24 Marc 2016

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“Kuruvinda” is the title of my latest optical sculpture. The title of a work of art is always a very personal interpretation. It gives the new born creation a name to enter this world, to communicate it’s character or an abstract message from the maker.

“Kuruvinda” is the Sanskrit name for ruby which is the colour of the laminated sheet of hand made Murano sheet glass at its base. Why Sanskrit? No particular reason other than Kuruvinda being an unusual and exotic sounding name with cryptic references to my trade, its history and tools. Corundum, another name for ruby and a naturally found mineral is extremely hard, 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness whereas diamond is ten. It is used as an abrasive as it can scratch almost any other softer mineral. I use corundum wheels to decoratively cut my glass… and it has been used as such for millennia.

But then the work also needs to speak for itself. The title is merely a facet of the whole. As an artist you need to instil your personality and confidence into the intended work. The artwork becomes an extension of you, one aspect of the journey you are on.

Once the sculpture is “on stage” for an audience to critically engage with the spectacle it embodies, the story takes form. I link my work to many references, like instruments and voices in a musical ensemble, combining glass, light, stone, steel and sometimes wood in harmony; and sometimes also in disharmony. There are hints to my intentions but I very much enjoy an ambiguous narrative. This allows the spectator to experience the work on their own terms and diversifies its existence through their interpretations.

The nuances are always so subtle that it is almost impossible for everyone to see or experience my optical anomalies exactly the same way.

My sculptures could be likened to music for the eyes.

You are invited to attend the opening and exhibition of contemporary South African Glass Art titled:

 

Thresholds (in)between Glass curated by Thabang Monoa at Art It Is.
Opening: 04 February 2016 18:00 by Dr. Ingram Anderson.
Participating artists: Martli Jansen van Rensburg, Retief van Wyk, Mike Hyam, Liesl Roos, Iwan van Blerk, Ryan Manuel, Greg Miller, Lothar Böttcher, Thabang Monoa, Kgotso Pati, Pfunzo Sidogi, Rina Myburgh, Marileen van Wyk, Bongani Dlamini and Chonat Getz.

 

Art It Is – 011 447 9176 admin@artitis.co.za

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Lenses, almost a natural lineage of glass making when you approach your material as a cold worker, grinder and polisher. Refractive qualities of the polished surfaces bend and distort light which passes through this optical medium. These qualities are exactly what I am exploring in my current journey.

The lenses I am making are more than mere cold working processes or exercises. They are metaphors. Metaphors on the modern dilemma of information overload. Our modern anxious lifestyles of sharing kitten fotos and selfies to be consumed and liked in an instant (or not) by strangers on all continents.

My lenses differ from the battery operated ones we hold in our hands. They only need light – and a spectator – to “convert” first-hand information into unique first-hand visual experiences, transforming contiguous spaces within and beyond, distorting the finely aligned mathematical radiation of the electromagnetic waves we perceive as visible light. Maintaining an intentional “handmade-ness” I explore the optical possibilities and sculptural diversity glass has to offer and emulate the origins of my craft (from toolmaking in pre-historic times).

These maquettes are studies. Although small, the spaces they capture are limitless. My intention is to make them large, as public sculptures. Their function is to stimulate awareness of the contiguous spaces where we find ourselves. To bring us back to the here and now.

This theme of immediacy has been part of my creative vernacular for many years, due, in part, to the “window”, process and optical qualities glass offers. It is just that now, more than ever, my understanding of how huge the universe is and how inconsequential our actions are in relation to the immenseness of the cosmos.

Our insatiable appetite for knowledge and fearless endeavours to explore uncharted territory informs the flip-side of my creative coin. It is exactly this Aha! moment I am after, that instant which spurs spiritual growth and makes us human.

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