My work questions these personal observations and forces me to look beyond the digital frame.
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.
“As with much of my work I play with the idea of these digitized images/experiences against analogue realtime distortions of our contiguous spaces.”
A device so cunningly crafted it will open your mind to alternate possibilities. A portal to absorb your attention, make you look at the cosmos and the cosmos at you like never before.
The title references a duality, of that what you are seeing being a suggested resemblance of something else, something very familiar in this digital age.
Making art has always been a journey for me. Although sketches are made, plans scribbled on paper and maps drawn up with inklings of the destination, it is the problem solving and decisions taken on the way that give meaning to my endeavor.
Then the destination is reached…
This is the moment where the sculpture starts to converse on its own, the birth of an idea in a universal language.
I love imagination and finding the familiar in odd places. As a youngster I used to look up at the clouds and see all kinds of different things in them. What really amazed me was when your gaze left the clouds and returned a few seconds later how much of the previous illusion has changed, that the old man’s face now resembles a grinning crocodile…
Taking stock on my current trajectory I’m noticing myself still exploring these imaginative avenues. Is this not a truly human trait? The pure arrogance! To identify yourself in the detritus of the universe? Even on Mars we have found faces resembling our human identity and given nebulas names such as “Crab” and “Horse Head”. Are these not the places where we identify our gods, within the planets, the sun and the moon?
This must be a sign that we are conscious beings, that we have an imagination and are different to the “other animals” on this pale blue dot. Is this not the fertile ground which birthed our spiritual sensibilities?
Could this trait also be responsible for the basic narrative we call art? Seeing a likeliness of ourselves in a large rock or a tree must have given rise to spirituality, to religion. We are not separate but part of the larger picture. We are part of the universe!
Perception! The pinprick hole of our pupil sucks up all this electromagnetic radiation of the “visible” spectrum. These illusive particles and waves radiate from everything around us. How can this tiny hole in our eye reveal so much if only a tiny fragment of this radiated energy stimulates our perceptive nerves?
There is so much visual information and each individual has their own perspective. My sculptures are an attempt to discern this diversity of views. I am searching for a way to articulate through experience and immediacy that moment which gave rise to the origins of the inquisitive and conscious woman, child and man.
The lens metaphor has and still is the main prerogative to explore this notion of immediacy and individual perspectives of whom we are and our affinity to the world around us.
My sculptural exploits are reaching back to the dawn of man and how this narrative still affects us today, our human nature… with a glassy twist.
“It seems obvious that something connects between the eyes and the thing being viewed. That something must be light. But does the light come from the eyes, or from the object under scrutiny, or from someplace else?”
The Story of Light, Ben Bova, 2001 – Light and Vision, p.125
an Exhibition Exploring Photons with Kleonicki Vanos and Lothar Böttcher
NWU Art Gallery, Botanical Gardens
01 -22 September 2016
Consciousness is not sharply defined, but fades into sub-consciousness . We are not uniformly sensitive to the illusions of light yet context matters and our perception of it affects our mind, body, and soul. We process life as we perceive it and our perceptions can change, which is reason enough to celebrate who we are.
By Bending Light, both artists invite the viewer to explore variations on perception, invoking a moment of immediacy.
Kleonicki uses light as a metaphorical brush, literally painting with light in her photographic images.
Lothar sculpturally transforms glass into objects and portals, enticing the spectator to come closer and “observe” the world through his sculptures.
Mutually collaborating on the subject of transforming the familiar arrangement of photons into new narratives these vibrant artists intend to illuminate our view of the world and our place in it.
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.
The Aether is a “classical” element. It is that unattainable stuff that our planet floats in and in which light used to propagate throughout the cosmos.
Aether is also the air of gods, the clear, fresh sky as in Greek mythology. It is the inexplicable Zeug between you and I which we can feel as a breeze caressing our cheeks, but yet cannot see, taste or physically grasp.
Aether has an air of ancient spirituality to it. The age of modern science and analytical experimental research has changed all that. Its etherial meaning has been quantified into joules, knots and wavelengths.
The Aether has been given quantifiable Substance.
This is a pretext in which I have been delving for the past several years, that cusp between science and art, between history and presence, the real and the surreal.
My work explores these aspects of the here and there, consciously wanting the spectator to partake in a first-hand experience through the optical media of glass, juxtaposing our contemporary trend of consuming second-hand information through the battery operated lenses in our hands. (…and maybe even offering an alternative window to the spiritual…)
There also is a trend in my work which refers directly to my personal environment. Living next to an informal settlement with ca. 3000 people housing in tin shacks I am influenced by the immediacy of making due with what one has. I am using parts in my sculptures found around my studio such as rocks, wire, steel and even off-cut shards of glass.
These seemingly worthless objects and materials are reappropriated, given new life. Intervening in each part of the sculpture; by polishing facets or cutting patterns in the glass; straightening steel wires; drilling holes into rocks; I am adding value to the banality of the object. Combining these individual elements I instil a narrative which conforms to my initial concept – the immediacy of experience within our everyday lives.
Each sculpture is an individual step in this visual journey I am on. They are small interventions to rekindle that Aha! moment we all so desperately hunt for, but rarely experience in this thicket of visual overload.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org