LOOKING BACK AT LAST SUMMER'S BIG PROJECT
Below: In the photo you'll see that backwards 'Z' shape that shouldn't be there. Adding deliberate mistakes, and leaving in real ones, can enhance the work and provoke innovation.
[ Can you spot the other anomaly? ]
These photos are from the 'Test Install' session that I undertook last summer, with the help of fellow Birmingham artist Rob Walsh. It was a full-scale practise session in preparation for a mural design for BPN Architects summer art show. Looking at the photograph, and then reading my thoughts about it in last year's blog entry, it seems I failed to highlight one of its most interesting aspects.
I talked about how 'big art' happens at a different tempo. That, because of its scale, I'm allowed more time to think about the decisions made, and why I make them.
Below: There are actually two 'anomalies' here.
In my paintings, and in these murals, I always put 'mistakes' in. Some are genuine - for instance, if you rule lines across a canvas, it can bend in the middle and disrupt the measurements. I found that I liked the mistakes, and they helped me to keep the art from becoming formulaic. They prevent the viewer from making any assumptions as the eye travels around the composition. And also to partly keep me amused while I undertake the laborious task of scaling up something that is usually as small as an A5 postcard. I hasten to add that this is not 'Op Art' where the viewer's eyeballs are dazzled by some flashy optical trick.
I want the viewer to suddenly stop and think, 'Wait, is that a mistake?' If he stops long enough, he realises it's deliberate, and at that moment a connection is made between us. The ideal response would be for the viewer to have a private laugh about it. It's like a musical piece that relies on repetition, and then at the last chorus, amuses the audience by deliberately throwing them off.
Rob and I used to discuss these all the time, and they highlighted the differences between our two styles. If a piece looked too 'uniform' or 'designed' I would always point out that it would need an 'anomaly' to break it up. I've sometimes mentioned how my art has a musical or linguistic foundation. 'Anomalies', 'verticals', 'chevrons', 'returns'...we developed our own site-specific short-hand while doing these pieces. Rob is a geometric artist of mind-boggling exactitude. I'm completely the opposite, but to an untutored eye, our work could look similar. I may do an article looking at this phenomenon sometime in the near future, so stay tuned.
Below: OK, yes, this bit is 'Op Art'. We were testing the materials and having a laugh seeing how it works. But for me, this is too obvious a pun.