The crystal grows forever outwards

Notes from ECHO CHAMBER: Artists in dialogue event, Sunday 5 October 2014
- with Rosalind Davis (RD), Caroline Lambard (CL), Phillip Hall-Patch (PHP), Allan McRobie (AM) & Libby Heaney (LH)

1 Crystals are dead (the opposite of alive)
"I associate straight lines with dead things, with crystals, with rocks, with rays of light. Crystals for me are rocks – they’re not alive…" (AM)

[JJ Charlesworth on Roger Hiorns' Siezure: "The form of the crystal and the process of crystallisation are about as far from the human as matter can be…"
Signs of Life, 2008, artangel.org.uk]

2 Outwards expansion (opening up the enclosure)

Phillip Hall-Patch's 1994 project Zoo Music, in which he proposed to release all the animals and birds from London Zoo to create in its place an academy for contemporary music:
"The one project that I kind of struggled with, looking at all the buildings there, was the aviary, it being constructed out of a series of Platonic forms, attempting to address this sense of transparency and openness and yet this net was always there…" (PHP)

But through the glass maquette, the possibility of deconstructing and reconfiguring the aviary: "taking something which is about enclosure and then finding a way to open it up."

[Hiorns: "in the environment of the saturate the crystal grows forever outwards…"
The impregnation of an object, artangel.org.uk]

**Photographing, cutting & collaging; folding, unfolding, re-forming. This working process affords something of a continuous (endless?) outward expansion.

3 3D structures need to be navigated

"Three-dimensional form needs to be moved around in order to be understood, these forms are about experience and about non-static observation. You have to be moving around and you have to build up this almost cubist collection of images in your mind." (CL)

**Working through ideas for an eventual moving image piece, thinking of ways to animate / rotate the glass, to present it on screen in 360°.

4 Tension / compression

"The beauty of a tension structure is that it can be incredibly thin, almost not even there. There are amazing aviaries by Frei Otto that are wafer thin. They truly are tension structures whereas [the Snowdon Aviary] has just got great big compression members and then these sort of facets of netting…" (AM)

Frei Otto / Jörg Gribl aviary for Munich’s Tierpark Hellabrunn (1980)

"There's a decompression in a visual sense, suddenly there's a lifting, there's a space where you can breathe…" (RD)

5 Light and the semi-reflections

"You have this superposition of the virtual and the real, this dual reality, the inside, the outside..." (LH)


Paula MacArthur's gemstone paintings

Flattened and erroneously back-lit, screen images I'd seen of 'The difference between wrong and right' belie (of course) the work's complex material form. Pigment runs, drips, splashes over and through the weaves of the huge canvas creating a surface (a topography) that is not glass-like as I had imagined, but textured and organic – at once smooth and rough, fluid and icy, reflective and porous… The painting describes not just the physical properties of a polished rock, but the experience of seeing the world fractured, exploded through its shimmering crystal lens.
"Light not only functions as space in painting but it can also lend the painting what has been described as 'air'. Air in this context is the imagined space in which events 'unfold'. This is space as light and light as space. This is pictorial space; indeterminate and fictitious. This is the legacy of cubism. Paula also employs reflection and refraction to compress several shattered and partial spaces into one fictitious 'event'." - Graham Crowley, Still Light