October 8, 2020 – Unit 2 Part 1
Getting to Know the Materials
Clay is an unfamiliar medium to me, and generally I would avoid getting my hands dirty with clay or any other kind of dirt. I purchased a huge box of disposable and very thin gloves so that I could get as much of any tactile experience of working with the clay as possible. In fact, the gloves are so thin that I don’t have to take them off to take photographs with my iphone.
I set up an outdoor work station that would involve a minimum of clean up, as I would be able to wash the clay bits into the soil. Here are a few photographs of the work set-up and the small figurative pieces that I created and scored for experimentation with the medium and the tools.
Archeological Find (a story of recovery)
October 12, 2020 “Studio” time
Here they are. The first two cylinders. I have no idea what to do next. Oh right. My drawings.
One of the constraints for this project is that I cannot do it in my condo. The space I have is too small and not good for wet/dirty work. I need to work outside in my daughter’s back yard. Thanksgiving Sunday was far too wet to work outside, so that left me Monday (today). Although I dreamed extensively on Sunday night about the cylinders and what to do with them, making planning drawings didn’t happen until I actually got to my “studio”. And they are not on the right paper. The next ones will be.
I decided to work on only two of the cylinders the first day “to see what happens”. My uncertainty and fear of messing up the clay kept me quite stiff. I plan to return to the project on Wednesday, which is supposed to be another day with sun, and tomorrow (Tuesday) I will develop drawings to use for planning my second approach at the clay project.
The next few photographs document my progress on the first two cylinders.
After I made these first two drawings, I started to work on the square cylinder. I didn’t stop to make more drawings after that, as I just kept working on the cylinders. Honestly, I was afraid to stop, as I thought if I did drawings again, I’d get distracted and not get back to the clay.
The small hole at the top is there so that I can hang the piece later. There is another hole directly across from this one. A few more random holes, whose purpose it is to create the beginnings of a pattern. I like simple, and often tend to keep going, not know when to stop.
The top left corner is torn down slightly, about half an inch. I wanted to disrupt this angular form.
The tear that appeared in the previous photograph at the top left, is here at the top right, and about an inch longer. I wanted to continue the disruption. The curved parts attached to the sides of the square cylinder are broken rings cut from the bottom of the round cylinder.
I’m distressed that the bottom of the square cylinder appears to be smushing down on the surface. Would putting this on a canvas surface help?
I continue cutting circles from the bottom of the round cylinder, breaking them, and attaching them to all sides of the square cylinder, including the two that are entering the top. I want the “squareness” to be disrupted by these forms, but at this point I am keeping the pattern simple: a few straight lines and some holes that go through to the empty space in the middle.
The torn corner is now longer than two inches. Three of the four sides have been gently pushed in with my thumbs. I’m not happy with my joins. How do I make the edges of the curved instrusions softer? The bottom edge of the piece is still smushing down from the weight of the clay on the surface.
This is the round cylinder after I removed a couple of inches of circles to use to attach to the square piece. To the left of this cylinder is a small pot that I will use as a test piece. To the right is my favourite rock.
More curved pieces are removed from the bottom of the round cylinder and arranged at the base of the square one. I’m trying to make it look like an invasion.
I decide to score the round cylinder with binary code, 1’s and 0’s. The pieces that are invading the square cylinder are also scored with 1’s and 0’s. I see that the organic round cylinder has been invaded by the inorganic (binary), and the organic cut pieces from the bottom of the round cylinder are also scored with binary code as they move towards the inorganic square cylinder. The pieces cut from the top of the round cylinder that are attached to the body of the square cylinder are scored with binary code as well. I was trying to express the intrusion that the organic and inorganic wreak on one another. Can they really be separated in a world colonized by humans?
November 1, 2020 Clay project update and final photos
In my initial distress at finding my clay project smushed when I picked it up to take it to get fired, I forgot to photograph the broken pieces. The following photographs will show what I was working with. Encouragement from Angela helped me to re-orient my thinking about the project, and after I picked up the fired pieces of the original project, and a few “extras” provided for fooling around with, I found myself imagining that I had recovered these pieces from an archeological dig. That perspective helped me considerably as I played with putting paint and ink on the surfaces of the pieces. The following photographs represent what I ended up with. I had worked with the square cylinder and had cut slices of the round cylinder and attached them to the square cylinder. The slices were inscribed with 0’s and 1’s, as I was working with the concept of the organic, round cylinder being inscribed with binary which had migrated from the square, inorganic cylinder, to permeate and alter the organic.
I had recently watched a series of online lectures about quantum computers, and the use of gold as being both a superconductor and having magnetic properties, which for some reason is a good thing.
For this first piece, I imagined the Japanese concept of kintsugi, the art of fixing faults with gold in order to create a stronger, more beautiful piece. I combined, in my mind, as I was working on these pieces, kintsugi, and gold as a superconductor and holding great promise for the further development of quantum computers.
Here is a link to an article about using kintsugi to repair cracked concrete:
According to a June, 2019 article in Science Daily,
“Our paper shows for the first time that superconductivity can be brought to the surface states of gold, requiring new physics,” he said. “We show that it is possible to make the surface state of gold a superconductor, which has never been shown before.”
The research paper also shows the electron density of superconductivity in the surface states of gold can be tuned.
“This is important for future manipulation of Majorana fermions, required for better quantum computing,” Wei said. “Also, the surface state of gold is a two-dimensional system that is naturally scalable, meaning it allows the building of Majorana fermion circuits.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190628153454.htm
I don’t pretend to understand what Majorana Fermions are, despite the fact that I read the description of what they are several times. Nor do I understand that “the surface state of gold is…naturally scalable.” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/06/190628153454.htm
Regardless, I enjoyed playing with the remote possibility that some ancient culture had discovered the possibilities of gold thousands of years before the scientists at MIT.
The last photograph in this series is of the IBM quantum computer, a stunningly beautiful piece of art in its own right.
I made random marks while imagining a piece worn by time, or incomplete, or much loved over time.
The art of kintsugi seems to be applicable beyond clay work. This is how human beings can carry on in their lives past tragedy.
This second set of photographs is of the round cylinder, the one inscribed with binary code, and now smushed and broken. While experimenting with colour application, I imagined that these pieces were part of an ancient “computer” and included some gold and copper (acrylic paint) on the surfaces, indicating conductivity. Combined with clay, it seems unlikely, but I enjoyed playing with the archeology and how the uses of things are speculated upon by archeologists.
The next three photographs are of three sherds and although they were part of the piece in the three preceding photographs, I painted them with red and umber, a bit of black, and a tiny amount of copper. I imagined them as part of a decorative piece, not of the ancient computer. Archeologists are still piecing together their function, but they could be part of the computer, perhaps an earlier version from the one above.
The next two photographs are of a round cylinder, not one that I had worked on but which was fired for me to play around on for this part of the assignment. I continued to imagine an archeological find, and for this cylinder I used a small fountain pen to write figures which I imagined were some sort of alphabet, and I imagined this cylinder to be a passive teaching tool for young children; as they rotated the cylinder in front of them, they would become familiar with the alphabet.
The second photograph shows a small area where I applied some wax which created a resist, showing the “age” of the cylinder abecedarium.
The next four photographs are of two shorter pieces of cut cylinder that were fired for the purpose of further playing around with applying colour to the surface.
For these two pieces, I did not use gold or copper so that there would be no confusion in interpretation: these two pieces are definitely not part of the ancient quantum computer as they are neither conductive nor magnetic. However, some of the colours are the same as on the binary-inscribed cylinder, and so can be traced to the same time, if we are to agree that “art imitates” life, and that a time’s artistic tastes are a reflection of that time’s technology.