Italic writing: Notes in writing this transcript (post-crit).
Travelling through the landscape is a myth, embedded in the landscape.
G: I’m realising my work is actually about that. Because I’ve always been quite obsessed with how the landscape can hold meaning from the past in it. Like when I used to paint those church shapes in the woods it was because hundreds of years ago in England, the woods used to be their church. And how the landscape has all these things embedded in it.
Yeh. These myths and these legends, and I think it’s really whimsical; the way he wrote about it. I’m just realising I think that’s a really big part of my work I think.
N: It makes perfect sense I think. You can definitely see that in your third year work, with the structures and the woodlands I think.
G: *talks about starting two small canvas paintings in the studio*: I’m interested to process what I’ve been reading through actually making.
Yeh and then I’ve been thinking also about maps defining things. And how I think as humans, we like to put edges to things, because we like things to feel contained and therefore we can grasp them.
We need something that reduces reality, something we can grasp because we are physical bodies, we understand things physically, not transiently, abstractly? Thought that was a really cool way of looking at maps.
N: It’s a device to help people define their respective cultures. And how a map, yes it’s a tool for an idea of the location, but the idea of the map, it’s like a representation of what we perceive, and what we understand to be there. Everyone has a map of their perception which they believe surrounds them and that’s what they’re gonna see do they? Or do only visual minded people have a map? We must all do though, to navigate. Perhaps they are just structured in very different ways. And then the things that are missing in the map are things we would be blind to, I suppose.
I think it’s really cool to develop new ways to think about maps, because then it –
G: – changes your perception
N: – yeh, it’s like a very direct way to open up people’s understanding of the world. For me it’s such a direct metaphor for how you understand the world to be, right? And everyone has different things on their map, but it’s kind of like the lens that blocks things out.
G: Because I guess when you make a map, you’re accepting that it is always going to be a reduction of reality... You’re never going to be able to make a map that encompasses reality and truly represents it. You’re reducing reality to this map so the question then lies in well what do you choose to show in more detail and, you know do you reduce everything or do you keep details for some parts.
N: The problem is most people don’t see maps as a reduction of reality but they see it as reality, and I think that’s where the problem starts. When you think that what’s on the map is true, and then they don’t consider everything else.
I mean it’s that really simple thing of when you single things out, whenever you look for the parts of things, and pick it up, you’re cutting through the rest of the network.
G: Severing it! I love that word.
N: Yeh! And there’s no way around it. It is in a way necessary, like you were saying, but also so conflicting. And, I’m not saying that there’s a solution for it. It’s interesting to be aware of this conflict. Because I think the problem is not that the conflict is there but that there’s not an awareness of it. And it kind of sounds like you’re trying to play around that conflict area, between taking the parts and affecting the network, or I don’t know, either way.
We speak about the indigenous maps documentary we both watched:
N: I don’t know if I liked the maps. They were still doing them on a 2D surface… Because he’s trying to talk about these 3D images he wants to represent, and how he wants to not think about it as this square birds eye view, yet he uses a flat square to represent it. So it’s like yes, but if you really want to break the map disorienting thing maybe it shouldn’t be flat.
G: True. But I think you’re changing the format of the map within a piece of paper, I feel like that still makes the map accessible.
N: There’s so many things he could do, like sculpture. It was just a thought.
K: Just a thought. After watching that David Attenborough documentary yesterday, he was talking about currents, and how there’s not separate oceans, there’s only one, that’s connected by currents. It’s actually interesting because in a country, wouldn’t every single path be connected to each other? All paths are connected. There isn’t separate roads or streets we just use it as a guide to navigate when we walk.
N: Thinking about it through life forms, it’s a good vehicle to get rid of this, you know, trying to devise things into single units, human instinct. And I feel like using natural forms is a good way to embellish interconnectedness of all things.
G: The entanglement of all things?
G: When I think about what I’m going to paint today, I do feel like it’s these really entangled forms. There are quite long walks from some of the points [I painted at], instead of on a map that would be like oh you walk along here then you turn left … it will be like this intestine shaped mass of lines, which, I don’t know, seem bodily, feel like the right thing to paint.
Because it is like a bodily – I keep using this word bodily! – it’s a bodily experience isn’t it? The landscape. So when I’m painting I want to tap into the bodily memory of these places, not necessarily the mental memory of these places. Less analytical, trying to be there when you remember it – seeing it in the minds eye, maybe remembering it by being in my body. Going to my body not my mind for memory, which perhaps I do anyway, because memory seems to me like a series of feelings of physically being in the space.
N: I feel like it makes sense for it to be this intestine not human thing, because I think paths and roads, when you zoom out, and look it them from a distance, it doesn’t look human made it looks animal made. And it kind of just brings out the animal in us. The fact that omg these human made forms are so similar to the branches of trees. Okay, human made, natural, it’s not separate. You know we’re all ruled by the same fractal rules, on creation of paths. Paths in our memory as well as in the landscape.
K: Going back to what you were saying about myth and about incorporating myth into the landscape. I’m curious because you were saying how in your previous work the myth was this past of this spirituality happening in forests. What do you think the ‘myth’ is now in your work?
G: It’s my own experience of the landscape in the past. So I think it’s become more personal. I guess myth is, I wouldn’t say what I was painting in the past was a myth, because it was real. At least with these paintings that I’m doing, I’m painting my own history on the landscape. And that history is, in comparison to painting druids from hundreds of years ago, is minor, but it’s more personal I guess.
K: So when you think about myth, it does make sense. Looking at your old work, that you were painting in this place and I guess the myth would have been speculation with what could have been happening here. And you’re knowledge of what has taken place in general –
G: But not necessarily in that spot.
K: Yeh. And I guess that could be a myth. But it’s interesting how you’re applying this very recent, considerably, experience as myth. Research what a myth is.
G: I don’t think it’s myth
N: You wouldn’t call it history –
N: And that’s why myth feels better, because it’s more spiritual and bodily, from the way you’re talking about it. And it’s more dislocated from a marked down story or a marked down time, it’s something that’s much more abstract. So maybe myth is is a better word.
G: I feel like myth sounds too grandiose! But memory doesn’t sound grand enough!
N: Because it sounds very specific, when you say memory.
G: It does. And it sounds like something which is just in my head, whilst this is something that involves the landscape as well.
N: Reading from David Abram, the myth, and the way myths were embedded in the landscape, I’m sure that’s affecting you a lot! Those indigenous cultures, and the way they walked, and as they walked that’s the rhythm in which the story would happen… And then the amazing example of which they were driving through –
N: And they couldn’t keep up the speed of the story because it was meant to be told whilst walking right. It’s just this perfect connection that’s fitted for this landscape in this human story myth. They kind of fit like puzzle pieces. It’s this story, memory, culture, it’s tailored to a landscape, in this time-space way, of walking right. I’m trying to say how it connects!
G: In this essay I’m writing I’m investigating whether abstract painting can have an attachment to the landscape, right. And it doesn’t have to be in this abstract realm which is just in our heads. And I guess that’s what I’m trying to do: can I paint an abstract painting that is more linked to the landscape (than my old painting). Because my old painting were conceptual, and I was reading about these things that were happening years and years ago and then I was making paintings about them, and you know the location I was painting on wasn’t attached to these events I was talking about, and then me putting these church structures on top, or what I just started before lockdown happened which was glazing these paintings based on stuff I’d been reading about in central Europe. So I was taking all these things and then putting them together, and there was no location to them. I was creating worlds that had no relation to one location. Whilst, actually whilst having this conversation now I’m realising I’m becoming more localised in my painting, which has prompted me to think about painting and locality. And abstract painting is such an interesting one to grapple with because it was born out of severing the mind from the body. It’s this whole idea of removing nature from the painting. So how could abstract painting be about the landscape? So in some ways, abstract painting is totally about nature, because as Ursula Le Guin said: to oppose something is it maintain its existence. Abstract painting is completely about nature; the separation, the distance, the negative space between ‘nature’ and the ‘human’ is exactly what defined abstract painting. Nature severed from the human and the distance in attempting to sever it. So, to radicalise and modernise abstract painting we must try the opposite! Which is to see human and nature as one whole, entangled web. To investigate painting as a mode of the world’s living being being one. Nature and humans don’t exist as separate entities, therefore they don’t exist, they are human constructs. To paint that would be to think with a new perception. And I want to investigate painting intrinsically and it’s history with the seperation between nature and man. Perhaps the medium could not cope with this new mode of thought? HMMM. SO MUCH TO CHOMP THROUGH.
N: Yeh, maybe this myth, you wanna call it myth, feels oral. Oral language, oral history, how David Abram how was trying to differentiate the difference between the detached written history and stories and then the living connected oral stories which were just kind of travelling. Maybe that’s why myth feels right, because it’s this oral thing which you talk about the multiple times you’ve been there, and if you think about it, it’s so displaced for this place. The distinction between the place and talking about a place: I have never thought about the distinction between the two before…
G: Attaching a language to your place that has nothing to do with the landscape. Attaching names to certain places which no one else would know what we were talking about but we do, it’s like myth isn’t it?
N: It’s oral because it’s not constrained, it’s moving it’s changing right? And when it’s written down it’s stuck. But there’s this fluidity to it. Abstract painting is this oral way of preserving myths and history, I wonder.