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CarPaint-01w floor of paint shop Christie Hemm Klok

Floor of paintshop - Picture by Christie Hemm Klok

 

De pols was weerbarstig

en brak in duizend snippers

Daar lagen ze dan

Als stukken van een nieuwe puzzel

Waar we het raden naar hebben

Op een hoopje

Zoals kinderen na het springen

“We zijn een hoopje” Zei ze

Toen ze hopend op een hoop bij elkaar lagen

Het zwarte canvas van de trampoline

+++ Rough translation +++

The wrist

Refractory

Broke into thousand snippets

There they were

Pieces of a brand new jig-saw puzzle

Its purpose still unclear

A little heap

Like children after jumping

“We are a little heap” She said

When they were lying hoping on a heap

The black canvas of the trampoline

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This is an essay (longer read) about maps. There is no big message, no purpose, no call for action, none of that. Just recording and documenting of some reflections about maps. I don’t know where it came from. Suddenly I had enough notes to try to make something coherent out of it. Hope you enjoy the trip.

fietsmap

Modern Biking App Map – Notice point #27 – Denderbelle Lock

The theme of maps maybe emerged from my biking tours. Or from my recent tendency to do recordings: soundscapes – of probably better “silence-scapes” – of broken silence in nature. A sort of witnessing and documenting what was at that moment.

Maybe it emerged in preparing my upcoming performance for Finnovista in September: one of the themes is “learning” and I found that quality of observing says more about learning than teaching. So I used maps as a metaphor.

Maybe I am still intrigued by Simon Wardley’s situational awareness maps, which are all about observing, and mapping out position and movement.

wardley map

Simon Wardley - example of situational awareness map

Position on a map is often about geographical location and relations. But there is also the position in time: what was, what is, what can be. And like there is position of location, there is also position in time.

The time element hit me when I was bicycling along the river “Dender” and made a pit stop at the lock of Denderbelle. It’s a relatively small lock, and you can still walk over the doors of the lock to the other side of the river.

There I found this map on a tourism panel:

old map

Old map of the area Aalst-Dendermonde – before 1769

Before 1769, the Dender was a meandering river that was very difficult to manoeuvre for ships. It was Charles de Lorraine – at that time Duchy of Brabant, Austrian Netherlands – who gave the order to straighten the meanders and build two new locks. Today, the river feels more like a canal that goes almost straight from Aalst to Dendermonde. It has a very well maintained towpath along silent borders, which makes it a nice bike trip.

Close to the lock, there is still the old ferry house, now inhabited by an artist. There was a chain pulling the ferry from one side to the other. Even today you can still see the stairs on the shore where people boarded.

veerhuis 1769

Denderbelle ferryhouse – Anno 1915

Maps as documents of past ways of living. Thanks to Richard Martin and Mark Storm, I discovered the Maps of Days by Grayson Perry.

A-Map-Of-Days_edited-1

Map of Days by Grayson Perry – 2013 – Etching 111.8 × 149.9 cm

perry video

Video with the artist Grayson Perry

‘A self-portrait as a fortified town, the wall perhaps my skin. Each day I worked on it I finished by marking the point with the date to highlight the passage of time in the production of art to reflect the forming and reforming of one’s identity. The ‘self’ I think is not a single fixed thing but a lifelong shifting performance. My sense of self is a tiny man kicking a can down the road.’

Grayson Perry

The map is an awesome alternative way to document one’s life. Richard Martin arguments that the question “what is your map” probably gives better answers on who you are than asking “What do you do?” or asking for your linear CV or portfolio:

In the Map, Perry presents his complex personality and plural identity in the form of a walled city. Streets, buildings and other locales represent personal traits and behaviours, indicating a self-exploration that embraces both the positive and the negative, that poses questions, as well as providing answers, binding together truth and fiction. At the centre of Perry’s map is a labyrinthine garden, in which a figure walks, off-centre, pursuing ‘a sense of self’. Each time I look at the Map, either in a gallery or online, I question how my own version would differ from Perry’s. What words would I choose? What images?”

The same applies with the question “where do you come from?”. Should one say “a Chinese artist” or “an artist from China”? If you say “a Chinese artist” then you place the work of the artist in an ethnographic bubble, a cultural bubble. But when you talk about an artist coming from somewhere, you just connect the artist with a geographical starting point. I prefer the latter.

qiu map of total art

Map of Total Art by Qiu Zhijie – Ink on Paper – c. 5m length!

The work of Qiu Zhijie is fascinating. Check out this video interview with him and curator Davide Quadrio about the exposition ‘Qiu Zhijie: Journeys without Arrivals’ that was shown from 1 april – 24 september 2017 in the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven.

One year later, this video still resonates with me, so I made a full transcript of it, some extracts below:

Qiu Zhije is an artist, and he is producer, teacher, student, curator. He is a Master with capital “M” in Calligraphy. He is one of the most respected calligraphers in China.

As from 2010, I started drawing maps. If somebody asks me who I am, I answer I am a cartographer. Drawing maps is close to art, organizing exhibitions, teaching and researching. It is also writing. I feel it is a very multi-faceted way to show my talents as calligrapher.

qiu map and child

For me, maps are a source of knowledge at arms’ length distance, knowledge you do not acquire on the field, but from the sky, like a bird’s eye perspective. Then you can move that knowledge on a flat surface, to understand the correlations between what belongs together. Things should not be understood individually, but in the context of their relation to each other. So maps have a lot of influence. Making maps is a way to re-establish the integrity of the world because they illustrate the correlations on how everything relates to each other.

Teaching has always been an important part of my life. By teaching I keep learning. I continue to actualize and renew myself. Although teaching takes a lot of time, it is never a loss of time. On the contrary, it allows me to learn. That’s why I define teachers as those who organize the process of learning”. I like to teach about things I don’t know much about. I like subjects that I am highly interested in, so we can dig deep to know more.

His work is extremely free of themes, but also so encyclopedic. And so easy to connect with the idea of museum as a collection of objects and things. At the same time, his work is also able to crush this idea of objects and really enter into a world of fantasy.

Maps are models. Maps mark the land, they are landmarks. They document the “land-scape”, as a sound-scape documents the sounds.

Artist Andrew Pekler even created a sonic map of phantom islands.

Andrew Pekler

Phantom Islands – By Andrew Pekler – online experience, turn sound “on”

Andrew Pekler explains:

“The sweet spot for me is when a piece I have made can be simultaneously heard as both a field recording and as a completely composed, synthetic construct,”

Making maps is a sort of learning, a form of in-the-field-research and observation. Sharing with others what I am seeing, give context, some sense of coherence of position and direction/movement, and with some suggestions for maneuvering.

But in my case it is making pictures, writing and composing and creating a body of work from each trip. Field recordings, sound- and image-scapes like maps, at times creating a bizarre alienating, almost David Lynch kind of atmosphere, trying to resonate at another and additional level than the pure cognitive.

In that sense, I feel my current (art)work is getting closer to my real self, helps me to untether my soul, act as a witness, getting closer to alertness. With crispness, organic textures, precise rhythms,…

heartbeat

Natures Heartbeat – Online animation of earth’s heartbeat

In that sense, I am still doing the same as during my time as event curator. But the work is becoming more a documentary, a map, a set of interventions, interruptions and provocations that hopefully lead to higher states of alertness and aliveness.

Some kind of heartbeat that maps your open mind, heart, and will into a broader context.

petervan-signature

PS: Mark Storm suggested I add the Buckminster Füller Dymaxion Map. He is right! How could I – as a true Bucky fan – have missed this one? 😉

DymaxionMap-e1487584228714

Also an interesting link via Mark Storm on this Bucky topic.

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I am looking for some advice for an upcoming performance. I would like to feed the live stream of an iPhone6/GoPro/Drone to my Mac that is connected to the professional PA system of a conference center. Ideally wireless, aka my iPhone/GoPro/Drone etc. should not be wired to my Mac or another PA system. All indoors.

The person holding/operating the iPhone/GoPro/Drone (most likely myself) would walk around on stage and/or in the audience around a number of props and the video images should be fed in real-time to the main conference screen, ideally overlapping an existing PowerPoint/Keynote presentation. Audio from the video feed is not important/relevant. The audio soundscape comes from different software on my Mac.

How to achieve this with minimal hocus-pocus?

Many thx in advance

Warm regards

petervan-signature

 

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IMG_0791

Astridvan's first STEM work: "i-Spider"
Wobbles and red eyes light up when pins are connected
Designed & Executed by Astrid Vander Auwera

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IMG_0715

Astridvan Installation: de "snoepzakmaakmachine" / "automatic-candy-bag-filling-machine"
Designed & Executed by Astrid Vander Auwera

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The 2017-2018 Art Academy year is coming to an end, and on June 12, 2018 I will present some of my works for the year-end evaluation. Good that I kept a logfile of the evolution of most of my paintings; it helps me reflect on sources of inspiration, different stages of decisions, and lessons learned. Some friends encouraged me to share these stories, for some reason they find them interesting.

So here is the story of 4 paintings:

Painting 1: Watercarriers

This is actually a series of paintings. The inspiration was a 2007 newspaper picture of children carrying water to the refugee camp in Tsjaad (I have a file of “interesting” pictures that I keep somewhere in a drawer and/or electronic file).

Watercarriers group of 2

On the left the picture, on the right the very first sketch on A4 paper. This was one of the first big lessons learned this academy year: my coach Chris told me “and now, never look back at the original picture, and base your work on the sketch, on the memory of that picture”. In other words, it was not so important to create a realistic reproduction of the picture, it was more important to transmit the impression.

Watercarriers group of 5

During that time, we also got some basic training in making grey tones of colours, and I made a series of those (read from left to right). The sketch on the left is on A4 paper, the one next to it is on paper A2 format, and the others are on canvas about some A2 size.

Painting 2: Blue Boat

Inspiration this time from the on-line coastal sciences and societies Hakai Magazine: an article titled “The secret language of ships” got my attention. Many great pictures that could be used as basis for a painting, but I took this one:

7-tanker-reading-ships-1200x800

I started out with the lesson from painting #1 in mind: “and now, never look back at the original picture…”

Boat group of 5

First iteration on the left. I was quite happy with the sky, and had some fun by turning the canvas 90° and dripping paint to get some fluid effect. The very first version of the tugboats also appeared in this version, happy to see that with just a couple if lines it is possible to create the impression of a boat.

My coaches are too gentle, but the main feedback was that it all felt a bit too busy, and I should try to get rid of that sky and make it much more neutral. So I made it grey-white. Next, I added some white line on the body of the big tanker to improve the perspective effect. In the fourth picture you will see I tried to calm down also the sea surface. And at the far right (and below) the final result with purple sky, better tugboats and reflections in the water.

Boat final cropped

Big lessons learned:

  • A couple of lines are enough to create an impression
  • Calm down, avoid gimmicks, don’t distract but create calm by big surfaces
  • Create calm (repeat)

Painting 3: Cowbow Henk in his Garden

Inspiration was this picture of a person in a rather large garden

Garden inspiration picture

I started out as usual with some solid general structure foundations (first picture on the upper left below):

Garden group of 9

Then, I tried – within my basic skills – to do some impressionistic representation of reality (2nd picture). The feedback from my coaches was consistent: “EVERYTHING screams!”. So the first step I took was to “neutralise” the lawn. By pure accident – I did not see it at first, it was Frieda, a co-student – I got some sort of “Trompe l’Oeuil”: it was as if the lawn rolled out in infinity in the front of the painting.

In the second row, first picture, I painted over the back and sides with a calming light-greenish colour. A mix of brush and spatel. And added the black border line. Then I tried to remember principle #1: bring some rest in your work! Something important happened in third row, first picture from the left.

I started playing with digital. I imported my last result into Sketchbook Pro and tried different alternatives, using multiple layers and turning them off/on until I had a result that I somewhat liked. You see that result below in the picture on the left. The I tried to apply the digital design onto the canvas with real brushes and paint. The end result is on the right below.

Garden group of 2

I named the painting “Cowboy Henk in his Garden”. If you do not know Cowboy Henk, he is a strip character by Kamagurka and Herr Seele, two absurdists from Absurdistan, in good neo-Magritte surrealism. Check out for more background here. To be honest, I don’t think it’s Cowboy Henk in his garden, but his brother Dikke Billie Walker – the anti-hero of Henk – or another absurd family member…

Lessons learned:

  • don’t scream all over the place
  • create calm (repeat)

Painting 4: Trampoline

Good example of a painting that makes sense at the start, but alienates the audience when it is truly finished.

The source inspiration was a picture of my daughter laying on a trampoline, wrapped in white linen sheet, during a warm summer day two years ago.

Astrid Trampoline

You can easily follow from left to right, row after row, how this painting evolved.

 

Trampoline group of 12

Important steps IMO are:

  • Row 1, step 3: adding of a solid green trampoline border
  • Row 2, step 2: draping a real white sheet on top of the painting to see/study the shape and shadows of the blanket
  • Row 2, step 3: adding the folds in zinc white. After that step, I did not touch the painting for about 5 months. Then, suddenly, I painted over the white with some red’ish folds, and put some green-yellow accents above/below the mummie, which I painted over right away in the next session
  • Row 3, step 2 is a digital mix. Again, I imported the previous image in Sketchbook, and experimented with a lot of variations, including feathers on the head of the mummie (not shown below), but in the end I liked the result below:

Trampoline group of 2

On the left the digital composition, on the right the real painting on physical canvas. So, digitally, I adjusted the two green backgrounds, added a dark shadow around the mummie, got an extra red line, and finally, drew the white line around.

So, this was the end-result. Like most paintings above, all is acryl on canvas, and the format is 120x100cm, except when mentioned otherwise.

Trampoline final cropped

Lesson learned:

  • Feel free to experiment with digital
  • create calm (repeat)

With sincere thanks to my academy coaches Chris, Pieter, Koen, Inge, Marie-Ange, and Annick

Warm regards to all of you,

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Trampoline final cropped

Petervan Artwork © 2018 - "Trampoline" - Acryl on canvas - 120x100cm

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