I’ve been listening to Autechre over the last few days. Sitting at the experimental / “intelligent techno” end of the music spectrum it’s not always easy listening. While doing so I came across the following in Gregory Heaney’s review of EPs 1991–2002,
“What really ties the set together, however, is the packaging. Stark, minimal, and austere, the collection has a physical presence that seems to embody the spirit of the band, offering no explanations or assistance in the way of liner notes or even a detailed track list that points out what songs come from which albums. Instead, like Autechre themselves, EPs 1991–2002 simply presents the listener with the music the band has made and lets them come to grips with it on their own terms, allowing them to draw their own conclusions about what they’re hearing without any unnecessary assistance from its creators.”
Such reduced presentation has strong parallels with much contemporary art, with work often presented as is, with little if any explanation. Titles, medium, date listed on a room sheet and that’s your lot.
This got me thinking: how does this approach sit next to being open and transparent about my practice? How open do I want to be? How much do I want to share, how much do I want to hold back? How much is it necessary to hold back?
I realise it’s not necessarily an either/or situation, but is worth some thought.
No five things this week, instead a catch up on what’s been happening in the studio this week – I’ve been working on a couple of small blue monochromes and also taking steps towards creating a larger monochrome work.
Of the pale blue monochromes, I’ve a couple on the go. One sits on the wall as I decide how to deal with the edges of the work, the other on my desk waiting for another layer of paint. Both use older paintings as a starting point.
In going over old works, the quality of the painting surface is quite different from working on a pristine surface. It’s less absorbent for starters. Also, the textures of the previous work are still apparent at certain angles under a couple of layers of paint. With more layers they’ll become hidden.
In making monochromes this way I can either accept and absorb the history of the previous works or paint everything a flat grey, which makes for quite horrible surface to work on. So I’m going for the former option.
Away from the blue works I’ve been mixing different blacks for a larger monochrome work I’m considering. I could use a black straight from the tube but in mixing my own there’s the opportunity to create something richer and more alive. This larger work will again involve going over an older unresolved work dug out from storage. It has areas that are quite different tonally and I’m interested to see how this contrast comes through once I start to build up the new layers of paint. But first, I need to choose which black to use.