Tropes, Elasticity

Looking forward to the upcoming, big V&A show on Postmodernism — and making adaption, account of it in our Camberwell programme-to-be. Just read Ryan G. — or R. Gerald —Nelson's DDDDoomed — Or, Collectors & Curators of the Image: A Brief Future History of the Image Aggregator (2010). Now reading Jan Verwoert's Apropos Appropriation: Why stealing images today feels different (2007), published here. Early in the piece, he describes the act of appropriation as a 'radical temporal incision', in the context of the late 1970s, by artists whose "works convey an intense sense of an interruption of temporal continuity, a black out of historical time that mortifies culture and turns its tropes into inanimate figures, into pre-objectified, commodified visual material, ready to pick up and use."

Spike Jones' Cocktails for Two (1945).

I'm gathering interest in the 'trope', as a form and a gesture. Certainly in drawing reductively, there is a queasiness that comes with use of a spiral or an oval. Others, such as the stack of three tapering, lozenge-ended lines or an upward-widening arc, appear so often in tattoo or moulded relief on household object, as something parked between euphemism and aspiration. Classically, in grainy pastel Eurocoach livery. But then also a set of properties, borne of boiling something too long.

Two Cooks and a Cabbage (1941), directed by Alex Bryce.

A farty, khaki-cooked elastic slapstick. I think given its hue by late 1970s powercut, candlelit readings of Whizzer & Chips comic. And the puce-face of Windsor Davies against a bobbled, electrostatic mustard poloneck squeezed into a caravan with Bernard Breslaw, leering through the condensation out onto a damp squib campsite of late, tired Carry Ons.

Tom Paterson's line — and roll-call of wafting sock, bulging pocket, belching orifice — made an impression lasting to date. Each prop described as if held, with special attention on how one thing plugs itself in another. Not so tricky to unpack, I guess.

It took me (via Sonic Youth's Dirty) to looking a lot at Mike Kelley in the early 1990s. This, Ectoplasm Photograph 10 (1978, 2009), via.

But I enjoy how solid, satisfying the tics and devices are, even when isolated.

The elasticity of everything.

St. James' Infirmary, from Snow White (1933), sung by a rotoscoped Cab Calloway; animated by Roland Crandall for (Max) Fleischer Studios.


I know that I LIKE ... my O.W.L. – a lot!!! .HH.

In fact dark shadows were gradually falling over the little wood.

The birds were growing quieter.

The flowers were closing their petals.

The insects were flying more slowly.

Night was not far off.


Enough for Something

For the last few weeks I've been organising material as customary — but now editioning three of decision. Positioning judgments are made by eye.

Using sunlight and poundshop sugar paper as a first markmaking stage. To be followed by some cuts and application to the peg boards.

The elements are disparate at the moment but certainly it is the intention that is editioned, rather than the action, which encapsulates flaw.


Grip, fill

From The Measure of Man; Human Factors in Design (1960) by Henry Dreyfuss. Dreyfuss can be understood as an antecessor of user–centred design, his practice predicated by the fitting of products to human scale. His ubiquity, for me, epitomised by the chiselled handpiece of his Western Electric Model 500 telephone. Never held-held but only beholden–held in past US drama, the squared haptic misfit in a sweaty, harrowed hand.

Or held to the ear by another: Klute (1971), via. Dreyfuss engaged with and extended the application of 'human factors', ergonomics, anthropometrics (as seen in The Measure of Man).

Arzberg by Udo Koch (1991)(coffee pot, plaster, wire), via. Only ever seen one piece first-hand by Koch, at the Goethe-Institut in about 1995. It comprised a group of coffee pots, the plaster nullities spun on an axis and wired together, in and around the form. Around the same time, perhaps a little later, I'd seen the cold turkey mechanical ceiling baby in Trainspotting. Over a longer phase, Michael Powell's mechanical-tangible fantasy sequences. The point being the visible invisible. Hallucinatory ordinary.

A Family of Three at Tea (c. 1727) by Richard Collins, via V&A. First seen in Early English Porcelain by Bevis Hiller (Walker Books, 1992). The cup grips are indicative of both wealth and fashion.

Man and Child Drinking Tea (c. 1720), via.

Matthias Müller's Alpsee (1994), via.

The book Milk and Melancholy (2008) by Kenneth Hayes "considers milk as corporate advertising's moustache of health; as the antiwine; as a complex mixture of fat, protein, corpuscles, lactose, chyle, and plasma that lacks darkness but lacks also the morally pure transparency of crystal; and as the luminous middle term between mercury’s glare and water's transparency". Published by The MIT Press.

MIT Professor (1948–1977) Harold Edgerton's milk drop captures, regarding the iconic Milk Drop Coronet (1957).

De la serie Trautes Heim (1985-86) by Anna and Bernhard Blume, via, where they describe "victims of a sort of ‘medium assault’ by commonplace objects and artefacts".

Richard Serra's Hand Catching Lead (1968).

From Selle (1988) by Udo Koch, again via.

Wilder Shores of Love

Cy Twombly has died, age 83. For such an idiosyncratic, he is held as a standard by many I've known or taught, in their reaching for a way to make. He showed a way to make work from narrative without being literal. He showed that the history of a drawing is the drawing. He showed that no work is definitive. Latterly, at the Tate's retrospective, the revelatory sculptures. Today, finding some of his photographs; stand-alone in a way similar to Tarkovsky's polaroids. This, 'Yard Sale' (1993), via. Nearby, Dulwich Picture Gallery have just opened 'Arcadian Painters: Twombly and Poussin', with the 16mm Tacita Dean film Edwin Parker. Rest in peace.