CVNTRTN – How To Dream A City

A blog by Adam Steineradam s1

After watching me spend two weeks standing strips of plastic flooring into columns, photographing the shadow of a leaf and holding-up a tape-measure to numerous tall buildings, a friend asked me what my Artspace R&D project, CVNTRTN, is about.

I started with the a proposed method, capturing sound and making it physical – REIFICATION – turning something abstract, yet physical into a thing, that is, a concrete object or fixed idea.

When making posters to promote a series of poetry gigs in Coventry, called Fire & Dust, I found that I could corrupt basic images to become “fire pictures” blurred, dark and over-contrasted images, using the most basic picture editing software (I don’t know how to use Photoshop).

This idea was developed further and more literally, when a few months later I made a small zine of poetry and quite abstract shapes, resembling trees and figures forming indistinct wandering forests, jostling in a depth of field to find their place – painted in coffee – of course.
adam s2

As an experiment, I took one of the printed images and photocopied the same image over the top of it, this created a blurred, “burndt” ink effect, I then fed this print through the copier again, this time with a different image. Instead of radically altering the original image, the re-printing gave it natural depth, built on top of it new formulations of colour and shape were embedded, like a street scene you could see everything at once, a total “something else” stepped-out so nothing was altogether background, not entirely present or absent.

 

Applying this to the methodology of reification, I thought about “mis-using” the system and coupling it with replication, layering sound(s) into a single track, then converting this data into a 3D print file, collided with 2D images and producing a solid instantiation that might better represent the buildings and their whole environment than the actual buildings, going beneath the surface to reveal hidden layers and perhaps find new meaning in that.

For the past 20 years or so, modern art is preoccupied with concept, with an artist less-so an artisan, (this is not necessarily a bad thing, it is, at least, a sincere sign of the times) and there is also liberation in not knowing entirely what one is doing. I have simply applied concepts – most of them from Walter Benjamin – to what I had already attempted as a continued experiment – if art is anything, surely it should be an acid-test for new ways of seeing in the same old waters?

For me this can be bound up in concepts of language, learning/un-learning by way of the French, faire, which is a mixed-up word translating variously as “do” and/or “make”, bringing to mind the British phrase “to make-do” – to settle – which is actually more laissez faire. This has reflective implications of labour, post-manufacture/industrial culture, skill-loss fallout (which pushes people into pointless jobs in which they are designed to stack, shelve or serve) ending in commodification (of space and ideals) made manifest in structures – finishing-up in production as replication, re-making, creation in a vicious entropic loop of feedback.

A more contemporary way of saying it might be sampling, remixing and ultimately – the mash-up. One critical aspect of this is that as you edit and re-edit something compound it with detail, whether it be a painting, a poem or a digital image, it comes to creak under the weight of interference, from a blurring of pixels to cloaking recesses in gloom and losing accuracy in the process – creating or indemnifying RUIN – but this also feels like a form of concentration. Hence the extrapolation of “coventration” from the verb “coventrate”; reclaiming language from history and re-using to represent a mass-effect layering of structures and atmosphere distilled into a unique 3D-printed sculpture.

The intent behind the CVNTRTN project; that even in an age of mass saturation there is there is so much that goes un-noticed, ignored or under-valued; to take it all in at once, as a complete system is mind and eye-boggling, sensory overload, to take it purely on face value, piece by piece was to miss the bigger picture. I want to show the ghosts hidden beside/inside, without and within the physical.

Benjamin’s ideas matter, when it comes to gentrification or re-modelling of environments, especially when public / private space is blurred – nowhere is this more pertinent than when architecture meets commerce, the shopping arcade with a private security force.  Admittedly, the idea is a little mad, paranoiac even. The idea of glass as reflector or transparent opportunity (shallow/hollow insight), phallicised towers of power and industry
( http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/grayson-perry-creates-giant-ceramic-11358012 ) and the “management” of spaces for the public to move through, live, work and play. But what about control? Protesting, graffiti (public art?) or the non-generic response leaving its impression. Much of this is by-passed, or simply passes by; therefore, I thought a recording of poems, on location, might act as a method preservation, using the acoustics of the space, to capture the essence of the place, and gather standard “ambient” noise that often goes unheard, un-recorded or ignored.

If you take the term “arcade” back to method, capturing sound and making it physical – REIFICATION – turning something abstract, yet physical into a thing, that is, a concrete object or fixed idea.

When making posters to promote a series of poetry gigs in Coventry, called Fire & Dust, I found that I could corrupt basic images to become “fire pictures” blurred, dark and over-contrasted images, using the most basic picture editing software (I don’t After watching me spend two weeks standing strips of plastic flooring into columns, photographing the shadow of a leaf and holding-up a tape-measure to numerous tall buildings, a friend asked me what my Artspace R&D project, CVNTRTN, is about.

I started with the a proposed know how to use Photoshop).

its roots, you arrive back at the latin “arcadia” for a utopic harmony with nature – perhaps, paradoxically, CVNTRTN might yield (an imagined) return to some kind of authenticity?

 

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