Annotations (Edition of Fifty), 2011

Annotation is an incomplete archive of an endless process.

Searching through libraries for any book that could possibly be meaningful. I flip through the pages of random books, tending towards anything that shows signs of wear and tear. Using only the traces left by other travelers as an indication of value, I slowly gather a collection. Taking them back to my desk, I sift through the pages and digitally scan any containing marks left by human hands. These are marks of distinction. These are thoughts. These are drawings. Still cluttered with text, I take these digitized pages and run them through a custom computer program. This program automatically detects and erases any printed text, leaving only the residue left by human hand. This is a program written in code, a text that erases text. I repeat this process.

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Index of all possible forms (65,536) + Every possibility iterated over time, 2011

process: A clock. Changing every second this clock iterates through every possible form within the structure of the LED display. A total of 65,536 forms. From time to time a recognisable structure strikes – An A or a B, a + or a -. These are moments of clarity in a completely determined system of nonsense.

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Blind Drawings, 2008

A series of experimental blind drawings created in direct relation to Benjamin’s Drawing Machine Project. These drawings are a study of the inconsistency between a drawing and the artists internal representation of the drawing in progress

relevant [ <09 Drawings ]

Short Message Service, 2012

Benjamin Forster invites speculation about the connections between objects and data in contemporary systems of thought and technology. Although the most dominant feature of this work is the transaction between viewers’ phones and the microcontroller displayed in the gallery, there are other elements to consider. They include the coding which generates and distributes the digitised text, the graphical or typographical decisions concerning what appears on the screens of viewers’ phones and the material or presentation aspect of work which can be enjoyed in the gallery. With audiences able to experience some aspect of the work anywhere in the world and forward it to others, Forster’s coding generates collective activity of a global and instantaneous nature – a characteristic arguably anticipated by precedents such as instructions in Mail Art.

During the exhibition Benjamin Forster’s work could be accessed by SMS 0434 377 980.

Drawing Machine (Output = Plotter), 2008-12

Installation view, Primavera 2012, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Image courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
© the artist, Photograph: Alex Davies

what is drawing?
Defining a concept is analogous to drawing a boundary line between ‘what is’ and ‘what is not’. The problem with concepts such as Drawing, and more generally Art, is that whenever a boundary is drawn, upon closer inspection the boundary seems inadequate. It either excludes something essential, or else it includes the extraneous.

Benjamin Forster’s Drawing Machine project can be summarised as an investigation of drawing using a specific system-based methodology. This project has two concurrent aims: firstly to explore ideas about drawing, and secondly to raise questions about the authority of reason and logic as methods of understanding.

This is not an investigation of any specific style of drawing, but simply drawing as the act of making marks on a surface; how these marks are made in relation to one another and, most importantly, what knowledge is necessary in order to make such marks. This investigation centres around his attempt to program a computer to draw in a way that is distinctly human, rather than stylistically digital or mechanistic. It is important that his program simulates the human characteristics of drawing because it is exactly the human quality of drawing that he has been attempting to understand. Benjamin believes it is only through comparison and contrast to human drawing that his machine’s drawings reflect the inadequacy of systems to capture the infinite detail of the world.

Attempting to find the intersections between multiple market places, 2011

Installed as part of the 2011 Joondalup Invitation Art Award, this work repurposed a receipt printer and electronic door chime. As the shoppers moved through the space, their passing triggered the receipt printer to vomit a unique star shape onto the floor. As the exhibition progressed the waste built up – at first innocuous, then a cordoned off trip hazard, and finally shutdown.

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Twenty-Six Ideal Erasures, 2011

process: Every occurrences of the twenty-six letters in the alphabet are digitally erased from three essays about language. Each essay in this series represents a different domain of knowledge: Literature, Science and Philosophy. Through this simple process of erasure the absence reveals the scaffolding on which meaning is pined and opens space for new possibilities.

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Working Systems (diagrams)

Three working diagrams that underpin the working process of this collaborative project.

1. A M D

An illustration of the in-flux relationships between architecture, movement and drawing, operating in both constraining and generating modes.

2. Constraining to Generating

In the initial point of occurrence Architecture, Drawing and Movement are each present in a constrained relationship (each one is equivalent to the others). As information is lifted from this initial point the system moves from a constrained relationship to a generative relationship. The generative capacity of the system increases as detail is reduced.

3. A / B

Pay attention to the areas of overlap between two identities. There is a slippery futility to naming and an impossibility to clearly defined boundaries. Our neat labels will always shift and change gradually. Where are the edges of our own body?

This is an ongoing collaboration between Benjamin Forster and contemporary dancer Rhiannon Newton, this project is a series of experiments investigating the relationships between architecture, drawing and movement. This project is currently in development.

Primavera Installation View

Installation view, Primavera 2012, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Image courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
© the artist, Photograph: Alex Davies

Primavera 2012
4 October–2 December
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Primavera 2012 was curated by the MCA’s Anna Davis and brings together the work of Dion Beasley (NT), Benjamin Forster (WA), Anastasia Klose (VIC), Todd McMillan (NSW), Kate Mitchell (NSW), Teho Ropeyarn (QLD) and Justine Varga (NSW).

Primavera is an annual exhibition held at the Museum of Contemporary Art for Australian artists aged 35 years and under. The primavera exhibition series was founded through the generous benefaction of Dr Edward Jackson AM and Mrs Cynthia Jackson AM and their family in memory of their daughter and sister Belinda.

Works ranged from highly autobiographical performances to more oblique strategies where ‘the self’ is transformed into a fictional persona, represented by an animal, a computer program, the trace of an action or even a pile of nuts. Humour in the face of failure and an acceptance of the comic absurdity of life were other ideas explored in the exhibition as well as themes of darkness and illumination, circular time, the haziness of memory and our ability to conceptually travel through the past, present and future. The works covered a wide range of artistic practices and sensibilities, from drawing, printmaking, film and video, to performance, installation, digital media and photography.

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A Written Perspective, 2012

This video is in part an illustration of the philosophical proposition, “the world is written”, and in part a critical experiment into the ever increasing rationalisation of imagery though ubiquitous mediation. Using a custom text detection algorithm, footage from around the Joondalup Shopping City has been processed. Everything that is not determined a word, is erased. This custom algorithm does not look for known letters, but rather in an attempt to avoid anglocentrism checks for properties common to the written word across all cultures.

Winner of the ‘Award for Excellence’ and ‘Celebrating Joondalup Award’ at the 2012 Joondalup Invitation Art Award.

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