An overview

Spatial Drawing
27 July – 31 August 2012
VENN Gallery, Perth

Spatial Drawing investigated contemporary approaches to drawing, featuring works of three Western Australian artists, Benjamin Forster, Tom Freeman and Clare Peake. Drawing underpins diverse and complex approaches to art making for each of these artists, whose practices also comprise of sculpture, video and installation. In Spatial Drawing each artist explored drawing further through the creation of physical formations and sculptural works that discuss notions of how we engage with space.

The catalogue essay by Gemma Weston is available here.


relevant [ Spatial Drawing ]

A series … or … 2012

These four drawings are the product of filtering architectural plans through four subverted projective drawing systems. Using primarily compass and rule, this series in particular has utilised Venn’s architectural drawings as inputs. As a series they can be seen discreet points each representing an infinite line of drawings.

A Statement— Benjamin Forster

“Space is the greatest thing, as it contains all things”
— Thales

At the time of writing this statement, I am in-between Madrid and Dubai. In transit, on Flight EK420 to be exact. At this time, this new series of works is also in- between, still floating on the cusp of definition. This new series, forever partial, can be located within the following constellation of words:

Alberti, clouds and dust, colonisation, commercial gallery, constructions, contemporary drawing, conquest, Deleuze, economics, Euclid’s ‘Elements’, Feyerabend, fractional dimensions, framing, institutionalisation, it, knot theory, knowledge, language, linear algebra, Ludwig Schläfli, mapping, measurement, navigation, nonsense, paradoxes, perspective, Piranesi, platonic solids, projection, politics of space, Ptolemy, rationality, ruin, sailing, Serres, string theory, systematic, Thales, The Moirai (or The Fates), this, time, topology, truth, unknowable, value, venn diagrams…

This constellation is necessarily incomplete and insufficient. It can be read in any order, but has been arranged alphabetically to alleviate any tendency towards a sense of hierarchical importance. Lines could be drawn through and around these points to demarcate genealogy and logical sets. Nonetheless, I hope that this body of work will slip through whatever net is drawn. This statement may appear obtuse and vague, however, it is not my intention to alienate, but rather to generate an open space for viewing. A space where the dimensions of the work can be read beyond a linear series of words and and dialectical comparisons they encourage.

It is my belief that no series of words can ever successfully triangulate a series of work. At best they provide a vantage point from which multiple interpretation stem, or at worse, they act as a death sentence, crystallising artworks for ‘objective’ observation. From one point of view, this process of positioning is central to this body of work.

Cast in the Light of Reason… or… 2012

Cast in the light of reason … or … is an installation consisting of two framed drawings, The Groundless Ground (located in car park opposite gallery) and ⛎ or Ophiuchus or the serpent-bearer, (located in void) and a platonic solid constructed out of blue shipping rope.

relevant [ Spatial Drawing ]

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.

( sms selection )

A selection of SMS’s sent from Short Message Service, 2012.

Truth, 2012

Benjamin Forster, Truth
Jar and Paint,
10 x 10 x 13cm approx.

A small work commissioned for the Conservatorium Project. The Conservatorium was a exhibition of artworks in jars. The show was made up of contributions from 80 invited artists, all of whom were given the brief that their work must be at least partially contained within a glass, plastic or ceramic jar.

Curated by Anna Dunnill and Renae Coles, The Conservatorium was the inaugural exhibition at Paper Mountain. The Conservatorium was a part of FRINGE WORLD Festival, Perth 2012.

relevant [ Truth ]

Notes on the Particulates, 2012

In ‘Notes on the Particulates’ (2012) an old dot-matrix printer has been hacked to print tiny constellations of text on a loop of paper. This generates an automatic essay and demonstrates an ill-formed and unrelenting struggle to understand language through language, in language . All my machine-based works are thought experiments. Notes on the Particulates explores the role of accumulation in the formation of meaning. Starting as an empty loop of paper, the printer endlessly re-distributes fragments of Gilles Deleuze’s writings on language from Difference and Repetition and The Logic of Sense. At first fragmentary, as the text builds up it shifts into legibility. As time progresses this legibility is superseded by nonsense, which is in turn transformed into visual forms, reminiscent of clouds. Eventually, the pulverised and ink soaked paper gives way to its frail materiality: The paper jams – breaks – halts – spasms… Silence. Repeat. The ideal perfection of machines and words is betrayed.

Primavera 2012, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Image courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Photography: Robbie Karmel

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.

The Process

Step 1: Look at my own drawings.

Step 2: Formulate formal procedures that encapsulate my ideas about drawing.

Step 3: Express formal procedures in computer code.

Step 4: Compare the resulting machine drawings with my own drawings.

Step 5: If machine drawings = my drawings then STOP, else continue to step 6.

Step 6: Refine formal procedures.

Step 7: Goto step 3.

Note: This machine will never produce the same drawing twice.

Drawing Machine (Output = Plotter), 2008-12
Primavera 2012, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Photography: Robbie Karmel

Drawing Machine (Output = Screen)

Film demonstrating the general progression of the screen-based version of Benjamin Forster’s Drawing Machine.

“…a digital environment is an abstract projection supported and sustained by its capacity to propagate the illusion (or call it a working model) of immaterial behavior: identification without ambiguity, transmission without loss, repetition without originality.”

— Kirschenbaum, Mechanisms: New Media and the Forensic Imagination (2008)

relevant [ <09 10 11 Drawing Machine ]

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