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CAPACITY, 2000, borosilicate glass, 300mm x 210mm x 120mm (variable), edition of 3

Richard Bright: Can we begin by you saying something about your background?

Annie Cattrell: I was born, at home, in Glasgow and am the youngest of three children. My father was a medical physicist and mother a painter and art teacher.

We moved to Edinburgh, several years later, where I then attended the Steiner School from the age of five. The ethos of the school was based on interpretations of Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy, Anthroposophy  (anthropos-human and sophia-wisdom) whereby he emphasized a scientific understanding of the spiritual. Steiner was greatly influenced by Goethe and his theory of knowledge and of colour.

It was an interesting and close-knit community to be part of, during this formative time. The educational process also encouraged pupils to make interdisciplinary connections between all taught subjects. This cross-disciplinary focus has been one of the main values that has remained with me and subsequently influenced my thinking and general approach to research and making work.

After this, I studied for a BA Hons in Fine Art at Glasgow School of Art, based in the Murals Department, which subsequently became known as the Environmental Art Department. It was an energetic, rigorous and creatively stimulating place that encouraged the students to explore ideas in-depth, be innovative and experimental. The choice of academic enquiry was determined in discussion with tutors who were all practicing artists. I was fortunate to have been taught by, amongst many others, Sam Ainsley and Thomas Joshua Cooper.

My initial focus was on an understanding how the human body and mind work, to this end, I gained special permission to spend time drawing and gathering information in the Museum of Anatomy, which is part of Glasgow University’s Hunterian Museum. This was considered to be quite an unusual thing to want to do at that time. The museum was for medical teaching only and there was a vast array of old preserved anatomical pathology specimens with detailed labeling telling the stories of the illnesses and diseases. The exhibits had been collected and donated to Glasgow University by the Scottish pioneering obstetrician and anatomist William Hunter (1718-1783).

Also, on the Murals course, there was guidance through the processes of pitching for public art projects and commissions. We undertook actual community art projects, such as in the Drumchapel area of Glasgow, which gave us first hand experience of the sociopolitical complexities of that community. It made me question what we were doing there, why and if there was any value or benefit in this process for the community.

Once I graduated from GSA I undertook an MA in Fine Art at the University of Ulster in Belfast run by performance artist Alistair MacLennan. Ten years later, then living in London, I became fascinated in the optical and conceptual possibilities and properties of glass. I was fortunate to be given scholarships to study a further MA in Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art.

I have worked at the RCA as a Visiting Lecturer in C&G since 2000 and more recently on the Fine Art and Humanities Pathway of the MRes course and as a PhD supervisor in the School of Arts and Humanities.

Also, I have undertaken permanent academic positions as Reader in Fine Art at De Montfort University in Leicester and Senior Lecturer in the Sculpture Department at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham.

FAULT, 2018, cast using marble powder in resin , 1800mm x 400mm x 300mm

RB: Have there been any particular influences to your art practice?

AC: There are many things that do and have influenced my art practice.

Firstly, I have always engaged in immersive experiences that cannot be ‘switched off’, which are in essence 360 degrees, such as climbing mountains or watching brain surgery. It is the phenomenological observations I can make while in these situations of the place, space, sounds, textures, smells etc that influence decision making later in the studio. Often in the countryside or in specific environments, I find this can amplify my awareness and expand and transform sensation into ideas, thought and artworks.

One example of this approach was when I was on Orkney in 2010, undertaking a Royal Scottish Academy residency hosted by the Pier Art Centre. Daily, I was able to observe, film and draw the tidal and wave energy of the surrounding sea, particularly the Pentland Firth that separates the north of mainland Scotland and Orkney. So observing deep time, as visible in the coastal geology at the precipitous Jesnaby cliffs, and then discussing renewal energy developments and challenges with research scientists at the Herriot Watt University at their campus in Stromness. This process of conjoining of a theoretical understanding of the surrounds and site visits to observe time made for thought provoking combinations, then and now.

Another example of a particularly intense immersive and influential threshold was in 2002 when I was given permission to watch neurosurgeon Mr Henry Marsh undertake an ‘awake craniotomy’ procedure at the Atkinson Morley Wing at St George’s Hospital in London. This was a pioneering surgical technique to remove tumours close to or involving the speech regions of the brain. During the operation the patient is woken up and the anaesthetist speaks with them continuously while they are awake, allowing the team to test regions of the exposed brain throughout the procedure to check the patient’s speech function in relationship to the removal of diseased brain tissue. Mr Marsh encouraged me to look down the microscope he used to view into the patients brain. As I did this he said:

thought is physical”.

CURRENTS , 2002, vacuum formed acrylic, 2800mm x 2800mm x 140mm (variable height). Installed at the Pier Art Centre. Orkney

Earlier influences were many, but one stands out which was as a child watching the Royal Institution of Great Britain’s annual Christmas Lectures, then broadcast on BBC1 in the 1970’s. The programs made scientific research, ideas and theories accessible and clear to absorb and helped understanding. The beautiful bespoke sculptural models and apparatus where one of the highlights often appearing magical, transformative and defying reason. It fuelled and nurtured my imagination, making anything seem possible and brought science to life.

So in 2002 it was a privilege for me to be the first Artist in Residence at the Royal Institution supported by the Leverhulme Trust. This opportunity meant I could meet with researchers, staff and members, plus spend time in the extensive archives seeing original texts and books such as Faraday’s hand bound and written illustrated notebooks.

Books of all types have had considerable influence on me, such as The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd, in which her poetic prose share a thoughtful and highly perceptive understanding of the Cairngorm mountains as interconnected organisms of rivers, rocks and trees. Other writers and poets such as Martin Kemp, Lavinia Greenlaw, Mary Douglas, Rebecca Solnit, Norman MacCaig and Edwin Morgan.

There are too many artists to mention who have influenced me at different times and for many reasons. Here are a few. The drawings and paintings by Albrecht Durer, John Ruskin, Cornelia Hesse-Honegger and Vija Celmins. Time based work by Margaret Tait, Lisa Autogena and Christian Marclay. Films such as The Enigma of Kasper Hauser and Being There.  Sculptures by Helen Chadwick, Rachel Whiteread, Richard Wilson, Yoshihiro Suda, Gian Lorenzo Bernini & James Turrell.

Engineering feats such as the Forth Bridge cantilever system and the cast concrete dome of The Pantheon in Rome have inspired my further appreciation of ingenuity, materiality and scale.

FORCES, 2005. 300 gram Bockingford watercolour paper (detail)

RB: What is the underlying focus of your work?

AC: I am a multidisciplinary visual artist. My focus is informed by acts of paying attention, noticing, contemplating and watching. At times, it seems almost forensic. I am drawn to discrepancies and inaccuracies, seeing if and when structures, patterns or meanings can emerge. Part of this process involves observing subtle topographically changes in say the landscape, or atmospheric fluctuations and weather conditions or more intimately inside the human body and brain.

This noticing is partly aimed to capture the fleeting and the what is not obviously visible. Therefore, highlighting the almost imperceptible changes, flux and transformations that are ceaselessly occurring inside the human body and in the natural world. This sculptural arresting or pause is designed to allow for in-depth scrutiny and reflection to occur. As part of this enquiry and process I often use sequences and comparative series to highlight the visible flux and changing behaviour of the materiality of what constitutes life.

I constantly draw, take photographs and film as a way of recording and thinking aloud and making visual notes. Additionally, I daily gather relevant information and collect materials and stuff that trigger ideas. In the studio I cast, assemble, fuse, weld and etch using techniques in bronze, glass, wood and many other appropriate materials. This brings the ideas into form and structure.

ECHO, 2007, Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail cast using aluminium powder and in resin
3900mm x 1800mm x 1200mm


ECHO, 2007, Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail cast using aluminium powder and in resin
3900mm x 1800mm x 1200mm (close up showing detail of soil, tree etc)

New digital approaches have led me to explore and use state-of-the-art technologies, for example topographical Lydar laser scanning. This virtual casting process proved critical when working within the Forest of Dean, when I was initially developing ideas and gathering data to produce a permanent sculptural commission called ECHO. Also, I have used FMRI, MRI and PET brain and body scanning techniques and data to realise a series of work about the body and brain.  The data produced is generated non invasively and in SENSE maps the active regions of the five senses: hearing, seeing, touching, tasting and smelling. The files are actually built using SLA rapid prototyping techniques and then I embedded them into transparent resin. This  permanently located the 3D prints in a solid dense space. SENSE was until recently on show in the Wellcome Trust’s Medicine Now ten year exhibition. It was made in collaboration with Professors Morten L Kringelbach, Mark Lythgoe and Steve Smith.

My focus also involves cross disciplinary discussions and is informed by a dialogue between the empirical, phenomenological and theoretical. To this end to, I have undertaken a number of fellowships, residencies and public art commissions, working with historians, in museum archives, researchers and different communities. These have included working recently at Cambridge University, where I was Lead Artist for their building development at the New Museum Site between 2014-19. I have just completed a large scale two part commission at the Old Cavendish called Remains to be Seen (I & II). It was conceived of after viewing CTR Wilson’s Cloud Chamber, an apparatus that he was inspired to make after his observations of condensation trails while working on the Ben Nevis Observatory. The Cloud Chamber was the first apparatus to show subatomic particle movement.

Aligned to this aspect of my practise of making public art, in 2008, I produced a large scale suspended sculpture called 0 to 10,000,000 for Oxford University’s new award winning Biochemistry Building designed by architects Hawkins Brown. This numerical range refers to temperature within matter and suggests an understanding through measurement of the complex relationship between a single unit and a mass of units. The concept grew from considering the essential components of matter, how it is generated and the idea and potential of plasma.

0 to 10,000,000, 2008, Situated in the Biochemistry Department, Oxford University, cast tinted resin , 17,000mm x 5,000mm x 8,000mm

RB: How important is the nature of impermanence, rhythm and time in your work?

AC: All have and are important in different ways. Some of my work clearly shows impermanence, rhythm and time.

The process of drawing is very significant to me, I approach it in part by referencing space, time, volume and density. Drawing can be a beginning and end in itself. Some drawings are made using a knife to produce marks. The vector shaped incisions penetrate the thick watercolour paper and reference directional flow (Pour and Currents).They physically alter the integrity of the paper which weakens and begins to sag and buckle making it appear three dimensional. I also, more traditionally, use inks and graphite to draw with. These show interconnected structures such as in Sustain. The amount of time spent producing these drawings is visible in their complexity and immense detail. The linear rhythm show my intention to make visible the accuracies and inaccuracies of attempting precision and control by hand.

CURRENTS, 2005. 300 gram Bockingford watercolour paper, 1200mm x 1200mm


SUSTAIN, 2009. 300 gram Bockingford watercolour paper, 600mm x 600mm (detail)


CONDITIONS, 2007, sub-surface etched optical glass, 400mm x 150mm x 150mm each section


CONDITIONS, 2007 (detail) sub-surface etched optical glass 400mm x 150mm x 150mm each section

Impermanence and the transitory was part my thinking behind Conditions. This was a sculpture I was commissioned to make for the Out of the Ordinary exhibition at the V&A in 2007. It focussed on the ceaseless nature of cloud formations over the period of a year. It comprised twelve heavy optical glass blocks, each block being equivalent to one of the 12 months of the year. They were individually subsurface etched with specific cloud formations such as cumulus, stratus, cirrus and nimbus. This appeared to freeze flux and make time standstill.

RESOUNDING, 2015, Situated in the John Henry Brookes Building, Oxford Brookes University, laminated and tinted resins, 15,000mm x 5,000 x 5,000


RESOUNDING, 2015 (looking up). Situated in the John Henry Brookes Building, Oxford Brookes University, laminated and tinted resins, 15,000mm x 5,000 x 5,000

Rhythm is implied in Resounding, a commission made in 2015 for the new John Henry Brookes building at Oxford Brookes University. Resounding is shaped as a bell and a splashing droplet. The acoustic and water references the moment when, in a university such as Brookes, cognition can take place and the implications of that reverberate.

SEER, 2018. Positioned on the banks of the River Ness in Inverness, bronze powder and resin cast, 2100mm x 650mm x 550mm

Time is also embedded in my work physically. For example in the geological casts that form Echo (2007), Fault (2018) and SEER (2018). The casts are taken directly from specific geological locations in England and Scotland. Echo from a quarry of Pennant sandstone, in the Forest of Dean, which was formed during the Carboniferous period about 350,000,000 years ago when it was part of the Supercontinent of Pangaea situated near the equator. This deep geological time is physically evident, in the cast, in the layered rigid structures of the rock and impermanence of the trees, pine needles and earth. Fault and SEER were also cast, this time directly from either side of Loch Ness. Each side of the loch are distinct land regions called the North West Highlands and Grampian Mountains that were formed from two tectonic plates converging and forming Loch Ness. James Hutton (1726–1797), the “father of modern geology,” wrote the Theory of the Earth (published in 1788) that proposed the idea of a rock cycle in which weathered rocks form new sediments and that granites were of volcanic origin. At Glen Tilt in the Cairngorm Mountains, near to Loch Ness, he found granite penetrating metamorphic schists, this proved that granite was formed from the cooling of molten rock. As a result of this observation regarding geological time scales Hutton famously remarked:

“that we find no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end.”

FROM WITHIN, 2006, silvered bronze
life size casts from a human skull, edition of 3

RB: In works such as From Within, Sense, Capacity and Echo, there is a fascination with scientific convention and process. Can you say more about this?

AC: Over the years I have considered and adopted some objective scientific conventions as part of my own artistic and aesthetic methodologies. I tend to avoid direct personal narratives in my work, however the impetus behind each piece can often be triggered by specific  experiences or memories. The scientific methods and processes of experimentation seem to afford me an objectivity that is helpful, structured and clear. I am interested in where and how the scientific and the poetic meet.

SENSE, 2002, SLA rapid prototype in transparent resin, 230mm x 230mm x 230mm each section


SENSE, 2002 (close up) SLA rapid prototype in transparent resin, 230mm x 230mm x 230mm each section

RB: Your project Transformation references Bernini’s sculpture Apollo and Daphne of 1652. Can you say more about this project, its elements and its relation to Bernini’s sculpture?

AC: Transformation is a public art commission and exhibition title. The commission was generated for the new Science Centre at Anglia Ruskin University. Part of the overall project involved funding for the Public Engagement surrounding the ideas behind the work which was shown in 2017 in the Transformation exhibition at the Ruskin Gallery in Cambridge.

This opportunity allowed me to explore further how the idea of transformation has been historically used in art and specifically sculpture, how an artwork might embody change and be able to imply or actually move and respond to the its surroundings and the outdoor elements.

In 2000, I was ACE Helen Chadwick Fellow based initially at the Ruskin School of Fine Art and Drawing and then at the British School at Rome where I regularly visited the nearby Villa Borghese to see the Gian Lorenzo Bernini sculptures, in particular Apollo and Daphne.

Bernini had skilfully transformed a solid block of marble into a detailed dynamic sculpture that worked from every vantage point. For me, it physically and literally speaks of transitional states of emotion as expressed in the pose and the actual carving such as in the marble feet and hands of Daphne which appear to become leaves and roots.  Apollo and Daphne depicts an episode from ancient Greek and Roman mythology as told by Ovid in his epic tale of creation and history.

TRANSFORMATION, exhibition at the Ruskin Gallery, Cambridge.

In 2016, when I was invited to have a solo exhibition Transformation, at the Anglia Ruskin Gallery nearby to where the final public art commission would be installed the following year. Curator and academic, Marius Kwint kindly agreed to curate the show, write the catalogue and organise an academic symposium. We also jointly secured funding from the Henry Moore Foundation for a research trip to travel to Rome to see Daphne and Apollo once again.

Our working group comprised dance artists Andrea Buckley and Charlie Morrissey and videographic artist Frances Scott, hosted by art historian and curator Marina Wallace. I had first seen Andrea and Charlie when they performed for the Table of Contents at the ICA in 2014, an archive dance project of the work that Siobhan Davies and Jill Clarke had made. This re-enactment or reinterpretation from an archive made me wonder how they might respond, as dancers, to seeing Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne. After hours of on site observations at the Villa Borghese, we filmed Andrea and Charlie afterwards in Marina’s garden, reimagining the sculpture and how it was made, through improvised movement. This finally became a nine screen time based installation for the exhibition. After Rome, at the University of Portsmouth, Andrea and Charlie were motion captured making similar gestures and movements. Further to this I produced rapid prototyped sculptures showing the complete movement set.


TRANSFORMATION, Situated on the New Science Centre, Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, 2017, anodised  aluminium and metal substructure, each face is 10,100mm x 7,250mm


RB: The Transformation public art piece on the side of the new Science Centre cannot be viewed all at once, the viewer has to move around it. Is this deliberate?

AC: Yes, it was deliberate.The concept for Transformation was that it would be a large-scale, visually scintillating and rippling surface that responded to the wind, rain and sunlight. It would be endlessly moving day and night and the sequences would be infinitely different .

It was made of over 18,000 brushed aluminium small tiles that appear from far away as a solid surface or pixelated screen. However, at closer inspection it is possible to see each tile has the ability to move independently in response to the wind, creating an ever changing pattern of flux across the two surfaces of the Science Centre.

Initially I was asked to respond to the Science Centre and the brief to: ‘see science in action’. Designed by architect Richard Murphy, the footprint of the new building needed to fit into the centre of the existing Anglia Ruskin University’s Cambridge campus. The area where Transformation could be situated was on a right angle corner with the planes facing south and west. It was also vital that there would be sufficient wind to activate the kinetic aspect of this commission and direct sunlight to maximise the reflective properties of the metal tiles. The right angle and proximity of the nearby buildings meant that it is almost physically impossible to absorb the whole of Transformation from one point. This accentuates the necessity to think and experience holistically.

RB: Your research question in your application for the Helen Chadwick Fellowship (2000-01) asked ‘Is it possible to make consciousness visible?’ Could you elaborate on this?

AC: In 1990-01 I undertook a year long residency at one of Scotland’s largest psychiatric mental health units the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. There, I met and worked with many long term residents and became aware of the treatment methods and the medications used. Also, at that time in the press, I read about how new scanning techniques such as non invasive FMRI and MRI could identify physiological qualities and psychological damage inside the living brain. It perplexed me to think of seeing inside the living brain in such detail and I wondered if it might be possible to read, see thoughts or even more ambitiously identify consciousness using these new technologies. So when the opportunity to work with neuroscientists, such as Morten L Kringelbach, who has become a long standing collaborator, came about while I was ACE Helen Chadwick Fellow I found myself asking those questions and being able to discuss with the experts and access brain scanners to experiment with.

ATLAS, 2016. Situated in the Engineering Department, Bristol University, laminated resin, metal and wood, each globe 1,400mm in diameter

RB: In your view, what are the lines that connect art and science?

AC: For me, the lines or bridges that connect art and science lie in the commonalities of approach in terms of creativity and experimentation. Discursive, imaginative and lateral thinking seems to be vital to both specialisms.

However, I do think the intentions and resolutions are very different indeed. Scientists are trying to prove or discount their theory or hypothesis. Where as artists, generally do not want to be bounded by convention and the rational. 

RB: What projects are you currently working on?

AC: I am currently planning for and working towards a Royal Scottish Academy residency at An Lanntair in Stornoway in the Outer Hebredies this spring.

It is my aim to ‘map’ the interconnected geological and cultural qualities of where land and water meet on Lewis. In particular finding ways of gathering onsite data (through walking, filming, direct casting etc.) and first hand information (through archive research and discussions with local people and academic specialists). It is where land and water meet and how this has evolved through deep time that interests me most.  The current visible geology and landscape allows for certain readings of time that have not been so over exposed to human intervention ie the Anthropocence. Geology can be read as a physical manifestation of how to read time and significant cosmological events, and water through its behaviour and gravitational flow, epitomises and acts as a metaphor for the course of time.  I will also be making direct contact with UHI staff at Lews Castle’s and aim to talk with specialists in the Archaeology Department and spend time in the archives of the Ness Historical Society.

I will be having an associated solo exhibition at An Lanntair called SOURCE which will include existing and new work made on Lewis during this residency. The Private View is on Saturday the 25th of April and the exhibition runs until the 7th of June 2020.

Later in 2020 I will be showing new and existing work as part of a travelling international group exhibition in Australia called Upending Expectations. Conceived of before the recent bush fires, the work traces the fresh water systems from source to sea in each of the cities where the exhibition will be held. It brings yet more focus to the environmental concerns and the necessity for fresh water to maintain life. Alongside this I will show a life size edition of Capacity  (glass sculpture of the human respiratory system)  which is intended to make further connections of the interdependency between the land, rivers and sentient beings.


All images copyright and courtesy of Annie Cattrell

The post Transformations appeared first on Interalia Magazine.

UMWELT at BioBat Art Space

Exhibition Statement (excerpt) by Hannah Star Rogers:

Umwelt a three-artist exhibition at BioBAT Art Space, takes the concept of collaboration to new heights and complications. It exposes the multilayered work of artists who engage with the sciences while offering visitors a nuanced view of what science both is and can be. Meredith Tromble, Patricia Olynyk, and Christine Davis are established artists who approach science as material for art. They have individually worked directly with scientists: as residents in their labs, as observers of scientific proceedings, as interviewers treating scientists as informants, and as direct co-creators of artworks. This collaborative presentation offers the opportunity to think about the different approaches that artists are taking to work with science in the new wave of art-science interactions and collaborations that is now well underway.

The complexities of science that these artists are investigating are reflected in the title of the exhibition. The concept of “umwelt,” as described in the semiotic theories of Jakob von Uexküll and interpreted by Thomas A. Sebeok (1976), is the world as it is experienced by a particular organism. As such, umwelt evokes more than environment; it emphasizes an organism’s ability to sense—a condition for the existence of shared signs. These signs offer meanings about the world, albeit of divergent sorts, to different types of organisms or even individual beings. Umwelt also calls attention to the specific senses that different organisms use to make meaning from their environments, including signs made by other organisms.”

“Umwelt’ 2019 – BioBAT Art Space, Brooklyn, NYC. Featuring artworks by Christine Davis, Patricia Olynyk, Meredith Tromble. (Photo by: Beatriz Meseguer)


“Umwelt’ 2019 – BioBAT Art Space, Brooklyn, NYC. Featuring artworks by Christine Davis, Patricia Olynyk, Meredith Tromble. (Photo by: Beatriz Meseguer)


“Umwelt’ 2019 – BioBAT Art Space, Brooklyn, NYC. Featuring artworks by Christine Davis, Patricia Olynyk, Meredith Tromble. (Photo by: Beatriz Meseguer)


“Umwelt’ 2019 – BioBAT Art Space, Brooklyn, NYC. Featuring artworks by Christine Davis, Patricia Olynyk, Meredith Tromble. (Photo by: Beatriz Meseguer)


Artist Bios:

Christine Davis: Tlön, or How I held in my hands a vast methodical fragment of our planet’s entire history , 2019
Ethically sourced butterfly wings on black gessoed canvas
48” x 70”

Christine Davis is a Canadian artist born in Vancouver. She currently lives and works in New York City. Modes of seeing, classifying and producing both scientific and cultural knowledge, often tied to the feminine and the natural world, underpin many projects. Through a cosmological impulse Davis’ installations seem to propose that meanings from disparate historical and pedagogical contexts overlap and are released slowly over long periods of time. In her work “Tlön, or How I held in my hands a vast methodical fragment of an unknown planet’s entire history” (exhibited at the Musee de Beaux Arts de Montreal) documentation of the heavens and classification of wildlife are overlaid in a system of ordering and symmetry that is at once mystical and sadistic, absurd and universal. As film scholar Olivier Asselin notes, “Davis’ work establishes a link between artistic abstraction and scientific abstraction – between formal abstraction and conceptual abstraction. [F]orm is chaotic; it is one of those complex phenomena, like climate change and liquid turbulence, which are determinate, but non-linear, and, as a result, remain largely unpredictable. As such, it prompts an epistemological reflection on the complexity of the sensible and the limits of the concept… from this perspective, her work is archaeological.” Exhibiting since 1987 Her work is held in numerous collections including the National Gallery of Canada, Le Muse d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, Collection Helga de Alvear and the Yvon Lambert Collection Avignon. Publications on her work include monographs published by CREDAC (Paris), MACM (Montreal), AGO (Toronto) and Presentation House (Vancouver).

Patricia Olynyk: Extension II , 2014
Digital pigment print on archival paper
22 ¼” x 61 ¼”

Patricia Olynyk is a multimedia artist, scholar and educator whose work explores art, science and technologyrelated themes that range from the mind-brain to interspecies communication and the environment. Her prints, photographs, and video installations investigate the ways in which social systems and institutional structures shape our understanding of science, human life, and the natural world. Working across disciplines to develop “third culture” projects, she frequently collaborates with scientists, humanists, and technology specialists. Her multimedia environments call upon the viewer to expand their awareness of the worlds they inhabit—whether those worlds are their own bodies or the spaces that surround them. Olynyk is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including a Helmut S. Stern Fellowship at the Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan and a Francis C. Wood Fellowship at the College of Physicians, Philadelphia. She has held residencies at UCLA’s Design Media Arts Department, the Banff Center for the Arts, Villa Montalvo in California, and the University of Applied Arts, Vienna. Her work has been featured in Venice Design 2018 at Palazzo Michiel, Venice; the Los Angeles International Biennial; the Saitama Modern Art Museum, Japan; Museo del Corso in Rome; and the National Academy of Sciences in Washington. Olynyk is Chair of the Graduate School of Art and Florence and Frank Bush Professor of Art at Washington University and co-director of the Leonardo/ISAST NY LASER program in New York. Her writing is featured in publications that include Public Journal, the Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture, Technoetic Arts, and Leonardo Journal.

Meredith Tromble: Dream Vortex: Lab Meeting , 2019
Matrix of 9 framed digital prints
Each (framed) 20 x 23.5 inches. Overall dimensions: 62 x 72

Meredith Tromble is an Oakland-based intermedia artist and writer whose curiosity about links between imagination and knowledge led her to form collaborations with scientists in addition to making installations, drawings, and performances. A central theme in her work is circulation: between ideas and materials, through collaborative creative process, from psychological impulses through images and texts. Her work asserts the continuity between the physical and virtual worlds. She has made drawings, installations and performances for venues ranging from the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Southern Exposure in San Francisco, to the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. and the Glasgow School of Art in the UK. She has been artistin- residence at the Complexity Sciences Center at the University of California, Davis (UCD), since 2011 in active collaboration with UCD geobiologist Dawn Sumner. Their interactive 3-D digital art installation Dream Vortex has been widely presented in various iterations at ISEA2015, Vancouver, and Creativity & Cognition, Glasgow School of Art, and at more than a dozen American universities ranging from Stanford University in Palo Alto to Brown University in Providence. Dream Vortex was chosen as an “Exemplar Project” of interdisciplinary research by the Association for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) in 2015. A related performance project, The Vortex, in collaboration with Donna Sternberg and Dancers of Los Angeles, had weekend runs in Los Angeles in 2016 and 2018. Tromble’s other recent projects include an art installation developed with a neuroscientist at Gazzaley Lab, University of California San Francisco, and performance/lectures by “Madame Entropy.” Her 2012 blog “Art and Shadows,” on contemporary art and science, was supported by the Art Writers Initiative of the Andy Warhol Foundation. From 2000-2010 she was a core member of the artist collective Stretcher; and made flash “guerrilla” performances using a mechanism based on the research of biologist Larry Rome to generate electricity from the motion of her body.


The post UMWELT at BioBat Art Space appeared first on Interalia Magazine.

Exploring Complex Systems in Nature

William Holton: Nested System Blue Nodes. 36″ x 28″, oil on canvas, 2019

Richard Bright: Can we begin by saying something about your background?

William Holton: I spent my childhood in rural East Tennesse. My family lived on a cul-de-sac that was surrounded by woods and nature that us kids would play in and explore often. My father was a professor of Botany at the local university and he instilled in me an appreciation for science and nature at an early age. I didn’t realize it at the time but my mother introduced me to what an artist studio and practice could be. She was an elementary school teacher but also a potter, with a room that had a wheel and a kiln.

I drew a lot like most kids but never considered the possibility of becoming an artist until I moved away to attend college at the University of Arizona, where I majored in Aeronautical Engineering. I took a beginning drawing class as an elective with the first of a handful of wonderful teachers I would meet during my college years. The teacher was the artist Sheila Pitt and she convinced me to take more art classes. By the second semester I had changed my major to art and subsequently transferred to what was then called the Atlanta College of Art. There I earned a BFA in painting and printmaking and began my artmaking practice. The figurative work I was doing in school slowly evolved to imaginary landscapes and eventually a kind of process-oriented abstraction.

In 2001 I attended the Vermont Studio Center for a month-long residency. I was lucky enough to meet John Moore, who was head of the graduate painting department at the University of Pennsylvania at the time. He was a visiting artist and during a studio visit he convinced me to apply there for graduate school. I received an MFA from Penn in 2003, moved to New York and have lived and worked here since.

William Holton: Filament, 70″ x 68″, oil on canvas, 2010

RB: Have there been any particular influences to your art practice?

WH: An early influence would be Mondrian’s series of paintings and drawings of trees which I came across as an art student in which he simplified and reduced the tree using cubist principles of the time. The image of the tree is slowly distilled to its essence of collective forms. Eventually the forms come fully forward and the tree disappears altogether. I found this fascinating because it exemplified a path toward abstraction that came directly from nature. The series was also an early education in the importance of the space between the forms being as relevant as the forms themselves.

As an art student I was excited about the painter Susan Rothenberg’s paintings and drawings from the 1980s. She would build up countless individual paint strokes over huge surfaces in what I saw as a process of searching for an image that would emerge from the accumulation of mark making. This process would become a model for me at the time.

Terry Winter’s work from the 1980s had a profound effect on me as well. There was something both scientific and romantic about the forms and structures he painted as well as his process, which included grinding pigments to make his own paint like an alchemist.

More recently the artist Thomas Nozkowski gave me faith in the possibilities of abstract painting again. When I discovered his work in the early 2000s, I was disenchanted with what I was aware of as being abstract painting at the time. His work was excitingly original to me and showed me that abstraction was not at some endgame, that tropes need not be rehashed over and over because the possibilities of abstraction are endless.

William Holton: Annihilation, 45″ x 48″, graphite and china marker on paper, 2010

RB: What is the underlying focus of your work?

WH: I think the underlying focus of my work is simply that of discovery. I want to see what happens next. The evolution of each work is like a visual adventure I go on with what I am making at the time. I use the tools I have found or invented along the way in making all the works that came before. The physical tools have included a can of compressed air or my fingerprint as well as the repetitive forms within the works themselves such as dots or spirals or an overlapping edge.

I try to create a relationship with the work that involves my learning what needs to be done next by “listening” to the painting visually. As much as possible I attempt to take to take my ego out of the process and let the painting become what becomes. One of the first ways of doing this is to use a found stretcher to begin the painting with. The hope is to make something both compellingly simple and complex at the same time.

William Holton: Horizon, 18″ x 16″, oil on panel, 2013

RB: What is the relationship between your drawing and you painting? Can you say something about your working process in the creation of your artworks?

WH: I seem to go back and forth between focusing on painting and drawing. Before graduate school I was almost entirely painting. I had discovered Yayoi Kusama’s net paintings that she began making in the 1950’s and started a process that incorporated drawing directly into my painted surface. I would coat a patch at a time of acrylic medium on a surface and draw my own kind of continuous net pattern into the wet medium. I would use just enough medium for each patch to be able to fill it with my incised pattern before it dried. Then a patch was done next to that and so on until the entire surface of the canvas was filled. I was beginning to explore the idea of an image as an accumulation of marks or forms over a surface that when pushed far enough, can exhibit a kind of collective behavior that gives the work energy. Soon I became more interested in the space inside each net component and began making dot paintings that further explored the possibilities of accumulation and the transformative power of complexity.

William Holton: Migration, 56″ x 52″, charcoal fingerprints on paper, 2005

I came out of graduate school primarily focusing on a series of drawings I started there and made for several years. These drawings consisted of the accumulation of charcoal fingerprints that I used as a unit over the surface of large sheets of paper. I was reading about scientific theories like Chaos, Swarm, and Emergence, and discovered Philip Ball’s book The Self-Made Tapestry, which became like a bible to me. I wanted to make a painting that was like a self-regulating system. I think of nature as a grand self-regulating system made up of self-regulating systems within self-regulating systems. This idea of nested systems began to fascinate me.

William Holton: Interface, 52″ x 54″, charcoal fingerprints on paper, 2005


William Holton: Nested System No. 2, 50″ x 60″, charcoal fingerprints and ink on paper, 2007

Around 2007 the fingerprint drawings seemed to have gone their course and I was experimenting with ways to get back into painting. One day I had dots of wet paint on a painting and I decided to see what would happen if I blew canned air into the dots. The result was a circle with incredibly intricate patterns I could never have painted with my hand. Eventually the circular unit became a spiral unit that when at the right proximity to another spiral created a new kind of space I couldn’t have imagined. What I love about pushing the paint around without touching it using compressed air is that it is a form of drawing I can do while making a painting.

Recently the spiral has become less important as the main component and now is simply one of the tools I can use when needed. I’ve learned that the forms that result from overlapping and combining spirals are like a fractal coastline and now I use these emergent boundaries to lay down bands of color using a brush that defines yet newer, unexpected forms.

William Holton: Locus, 16″ x 15″, oil on panel, 2006


William Holton: Resting State Network, 30″ x 31″, oil on canvas, 2010

RB: How do the notions of disturbance, movement, repetition and rhythm relate in your artistic practice?

WH: Obsessive, repetitive mark making has been the foundation of my work. The accumulation of units like fingerprints or spirals over the surface of the work builds and grows based on simple loose rules I make that have to do proximity and contingency of units like the murmurations of starlings or the schooling of fish. The collective intelligence of these behaviors in nature is what I am trying to achieve, where the work gains a kind of autonomy. With my help, it becomes what it becomes, not what I want it to become. I think of the idea of disturbance in this context in the way variation drives evolution. The variations I come across as I work inform the direction and evolution of the system of forms as they unfold over the course of making the work.

William Holton: Distribution, 55″ x 55″, oil on canvas, 2016

RB: In your view, what are the lines that connect art and science?

WH: Art and science are both paths of exploration and discovery that humans use to understand the world around them. Experimentation is clearly a place where they intersect. I like to think of Alchemy, the seed of modern science as being a lot like painting. Alchemy involved experimenting and trying new materials and ways of using them to attempt to transform base metals in gold. To me this process is very much like pushing pigment and other material around a surface until a painting is “finished,” “resolved,” or just seems to have become what it was supposed to become to the artist. It has transformed from a collection of inanimate materials on a surface to something that has a kind of life and is capable of moving a viewer, often in ways that words cannot express.

In my own work, I have been inspired by the seemingly unending examples of visual beauty I find in science. Electron clouds fascinate me not only because of the beauty of the forms as science describes them but also the fact of their state of indeterminacy. They are a probability that is both there and not there, depending on how they are observed. I am always trying to achieve this kind of state of simultaneity in my paintings. When I started working with circles instead of dots, I learned about and became obsessed with Penrose Tiling, a form of tessellation of a plane using self-similar forms studied by the physicist Roger Penrose in the 1970’s. Subsequent interest in self-similar forms led to my discovery of the fractal “coastline” edge that I use in my current paintings.

William Holton: Labyrinth, 60″ x 60″, oil on canvas, 2019


William Holton: Wild Bounty, 60″ x 48″, oil on canvas, 2019


William Holton: Cicada, 38″ x 38″, oil on canvas, 2019


All images copyright and courtesy of William Holton


The post Exploring Complex Systems in Nature appeared first on Interalia Magazine.

How a trippy 1980s video effect might help to explain consciousness

How a trippy 1980s video effect might help to explain consciousness

Still from a video feedback sequence.
© Robert Pepperell 2018, Author provided

Robert Pepperell, Cardiff Metropolitan University

Explaining consciousness is one of the hardest problems in science and philosophy. Recent neuroscientific discoveries suggest that a solution could be within reach – but grasping it will mean rethinking some familiar ideas. Consciousness, I argue in a new paper, may be caused by the way the brain generates loops of energetic feedback, similar to the video feedback that “blossoms” when a video camera is pointed at its own output.

I first saw video feedback in the late 1980s and was instantly entranced. Someone plugged the signal from a clunky video camera into a TV and pointed the lens at the screen, creating a grainy spiralling tunnel. Then the camera was tilted slightly and the tunnel blossomed into a pulsating organic kaleidoscope.

Video feedback is a classic example of complex dynamical behaviour. It arises from the way energy circulating in the system interacts chaotically with the electronic components of the hardware.

As an artist and VJ in the 1990s, I would often see this hypnotic effect in galleries and clubs. But it was a memorable if unnerving experience during an LSD-induced trip that got me thinking. I hallucinated almost identical imagery, only intensely saturated with colour. It struck me then there might be a connection between these recurring patterns and the operation of the mind.

Brains, information and energy

Fast forward 25 years and I’m a university professor still trying to understand how the mind works. Our knowledge of the relationship between the mind and brain has advanced hugely since the 1990s when a new wave of scientific research into consciousness took off. But a widely accepted scientific theory of consciousness remains elusive.

The two leading contenders – Stanislas Dehaene’s Global Neuronal Workspace Model and Giulio Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory – both claim that consciousness results from information processing in the brain, from neural computation of ones and zeros, or bits.

I doubt this claim for several reasons. First, there is little agreement among scientists about exactly what information is. Second, when scientists refer to information they are often actually talking about the way energetic activity is organised in physical systems. Third, brain imaging techniques such as fMRI, PET and EEG don’t detect information in the brain, but changes in energy distribution and consumption.

Brains, I argue, are not squishy digital computers – there is no information in a neuron. Brains are delicate organic instruments that turn energy from the world and the body into useful work that enables us to survive. Brains process energy, not information.

Recognising that brains are primarily energy processors is the first step to understanding how they support consciousness. The next is rethinking energy itself.

Is the human brain a squishy digital computer or a delicate organic instrument for processing energy?
Installation shot of ‘I am a brain’, 2008. Cast of human brain in resin and metal. Robert Pepperell

What is energy?

We are all familiar with energy but few of us worry about what it is. Even physicists tend not to. They treat it as an abstract value in equations describing physical processes, and that suffices. But when Aristotle coined the term energeia he was trying to grasp the actuality of the lived world, why things in nature work in the way they do (the word “energy” is rooted in the Greek for “work”). This actualised concept of energy is different from, though related to, the abstract concept of energy used in contemporary physics.

When we study what energy actually is, it turns out to be surprisingly simple: it’s a kind of difference. Kinetic energy is a difference due to change or motion, and potential energy is a difference due to position or tension. Much of the activity and variety in nature occurs because of these energetic differences and the related actions of forces and work. I call these actualised differences because they do actual work and cause real effects in the world, as distinct from abstract differences (like that between 1 and 0) which feature in mathematics and information theory. This conception of energy as actualised difference, I think, may be key to explaining consciousness.

The human brain consumes some 20% of the body’s total energy budget, despite accounting for only 2% of its mass. The brain is expensive to run. Most of the cost is incurred by neurons firing bursts of energetic difference in unthinkably complex patterns of synchrony and diversity across convoluted neural pathways.

What is special about the conscious brain, I propose, is that some of those pathways and energy flows are turned upon themselves, much like the signal from the camera in the case of video feedback. This causes a self-referential cascade of actualised differences to blossom with astronomical complexity, and it is this that we experience as consciousness. Video feedback, then, may be the nearest we have to visualising what conscious processing in the brain is like.

Does consciousness depend on the brain looking at itself?
Robert Pepperell, 2018

The neuroscientific evidence

The suggestion that consciousness depends on complex neural energy feedback is supported by neuroscientific evidence.

Researchers recently discovered a way to accurately index the amount of consciousness someone has. They fired magnetic pulses through healthy, anaesthetised, and severely injured peoples’ brains. Then they measured the complexity of an EEG signal that monitored how the brains reacted. The complexity of the EEG signal predicted the level of consciousness in the person. And the more complex the signal the more conscious the person was.

The researchers attributed the level of consciousness to the amount of information processing going on in each brain. But what was actually being measured in this study was the organisation of the neural energy flow (EEG measures differences of electrical energy). Therefore, the complexity of the energy flow in the brain tells us about the level of consciousness a person has.

Also relevant is evidence from studies of anaesthesia. No-one knows exactly how anaesthetic agents annihilate consciousness. But recent theories suggest that compounds including propofol interfere with the brain’s ability to sustain complex feedback loops in certain brain areas. Without these feedback loops, the functional integration between different brain regions breaks down, and with it the coherence of conscious awareness.

What this, and other neuroscientific work I cite in the paper, suggests is that consciousness depends on a complex organisation of energy flow in the brain, and in particular on what the biologist Gerald Edelman called “reentrant” signals. These are recursive feedback loops of neural activity that bind distant brain regions into a coherent functioning whole.

Video feedback may be the nearest we have to visualising what conscious processing in the brain is like.
Still from video feedback sequence. Robert Pepperell, 2018

Explaining consciousness in scientific terms, or in any terms, is a notoriously hard problem. Some have worried it’s so hard we shouldn’t even try. But while not denying the difficulty, the task is made a bit easier, I suggest, if we begin by recognising what brains actually do.

The primary function of the brain is to manage the complex flows of energy that we rely on to thrive and survive. Instead of looking inside the brain for some undiscovered property, or “magic sauce”, to explain our mental life, we may need to look afresh at what we already know is there.The Conversation

Robert Pepperell, Professor, Cardiff Metropolitan University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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On ‘The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Stars’

Paul Broks: I was putting the finishing touches to my first book, Into the Silent Land: Travels in Neuropsychology when my wife, Sonja, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I put off submitting the manuscript in order to support her through the difficult first stages of treatment but I also used the time to write an additional chapter dealing with our response to her diagnosis. In that final chapter I recount the true story of a conversation we’d had over dinner in which I’d presented the following scenario (borrowed from a Milan Kundera novel). A kindly visitor from an advanced alien civilisation brings the good news that death is not the end and that she will be moving on to another life. But there’s a choice to be made. Does she want to commit to having me with her in that future life, or would she rather go it alone? She said she’d go it alone. One lifetime was enough, however much you loved someone. So I’d better make the most of it. We had another eight years together, more than twice as long as expected from the original, rather grim, prognosis.

Into the Silent Land ends with Sonja’s cancer diagnosis and The Darker the Night begins with her death. That Stoic injunction – Just the one life; better make the most of it – finds an echo in the first few pages. Close to the end she said to me, You don’t know how precious life is. You think you do, but you don’t, and those words, effectively an encapsulation of the Stoic message of Marcus Aurelius, resonate through the pages of the book. Both Into the Silent Land and The Darker the Night contain neurological case stories and autobiographical strands. They both make excursions into philosophy and fiction. But The Darker the Night is more layered and has a more discernible narrative arc. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end, even if at times the narrative thread that leads you through the journey dissolves into fictional digressions and the retelling of stories from Greek mythology from time to time. I know I’m asking a lot from readers. And it’s a bookseller’s nightmare with its mix of genres. It ends with me entering a new relationship and an encounter with a self-proclaimed archangel at the top of Glastonbury Tor who presents me with a difficult dilemma. It’s a happy ending, I think, or at least a wistful one.

The idea of interspersing images with text occurred to me quite late on. I aim to counterbalance darkness and viscerality in my writing with humour and sheer wonder at the mystery of the world. There’s a similar chemistry in some of your work, I think, and you were the first person I considered approaching.

Garry Kennard: I had read Into the Silent Land some years before I founded the Art and Mind festivals and had been extremely impressed. I admired the way you blended the science, philosophy and a personal feel for the world via marvellous writing into a satisfying and moving work of art. It was exactly this kind of melding that I was looking for in the festivals. As director I was in the fortunate position of being able to invite anyone I liked to take part and you were the obvious first choice. Apart from a few more appearances at my events, that was the extent of our acquaintance.

That was that until I received your email asking if would be interested in illustrating your new book. This was an amazing surprise – and a flattering offer. I wasn’t even aware that you had seen any of my work.

I had made a rule for myself, born of long experience, that I would always refuse commissions. I had realised that when I did, it was guaranteed I would produce awful work. The idea of someone looking over my shoulder, waiting expectantly for the masterwork, made me falter and stutter.

So I demurred to begin with. But after you had sent me some chapters to read, it began to dawn on me that I could do something. I was still very doubtful about it but the feeling grew that this would offer me the opportunity of trying something new, although I had to get over the problem of too close a collaboration spoiling the thing. I remember saying that I would have a go at this, but it would be under certain conditions. One was that I would not discuss the images with you. I would not send you sketches for you to comment on. I would not directly illustrate the book. I would read the text closely and then let my hand and brain semi-improvise the images and see what emerged. I would send you the finished pictures. If you didn’t like them or didn’t think them appropriate you could ditch them.  I would continue to produce images to replace those you didn’t like. When you agreed to this, I started.

I had no idea of what you expected. You had said nothing about what you hoped for, no rules that you wanted me to adhere to. That left me an opening to start work without constraints – the only way I could do anything. I managed five or six pictures, sent them to you and waited for your reaction.

PB: I had no more than vague intuitions as to what to expect but didn’t at any stage envisage the pictures as mere ‘illustration’. I was more interested in seeing what might come of a more loosely imaginative – subconscious, even – reaction to the text. That wouldn’t work if you’d felt in any way obliged to produce images to order. Actually, I think there’s some similarity in the way I produced the text and the way you produced the pictures. Although my writing sometimes involves quite hard deliberation (over how to frame a philosophical argument, say) I think it works best when I don’t think too much and just leave it to my subconscious ‘brownies’ to do the creative legwork. I’m usually just noodling around with a notebook and pen and suddenly a phrase or image presents itself and sets off a train of thought and I think, where the hell did that come from? Nothing to do with me! I sense something similar was happening with your semi-improvised pictures. Parts of the book are, in fact, explicitly concerned with the unconscious, semi-autonomous machineries of ‘imaginal reality’, and it also chimes with the non-linear, “knights move” progression of the essays and stories, so it’s all quite apt.

We had a bit of to-ing a fro-ing over a couple of the images, I recall, and you made your own unprompted revisions here and there, but, for the most part, I was pretty much blown away by the “first takes”. By the way, I happened to be in the thick of a children’s birthday party when those first dark, still, mysterious images came through on my phone. It was exquisitely incongruous! I knew straight away they were going to work.

GK: In the past most of my paintings and drawings have been carefully worked out. They were designed to discombobulate the viewer by presenting two different modes of perception on the same plain – one highly realistic, the other of suggestive abstractions. Now, with the opportunity to free myself from this and to semi-improvise the images, I could explore a new way of reaching the same destination. Of waiting for the image itself to disarm me as it grew.

I had a small note book by my side all the time and I would scribble in it at the most peculiar times – while watching television or doing a crossword. The scribbles, and they grew into hundreds, gave me a feel for what might be done. I didn’t refer to these when drawing the final pictures but some of those came out very similar to the initial sketches.

The deeper I got into this the more astonished I became at what was emerging. Themes kept re-appearing – a black sun, clocks, doors opening. I felt these held the sequence together. But on a deeper level what was appearing before me became an exploration of my own psyche, almost as if I was creating my own Rorschach tests with the added device of being able to develop and strengthen those emerging images to which I found myself responding. This is obviously not a new way of doing things. Artists have always produced work like this in some way. But it was new to me and a revelation. You can see from this how my ‘method’ was very close to your own in composing the text.

Of course, the other thing which preoccupied me was your text, which I read over and over, hoping that something from it would infiltrate the pictures without me actually illustrating the words. I think that happened to a greater or lesser extent in the series.

PB: Sorry to say a couple of my favourite pictures didn’t make it onto the pages of the book owing to the publisher’s squeamishness. One is the image of the Greek god Pan standing in a doorway, proudly erect as he often is in classical depictions. This was ruled out on grounds of being ‘pornographic’. The other was the image of the gipsy woman, again a very traditional one, which was rejected for reasons of political correctness. I found this hard to accept, and protested but, regrettably, didn’t have the final say.

GK: I was quite devastated when the publisher rejected a number of the images, some of which I had been very pleased with. It made no sense to me. With some of the pictures missing the connecting themes, apparent in the whole set, disappeared. I know you tried your best to reinstate some drawings (and succeeded with a couple of them). I realise you were as disappointed as me. But – it was done and that was that.

The Complete Drawings

1. Stairway to sunlit room:
“Push, and the door will open into a sunlit room, forever sunlit, regardless of the depth of the night.”


2. Trees through the windows:
“Doors opened into unexpected rooms. Through this window, a crisp winter morning, though that, a summer afternoon.”


3. Boy at night:
“Sleep won’t come. Thoughts are running like rats through his head and a shadow on the far wall of the bedroom unsettles him.”


4. Man with dark moon:
“For a minute or two I had the sense that she was still alive. I could catch up with her and we would carry on as normal.”


5. Time Traveller at the station:
‘Mike the Time Traveller?’ No. He was just a miserable dipso on his way home from the miserable office, having a drink or nine to gird his miserable loins for miserable home.


6. Tabletops:
“The tabletops are identical in size and shape, yet the one on the left appears elongated. There’s a mismatch between mental and physical reality.”


7. Pan at the door:
“There’s a knock at the door and there he is with his hooves, his horns, his fur and, slightly worryingly, his large, erect penis.”


8. CS Lewis:
“Jack has a morbid dread of insects. ‘To my eye,’ he says, ‘they are either machines that have come to life or life degenerating into mechanism.’”


9. Pat Martino:
“With music as the golden thread, he began to weave a new version of himself. He was a genius twice over, but this time with a piece of his brain missing.”


10. The White Bull of Minos:
“Listen, the bull said to himself, nonverbally, I may be a beast of the field but I’m no mug. I’m doing this of my own conscious volition.”


11. Zombies:
“Now Lewys was telling me that zombies were real, not merely conceivable. They walk down every street.”


12. Multiplicity:
There are infinite histories to choose from with infinite variations on the theme of you and your life.


13. Tyger, tyger:
“Have moonlight if you want. There’s no sign of a tiger. Why would there be in an English forest?”


14. Spiral head figure:
“The labyrinth is a primordial image of the psyche. It symbolizes the winding, snakelike path to psychological wholeness and authenticity.”


15. Into the Labyrinth
I’ll give you a clew, he told her, but she was in no mood for games and just wanted an answer. No, this sort of clew, he said, producing a ball of thread.


16.Time and the woman:
“Stabs of absence; stabs to the brain and heart; an entering of the flesh, knowing in the flesh that she’s not here anymore.”


17. Gipsy at the door:
“So you’re in a good place, then. The gipsy told me. You’re thinking of me, she said, and you want me to find another good woman.”


18. The drunk on the bench
“Isaac Newton, he told me, was a genius but died a virgin. He was a sad fucker. I was taken aback because I’d just then been thinking about celestial mechanics.”


19. Hierarchy:
‘One day I’ll be dead’. It’s an oddly exhilarating thought. Something unimaginable – eternal nothingness – awaits us all. It sharpened my senses. Let’s not forget we’re alive.


20 Perseus and the Dead Girl:
The image of the dead girl surprised me. She bobbed in a flowing white garment, like an infant Ophelia. The sea itself was subdued. Small waves broke indifferently.


21. Sisyphus:
“The toil of Sisyphus represents the human condition, ‘…his whole being exerted towards accomplishing nothing.’ ”


22 Incubus:
The firewall between fantasy and reality collapses and all the monstrous archetypes break free: witches and goblins, demons and other strange creatures. They have the shine of sentience in their eyes.


23. Universe and beer
“All moments, all times, are equally real, equally present, including all the moments of your life, which are, from beginning to end, ‘in place’”


24. Carpet flower:
“Whenever I recall the carpet flower I have a sense of seeing, of being, for the very first time.”


25. Glastonbury Tor
“So you can, if you want, totally erase the life you’ve had. It will never have existed. Up to you, he said. I made my choice.”



All images copyright and courtesy of Garry Kennard



The post On ‘The Darker the Night, the Brighter the Stars’ appeared first on Interalia Magazine.