Summative Post: Contextualisation

Experiencing Space: James Turrell

I studied the work of James Turrell who uses light and shape to create minimal yet visually intense installations. I explored the way he used the space to control the experience of the viewer. I went on to emulate Turrell’s methods in my own installation where my space was empty except for one large shape which drew the eye of the viewer.
Click here to read my post on James Turrell.

Visit to Electric Ladyland- The UV Art Gallery in Amsterdam

Early this year I visited the Electric Ladyland gallery in Amsterdam. This was a key part of my research, as I was able to deepen my knowledge of the history of UV, and explored the tensions between UV and gallery art with one of the owners: Nick Padalino.
Click here to read my post on my visit to The Electric Ladyland Gallery.

Sacred Geometry: Mandala Art.

As my third year progressed I studied the connotations and representations sacred geometry and the platonic solids. My recent work focusses more on circular forms which lead me to study mandala art- a visual tool used to represent the cosmic structure of the universe.
Click here to read my post ‘Sacred Geometry: Mandala Art.’

How Are Other Visual Artists Using UV Materials?

In this post I explored how other contemporary gallery artists use UV materials in their work. I was particularly interested in how the specialist properties of UV have added to these artists’ work in a way that regular paint could not.
Click here to read my post on how other visual artists use UV materials.

High Art and Popular Culture

My interest in ultraviolet materials was sparked 3 years ago when I began visiting music and arts festivals around the UK. I found that UV materials are often used in art for this environment, as their glowing properties create a visual spectacle. In this post I explore the influence of popular culture on fine art, from a high art context.
Click here to read my post on ‘High Art and Popular Culture’.


Summative Post: Documentation


Artist Statement

My current practice explores the interaction between space, colour and light, through the creation of intricate patterns on wooden panels using fluorescent paint and inks. My work has been painted using a combination of acrylic and ultraviolet (UV) paint. When lit with a white light, the acrylic and UV paint together, create a multi-coloured spectacle of pattern. When lit with an ultraviolet light, the colours change: as the acrylic turns dark, the fluorescent pigments in the UV paint create a vibrant neon glow.

The work is informed by my dissertation research on the contemporary use of ultraviolet materials in underground festival and rave culture, despite the medium’s frequent dismissal as a relic of the 1970s. Inspired by the work of Bridget Riley and Yayoi Kusama, my use of repeating patterns in bold colour contrasts give the illusion of movement. Coupled with the intensity when viewed in ultraviolet light, the work creates a stimulative experience for the viewer. I invite the audience to enter an immersive glowing environment that bridges the gap between traditional gallery art and the ultraviolet artworks seen at festivals and ‘free parties’.

My 5 Most Important Moments in Documentation:

Space-Scape Painting

At the beginning of this academic year, I wanted to continue my Summer research into the contemporary use of ultraviolet paint in art, though I was still working on defining my personal style and concept. In this painting I was attempting to represent the absurd vastness of the cosmos, but understandably I struggled to represent such big ideas, and my work became too literal and cliche.
Click to read my post about my ‘Space-Scape’.

Plinth Maquette

After moving away from my typical subject of the figure, I initially struggled to find a starting point for my work, until I began studying sacred geometry and became more interested in exploring shape and pattern. I became more certain of what I wanted from my final outcome: a glowing ultraviolet installation. I started exploring my initial ideas in 3D space with a small maquette using a hollow plinth filled with glowing shapes.
Click to read my post about my plinth maquette.

Glow Booth

Owing to the success of my previous maquette I felt it necessary to begin working on a larger scale. It was here that I started developing my own personal way of working: making spontaneously created intricate patterns. I tried to push the limits of what shape can achieve through exploring how I could create the illusion of depth, inspired by the op-art of Bridget Riley and the small repetitive patterns of Yayoi Kusama.
Click here to read my post about ‘The Glow Booth’.

Tester Pieces

After using stitch, and texture pastes in my dissertation artefact, I wanted to explore the possibility of introducing more texture to my subject work, and so made a series of experiments using wood: a more solid support for my paintings. Though these experiments were successful I eventually moved away from textured pieces in favour of flat works packed with thin lines of intricate pattern- a method I found to be more effective at displaying the optical illusory effects of my paintings.
Click to read my post about my tester pieces.

Concentric Circles

While finishing up my last couple of tester pieces, I made this drawing to explore the visual effects of using a concentric circle pattern. This helped me form the idea for my final piece, as I could see that this pattern and style would be visually overwhelming on a large scale. After going on to research the meaning of the concentric circle within sacred geometry I discovered that this pattern would be a more elegant way of representing existential thoughts without my work seeming cliche.
Click to read my post about ‘Concentric Circles’.

Final Display Considerations

Displayed on top of a Wooden Cable Drum
-Unusual display method
-If the spool is painted black, it could look as if the disk is floating.
-Spool requires painting and sanding
-The piece could be misconstrued as a table instead of a painting

Directly on the Floor
-Looks effective, as it gives the appearance of some kind of portal opening up in the floor.
-Doesn’t involve any further making.
-No need to paint the reverse side of the painting.
-Might look unconsidered.

Slightly Raised off the Floor on MDF
-I have MDF ready that I could use.
-No need to painting the reverse side of the painting.
-I thought this method might also make the piece look as if it’s floating, however it just looks the same as if it were on the floor.

Against the Wall
(I hadn’t really factored in this option, but I wanted to quickly test it.)
-The piece looks bigger on the wall.
-Due to its height the piece would be very ‘in your face’.
-Potential instability.

After considering my options, I think the most effective and simple way of displaying is directly on the floor. It would be an out of the ordinary way of displaying a painting, plus its horizontal positioning allows the audience to explore around the piece, and look down into it. 

My Finished Time Lapse Video

  • The video documents the process of me painting ‘Khrōma’, over the course of 6 weeks.
  • I used Sony Vegas Pro to edit over 300 still images into a 50 second time lapse video.
  • The time lapse shows me working from multiple angles, and finishes on two stills of the final painting: one in white light, and one in black light.


High Art and Popular Culture

I’m seeking to understand historical and current attitudes towards ultraviolet as a medium, and explore whether these attitudes have hindered ultraviolet as an art movement today.

From my dissertation research I have discovered that art academia has held a historic aversion to ultraviolet works. I spoke with Nick Padalino, owner of Electric Ladyland (the First Museum of Fluorescent Art), who speaking from his personal experience states that students attending American art schools in 1975 were not permitted to bring UV paint into the classroom, remarking:

“Art is very traditional, it’s based on tradition…These are not traditional, these were only invented in 1933 these (ultraviolet) colours! … So, there’s a lot of reasons: a big reason is the sociological vision that happened in the 1960s, the association with the hippie movement and all the things that went with the hippy movement. That’s one of the most important reasons for the social stigmatation (sic) of fluorescent colours.” -Nick Padalino in youtube video ‘Meet Nick’ (2011).

Padalino suggests that one of the main reasons ultraviolet artwork is dismissed is because of it’s association with the drug culture of the 1960s. Ultraviolet art such as black light posters did come to public’s attention and became very popular in the 60s, as the bright garish colours were the perfect tool to spread the pervading message of peace and love though art. However this wasn’t the first time ultraviolet artwork had been made.

Much to Padalino’s annoyance, the majority of visitors to ‘Electric Ladyland’ immediately associate the artwork on display with the 1960s and 1970s, despite ultraviolet materials and artworks being produced from decades earlier (in the 1930s and 1940s) until the present day. This reinforces the notion that despite its proliferation, UV artwork is not very well known or respected. The fact that the visitors link ultraviolet as a material with a movement that took place over fifty years ago, supports the idea that the public at large considers UV art to be a relic of the past.

Unfortunately the media latched onto the controversial issue of 60s drug culture, and linked it with ultraviolet artwork, which has contributed to UV being considered ‘low’ art. Ultraviolet artworks had, and still today mean a lot more than that, and shouldn’t be dismissed because of an inadvertent association with a recreational activity that goes against the pervading ideas of the establishment.

According to Kirk Varnedoe and Adam Gopnik from their book: ‘High & Low: modern art, popular culture’: in general “pop culture” connotes “low”. To me this seems counter productive. Simply because UV art came to popularity for 4 years, decades ago, it seems as if the medium as an artform can’t progress any further than its ‘low art’ classification.

I’ve been exploring the influence of popular culture on fine art, from a high art context. I am working in an academic degree level context, though I’m inspired socially by ‘low art’. The techniques I am using in my work are traditional revered skills used by Kusama and Riley, however the medium is considered ‘low art’. I’m working with glowing paint, attempting to introduce it into this ‘high art’ arena, however by even using this taboo medium in the first place I’m rebelling against the ideals of high art.

Varnedoe explains my feelings on low art quite accurately, interpreting the works as ‘demonstrations of aesthetic modernism, whose meanings derive from coexistent juxtapositions, ambiguities, and contradictions: past and present, tradition and revolution, playfulness and seriousness, private and public, cliches and indecipherables.’

What is the Significance of Fluorescent Paint?

One question that was brought up in one of my tutorials was: ‘why did I choose to work with fluorescent paint in the beginning?’

I’ve always found UV materials to be sort of magical. There are substances and creatures in nature that produce this ethereal glow. I find it fascinating how human technology has progressed to allow mankind to harness the glowing molecules in nature. We can manufacture our own glowing things now. Generally neon and ‘fluro’ colours are identified with raves, big cities, and neon advertising signs- essentially modern man-made consumer culture. But really nature got there first. It is essentially art imitating life.

My recent work has been an attempt to bridge the gap between festival art and traditional gallery art. In this respect, the fluorescent paint evokes rave culture, whereas the acrylic paint evokes traditional gallery work. The glowing paint represents the future and new media, whereas the acrylic presents the past, and tradition. My work demonstrates my existence between these two spheres.