Category Archives: Art critic

Holes (particles) created from curves

It is the curved nature of the membrane 
that creates the structural interpretations — and when the work is presented in a flattened 2D form for observation — the trajectory path appears to be different.

Curled phase
The trajectory path (broken line) of the drill hole follows a short and straight path in complete space (unseen).

Quantum_brushstroke_Curls_Malcolm-Koch_2016_2

Flattened phase
When the curl is unravelled, the trajectory path (broken line) remains the same as it was above. Yet the path seems longer, goes back in time and appears networked differently when we observe it from this (human) viewpoint.

Quantum_brushstroke_Flat_Malcolm-Koch_2016_2

Quantum_brushstroke_Flat_Malcolm-Koch_2016_3

‘I’m inclined to think that…the 3D world is an illusion. The ultimate precise reality is the 2D reality on the surface of the universe’, Leonard Susskin*

*Source: What is space? 48:30s, 2015 www.youtube.com
Note 1: The holes (3 white marks on the membrane surface) should be viewed as the vectors created within the field. They aren’t necessarily the particles themselves but the negative space that’s require for them to exist on the 2D surface.
Note 2: A second phase dimension has been neglected from these diagrams.

Please follow and like:

Rorschach and Matthys Gerber’s work

The motif of the Rorschach reappears throughout Matthys Gerber’s work. In regard to this aspect of his work, I’d say it is the act of folding the ‘membrane’ rather than the effect of blots or duplicates created (a by-product) that is the aesthetic underpinning each piece. This is what I call Membrane Art — its belongs to another category. Once you recognise this, then other principles of the aesthetic thought open up.

It is worth watching the video and to hear his thoughts in conversation with Museum of Contemporary Art’s senior curator Natasha Bullock particularly his closing remarks.
Please follow and like:

When art lost its soul: Breaking the aesthetic drought

There has been a 40 year shift of priorities away from the aesthetics of painting, both abstract and representational, in favour of a political, sexual, sociological and environmental interest in art-making activities. ¹ ²  The cultural focus is now so predominant in art, particularly the ‘pop’ versions, which are led and controlled by the so-called Art world, it’s no wonder that the aesthetics—so crucial to the development of art itself—get little attention at all. ³  In the larger arena of intellectual and cultural life, it appears that we are comfortable with presenting work on the basis of the thematic ‘content’.

The lack of focus on aesthetics has not gone unnoticed. Mainstream art critics, dwindling as they are, have found themselves occupying an almost uninhabitable critical space for which they get drowned out. Recently, Andrew Frost wrote an opinion piece for the Art Guide defining where art is at the moment – in limbo waiting for things to eventually wash out. 4

Whatever the cause, the historical permutations that have led to the situation art critics and artists now find themselves, is largely irrelevant. The real driving force for innovation must come from artists’ themselves. This obviously has to happen before the art critics have something to say about it. And nor should it be up to individual talent. It requires group impacts on aesthetic thought, not individual talent working alone, but art movements working collectively to create visual-shifts that set the kind of agenda on our cultural life that was clearly present during the last two centuries up until the 1960’s, which is recognised as the peak of radical innovation emulated by a healthy mix of fresh and established talents.

Artists can do as Andrew Frost suggests—just wait for things to wash out, or they can act now. To act now you need a reason. You might think that this extended ‘aesthetic drought’, was reason enough, but clearly not. Likewise, hoping that things might naturally materialise because astute artists will suddenly find the resources and impetuous to collectively act is, unfortunately, not how it works either. I believe change is more likely to occur because commerce demands it. The fact remains that the aesthetics of art has been lagging behind the economic and cultural advances being made elsewhere in human endeavours, particularly in the sciences 5. Oscar Wilde put it, ‘life imitates Art far more than Art imitates life’. By this he was talking about all forms of expression. However this is not what we have been witnessing in the realm of painting. A correction is well overdue and commerce could be the vehicle that brings it to life once again.

After all, as a bare minimum, it should be expected that the artists’ obligation is to execute work that speaks to the mainstream consciousness, and builds on our material heritage, not just simply adds to it.

This brings me back to the aesthetics. I believe that I’ve found a reason—I call it Membrane Art. It provides a purpose and direction out of which a discernible aesthetic language has materialised. The release of Membrane Art: An evolving expression aims to start a conversation to break this long-held thirst. Whether it will prompt further discussion into the understanding and validity of those insights remains to be seen.

Notes:

¹ Art Pulse, Interview With Barry Schwabsky, 29 June 2011. See headline quote and his 13th comment. Barry Schwabsky interview

² Hilton Kramer, Does abstract art have a future? The New Criterion, December 2002. Hilton Kramer

³ German artist Katharina Grosse asks the question why there is a lack of discussion on the aesthetics of colour, April 2015: Painting with Color | ART21

4 A Critique of Pure Unreason, Andrew Frost, January 2015: Art Guide story

5 Book publication: Insight Radical – Where Science Meets Art, 2013. Project and Editor note’s by Carl H Schiesser and Renee Beale, p4-7. Online Abstract: Insight Radical

Please follow and like:

Picasso is an integral part of Membrane Art

Barry Schwabsky recently wrote: “Picasso, though he is still the popular byword for ‘famous artist,’ has been sidelined.” .

That maybe so but its certainly not the case for my work and Membrane Art. As it is the cubist principal of showing ‘multiple viewpoints’ on the picture plane that underpins Membrane Art. Take a look around this website and you’ll see why and more importantly how I’m trying to extend it. Membrane Art_150617

Please follow and like:

Biological Membranes – Surface, Undulation And Interface

Dr Leonora Long, a science writer at Neuroscience Research Australia, recently took an interesting look at my Membrane Art:

As part of the 2014 SALA Festival of South Australian Living Artists, the RiAus FutureSpace Gallery is proud to present Under the Surface. Using different artistic forms and media, Malcolm Koch joins Christopher and Therese Williams in an exploration of what lies beneath the surface of the world around us. This exhibition will run from August to September.

The theme of the 2014 RiAus SALA Exhibition is ‘Under the Surface’. This might bring to mind the earth’s surface – perhaps appropriately, given that one of the exhibited artworks will be Christopher Williams’ soundscape, and Therese Williams’ visual interpretation of that soundscape, captured from the surface of salty, acidic, mostly dry Lake Tyrrell. The work of another SALA artist, Malcolm Koch, is reminiscent of biological entities like membranes and folded organs. Strong contrasts are central to Malcolm’s manifesto of Membrane Art: undulation as a representation of the internal workings of nature and, conversely, the flat plane as a medium for human observation. Let’s take Malcolm’s suggestion to ‘open out the membrane’ and look at the secrets beyond one of biology’s most interesting curled and rippled interfaces, the brain.

The human brain consists of around 86 billion nerve cells, or neurons, and about the same number of non-neuronal cells. Its outer layer, the cortex, is folded into sulci (furrows) and gyri (ridges). These cortical undulations allowed a large surface area to develop in the relatively small space inside the skull. Most of the folding of the cortex occurs in the third trimester of gestation and the first two years of postnatal life, peaking at around age 5 or 6. This rapid increase in folding corresponds with the growth and branching of the ends of neurons, increasing the possibilities for new synapses between neurons to be formed.

Painting_MA#47_IMGP0007_1_lighter_tw2MA#47, oil on Belgian linen, 2014. On display at RiAus FutureSpace Gallery until 26 September, 2014. Above: 12 individual cuts of a circular-saw on the undulating (folded) surface, have materialised as 24 cuts when opened out. This hints at particle physics, where it’s possible to be in several locations at the same time. Its only when we observe the cuts on the flat 2D surface do we realise that there’s a relationship between two particular opposite cuts that couldn’t have possibly have occurred unless the surface was in a different state. A metaphor for the way we observe.

 

Given that the synapse is the basic communication unit of the brain, it makes sense that they need to grow a lot in early life. Think about how different from one another are a newborn, a six-month-old baby, and a two-year-old toddler. Smiling, eating, sitting, sleeping, walking and talking all require a lot of growth and development! Not all animals have the same degree of gyrencephaly, or cortical folding. For example, the mouse cortex is quite smooth. While it also has 1000 times fewer neurons than the human, it seems that the total number of neurons is not the key difference between mouse and human cognition. The surface area of the cortex (increased by all that folding) is increasingly seen as central to the increased cognitive ability in humans.

As we zoom in on individual neurons we can see more examples of the importance of folding and membranes. At this level there are many more similarities between animal species than differences. For example, all neurons are surrounded by a membrane, as are the structures inside the neurons. The membrane is made up of molecules called phospholipids, which arrange themselves in a bilayer, and this structure helps to determine the permeability of the membrane, or what molecules can pass in or out of the cell. This permeability changes depending on the electric charge on the membrane surface, or by a change in shape of one of the proteins that stud the membrane like embedded jewels.

Some proteins act like channels and extend all the way through the membrane, and in response to an outside stimulus, these channels open up and allow a stream of charged particles to pour into the cell. This flow can dramatically change what happens in the cell. It might be the signal for the cell to release a neurotransmitter, or it might switch on a gene that regulates neuron growth.

What might at first glance seem like a static barrier between a cell and its environment is, in reality, constantly moving like long grass in a breeze, with molecules passing through it as part of the cell’s functions. It is the individual nature of the genes, proteins and other molecules in a neuron that give rise to the structural and functional differences between species.

As we zoom in even further we can reveal a world of folded proteins and molecules that conceal even more secrets that determine the way cells function, independently and collaboratively. We will continue to find folds within folds that all play a part in the eventual activity of our brains.

We can’t always see what is happening beneath the surface in real time with our unaided eyes, and so as far as neuroscience is concerned, we may not be able to wrap our brains around the ‘absolute idea’ spoken of by Malcolm Koch, but at least we have built these increasingly objective measurement tools to be our surrogate observers.

By building scientific observations into new knowledge, new hypotheses can be made and tested and results can be interpreted to derive new meanings. In this process, the truth itself doesn’t change. Its nature just becomes clearer to the observer. Perhaps the idea of compressing the depth of an undulated surface into a flat plane is symbolic of science’s aim to grapple with the complexities of the world: not to simplify them, but to aid their experience from many subjective viewpoints.

By Leonora Long (@leonoralong)

Article courtesy of Royal Institution of Australia: RiAus – Australia’s Science Channel

Science meets Art: Nature becomes clearer to the observer when you compress the depth

Please follow and like:

Favourite comment

As an art critic, Peter Drew has created a six part online series called Art vs Reality. All aimed at providing information, insight, humour and well-researched opinion on today’s Artworld. After each episode he invites comments from viewers and then ‘grudgingly’ responds to them. So, I was chuffed (possibly slightly flattered) to get his favourite comment to episode 3. ArtvsReality_response (approx. 2 minutes in)

Watch his entertaining series as it unfolds over the coming months: ArtvsReality

Here’s my comment in response to episode 3 (Street Art vs The Art market):
As you point out, Art like everything else repeats itself. So assuming that we are about the cycle of 1874, then the question might be: What is the modern-day equivalent of Impressionism (an Absolute aesthetic-idea) that can present a real alternative to the Artworld? The answer may evolve through subcultures but its only through Absolute ideas that provide the artist with a common philosophy or goal, so that he or she, or collective group, can bring about a sense of purpose and direction that may thrive once again outside the salons.

Please follow and like:

Hilton Kramer tribute

This is an article I read in 2003. It inspired me to think on a completely different level. Here the American art critic, Hilton Kramer summarises Abstract Art from his wealth of historical insight, outlining its checkered history, discussing its harshest critics and then hypothesis as to why he thinks it has become so marginalised in galleries and museums all over the world. Pointing towards Minimalism in its effects to diminish the aesthetic scope and resources of abstraction may have marked a terminal point in its aesthetic development from which it has not yet recovered. If he was alive today, would he be able to see Membrane Art as a clear sense of purpose and direction as do? Does Abstract Art have a future?

Please follow and like:

Richard Feynman on beauty at the smaller dimensions

“I have a friend who’s an artist and has sometimes taken a view which I don’t agree with very well. He’ll hold up a flower and say “look how beautiful it is,” and I’ll agree. Then he says “I as an artist can see how beautiful this is but you as a scientist take this all apart and it becomes a dull thing,” and I think that he’s kind of nutty. First of all, the beauty that he sees is available to other people and to me too, I believe. Although I may not be quite as refined aesthetically as he is … I can appreciate the beauty of a flower. At the same time, I see much more about the flower than he sees. I could imagine the cells in there, the complicated actions inside, which also have a beauty. I mean it’s not just beauty at this dimension, at one centimeter; there’s also beauty at smaller dimensions, the inner structure, also the processes. The fact that the colors in the flower evolved in order to attract insects to pollinate it is interesting; it means that insects can see the color. It adds a question: does this aesthetic sense also exist in the lower forms? Why is it aesthetic? All kinds of interesting questions which the science knowledge only adds to the excitement, the mystery and the awe of a flower. It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.”

Please follow and like: