Nam June Paik And Olafur Eliasson With The London Regional OCA Group

Got to be honest here and say that I really struggled with the Nam June Paik exhibition. My childhood was such that I went to sporting events and airshows, and have had no experience of exhibitions until recently. I think the lack of artistic culture in my formative years has left me with a lack of expertise when viewing art at exhibitions. I’m going to make a point of reading “How to read a painting” by the National Gallery.

On the whole I found the Paik exhibition to be confusing, bewildering and overwhelming. There was a cacophony of sound and light, and other exhibits that I felt little connection to. Whilst trying to connect with what the artist was trying to communicate I found my mind was left blank. I didn’t connect with his art at all. I feel almost tearful at my inadequacy when it comes to reading art, especially of this discordant and abstract nature.

However, there were two exhibits that I connected with. The first of these were a selection of artefacts from Paik’s studio.




I may not understand what Paik is conveying, but I appreciate how ideas formulate and concepts develop, and I find the creative process to be fascinating. Ideas emerge in the space between the minutiae, little seeds germinate and creativity branches forth. Some of these will die along the way, but they still remain valuable to the branches which produce fruit.

The second exhibit that I connected with was a projected, blank, 16mm film.

hdrplZen for Film (1964)

The accompanying text states that the film represents “emptiness, boredom and random interference… events such as the shadows cast by the spectators, became part of the work.”

Bev, Johnathan and I enjoyed became part of this transient piece of art. It highlighted to me that the meaning of art changes dependant upon the setting and the viewer.

Interactive art then became the theme for the rest of the day with the Olafur Eliasson, In Real Life, exhibition.

Wow. What an experience.

Welcome to a new world Richard.

In Real Life is not an exhibition to watch and read, it was a fully immersive experience in which one interacts mentally, emotionally, physically and, dare I say, spiritually.


IMG_20191123_115522Big Din blinde passage

“Big Din blinde passage” was 39 meters of sensory deprivation. The passage is full of fog created by food additives. I could barely see in front of myself, so much so that at one point I almost tripped over a woman with a buggy. I couldn’t see either the floor or the walls, and my sense of hearing increased. What made the experience so joyful for me was the laughter of children walking along with their parents. Sensory deprivation made the laughter so pleasurable. The taste of the fog was rather pleasant as well. When I left the tunnel I couldn’t stop smiling. The experience left me awestruck and lifted my mood so much, which was needed after the drop in my self esteem from viewing the Paik exhibition.

Most of the rest of the exhibition was enthrallingly interactive, and I very much became a part of the exhibit. I particularly like the viewing windows, in which the glass had been cut and shaped into hexagons. Each had been cut at an angle which reflected and reflected the view back as if one was looking through a kaleidoscope. Regrettably I did not record the name of these installations.



I also enjoyed the room with the mirrored ceiling. So many people were laying on the floor and looking up at the view.



The whole exhibition felt like play time. I will endeavour to return before the exhibition closes. Never have I found art to be so fun and inspiring.

What the experts say

Nam June Paik 

“I always thought of Nam June Paik as a livewire avant-garde figure from long ago but for decades my experience of him has been as a permanent Art Biennale fixture whose work acted as an instant soporific.

Represented by piles of TVs showing mass-media random information with no particular meaning, the sight of his name on a wall label usually sends me straight into a coma.” (Collings; 2010)

“In 1963, artist Nam June Paik had his first solo exhibition. The show took place in a three-storey villa in Wuppertal, Germany and among the works was a room packed with 13 manipulated television sets. It was the first time an artist had used television as a medium for their art. 

For five decades, Paik built upon these TV experiments and continually bridged the gap between art and technology in a way no other artist had done before.” (Fulleylove; 2019)

Olafur Eliasson

“My works demand the visitors’ engagement; they are dependent on viewers to co-produce them,” he explains. “Many of my works are not only about the visitor’s encounter with the work, but the visitors’ encounters with one another. This is endlessly fascinating.

“I do not mind if people are moved by my work without knowing, or even caring, about any of the theories behind it. I think the art world often treats people patronisingly: take guided audio tours in museums, for example. I enjoy watching people interact without any of this guidance, without the instructions.” (Eliasson; in Alderson; 2015)


Alderson, R; 2015; It’s OK to disagree, the divisive work of artist Olafur Eliasson; Online; AT

Collings, M; 2019; Nam June Paik Review, Daft, inventive energy from a weird kind of artist; Online; AT

Fulleylove, R; 2019; Why Nam June Paik is more than the father of video art; Online; AT

The National Gallery; 2019; How to ‘read’ a painting; Online; AT


Discussion:- Getting There, The Highs And Lows Of The Journey – Exhibition:- A Rumour Reached The Village

On Friday afternoon I took myself off to Lewisham Arthouse for an exhibition called Why Do It Together When You Can Do It Alone, followed by a talk Getting There, The Highs And Lows Of The Journey.

The talk was predominantly aimed at post grads, but I attended because I felt I would benefit from hearing what practicing artists had to share of their own experience. I’d like to make a career out of my photography and art, and the more exhibitions and talks I attend, the more I will learn and develop.

The discussion were by Effie Paleologou (artist and educator), Sunil Shah (artist, curator and writer), and Jack Lewdjaw & Karanjit Panesar (artists, co-directors of east bristol contemporary).

Points of note from the discussion

  • Maintain critique groups, continuous critique can be the difference between success and failure
  • Work with others, whether this be traditional collaboration, lighting, make-up or friends
  • Ideas can flow and develop with external ideas
  • Find your own voice
  • Think about how the quiet voice can find a space
  • If a resource is lacking in your community then make it happen yourself
  • Answer open calls
  • Money will be tight, is there a way to work alongside others
  • Collectives aren’t for everyone, but ask yourself is there a group relevant to your practice

Points of not from A Rumour Reached the Village


A Rumour Reached Thhe Village was one of three collaborative pieces by different groups of artists. I chose to focus on this exhibit for three reasons. The artists had pulled together a cohesive piece of work which stood apart from the other two, because Sarah-Jane field, an artist and OCA degree student was one of the artists, and time constraints.

My initial impressions

  • Packing crate used as platform, circular nature represents, earth, nature, community, inclusion
  • Creates packing stamps signify humanities impact upon nature
  • Perspex sheets partially cover some of the work – what we present outwardly v what we keep hidden
  • Organic and man made items – village/rural/cottage industry
  • Use of technology reminded me of remote cultures where tech becomes a source of information and connection – links back to rumour
  • Rumours can bring hope, excitement, interest and suspicion

Opon first viewing the objects, photographs and text appeared disparate in nature, but stillness and consideration brought me a sense of cohesion. I began to imagine a small African village in which different roles and activities were played out for the overall good of the community. One home may be making pottery, another sourcing the plants used for medicine, the bottles could have a medical use. One of the homes may have a TV or computer in which everyone gathers around. A community forms in which each of the members have a role.

“A Rumour Reached the village is a collective enquiry that began with a role-playing game set in an imagined community riven with accusations of witchcraft. Over three months, six artists exchanged challenges and responses, out of which common themes emerged: loops and circles, colonies and growth, architecture and story telling. The culminating installation is a settlement of images, objects, moving image and living cultures, questioning the stories and materials on which communities are built. ” (Why do it together when you can do it alone? p2)

Collaborating with other artists is something that I would like to do more of. It was one of my goals for the year ahead, and I have achieved it in a small but significant way. Collaborative working forces me to step out of my creative comfort zone, I’m forced to think outside of my self-created box. I’d really like to collaborate with other artists more frequently.

A Rumour Reached the Village was created by Sarah-Jane Field, Michael a Lahat, Rowan Lear, Eva Louis Jonas, Joshua Phillips and Christel Piikaer Thompson




Review Of The Second London Regional OCA Group

What a fabulous time I had last weekend. Six of us met at the Hayward Gallery to see the exhibition Kiss My Genders, to have a social chat and to critique work that we had brought along.


Kiss My Genders was a wonderful combination of photography, art, collage, film and installations by 35 artists from around the world. The exhibition explores gender identity, the politicalisation of gender, gender fluidity, and discrimination. “Crime Scene” by Zanele Muholi portrays the horrific murder and violence committed against the black lesbian and transgender community in South Africa. Hard Hitting!

qrfCrime Scene by Zanele Muholi

The whole exhibition was fascinating and has left me with questions; What is gender? Who decides or claims ownership of my gender by labelling me? Why do people commit violence against people who don’t conform to historic social norms?


I identify as gender fluid and currently living in the male role, I’ve questioned my gender and identity a lot over the course, so it was a refreshing exhibition for me. However, I did feel that the exhibition lacked some emotional depth in places, and portrayed gender fluid and transgender people as being about clothing, make up, and performance (drag). Gender and identity are so much more than these limited aspects.

hdrplA View from Elsewhere, Act 1, and She Postures in Context – installation by Victoria Sin

Seeing the exhibition before we had coffee/tea/lunch etc, was a wonderful way to break the ice. It provides a platform for discussion and that cut through the nervous tension of being in a group. I need that because I struggle with being around people, but I settled and I really enjoyed myself.

Two of us had brought photography for critique and a third person had brought a draft exhibition proposal to be reviewed. What I liked about this part of the afternoon was the non critical way the critique was given. Questions were asked rather than statements being made. I particularly liked the feedback I was given on one of my embroidered photographs. It helped me to clearly see how I’ve moved from the technical approach of learning a new skill, into bringing my emotion to the forefront of my art.

The next London Regional OCA Group will be in September, although we’re unsure of the date and venue. We are a cross genre group so any OCA student is welcome to attend.


In Conversation With: John Stezaker And Margaret Iversen

The National Portrait Gallery hosts a regular Friday night activity, and this week it hosted a conversation between Margaret Iversen, professor of art history and theory at Essex University, and John Stezaker, artist and photographer.

Stezaker has an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which includes collage from found photography and a film called Marriage. The film is shot at 24 frames per second and is made of still photos. The photos are collages of a male and famale face which have been joined together.

john_stezaker_2Fig. 1. Marriage VIII (2006)

Stezaker believes the series encourages the viewer to find a way to reconcile the two imdovidials and return them to being a couple.

It’s not what I see. The collages leave me asking what has happened to the couple that leaves them broken and on the point of divorce. There’s a good learning point here for me as a photographer :- I can never know how the viewer will interpret my photography.

john_stezaker_1Fig. 2. Marriage 1 (2006)

Here are some bullet points from the evening.

Couples sepetating
Viewer naturally wants to reconcile them
Found photos, postcards, newspapers, magazines
Fascinated with images since childhood
Not a conceptual photographer – the image is all there is
Not surrealist
Collector of images
Collages don’t need to align precisely
Analogue – to much of a temptation for precision with digital

Although I am working with masks in very different ways, I am reconciling my innersel by producing masks to explore my mental health. I aim to produce an opportunity for my viewers to explore their mental health and the qualities they have which help them through their difficulties

Couples sepetating
Viewer naturally wants to reconcile them
Found photos, postcards, newspapers, magazines
Fascinated with images since childhood
Not conceptual photographer – the image is all there is
Not surrealist
Collector of images??? Image library?
Collages don’t need to align precisely
Analogue – to much r temptation for precision with digital
Although I am working with masks in very different ways, I am reconciling my strengths by producing masks
I aim to produce an opportunity for my viewers to explore their mental health and the qualities they have which help them through their difficulties


Figure 2 Stezaker, J; 2006: Marriage VIII [Collage]; Online: AT

Figure 2 Stezaker, J; 2006; Marriage 1 [Collage]; Online: AT

Open Art Collective At Lightbox Woking

Life has got away with me and I find myself writing up my review two weeks late.

It was a pleasure to walk into an exhibition and be able to identify 3 of the photographers by their photography. However, I am going to focus on two pieces that stimulated me, one mentally and one emotionally.

What I find most interesting is that I took the exhibition in over three stages. A brief initial viewing, a more in-depth reflective episode, and a third viewing so I could sit with my grief.

Keith Greenough’s exhibit was of a series of pairs of portraits. There were two photos of each model, There was a time difference of 45 seconds between the first and second portrait. I kinda ignored this series on my first viewing, but my god it drew me in second time around. The photos were almost identical, but then I began to see very slight changes of expression. A slight glint in an eye, a minor movement in the lips. It’s incredible how tiny movements of a muscle can alter expression, emotion and mood. I became fascinated by the models, what they may have been thinking or feeling, and considered how we are in a continuous state of flux. All of these minor waves of energy change the nature of who we are in any given moment. I don’t notice most of these subtle shifts. I define myself as being……. But in reality I cannot know all of the intricacies and inflections of my being. The passage of our lives are defined by the passing of seconds and minutes.

Teresa Lanham’s photography was an expression and journey through her experiences of grief, using macro photography of flowers. She says “The work became a way of re approaching my own life in standing still more often and just see what is there now rather than focusing on an unknown future.”

After my second viewing I went for lunch, and unexpectantly started to cry. Teresa’s photography triggered memories of a period of grief. When I grieve I have a need for space, I become overwhelmed by people, and I vanish fir days. I go to a certain place to reconnect with nature. It becomes a space that can contain my pain. Thank so much Teresa, I healed a little more.

To find out more about the Open Art Collective please visit their website here.


Dorathea Lange – Politics Of Seeing – Barbican

I attended with fellow OCA Photography student Sarah A, which was invaluable. To walk around and share thoughts, ideas and opinions with another photographer, to be able to walk slowly and really see the photos was invaluable.

  • Dorathea was a highly respected and sought after portrait photographer before being commissioned by FSA
  • FSA motivation was to highlight how America was recovering during/after great depression
  • Her early work for FSA demonstrates she was a portrait photographer
  • Her portraits at this stage were technically wonderful but have a feeling of no emotional connection with her subjects
  • When she began to work with her future husband her work becomes more social/documentary in nature, she begins to make photos that matter
  • This highlights that she was very uncomfortable with portraying the America the FSA wanted to show, which was propagander and not reality
  • This is backed up by her passing copyright to FSA, she wasn’t interested in retaining her photographic rights
  • When she begins to make photography about racism in the US the quality of her work is stunning. This is clearly something which matters to her
  • Many of her photographs have a lot of grain.
  • I have grown up with computers from the age of 9 and have rarely made film photos, and when I have this has been as a complete novice
  • I over develop and use software to remove all traces of grain. This isn’t necessary
  • Some of her photos are slightly out of focus, they are really pleasing to my eye. Do I really need to delete everything that’s not technically perfect? I think this is about intent pre-shoot
  • Black and white photography is wonderful for showing texture. Having been anti black and white then my perspective has altered from attending this exhibition

Pannet Art Gallery

Today we visited Pannet Art Gallery in Whitby as part of a family day out. It was not a planned study visit for me, but I thought I would take some notes for my studies – Foundations in Photography. I am preparing for the Workflow exercises on Shadow, so my focus was looking at shadows, highlights, contrasts and diffuse lighting.

The exhibitions were predominantly acrylic, oil and water colour; there was no photography.

Three artists caught my eye, although they didn’t necessarily fit the brief that I was researching. However – light is the medium of artists and photographers and without light we cannot create.


Colin Cook; Grand Canal; Venice; (Accessed on 29/06/2017)

The luminosity in the painting is more impressive than the photo, and there was slightly more depth in the shadows. The luminosity and shadow detail were what caught my eye. There is a richness and subtlety to the colours that appeal to me. I am aware that some of the photographs that I develop can appear HDR as I have a tendency to over contrast my images. Cook’s photo has an intense dynamic range that has also has a gentle quality.


John Freeman; SS Rohilla Rescue;

This was not the image on display at the gallery but the diffused lighting and broad tonal range are similar to those in his painting at the gallery. The colour saturation decreases gently across the frame but the vibrancy is consistent.

Sue Atkinson also had two paintings on display. She is a member of Leeds Fine Art Club and The Fylingdales Group of Artists.

A New Year, Runswick Bay

Acrylic   30 x 40 cm

£695.00            Sue Atkinson; A New Year, Runswick; (Accessed on 30/06/2017)

Again I must say that the photo of this painting really does not do it justice. The luminosity and the light were striking on the painting in the gallery. However, the learning for me was the importance of setting and position in relation to photography and other images. I first looked at this head on, and walked quite quickly past it. Then I sat down and spoke with a friend about 12ft away from the image and 4ft to the left. Then I really saw the lighting. Displaying my photography online will have its advantages, but it will also have drawbacks.

Learning – Consider how best to display a series of photographs. What interaction do I want the viewer to be able to have? How can I make use of multi media and different environments with my photography?