Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Gillespie, Kidd & Coia

I am hoping that a blog post will help organise and focus my train of thought, as right now, I'm having a bit of an information overload. This is probably in part due to my lack of organisation of research, and in part an adjustment to the modular process flow of Masters. As an undergraduate you're a bit all over the place, some research here, some output there. At the end you reflect, collect your research, organise it and subject it to critique within the context of your final Degree Show output. At Masters level, this is not sufficient, the scope of research I have only just begun requires a much more disciplined approach, and as I ponder my way though my Personal Programme of Study (due this Friday), completing my PPS should allow me to focus. I use the word "focus" a lot, but focus is crucial, especially when you have a rather haphazard way of thinking (lots of looking, not enough note taking), which can result (as I experienced in 3rd Year) in a disillusionment with your practice.

So, let's focus, and run through what I've been looking at this week. First off, I've sectioned off the three main areas (or Aims in the PPS) which I'm going to focus on. These are: architecture, artist and medium. So for my own sanity more than anything else, I will break these down separately.

Specifically, the post-war modernist movement in Scotland. To place this very specific movement in context you have to look at the early modernist movement in Russia, and more generally on the continent. Militant Modernism, has been a starch reminder of
my knowledge gap in this area, but has already allowed me to branch off into other areas of research/ inspiration e.g. The Lost Vanguard. I have to be careful however and reign myself in, not going too in-depth. The important thing to remember is to provide context for my research/ output, and not get lost in all things modernist.

With that in mind, I've brought the focus closer to home, looking at Gillespie, Kidd & Coia. A one-stop architectural shop for modernism in Scotland. Perhaps not on the scale or bombast as Sir Basil Spence's Queen Elizabeth Square, but certainly the bold, brutalist architecture I take great inspiration from. I enjoy looking at individual buildings, and the first to catch my eye is St. Peter's College in Cardross. There is fantastic video, Light & Space which showcases this "priest school" in all its brutalist glory - asserting itself amoungst the natural forestry of the surrounding landscape. Even more interesting is that St Peter's still stands,
derelict and in a dire state of dis-repair. Still owned by the Catholic Church, the Grade A listed
building was added in 2008 to the World Monuments Watch List of Most Endangered Sites. That hasn't saved the building, but perhaps the arts will. In 2007, NVA were provided funding to help make something of this forgotten gem. From what I've read the project is still under development, and as a result, I've made contact with NVA asking if I can become involved, or even be provided an insight into their work. Just to give a little background, NVA works on site-specific art works, often involving the public, which, if I would be able to get involved in, would provide a platform and subject matter for work in Masters.

I'm no further forward than an e-mail however, so I remain grounded in doing more general research. In all honesty, I haven't decided where my focus is going to be specifically. Dundee would be an easier option (as it's local), but there's something about Glasgow which entices me. I think this fixation with Glasgow comes from the scale in which Glasgow undertook a lot of post-war building projects. Large parts of the city were levelled and rebuilt, a very modernist ideal, so any work I do on modernism sits well within the context of Glasgow. That said, I'm not reigning myself in just yet, so I'm keeping my options open.

I'm not going to go off in too much of a tangent about this, considering my main point of reference at the minute is Toby Paterson who was the subject of my last post. Researching Paterson sends me back to the research on architecture as our tastes and influences are similar. This area is fairly light on the research front right now. I read a badly written dissertation called "Installation Art - Object to Environment" by Gerald Young, an Architecture Student (I believe) from 1995/ 96. It was a relatively interesting read, tracking the evolution of the artists interaction with the gallery space - from Marcel Duchamp to Jenny Holtzer. The main critique of the dissertation was to understand the role the gallery space plays within contemporary art. A tiny tangent, but still relevant, and gave a starting point on my broader search for artists which use architecture either to influence or form the main body of their work. I use the term "main body" because it can be argued that many artists interact with their environment, but I'm more specifically interested in architecture becoming the art. Like I've said, this is a research in progress, so my observations are a little half-baked.

It may seem a little premature to discuss medium, but I use the word in a broader sense. I'm interested in newer technologies, such as 3D modelling (used with "QEIIS"), to explore artistic outcome. In the field of architecture I want to look at the means in which buildings are documented technologically. For example, using laser mapping (which may not even be the right terminology), and then, as an artist, exploiting this technology to create an output. A much more enjoyable example of this technology in use is in Radiohead's video for "House of Cards", which was created using LIDAR.

To assist in the research of technology, I plan to work with the School of Architecture, either with a student or lecturer helping with the technical and conceptual development of my ideas.

Well, I've given an overview of what I've been up to, and, as suspected, cleaned up some of my convoluted thoughts in the process. As I've said in about three posts now, I do intend to ramp up the frequency of these posts, as right now there becoming quite long reads and I'm probably omitting the smaller things I've done on any particular day.

My next post should be around Monday or Tuesday, I'm planning on searching out the ruins of St. Peter's College this weekend, so will update with pictures.

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