Aaron McPeake: Spaces and Narrations Lecture

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March 8, 2010 - Chelsea College of Art and Design
You can download Aaron's PowerPoint presentation from here
Keywords: Coping with change, showing work and Duchamp's Coefficient, travel as metaphor, shadows, bells


  • Worked in set design - opera, ballet and theatre
  • Aaron is "technically blind" - "registered blind"
  • Makes lots of different types of work - research project - question - What happens to visual artists when they lose their eyesight?
  • What Aaron did - change everything he did - started working with digital film, digital photography and bronze casting - way of measuring what he could do and also determining what was coming out the projects - setting itself various challenges
  • People generally fall into three categories when they become handicapped: Crumble in the corner, those who are indifferent, those who set themselves challenges - Aaron is one of the latter.

1. Mark Wallinger - Dr. Who's travel box - bigger on the inside - spaces come up with many different stories - even the most mundane and boring spaces...
2. Juxtaposition of WeightWatchers and Lindt chocolate - How did these things wind up next to each other?
3. Lascaux Caves - people have been telling stories for many moons - many thousands of years
4. Shadow of Duchamp's work - MD's goes beyond the studio - it's not finished until you show it - showing it - the difference between your intentions and what the viewer takes away is the sum, the coefficient
5. Joyce and Borges - play with words and ideas - and many of things they've come up with have been adopted by the science community
6. Aaron's work = aspires to invite different readings
7. Reenactment (in this case of travel journeys) - you never actually do it - you do something slightly different - film and the photographs is a travelogue of reenacting one man's journeys - it's down to your historical baggage of how you interpret the image and what's being presented 8. In terms of making artwork in the university - have to have a method - justified - reflection/reflexion... 9. Alvesson and Skoldberg (reflection)

  1. Why this material?
  2. Instigate a questioning dialogue with the material.
  3. Examine critical issues, particularly power structures and disguised power.
  4. How you present to the world, your voice

10. Descartes:

  1. Doubt
  2. Finding ones footing
  3. That God exists
  4. Concerning what is true and false
  5. The essence of material things (&God)
  6. The existance of material things

11. Travel as Metaphor:

When one thinks of travel, one most often thinks of the interest and excitement that comes from seeing exotic places and cultures. Likewise the application of the metaphor of travel to thought conjures up the image of an innovative mind that explores new ways of looking at things or which opens up new horizons. The mind is a critical one to the extent that it is moving beyond a given set of preconceptions or values also undermines those assumptions. Indeed to call an existing order (whether epistemological, aesthetic or political) into question by placing one “outside” that order by taking a “critical distance” from it, is implicitly to invoke the metaphor of thought as travel.” Van Den Abbeele, G. pp xiii

12. Crossing - hard to read text that's disappearing - you get confused trying to read moving text
13. Stephen Dedalus - Ulysses - Joyce's alter ego - pops up as a blind poet - the way that's written - jumping between Joyce writing about Stephen and Stephen writing about himself - and there's a second voice: Madelaine LaMere - Stephen's have thoughts for her. It can be read and reread and reread - and generates different meanings
14. Chasing Shadows Around - travelogue film - the shadows - something that's been used as a metaphor for blindness, the uncanny, what lies in the shadows...film is 30 minutes long - none of the edits were untrue to the chronology of the actually journey
15. Ringing a bell made in Kyoto - not actually in Japan (in Srilanka) - "peace bells" popular export
16. Shadow work and the bells - there's a constant interpretation - we as Europeans going as tourists, we have a very particular reading of things - shadows evaluate the exotic and this is denied...the idea is to generate the environment when you're watching things and the sound provides prompts - actual place where the shot is taken...People who are familiar with these things in first instance have a very different view on images - can see more in them/read more out of them.
17. In a way the auto focus struggle to read the image seems very much about the piece - yes Aaron is interested in the imperfections...also, this projector is shit...and there were some crumbs on the table that were really dead sharp at times - you can also see the edge of the table in the shot...
18. So is how you work? Looking through a magnifying glass? Yes - lots of guessing involved...Certain bits of gear you can count how many clicks...you know how it operates
19. Bill Fontana - film of the Kyoto bells - recorded and filmed when not being struck - interested in Zen, when the bell rings...it's the sound of the bell listening to itself - they're always ringing and Fontana managed to prove this...Bell maker Tarkovsky - top secret knowledge and there are all kinds of connotations wrapped up with the bell - it announces something, it calls something...much mythology about it East and West - fog bell at sea, tells the time...the word for hour comes from the sound of the bell - the bell in China was a weight and volume measurement - weight of the bell standardized - connects commerce and culture 20. You can have no fewer than two tones in bells


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Aaron McPeake