February 12, 2014: Defining the Substrate

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When: February 12, 2014: 14:00-17:00
Where: Green at Chelsea
Who: CCW Community

Symposium 1 – Defining the Substrate; February 12th, 2014, 2-5pm, The Green Room, Chelsea College of Art, London
Dr Pia Gotschaller; A technical art historian and painting conservator at Tate Modern
Richard Layzell; An artist working across media and with diverse communities. He sees the medium as a malleable interface that can drive content.
Stephen Farthing; Rootstein Hopkins Chair of Drawing at University of the Arts London

1400-1415 - Introduction and Welcome: Chris Wainwright
1415-1430 – Defining the Substrate: Stephen Farthing
1430-1445 – Dig, slash and stitch: modern artists and their substrates by Dr Pia Gotschaller
1445-1515 – The Table is the Floor by Richard Layzell
1515-1530 – Questions Chaired by Stephen Farthing
1530- 1545 – Refreshment Break
1545- 1645 – Group Discussion: Chaired by Daniel Strugis
1645 –1700 – Summing up

Invitees: Oriana Baddeley, Hilary Baxter, David Beech, Lorna Bircham, Sonia Boyce, Neil Cummings, Paul Coldwell, Kelly Chorpening, Amy de la Haye, David Dibosa, Bernice Donszelmann, Rebecca Earley, Ali Goodyear, Sigune Hamann, Eileen Hogan, Jo Melvin, Donal Moloney, Martin Newth, Michael Pavelka, Malcolm Quinn, Lois Rowe, Daniel Sturgis, Jim Threapleton, Carol Tulloch, Chris Wainwright, Kenneth Wilder
Symposium 2 – Developing the Substrate; Thursday March 6th, 2014, 2-5pm, The Green Room, Chelsea College of Art, London

  • Cream Pages - dialogic text - Richard Layzell and Tania Koswycz in conversation - influenced by the work of - Ivy Compton-Burnett
  • black velvet paintings - there's now a museum
  • the etched monitor - make us aware of the apparatus - invasive - palimpsest - layers
  • Pollock - choreography of painting
  • Twombly - paints on canvas tacked to the wall - wanted to inscribe surfaces
  • every kind of paper offers a different type of resistance
  • the biography of the maker = impacts the substrate - as a substrate (?) unclear - what ever happened to the death of the author?
  • if all components are dynamic, need to think about the dynamics - figure and ground is too reductive
  • rethinking relations between mark and plane - plane as a space of dynamism
  • narratives
  • are you in control of the substrate?
  • Fontana's work - most people don't know that it's heavily engineered at the back - his estate doesn't want people to see this because they're worked about people understanding his process and producing fakes - perfect traces of gesture - actually highly meditated gesture - lots of strength is required - never did it in front of anyone - canvas does not naturally cure inwards - needs to be encouraged - engineered artifice - in fact, this is how you can tell if one has been restored - balance is very delicate - for instance, in one case the conservators painted over the canvas and the result was that the edges curved outwards
  • conservators = if they've done their work well, no one can see that they'd done it
  • Moholy-Nagy's Telephone Pictures
  • neutrality of the surface - really? very loaded surface...aluminum = hard industrial metal - force and regularity
  • Talking about the substrate makes us think about priorities - substrate as a kind of lens - way to see things through - it can be nothing and it can be everything - become more conscious the substrate - this points towards the attention economy--again. The bit we're meant to be thinking about...
  • Twitter - a kind of substrate - Neil argues that it's not the interface that's the substrate but the code
  • If we think we live in a digital environment, what position does the material object have within it?
  • Neil argues that it's very much about ownership and access - rights - he gives the example of how a film can be out of copyright but the substrate that it's printed on isn't. These aren't just issues for media archives
  • Discussion of Newman's cotton duck (?) - myth making - Richard Tuttle went to the same shop to get the same substrate the Newman used = way to align himself with this tradition.
  • Textiles have a memory
  • Tuttle's work - no top/bottom/up/down - confusing for collectors - don't like the idea of having it on the wall - wall = space of privilege - display
  • This whole discussion feels very Western - what about thinking through different cultural paradigms - the icon in Russian Orthodox church - mediator to the divine. In Korean painting - negative space that shows the substrate is preserved - overcomes a kind of dualism - yin/yang/conceptual/material
  • Relation between the substrate and the frame:
  • conventional cinema - silver screen - substrate - darkness is the frame
  • there are many types of frames - we can think about framing within the painting - thinking about Caspar David Friedrich
  • frame = where the substrate ends
  • frames can be changed - often not determined by the artists themselves - metaphorical reflection on how the work is built - frame, don't want to see the rough ends - wants to transports you into an opulent world where there are 'naturally' edges like that.
  • framing is always highly political - flat surface/broken surface = all troubled
  • cinema is about suspension of disbelief - breaking the mystic when we draw attention to the substrate
  • mistake to think of the substrate as a place of certainty - very unstable - Richard's performance was very unsettling in a way - Where is the work? It' all over.
  • painting = the weight of history - puts artists off and so they go on to work in a 'lighter' media, only to invest it with more history

Next: March 6, 2014: Substrate Pronunciation

Return to Post-doc Meeting Minutes * Main Page


  • etched monitor
  • substrate as laws
  • everything/nothing substrate - focuses attention on something not usually emphasized - questions relations
  • frame/substrate
  • westnocentric discussion?
  • no discussion of actor network theory