​TOWER OF MODERN - 当潮之塔

SOLO EXHIBITION (2017) @ CHINESE EUROPEAN ART CENTRE (CEAC)  - 中国欧洲艺术中心, XIAMEN, FUJIAN

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As a modern global community, we build higher and higher, ever fighting the challenges set upon us by the laws of nature. Every year as humanity collaborates they reach new limits in engineering, construction techniques and material technologies; literally taking our cities to new heights. Though what it is the true cost of our urban expansion? The 828-meter-high ‘Burj Khalifa’, for example, took over 330,000 cubic meters of concrete and 39,000 metric tonnes of steel [1]. Would these same materials that were invested into such extreme grandeur be better spent on schools or affordable housing? Though it may seem impractical to compare a school to the world famous Burj Khalifa, they are both constructed from the same pool of global resources, yet each serves very different social functions.

 

When staring in awe at these shrines of human development it is easy to forget that somewhere else there also lies a tower-sized hole; an invisible anti-tower amalgamated from the many sites where resources have been removed from the earth. Therefore, I have illustrated a world where towers and anti-towers exist side-by-side. A place where the connection between these positive and negative structures is not diminished through the use of countless technologies, materials and professions. Instead existing a more direct and primitive relationship between the gathering, processing and assembly of resources. With reference to the cautionary tale ‘The Tower of Babel’ [2], I have used paint and sculpture to create my own Tower of Modern, generating an ethical discussion of contemporary resource usage.

1. Burj Khalifa Official Website. (n.d.). Atop the Burj Khalifa: Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.burjkhalifa.ae/img/FACT-SHEET.pdf

2. Burke, D. G. (2001). Babel, Tower of. In Metzger, B. M. & Coogan, M. D. (Eds.), The Oxford Guide to People & Places of the Bible. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. (28)

当潮之塔 - 以下由艺术家自述

 

随着时间的流逝,人类不断地应对自然法则带来的挑战,建设越来越高级的现代化全球社会。每年,人类社群都会在土建和新材料等各个方面突破原有的科技水平,从而将我们的城市面貌提升到全新的高度。为了城市的扩张,人类该付出多少代价呢?高达828米的哈利法塔,使用了超过39000吨的钢筋和330000平方米的混领土。如果我们将这些惊人的建筑成本转用在学校或庇护所的建设上,是不是更能体现它们的价值呢?尽管将学校与世界著名的哈利法塔进行对比显得不太切合实际,但它们都由同样的地球资源组建而成,然而学校所能带来的社会功能明显更加具有社会价值。

 

当我们在仰望这些宏伟建筑的时候,似乎很容易忘记,其实在这片土地的某个地方有着和这些建筑一样高度的地洞。在资源被开采的那些地方,存在着一座座逆海拔的“反塔”。因此,我构建了一个高塔和“反塔”临近而座的世界。一个这些正向和反向建筑不会因为技艺、材料而减弱联系的世界,它们在资源的收集,处理和糅合之间存在着更直接、更原始的关系。借鉴于警示故事“巴别塔”,我用油画和雕塑创造了属于我自己的“当潮之塔”。用这些作品来对当代资源分配的合理性进行追问。

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE PROGRAM AT THE CHINESE EUROPEAN ART CENTER (CEAC)

The artwork I have created in Xiamen is the continuation of the research I carried out last year in Shanghai (A Cosmopolitan Landscape). As there already existed a strong East/West dichotomy in both historical and contemporary literature, I intentionally made the aim of my 2016 project to discover similarities between Western and Chinese art. As the obvious divergence between these two contrasting aesthetics cannot be denied, it was through a focus on theme and narrative that I identified similarities.

I examined selected paintings of two artists who lived and worked during the same period. The first was Shen Zhou (1427-1509) from Ming Dynasty China, and the second was Giovanni Bellini (ca. 1435-1516) of the Venetian Early-Renaissance. By exploring their works I eventually observed mutual and recurring themes. Perhaps the most predominant of which, was the spiritual dynamic between man, heaven and earth. Although, Christianity (of the Renaissance) and Daoism (of the Ming Dynasty) have different ideas about the specifics of heaven, both strongly associate it with the sky and consider it the home of spiritually enlightened beings. As an extension of this idea, both artists also used mountains as a metaphorical bridge between earth and heaven. A place away from the corporal distractions of mankind, where lone figures could undergo deep contemplation or prayer. This mutuality is perhaps best illustrated when comparing Shen Zhou’s work ‘Poet on a Mountain top’ (ca. 1500), and Bellini’s painting ‘Saint Francis in Ecstasy’ (ca. 1476–78); where both artworks depict a lone robed figure housed within mountainous terrain and separated from distant urban environments. Each figure can be seen staring intensely towards the sky, while obviously disengaged from their physical surroundings. It was this cross-cultural narrative that became the foundation of my 2016 practice-led research, and has now also inspired my 2017 project at CEAC.

 

During my flight to Xiamen I looked out the window and could not help but notice that through advances in modern technology I was soaring high above the clouds; a place that I had only just concluded was of sacred and spiritual significance in both Western and Chinese tradition. I then asked myself, am I trespassing into the homes of both Daoist and Christian immortals?

 

When asking myself this question something else quickly entered my thoughts. I remembered reading an ancient cautionary tale about the last time mankind utilised technology to reach the skies. The mythical “Tower of Babel” is a story that describes an ancient city that attempted to erect a tower high enough to reach the heavens. It is written that when God saw this structure he become displeased and confused the builder’s speech, turning one language into many. As the workers could no longer communicate the tower’s construction was eventually abandoned.

 

With reference to the “Tower of Babel” this exhibition represents my further investigation into cross-cultural narratives. Using paint and sculpture I have illustrated and explored a primitive world of perpetual gathering and construction.

PASSAGE SELF STRANGE
JOINT EXHIBITION (2017) @ TURNER GALLERIES, NORTHBRIDGE, WA

Collaboration with artist Aliesha Mafrici

[www.alieshamafrici.com]

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Passage Self Strange is an exhibition born out of New State’s interest in the intersection between the ‘figurative’, and the often polarized, ‘abstract’. To cultivate a relationship between these two contrasting visual languages, this artist collective has created a fractured body of work that explores a narrative of shifting circumstance and perspective; A tale of multiple characters interacting within a world of confusion and bewilderment, which is mirrored in its non-linear exposition.

Through marks of ink and paint, glimpses into smaller stories are revealed that offer meaning only in part, all the while these works gravitate around a central story from an unstable and incomplete standpoint. At the core of this exhibition lies an existentialist discussion; a discussion that the artists invite the audience to explore.

THEY REST IN THE GARDEN OF STONE

COMMISSION FOR 'STATIONS OF THE CROSS (2017)

WESLEY CHURCH' PERTH, W.A. & GERELDTON REGIONAL ART GALLERY, GERELDTON, W.A.

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To me, Christ’s contact with the stranger ‘Simon of Cyrene’ signifies a narrative of burden; a burden of both mind and body transferred from one individual to the next. When exploring this idea I focused on key roles within such an exchange. As these roles are carried out, either through choice or obligation, the individuals within this exchange have the opportunity to grow stronger or weaker from their experiences. For it is in this Station that Simon gains strength by relieving Christ of his burden, receiving the gift of faith after his experiences that day, while those issuing such a punishment gained nothing.

Whether it be with good intentions or otherwise, we have all been in the position of one of these characters. Either issuing burden onto others or upon ourselves, we have the opportunity to perceive a burden as a challenge, identifying what can be gained from our dealings with hardship. By reinterpreting this narrative without obvious Christian iconography this work encourages a discussion beyond a biblical context, exploring the notion that adversity may yield unexpected rewards.

HIERARCHY

ARTWORK EXHIBITED (2017) @ GOMBOC GALLERY, MIDDLESWAN, WA

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This sculptural work represents a three-dimensional diagram of the socio-economic class structures that run deep throughout modern consumer culture. The stylised Gothic arch supports a group of suspended and unadorned sarcophagi, each having been individually carved and cast out of concrete. The aim of this work, is to draw a parallel between ancient class systems and the economic struggles of contemporary working class Australians. With reference to Marxist theory, I have composed these tiered rows of burial cases to suggest that the members within this system will all ultimately return to an equal 'value'.

A COSMOPOLITAN LANDSCAPE

HONOURS THESIS ABSTRACT (2016-2017)

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This creative honours project is a practice-led investigation into the painted figural landscape, particularly with the aim of identifying and exploring mutuality within the enduring artistic traditions of Chinese and Western painting. Informing this cross-cultural analysis is a deep engagement with the ‘figure in the landscape’ artworks of Giovanni Bellini and Shen Zhou; both painters chosen to represent their respective artistic traditions’. To support this search for mutuality this project was equipped with a Stoic Cosmopolitan perspective designed to facilitate cross-cultural understanding. Using this theoretical perspective and an informed understanding of these two artists practices’, a series of painted studies was produced for contemporary Western and Chinese audiences. The key theme of these studies revealed itself in the form of a common narrative that was found to exist within both artistic traditions. This narrative talked of a universal tension experienced by individuals when caught between physical and spiritual spaces. 

A Cosmopolitan Landscape: Development of a body of paintings that explore and expand upon the shared tropes of figuration in the work of Giovanni Bellini and Shen Zhou - http://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses_hons/1490/

THE NATURE OF WANTING

SOLO EXHIBITION (2016) @ STUDIO 281, MAYLANDS, WA

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‘The Nature of Wanting’ is a body of work that addresses the unsustainable consumption of the human race. As a species people continuously process resources of social, environmental and economic value with little regard for the future. Materials are extracted, refined and transformed into fleeting 'objects of desire'. Though a face-paced lifestyle only encourages a focus on the final product, their consumers have become detached from the process that created them. Resulting in a reduced appreciation between these 'objects of desire' and the methods used to create them. A disassociation that contributes to a wasteful attitude towards both labour and environmental resources.

This exhibition explores human body as a machine that seeks out and consumes through unsustainable resource gathering processes. Representing all 'objects of desire' is a small stepped pyramid that appears in several of the works. Whether through representation or suggestion, human presence provides context and narrative for this pyramid to generate discussion of humanity’s consumption habits.

JOURNEY

GRADUATE SHOWCASE (2015) @ EDITH COWAN UNIVERSITY (ECU), MOUNT LAWLEY WA

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Modern day visual culture requires viewers to navigate through a sea of attention-seeking disposable media, where advertising confronts individuals at every turn creating a polluted space of unwanted imagery. The ability to reproduce pictures infinity has created a visual noise that is to be endured by anyone attempting to use any digital device. It is this replication that is discussed in these works works, where I have used paint to illustrate a world of disposable figures operating within unstable and abstract landscapes. In these spaces figures are shown at the end of their cycle, often confronted with their successor; a metaphor for the use and replication of fast-paced digital media.

Copyright ©  Harrison See 2019