The tyranny of the blank page (with timelapse camera)

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My timelapse set-up for capturing the making of “Stained by Dead inkjets”

It’s a scary prospect to embark upon a project where you are committed to a deadline, but without knowing the outcome, and documenting it at the same time.

Any failures are immediately apparent to the rest of the world. But also the successes. I’ve done this kind of thing before and know that something will happen in the process, but not sure exactly what.

I decided to make new, A3-sized paper collages from old test prints and spoiled prints, but a lot of that material is A4, which left me with a compositional challenge if the works were not going to look like something plonked in the middle of a larger sheet.

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Work in progress

Also, a lot of the earlier work was very minimal and hard-edged digital graphics, but I wanted this work to be much more organic and dense. I always try to consider the audience and the venue, and these works are going to be shown in a traditionally decorated pub. Minimalism works well in a blank space, but on the busy walls of a public house, something more human and playful seems appropriate.

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“Stained by Dead Inkjets” #1 (title tbc)

When I was younger, I suffered greatly from the tyranny of the blank page. You know that paralysis when you can’t start because you are terrified of imminent failure. It’s not originally my wisdom, but I employ the strategy of spoiling the work in the first place. Many painters will smear a blank canvas with a random wash of paint to solve the problem, and I have found that this technique works for me. In the videos, you can seem me playing around with various simple techniques to distress the original material in order to spoil the canvas and break to paralysis.

The other strategy I employ is just starting. It’s no true to say I don’t think about what I’m going to do, but I believe in just doing something and being open to the opportunities presented by happy accidents.

When I write, I don’t plan, I just start writing. I write in fragments, and eventually, one fragment seems to go with another and so on until a thread appears. Once a logical thread appears, some of the fragments don’t seem to belong and so they get thrown away and might end up in something else. It’s the same with this work, after the first three collages appear to be finished, I have a visual theme emerging. I want the show to be a coherent whole, and these first “finished” works seem to have set the tone. It might all change before we get to the 24th of April, but it’s a good start.

There is a Vimeo album of the making of videos here:

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