Echo chamber . Translocation . The Crystal World

[ Please see 'Designs for a glass tetrahedron - Part I' on a-n BLOGS ]

After a few months' hiatus I'm returning to this body of work in preparation for a three-person show this autumn. 'Echo chamber' is a project I've been developing with artists Rosalind Davis and Caroline Lambard; we open on 26 September at Bond House Project Space, New Cross:
Echo chamber is an exhibition and exchange between three artists interested in the perceptual experience of space and form. ‘Echo chamber’ in this case refers to a gallery in which ideas, processes and materials are brought together to reverberate one against another, in which shared ways of working can be observed and new thoughts and practices set in motion.
Davis, Lambard and Nettell work across installation, painting, collage and film responding to the built environment around them. Mapping ideas in 2 and 3 dimensions, their works explore the possibilities of existing materials and spaces and their reconfiguration into new structures and forms...
My aim for the show is to create a series of prints and paper collages from digital photos of the pyramids – taken with film images of the aviary either projected inside (from 35mm slides), or layered on the glass using inkjet-printed acetates. I'd like to present these alongside the glass pieces themselves (perhaps on a glass- or mirror-topped plinth) and the 8mm film of the Snowdon Aviary that I shot last year.

When I showed the three pyramids at an Open Studios event at the end of March I realised how unfamiliar, unknown the sculptures still are to me – I haven't spent enough time with them to know, for example, how far and how comfortably each hinge rotates, how much pressure can be safely applied as the shapes are unfolded, how sharp are their edges, how easily will the surfaces scratch, what different freestanding configurations are possible, how does light reflect and diffract through and around their panels… These photo and collage tests will, I hope, allow me to get to know the objects a bit better and to generate some imagery from which to move my ideas for an eventual moving image work forward.


Crystalline compositions
(angular facets & rhomboidal spears)

Set in a slim, Victorian terrace Coleman Project Space in Bermondsey is intimate, domestic; shows span the two ground-floor rooms, the conservatory and garden shed. For Monica Ursina Jaeger's recent residency exhibition, Translocation, the shed was hung with blackout fabric and with its make-shift, corrugated iron roof had the feel of a wartime bunker:

Small 2D works made with ink and photographic transfers on concrete emerge from the dark. Fine white lines trace geodesic and grid structures – blueprints for buildings that might be or once were. Over these hopeful sketches images of realised but now crumbling, graffitied architectures are printed. Lone, skeletal trees are symbolic, perhaps, of former life or lives. There is a bleakness, a sense of foreboding. The delicacy of the works' execution (the humanity) seems futile in the face of this apocalypse.

Inside the house, Jaeger's geometries erupt from the page, industrial black frameworks jutting through and across the modest front room. I am reminded of Roger Hiorns' Seizure, not visually, but in the structures' crystal-like growth ("an architectural parasite", one of Jaeger’s press releases suggests). Works on paper visible through the black lattice are, again, crystalline compositions in ink and pigment transfer: housing blocks colonise rocks emerge from watchtowers; hand drawn outlines (fictional forms) protrude from or conjoin photographic representations, the real and imaginary coalesce.

"The long arc of trees hanging over the water seemed to drip and glitter with myriads of prisms, the trunks and branches sheathed by bars of yellow and carmine light that bled away across the surface of the water, as if the whole scene was being reproduced by some over-active Technicolor process … Extending outwards for two or three yards from the bank were the long splinters of what appeared to be crystallizing water, the angular facets emitting a blue and prismatic light washed by the wake from their craft. The splinters were growing in the water like crystals in a chemical solution, accreting more and more material to themselves, so that along the bank there was a congested mass of rhomboidal spears like the barbs of a reef, sharp enough to slit the hull of their craft." - Ballard, The Crystal World, p68-69