Granite: Convergences and Divergences seminar which comes out of an ongoing dialogue between Artist researchers Dr Andy Whall and David Paton. In this seminar they explored what granite meant to them and how it has shaped and influenced their lives, research and art practices. Through discussion and performance, they highlighted the convergences and divergences of their practices.
David and Andy, who operate respectively as granite-worker and granite-climber, have developed long-term relationships with the granite outcrops of South West Cornwall. From this embedded and critical position, an exploration of form, surface, material[ity], interior and exterior will be contextualised in the seminar through a series of granitic encounters.
‘Granite: Convergences and Divergences’ follows on from the ‘Being IN [landscape]’ seminar, held in 2013 by CAZ and Falmouth University which addressed immersive models for investigating landscape. This seminar at CAZ will be followed by a second at Zennor (tbc).
‘CAZ Talks & Seminars’ The CAZ seminar programme involves regional/national/international artists/researchers/academics and is designed to bring expertise and innovative practice into Cornwall and showcase critical activity and research happening within the region to those from outside. www.cazart.org.uk
photographs by Graham Gaunt
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The work of art (the performance) as an ‘event of equivalence’ is not to be understood as a representation that stands in for the thing seen, it is there as an equivalence of the bouldering experience. By doing this it outlined the potential for a model that is not reductive, but one, which offers the possibility of creative possibilities and of staging projects where significance or meanings are regarded as emergent and enactive rather than fixed. Moving away from ‘representing’ the bouldering experience towards ‘being in’ a new space and creating a new experience. From this position, the bouldering experience can creatively generate meaning and inform and sustain the visual art practices that seek to represent it.
Having read this text as part of the introduction, I missed my own point.
The introduction of the bolted granite lumps, which became ‘holds’, arranged in a sequence that would allow them to be climbed, created a representation of a boulder problem. It could also be suggested that the thing created was a simulacrum, thus it appeared as a boulder problem, but wasn’t a copy or representation of any specific boulder problem, more like a generic idea of an (indoor) boulder problem. The representation was literal and the simulacrum a poor one.
Rather than offering up possibilities and projects where ‘significance and meaning could emerge. The simulacrum appeared contrived and only offered constraint and fixedness. The elements of chance and unknown intrinsic to the bouldering experience were absent. In purely climbing terms the problem was too easy and was thus not a ‘problem’. If I contrast this with the ‘leap off a chair’ an action from ‘an event of equivalence’ described above, it becomes clear that the leap was successful in the terms outlined above, it had possibility, it had the element of the unknown, it offered emergent and real meaning as something new was created. It also possessed real and present danger, which ultimately contributed to a frisson. The problem last night was to easy, I knew it could be climbed, thus it was a formality, a foregone conclusion. The literalness, meant that the desired emergent meanings were already constrained by pre conceived ideas of what climbing is and or might be, once fixed on the wall the granite immediately became climbing holds/ climbing wall.
To make a grading or categorisation there are;
· Boulder problems that exist outside
· Boulder problems that exist inside (climbing walls)
· Within the seminar we created something that sat awkwardly, maybe rock/stone inside, once divorced from its context offers less than the artificial, resin holds that you find in climbing walls.
Obviously this is all from my perspective in terms of the context of ‘events of equivalence’. The discussion and performative elements, brought out as we hoped the convergences and divergences of our research and practice. The discussion around sentient(ness) and dialogue I thought was quite interesting, as was the talk about properties of different rocks. In fact there was lots of good stuff.