Thursday, 25 April 2013

Modular Cube - Negative Space

If the embedded slideshow below doesn't work, go full screen by clicking here.

This study is inspired by the works of Sol Lewitt and Rachel Whiteread.

Sol Lewitt built some of his modular structures from open cubes, while Rachel Whiteread created some of her structures by filling the “negative space” in an existing artifact with solid material --- then removing the original artifact.

I saw a relationship between Lewitt’s Modular Cube and Whiteread’s various negative space structures.

This study explores that relationship by first building a modular cube, then emphasizing the negative space by filling the artifact with material and finally pulling out the “ghost”.

The resulting form is reminiscent, in my view, of the negative space structures of Whiteread, in particular Ghost.

This study began life simply as a drawing – ink on paper. The colors chosen were a combination of the white preferred by Lewitt and the yellow often seen in Whiteread’s drawings.

The study morphed into a pamphlet, influenced by Lewitt’s Artist’s Books and serial drawings, showing the construction of, first the cube, then the ghost, in a form that allowed close inspection, especially of how the structures could be made.

This video has been produced from those drawings, telling the story of construction, more or less as told in the pamphlet .

A final step, yet to be undertaken, is to produce the structures themselves using metal and plaster.

In an imagined world, a gallery exhibits all four forms simultaneously, with the drawings on the wall, the pamphlets available to be handled, the videos showing in a darkened corner and the structures themselves there to be observed from any angle

Means of Production

I refer to the original images as drawings, for that is how I think of them.

In practice they are drafted on paper but ultimately drawn by computer, as scalable vectors graphics allowing them to be reproduced precisely at any size.

I don't use a commercial drawing package. Rather I write code in a page-description language that generates the vectors directly. This means I have absolute control over the positioning of lines and the precise rendering of color.

This method of drawing is further abstracted by my use of a bespoke “Drawing Language”, which means that I can envisage the structure and note down this vision in a few lines. These notes actually translate directly to the narrative of the video. “Cube, Cube beside Cube, Call it Line, Line behind Line , Call it Tray, Tray above Tray, Call it Cube, etc.”

Printing of the individual drawings is accomplished in very high quality using a Giclee process.

Printing of pamphlets relies on embedding the drawings in a document description language. The drawings are precisely scalable to the smaller format required to appear two-per-A5-page without the loss of definition that comes from the use of photographs or other images.

The pamphlet shows the serialization of building the structures.

The video tells the same story, and uses the same drawings in a stop-frame sequence.


I think Lewitt would have liked the language used to describe the structures, since he invented many languages of a similar form himself, not least for describing the (serial) construction of drawings directly on gallery walls and for the enumeration of incomplete cubes.

The language used here allows enumeration and serialization of structures, which it is clear was of great interest to Lewitt.

Many of Whiteread’s drawings, where she is planning for her structures, show a regularity of form that inspired my observations about the apparent relationship with the structures of Lewitt.

There is a close relationship between Art and Architecture as exhibited in the works of both Lewitt and Whiteread.

Meanwhile, a video is in production, which describes another of Lewitt’s structures, his four-sided pyramid.

I see parallels between this, a work of Frank Stella and the Buddhist Temple Borobudur. I am trying various ways of explaining this perceived correspondence, again in a sequence of drawings.

Recently completed is a work inspired by Rothko and O’Keefe, combining the palette of Rothko with the curves of O’Keefe, showing that this method of serializing drawings is not restricted to the angular structures used in this video

Here is an alternative version from vimeo