The Eating Habits of Black Holes

Izzy Hoskins shares a few of her wonderful pen and watercolour pieces.


 What did you use to create these and what's your favorite medium?In these pieces I used watercolors, pens, pencils and a Wacom tablet. I’m happy to use anything that's convenient and cheap. Drawing started as something I would do in-between schoolwork so I could hardly bring an easel with me. Now I’m just in the habit of using portable/easy media.Who or what are the drawings of and what are you trying to capture? One of those is an old self portrait and some of them are life drawing models. A lot of times I’ll use a reference and then superimpose something I find interesting on top, like the vertebrae on the life drawing piece. I very seldom try to capture any particular message. I find that if I think about what I’m trying to do too much I cease to enjoy the actual process.Where does the inspiration for the text come from?The text is just phrases I get stuck in my head. The one about black holes might be a bastardized quote of something I’ve heard. The one about uncertainty was an interpretation of a lesson we had in biology first year and I was listening to a lot of Welcome To Night Vale at the time.
 Izzy Hoskins 

Art Reduced

Patrick Campbell explores the latest installation by veteran French artist Daniel Buren at Newcastle's Baltic Mill Gallery and the reduction of art from canvas and paint to simply manipulating lights and mirrors. 15aa60cf8a029c88d79069d895a5f466005aab7f.525 Over the summer, I had the opportunity to see an exhibition of the renowned French Daniel Buren in his new installation at Gateshead's Baltic Mill. The work, drawing influence from both minimalism and abstract expression, breaks down the boundaries of what we would expect from 'art', especially from artistic media.The first time I visited this exhibition by 'France's greatest living artist' I have to say the work was underwhelming. The work was laid out in the large hall on the top floor of the gallery, a series of mirrors angled around the space, distorting the room to the viewer, but did little more than that. The second time, however, there was a very different experience. What I had not realised was the skylight above me had been covered with brightly coloured panes of glass, meaning that now, in broad daylight, the room was filled with a patchwork of lights and colours, literally like stepping into a rainbow. As the day passed, the colours - abstracted and warped by the mirrors around the room - moved around with the sun, in a never changing artwork, never staying the same.The use of light is for me an innovative and beautiful way of using art, and seems to be the purest form of abstraction I've ever seen. Throughout the history of art there has been a debate into what is a perfect artistic expression; painting, sculpture, architecture, smooth surface, tactile surface, sound...the debate has been endless. Clement Greenburg, champion of Pollock, aimed for ultimate flatness in art, yet I do not know how even Greenburg would respond to the ultimate stripping away of physical art in Buren's work.I understand how many people may react to this type of work, calling it another piece of 'modern art rubbish', but the innovation presented to us by Buren is remarkable in the way it truly challenges the medium of art. Buren's glass panes and mirrors are effectively his canvas, an aid to the art making, whereas all the actual piece consists of is nothing but the environment. The room, the light and the audience are all that is needed to create the experience - truly embodying the minimalist ethic of involving the location in which it is shown.The greatest thing for me about Buren's work is the experience of the viewer. If I revisited the Mona Lisa over two consecutive days, I would see the same work on both days. With Buren's work I have to be in the room for less than a minute, or walk a few feet to the other side of a mirror, and my experience - the patterns of the light, the angle of the colours - will have completely changed. The art is completely evolving, and the work, being in situ, will never be replicated in any other spot.The work is due to end this month, and will never be replicated anywhere else. Therefore, this exhibition, done by a relatively unsung great of contemporary art, is a truly transient piece - one that cannot be shipped from gallery to gallery and will soon only remain in the audience's memory of their unique experience.  Patrick Campbell  Photo Credits:  Baltic Mill website  

Legal note: all included photographs are used solely for the purpose of criticism and review as outlined via the fair dealing exception of UK Copyright Law and the fair use clause of US Copyright Law. This work was previously made available to the public, the source of the material is acknowledged, and the material itself is accompanied by discussion and assessment in line with fair dealing/use standards. Additionally, no more material is used than is absolutely necessary for the purpose of the intended criticism and review.

 

'Ah, Brother. Why have you tarried from me so long?' Review of Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur

James Chew shares a bit of the unexpected joy he found reading Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur for his dissertation.  

The Lady of Shalott 1888 by John William Waterhouse 1849-1917

 Any fourth year currently in the throes of a dissertation will be familiar with the following question, and the sensation of extreme dread it provokes. 'So, what is it you're doing your dissertation on, exactly?' A cold chill runs down the spine. Excuses begin piling up behind your tongue. The urge to dissemble, deprecate, avoid, is overpowering.Or is that just me? Sometimes, it's hard to justify 10,000 words spent on a microscopic analysis of  queenship in Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur.After all, who's even heard of it? A late 15th century compilation of a variety of disparate Arthurian sources attempting to synthesise a complete retelling of the story of King Arthur is a tough sell. I'm aware of that. Going into the dissertation, I wasn't sure what I expected from Malory in the original Middle English – in the raw, as it were. Something tough, knotty as its language, obtuse, defying modern conceptions of narrative, characterisation, and morality. It'd be interesting, but if I did learn to love it, it'd be a result of many hard-fought hours in the library.So, I'm sure it'll come as much of a shock to you as it did to me that's it's completely and compellingly readable. Sure, you need some to have some interest in the Arthurian legend, and a reasonable tolerance to the blood and tears code of the Round Table. But really, stripped of the Cistercian mysticism of a lot of the French Romances and the dry, dodgy and painstaking attention to 'historical' detail of the English chronicles, what Malory has on his hands is a rollicking good story. A tale of an unremarkable boy who has a destiny, a wise and mysterious mentor, an unknown parentage, and a tragic fate lurking in the distant future. There's a reason it's a classic. All this combined with a genuinely moving tale of love in the face of betrayal, the timeless conflict between the temporal and the heavenly, countless damsels, wicked step-sisters, gallant albeit misguided knights, a chorus of monsters, and more allegory than you can shake a stick, or sword, at.It's a long work – my edition comes in at well over 600 pages – and you can be forgiven for becoming irritated at the lengthy digressions. Although Malory wisely reduces the incredibly anachronistic 'Arthur versus Rome' sequence from earlier chronicle accounts, the 200 pages spent on the largely tangential Tristram of Lyonesse sequence is harder to justify. Of course, it's thematically appropriate, and without Queen Isolde my dissertation would be looking a wee bit more famished, but really we're here for Arthur and Guinevere, the Lady of the Lake, Morgan, Lancelot, and Mordred. The escapades of the other knights are enjoyable, especially if you have a taste for allusion, allegory, and the numinous, but ultimately they are the side-dressing at the main feast.But if you have the time, and a bit of patience, Malory is a highly capable writer, who has a skillful and always intriguing grasp of prose and imagery. Combined with the real weight of tragedy he brings to bear on his material, and Malory's obvious command of his sources, Le Morte d'Arthur is something truly special. Allusive and elusive, human and unearthly, familiar, and yet with enough oddities and rarely dramatised episodes as to be always surprising, I can honestly recommend this 15th century Middle English Romance as both a great work of literature and an unexpected page turner. James Chew Photo credits: The Lady of Shalott, John William Waterhouse, Wikimedia Commons

Artist Profile: Helen Miller

Helen Miller is a third year art history student. I was lucky enough to work with her as the designer for my recent play, and she has fortunately given me permission to share some of her work with The Tribe. Her style is mainly watercolour illustration; her ambitions are to work in mental health awareness and illustrate full time.         These were created for Mental Wealth two years ago, and express feelings of loneliness and alienation associated with mental illness.      These illustrations have featured in the ‘Hometown Highlights’ pieces in Owl Eyes, and depict Manchester and Putney respectively.         Helen created these two images for my play, Clockwork. The first depicts two of the major characters on a playing card and is suggestive that they are two sides of the same person, while also being part of a game of chance. The second is more symbolic of the play as a whole, with themes of war, time and magic.Helen is available for commission and can be contacted at hmm65.http://helenmillerillustrations.blogspot.co.uk/ Alex Mullarky

ART WORKS

Make sure not to miss out on an exhibition of stunning student artwork curated and hosted by Art Society and ST.ART Magazine as part of On The Rocks!

On The Rocks is, as I’m sure many of you are aware, a truly inspiring arts festival that showcases the very best in new Scottish and student talent and takes place across various locations in St Andrews from Saturday April 14 until Sunday April 19. With the first festival taking place in 2009, it has now become a permanent fixture on the thriving cultural calendar of our small town.From the many tantalising talks to the theatre productions in wondrous locations, there is sure to be something to take your interest. One such event will be ART WORKS, which looks to be a great exhibition showcasing the year’s creative spoils created by our very own student body. For the first time, Art Society and ST.ART Magazine are joining forces at On The Rocks for an evening of thoughtfully curated artworks, installations, live entertainment and the release of ST.ART’s fourth, and first printed, issue! For those of you who have always shied away from attending ArtsSoc’s weekly life drawing classes for fear of nervous giggles, or have never gotten round to venturing on one of their Walk and Draw trips, here is a chance to see some of the remarkable results conjured up by your fellow students and maybe even friends. Some work that has featured in previous issues of ST.ART Magazine, which started up at the beginning of this academic year, will be present at the exhibition plus even more submissions. As well as this, ST.ART Magazine will be releasing it’s first printed issue where the fantastic graphics of the online issues and a variety of new and inspiring work by students will finally be transferred to an actual tangible magazine to treasure! It’s a great chance to see some of the amazing talent to be found in this town in the flesh.There is no doubt there will be some great pieces to see, so make sure you venture to the wonderful exhibition space of the Barron Theatre (free of charge!) on Wednesday, April 18 from 20:00 to 23:00 to check out the possible Picasso’s of our town and take a break from your academic work for an evening of artistic amusement. For more information make sure to like Art Society  and like ST.ART Magazine on Facebook! Nicole HorganImage credits - Toby Marsh

The Art of Art Snobbery

Lucy Tittle shares her experiences at The National GalleryIt was with the attitude of an Emperor introducing civilisation to the primitive Celt that I took my friend, a lowly Computer Science student, with me to the National Gallery. Fuelled by the spirit of the Easter weekend and undeterred by the crowds flocking around a staging of the Passion of Christ in Trafalgar Square, I sallied forth to enjoy some more religious imagery in the gallery itself, accompanied by my willing student. I had a vision of myself as the professional Art Historian strolling amongst the painted panels, expounding carefully recollected knowledge from AH1001 to my philistine, as he hung eagerly on my every word. Alas, this picture I had created for myself was far from realised when we at last managed to make our way to the entrance through the throngs of Bank Holiday visitors.Fondling the trusty camera that never leaves my handbag, we entered the first room of paintings and I remarked that it was a shame not to be able to take photographs for my article due to the gallery’s photography policy. My companion, never short of guts, announced that he would be the photographer of the trip and boldly marched past the slumbering elderly attendant, in front of the orderly line of seated people viewing the painting, and took several noisy photographs with flash. Disgusted at this lack of proper gallery etiquette and blushing copiously, I hurried my friend through several more rooms as he was in turn scolded for reaching out to touching the paintings and then stared at by a solemn looking gentleman for his loud comment about the large number of paintings that seemed to display the buttocks of Cupid or the infant Jesus.Hungry and flagging, I was laughingly asked by my sidekick why many of the altar pieces featured smaller figures at the bottom of the painted areas. Buoyed up by the chance to start educating the embarrassing heathen I had brought with me, I embarked on a dull explanation about families who had commissioned the works and why they were depicted showing their devotion at the bases. I increasingly found myself struggling, however, and was forced to lean closer to take a peek at some of the placards upon the walls to support my hazy memories of first year facts. Under the barrage of questions that ensued about the story of Saint Sebastian and the other biblical narratives shown in the artworks, I was quickly ruing the day that I decided not to take Religious Studies at GCSE. I was even shown up yet again as my technologically savvy friend gleefully produced his Smart Phone, started scanning the works on display and sharing with me the information he had produced.I began to wonder, after all, whether I did in fact have the correct attitude to gallery visiting. Whilst my friend, whom I had once considered anything but an expert in this field, was coming up with his own witty responses about the works and enjoying himself, I was constantly shushing him and racking my brain for long-lost facts. It would appear that you do not need a degree in Art History to be observant and knowledgeable about art – in fact it seems to be somewhat of a hindrance! A keen eye and a sense of fun such as those possessed by my comrade will help you to see far more than my own pretensions and preconceptions. I would strongly advise you on your next trip to the National Gallery to acquire some bruises from climbing on the lions outside in Trafalgar Square, to make your own judgements about the 14th Century paintings, and to take a science student with you for a bit of perspective. Trust me, you will get far more out of the experience! Lucy TittleImage credit - Lucy Tittle 

The Future has Arrived: Artificial Intelligence

Natalie Keir takes a look at the amazing applications of artificial intelligenceWhen I was 10 years old, it was my life’s mission to convince my parents to buy me a mobile phone. I remember trying to use my very under-developed cunning and wit to persuade them that I didn’t want a phone for social purposes; oh no, I wanted one purely for the sake of my safety. This can’t have been terribly convincing, considering the most dangerous part of my day was probably when I attempted PE. Eventually my parents complied, probably due to my infallible skills of persuasion, and bought me my phone of choice, along with a pink camouflage ‘superwoman’ phone case.  I am afraid to say that my taste in phones hasn’t improved much since then. Up until recently, I have never really cared about having a Blackberry or iPhone, I would rather have taken the cash equivalent. However, this Christmas my boyfriend received an iPhone 4S, and from that moment, everything changed.It was not the fantastic Internet connection, the unrivalled graphics, or any of the other stuff people seem to go for in phones that got me: it was Siri, the robotic ‘personal assistant’. The highlight of my week is when my boyfriend asks me to send a text for him, and I have a chance to interact with Siri. It is the most amazing gadget, especially when you think about what Siri has to go through to entertain you with its smooth conversation. When you say something to Siri, all it receives is a soundwave, simply a line of varying amplitude and frequency. From this soundwave, Siri has to interpret what you are saying, and what you require it to do. This is much tougher for a computer than you would first think.Let’s say we tell a computer a very short simple story. “The girl saw a necklace in a shop window, she loved it”. To a human, that seems pretty simple, but when you examine the story, there is a lot to be misinterpreted. If we were to ask what the girl loved, a human would say “the necklace”, but a computer would not know if it was the necklace or the shop window. Next, we could ask if the girl was able to pick up the necklace. A human would know that she couldn’t, as the window is in the way, but the computer wouldn’t know this, as there is nothing to suggest that the window is solid. Finally, you could ask how the girl could pick up the necklace. The human could answer that the girl should enter the shop and ask the shopkeeper, but a computer would have no idea: it wouldn’t know that the door could open. To combat all of these problems, the computer would have to have a huge database of contextual information, consisting of all the things that humans inherently know. We take our intrinsic knowledge for granted when it comes to things like the relative desirability of inanimate objects, but that is data that would have to be quantified and inputted into the computer; a daunting task for any computer scientist.Another problem that has been plaguing computer scientists for years, is trying to get a computer to recognise simple objects, such as a mug. Although this challenge seems trivial, it is one of the first steps in developing robots that could perform actions in the same way that a human could. The difficulty is that a robot sees a mug as a set of coordinates and if two mugs are not identical then their coordinates won’t be either. Even if thousands of photos of mugs were inputted into the computer’s memory, the computer still wouldn’t necessarily be able to recognise a mug if it had never seen it before. As much as scientists loved examining mugs, a breakthrough was definitely needed, and the Artificial Intelligence team at Stanford University managed to make it happen. To teach a robot to think, you need to understand how a human thinks, and it was recently discovered the human brain works in a much simpler way than previously thought. The pink wrinkly tissue that makes up the outer layer of the brain is called the neo cortex, and is split into different regions for different senses. It was found that if you swap the audio and visual connections, so that the eyes are connected to the audio part of the brain, and the ears are connected to the visual part, the brain can still interpret new information. Basically, the brain all works on the same ‘program’. Trying to mimic this program allows scientists to train computers like the brain is naturally trained. In this way, scientists have been able to program a computer to do things that humans haven’t yet been able to do, such as fly a helicopter...upside down. This has never been done by a human helicopter pilot, and a seriously talented pilot prodigy would have to be born for this to ever happen.The possible applications for artificial intelligence are unbounded, and some diagnostic equipment in hospitals is already taking advantage of this developing technology. At the University Hospital Lund in Sweden, ‘artificial neural networks’ are being used to help diagnose heart attacks in patients with chest pains. Researchers exposed the computer to thousands of past medical records, and by learning from experience, the computer is now able to diagnose better than an experienced cardiologist. It is predicted that artificial intelligence could completely transform the medical industry, and it seems that the change can only be positive.The world of artificial intelligence anticipated in so many sci-fi films is still a farfetched fantasy, and much of it is never going to exist. In 1972, Geoffrey Hoyle, a sci-fi writer and futurologist, wrote a list of predictions of how life would have changed by 2010. For the most part, his predictions were pretty accurate; Internet shopping, Skype, and webcams are all common occurrence nowadays. He also predicted that everybody would be wearing jumpsuits. Thankfully, that less than desirable fate has not yet been bestowed upon us, but the general accuracy of the list just shows how precise scientists can be in their predictions. If the development of artificial intelligence continues at the anticipated rate, we are sure to have some exciting amenities coming to our aid over the next few decades. Natalie KeirImage credit - Liz Henry

An Artist's Gaze

Saarthak Singh focuses his artist's eye on technology and the people who use it I have always been fascinated by images. My fondest memories are of long walks with my mother, gazing at clouds and imagining creatures into existence. The walks have now stopped, but the gazing continues. My engagement with art, though, has hardly been poetic. I was encouraged to doodle with pencil and dabble in paint, as most children are, going on to copy biology diagrams for my brother at school; so much so that I ended up studying it as a subject in my last years at school. It was here that I endeavoured to transform what was perhaps nothing more than a hobby into a more personal space for self-discovery, reading, visiting galleries, meeting artists, and learning to paint from books and the internet. Yet, I was always a little over scrupulous, carefully constructing images rather than spontaneously conjuring them up. In hindsight, however, it was probably this almost academic concern with representation that somehow allowed me weave together layer-upon-layer of meaning into the painting, though sometimes at the risk of the larger picture.  I enjoy drawing and painting in oils and watercolours and prefer doing portraits in particular, though I have done some landscapes as well, on vacations to the mountains and the backwaters. In my portraits, I am particularly concerned with various issues broadly regarding ‘identity’, both individual and social—ideas not externally manifested, but quietly contained, which I try to explore through the paradoxical relationship between the chaotic forces within and the rational, coherent appearances without. I initially did a lot of ‘live’ portraits and self-portraits, and do so now as well, but prefer to focus on the fundamental, complex expressions.  In one of my last paintings purposefully titled TTYL, I explore the changing nature of social identity in our increasingly gadget-driven age. The painting shows how we are all inextricably caught up in our phones and (virtual) social networks, or rather, an entire way of life. I have tried to capture, in the expressions of the ‘texters’, a loneliness, an emptiness, and a somewhat eerie immersion in their mobile phones. The hands, here, become a metaphor to describe the power equation between the gadget and the user and so does the projected image of the phone on the face. On the left, a girl seductively invites the viewer into the virtual reality while on the right there are various people texting away, presenting the real reality. I have attempted to present a sense of loneliness compounded—that we (use) Facebook and fauxt (fake texting) often not to appear lonely, yet that is what makes us more and more lonely.  All expression is relegated to emoticons as social networking becomes a world unto itself - an imagined community, and in this sense, saps of our identity, turning it into a virtual essence of profile pictures, status updates, and comments. I am also toying with the idea that in this age obsoleteness, if gadgets are becoming passé sooner than one sets eyes on them, so are our relationships.The painting is however steeped in ambiguity, for I am myself as much an insider as an outsider to this little universe. And if all paintings are supposed to be self-portraits by nature, so is this, but taking on the form of a larger phenomenological portrait. Saarthak SinghImages - Saarthak Singh

Art Inspirations

From wall crayoning to commissions, Madeline H. Lucas explains how her artwork has developed throughout her life Art has always been quite inherent to me as a way of self-expression, so I have never given it a huge amount of consideration. I’ve doodled for as long as I can recall, even if it was with a crayon all over the walls as a three year-old. More often than not when I sketch, I tend to favour using a biro over a pencil – possibly because of its fixedness and darker colour, and that it can be used as easily as a pencil for shading (I am a big fan of cross-hatching). The added bonus is that it doesn’t smudge beneath my hand (being left-handed, this is a common issue that I’m sure others will be familiar with).I have experimented with a lot of different mediums in traditional art, including a long period when I was 11 or 12, and would only ever use gouache or watercolours. A lot of what I have learned when working with colour, however, has come directly from my background in Photoshop. Starting when I was around 13, I broke myself into the programme through extraneous trial and error, and hours of playing around with all it had to offer. Soon after I bought myself a Wacom tablet, and so began a three year period where most of my art was purely digital. From this I realised the importance of a palette and a colour scheme, and many habits – probably somewhat unique – that have continued into my traditional art, such as choosing one particular colour as an overarching theme, and the manner in which I tend to build up the layers of a painting: rough at first, refined at the finish; and having some areas ‘out of focus’ while other zones can be sharpened and more detailed. Usually now when painting I will use acrylic, because of its versatility and because it is quick-drying (unlike oils). My relationship with art has always been capricious. I continued with it at school right up to my A-Levels, and although I always received excellent marks, the rapport I had with my art teacher (who taught me for four years) was always a little tense. He strictly dictated that our inspirations and historical studies throughout projects should be of the 20th century: namely, the Surrealists, H. R. Giger, or Banksy. On one particular occasion I chose instead the Pre-Raphaelites, and received no mentoring from him as a result. Fortunately, while studying Art History for the first two years here at St Andrews, I felt my horizons expanding immeasurably from the broad array of art covered. I discovered new artists who I adore: Van Dyke and Gainsborough, Vermeer, Ruisdael, Courbet and Millet, Goya, and one of my favourites, Gustave Caillebotte. But as studies continued past the First World War I felt my interest waning. I have the distinct feeling that people who enjoy and appreciate post-1945 art are those who do no art themselves.  Art is extremely close to my heart: it is a part of who I am, and something that I will never give up. I don’t consider it as a career choice (though I earned my wages through the summer painting portrait commissions), but I doubt it will ever leave me – it is too deeply ingrained to be going anywhere soon. Madeline H. LucasImage credits - Madeline H. Lucas

Art Dubai

Last month’s Art Dubai, the biggest art fair in the Middle East, showcased some of the most provocative art yet to come from arguably the most volatile region in the world, currently suffering from a wildfire of uprisings. As Dubai’s art movement is growing exponentially, this year’s fair featured over five hundred artists in some eighty galleries. The timing of 2011’s Art Dubai, in the midst of the Arab Spring, however, has given this year’s show far greater meaning. As Tunisia and Egypt have taken the lead in successfully toppling their former authoritarian regimes, they have inspired protests all throughout the region, in countries ranging from Bahrain to Yemen.As protesters across the region continue to be inspired by their neighbours, they are not the only ones inspired. The art world has been utterly captivated with these movements for political change as well. Many artists, often themselves involved in the protests, have been moved by their fellow citizen’s courage, resilience, and sacrifice in overcoming oppression in often violent and chaotic demonstrations. As the spotlight of the art world was cast on Dubai, this inspiration was on full display for the world to see.Specifically, one booth in an Artspace gallery titled “Revolution” featured works by famous Egyptian artist Khaled Hafez, known for his politically motivated paintings. Hafez’s contributions to the gallery included two pieces titled “Revolution: 11.02.2011 – The Sniper and the Sky War”, as well as its counterpart, “Revolution: 11.02.2011 –Snipers, Cats, and Sky Sweepers”. While fusing ancient iconography with modern imagery of snipers and protesters, Hafez has created an image symbolising the struggle of the Egyptian people. Hafez himself a participant in Egypt’s uprising, paid homage to those lost in the violence.A Moroccan artist, Zakaria Ramhani, displayed a buzz-worthy piece titled “Bye Bye Hosni”, portraying an image of a protester displaying a Facebook like button on his shirt, while tearing down a poster of the former President. Ramhani, too, is making a political statement, and in a sense paying homage to the social media platform of Facebook, for helping to enable the rebellion among the youth of Egypt.Evidently, artists such as Hafez and Ramhani have found the revolutions of the Arab Spring as an incredible source of inspiration for their work. As the Dubai art scene continues to grow, it is likely artists of the Middle East will continue to showcase this revolutionary fervour that has so intensely engaged the wider world.  As history has shown us, art and current affairs can often be a complicated pair, yet artists of the region are overcoming this, displaying their national pride. Julianne Funk