After Powers Of Ten #1 (2022)

So this one takes a bit of explaining… Short version is I wanted to produce something that got into the visual rhyming between the cosmic and the microscopic you see in the Charles and Ray Eames’ 1977 short film, Powers Of Ten, and likewise the graphical quality of its art direction.

For The Kick-About #46, I subjected everyone to macro-photographs of the human litter dusting various surfaces in my home. I decided to use these same photographs as the starting point for my response, and started by spherizing them digitally (over and over again), so as to produce ‘planets’ from them (or molecules?). In part, I was prompted by another Kick-About, and this time was able to produce these little animated loops by running each of the photographs together to make footage, in which the effect of spherizing the original photographs multiple times has been too soften their respective surfaces into these seemingly ‘hand-drawn’ sequences.

To emulate some of the ‘maths’ in the Powers of Ten, I then composited some concentric circles over the top of these animated loops. They might be particles or elements of some periodic table, or eggs, or maps, or other sorts of diagrams, but it was a lot of fun engineering them from a largely automatistic approach to ‘seeing what happens’.

I never really got to a final outcome, so I’ll be sharing a collection of the results over the coming days.

The Kick-About #62 ‘Powers Of Ten’

From the internal and endlessly expansive spaces of our memories, as inspired by our previous Kick-About together, we’re this week exploring the mind-boggling extremities of different scales, courtesy of Charles and Ray Eames’ 1977 short film, Powers Of Ten. Enjoy this latest showcase of ‘new works made in a short time’, the big and the small and everything in-between.

James Randall

“As a youngster I recall the concept of infinity as an exciting concept that had huge at one end and tiny at the other. Then it got a bit messy and I threw in the concept of mother nature as a religion to cover the extremities. I approached this KA as a mechanical exercise where a square is 1×1 of a certain colour, 10×10 are lines across and down in the next colour wheel colour (and I varied the thickness of the lines and added some variation within the colour stop and the opacity to make it a bit more interesting), added another hatching of lines for 100×100 and another for1000x1000. I didn’t go further as this visual started to grey off. I then repeated the exercise with sets of adjacent squares and lines with an increase in colour wheel increments as I went along. Finally I went back to each layer and slightly messed up each layer either by moving or resizing them. Not unpleasant but meaningless.”

Vanessa Clegg

“Initially this flummoxed me despite loving the film… how do I react visually? Then, eureka,I realised the drawing I’ve been ,on and off, working on since lockdown would ‘sort of’ slot into the micro/macro thing. The idea behind it was based on my calendar where I diagonally cross off each day (otherwise I’d be walking in circles) alternating direction as I go. The gessoed board was divided into a tight grid so the lines filled each square gradually building a pattern which subconsciously reflected the curtains of my childhood home (weird. Anyway leaving areas clear or less worked and stepping back it becomes the. birds…silence…as I remember the atmosphere of 2020. Micro/macro.”

Pencil on gessoed board stained with blue oil paint. 4’ X 3’ (right hand section still being given final layer)

Gary Thorne

“The camera distance to the mirror surface is .0003 of a kilometre, the distance from mirror surface to the actual object is 150.56 million kilometres, hence it being a blurry object, and the time of day is 14:16 with a current temperature of 25 degrees celsius.”

Charly Skilling

“Whilst thinking around the film ‘Power of Ten, I came across some images of the cellular structure of a sunflower’s stem and of sunflower pollen under the microscope. These images reminded me of  some  odd yarns  in my collection and all of a sudden I found myself building the various layers of a sunflower from  the centre out.   Like Topsy, it just grew and  grew, and by the time I had reached the countryside surrounding the sunflower fields, I had to call a halt. It was the opposite of disappearing down a rabbit-hole – I was in danger of disappearing into outer space! Great fun, though, as always!”

Phil Cooper

“I really enjoyed watching the film by Charles and Ray Eames, it took me straight back to my ‘70s childhood and adolescence, pre-internet, when occasionally I’d stumble across films like this on the TV and it would blow my mind.

Powers of Ten got me thinking about scale – albeit in a much more modest way than in the film – and I used some sketches I’d made of a clump of sea kale I’d photographed on Dungeness to make an image about a wood in late summer. I layered a couple of sketches and the plants started to look more like trees, laden with fruit. As the sea kale was growing right next to a nuclear power station, a radiation leak could turn them mutant, just like in the films, and they would grow into giants, so that the pea-sized seeds on the original plant become as big as apples.” / /

Graeme Daly

“This film made me think of how minute our little planet is, and wonder about the possibilities of life many light years away. I wonder what those other planets could look like and the beings who inhabit them? I decided to create some nebulas using the textures from a previous exhilarating Kick-About and stamped them onto simple 3D spheres, superimposing them atop those same textures, while painting galactic elements to create milky ways that possibly maybe could be…”

@graemedalyart / / / /

Marion Raper

“This amazing film by Charles and Ray Eames reminded me about the relatively recent invention of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) which is able to see further back in time than any other telescope has been able to.  It was originally designed to study some of the universe’s oldest galaxies and has a mirror that detects molecules such as water, CO2 and ammonia in the atmosphere of distant exoplanets, and the ice and dust that form stars, planets and comets. Scientists say studying these molecules and learning more about the chemical reaction that happens in these places will help us to understand how planetary systems form. This information could also tell us if the conditions for life are unique to our solar system. My collage artwork this time is an attempt to capture a view from JWST of a far off galaxy thousands of light years away.”

Kerfe Roig

“I enjoyed the video, but I really have no coherent explanation for the thought process that led me from there to here. I do know I think in circles, not boxes, when considering time and space. And it was such a bombardment, I felt I needed to be minimal. I used a variegated grey thread to try to create some shimmer. For my pantoum, I took part of an old poem about zero and combined it with words and ideas I wrote down from the narration.”

zero, or: without limits

the direction is lost–
distances traveled
waver and shift–
perspective changes

distances traveled
approach and return–
perspective changes,
light years converge

with approach and return,
darkness increases–
light years converge,

darkness increases,
becomes empty,
into energy

becomes empty–
a transformation
into energy
at the center of nowhere

a transformation–
invisible, uncoiling
at the center of nowhere
inside time’s pocket

invisible, uncoiling,
inside time’s pocket–
the direction is lost /

Tom Beg

“This Kick-About submission ended up with a lot false starts and the remains of ideas scattered amongst the bits and bytes of a computer hard drive. A downfall of my own making perhaps. The deceptive simplicity of the depiction of scale and movement in Powers of Ten combined with the retro graphic design-ness of the imagery has always appealed to me, so in the end I just tried to tap into that and make something that appeared to be at once microscopic, abstract and graphical.” / /

Colin Bean

After a bit of research into the works and inventions of the Eames, I put together something from the prompt film (space/movement) and married that to one of the company’s products – in this case, a deck of building cards. This deck consists of 45 cards, in nine sets of five sequential images. Each set starts with an image, then, from the same distance point, zooms in the five times until it ‘disappears’. As for the initial images, they are simply a record of what is in ‘spaces’ in the house, in cupboards or drawers…

For the backs, rather than a single icon, it’s more like the heavens of the original film, at least that’s where the idea came from. The photographs were not edited, so each sequence of five represents a single event. Each image was stuck onto ready-made blank playing cards, then laminated with transparent plastic and each one trimmed. The same for the backs. I don’t own a laminator but did invest in a cunning little hand-trimmer that rounded the corners. As for the cuts in the cards, they are not particularly beautiful and done with the help of two bits of wood marked with a 1cm line, two ‘G’ clamps and a junior hacksaw.

This Kick-About prompt was one which gave me lots of practical problems to solve in order to visualise what I had set out to do, and like so many ideas, this was one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration! For all that it was very satisfying and fun to be able to use them for building structures as originally intended.”

Phil Gomm

“So this one takes a bit of explaining! Short version is I wanted to produce something that got into the visual rhyming between the cosmic and the microscopic you see in Powers Of Ten, and likewise the graphical quality of its art direction. For The Kick-About #46, I subjected everyone to macro-photographs of the human litter dusting various surfaces in my home. I decided to use these same photographs as the starting point for my response, and started by spherizing them digitally (over and over again), so as to produce ‘planets’ from them (or molecules?). In part, I was prompted by another Kick-About, and this time was able to produce these little animated loops by running each of the photographs together to make footage, in which the effect of spherizing the original photographs multiple times has been too soften their respective surfaces into these seemingly ‘hand-drawn’ sequences. To emulate some of the ‘maths’ in the Powers of Ten, I then composited some concentric circles over the top of these animated loops. I don’t really have a final outcome, so what I’ve gathered here are a collection of results. They might be particles or elements of some periodic table, or eggs, or maps, or other sorts of diagrams, but it was a lot of fun engineering them from a largely automatistic approach to ‘seeing what happens’.”

And so, from the infinite bounds of the cosmos and abstractions of innerspace to the pensive domestic subjects that feature in the paintings of Danish artist, Vilhelm Hammershøi. Have fun and see you on the other side.

The Kick-About #60 ‘A Chawan Is A Bowl’

I wonder if Augustus Osbourne Lamplough (our previous Kick-About prompt) ever sipped tea as he laboured at his paintings under some far-off afternoon sun? We’ll never know, but tea is clearly a tonic for the Kick-About collective, as these latest examples of new works made in a short time will illustrate.

Kerfe Roig

“I constructed my chawan of tea-dyed paper—the outside of watercolor paper, the inside a coffee filter.  The tea leaves took to each in a different way. I found a paper plate bowl online, and copied the pattern, then sewed my vessel together in my own (imperfect) way.  It resembles birchbark baskets made by Native Americans more than Japanese ceramics, and certainly would hold no liquid.  But the spirit invoked is the same.”

Rituals evolve–
each step repeated, echoed,
but never mirrored
exactly, never complete.
We construct vessels
to replace our ungrown wings–
imperfect, always–
impossible, fragile, filled
with hope—windblown, weathered, found. /

Tom Beg

“I wasn’t really aiming for any kind of authenticity with these. In fact, I believe the shapes are more appropriate for drinking alcohol rather than tea. Instead, I just had a bit of fun playing around with form and colour to generate these drinking vessel-like things, that may or may not be reminiscent of Japanese tea cups.” / /

Vanessa Clegg

“This week I decided to experiment and play around so using PVA, opened-out tea bags and cling film. I moulded a couple of containers (bowls) with loose tea trapped between the layers. After that, I used torches to light through and some of the close-ups became a bit celestial! The last image of the hand was attempting to show tea turning to gold, as Empire cashed in on the underpaid toil of hundreds of tea plantation pickers.”

Marion Raper

When I researched the art of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, I found it quite amazing how much is involved.  There are not just the tea bowls, but so many special whisks, pots and ladles, as well as special rooms for preparation and waiting rooms (is that while waiting for tea to brew correctly or maybe some beautiful lady to come and pour it out?). Anyway, it all involves such precision. I have tried to show this in my watercolour and fine line painting, which is a style I really enjoy doing.

Phil Gomm

“I had to laugh a little bit when I saw Phil Cooper’s choice of prompt for this week’s Kick-About; of late, I’ve spent a lot of my time painting and decorating, as our house has been looking very ‘lived-in’ and was in need of some care and attention. Less poetically, this has entailed the mixing-up of lots of filler, to apply liberally to the various cracks and craters in our old walls. In truth, I actually love working with filler: I love how perfectly white it is, and how the powder transforms into something as pleasingly spreadable as cake-mixture. I wondered if I could use the filler to produce a few simple bowls, not suited for tea-drinking obviously, and set about slathering it over a balloon-or-two. In lieu of any decorative glazes, I picked a few flowers from the garden and crushed some coloured chalks and squidged these elements against the surface of the balloon beneath big dollops of filler. I then used a knife to spread the filler over and around the balloon to create the rough shape of a bowl. Filler is designed to dry really fast, so you’ve got a bit of time to muck about with it – but not much. The three bowls I’ve included here are the first three I made; there was a fourth, but I broke it. I enjoyed making them a lot and could have go on to make many, many more – but there was this other small matter of finishing the actual decorating…”

Graeme Daly

“I was instantly drawn to the textures of these gorgeous Chawans, I can only imagine the craftsmanship that goes into creating those intricate glazes. I am a bit of a hunter-gatherer of textures and enjoy capturing the small things that make something whole, so I decided to cherry pick from the mountain of textures I have stored in a number of hard drives and superimpose them in a way that might look like some of those textures that make up Chawans. Some textures in there include; dirt, mold, water, rust, snow, moss, plants, and a hefty amount of ice. It is always a pleasure creating in this way as there is always an air of mystery as I never know how they will turn out.”

@graemedalyart / / / /

Gary Thorne

“This still life, started in Gloucestershire around 2012 reached completion in Kent for KA60 hence, a view of Isle of Sheppey from Harty Ferry south side. My research tells me the wide-mouthed chawan is ideal for summer, as it cools tea quicker. The cast-iron Tetsubin (featured) is actually the kettle and not a tea pot so, whats missing is the brewing Dobin (ceramic pot) or the Tetsukyusu (iron pot with enamel interior) so, basically I’ve failed to portray the ritual properly! Back to the drawing board…”

Colin Bean

“The prompt of an ancient tea cup seemed to beg for a still life painting. I haven’t painted with oils for a long time and then not very much and have kept nothing, though two paintings do adorn friends’ walls. I felt the Kick-About environment a perfect way to have another go at painting with oils. As for the subject, I have  a bunch of  vintage and antique tea cups, but nothing as old and venerable as the pictured prompt. However, I am total sucker for this green and white tableware from Austria. The ‘Gmundner Keramik’ factory is still producing, and traces its roots to 1492… The pictured pieces themselves are 50’s and later decorated in their ‘grün geflammt’ classic patterns.

To get to this stage of the painting was done in two short sessions: a scratchy sketch and then, the next day, the painting done in one go… sort of ‘alla prima’. The canvas was scraped and cleaned from a previous disaster, (Kick-About / Matisse) and together with the paints, came from a bargain shop. I did use a drying medium and invested in a large tube of mixing white. It was a bit wet on wet, with too short a time between the two layers for the paint to cure properly. But yet again so much learnt and so much still to learn, another great time with this one and much enjoyed. Paul Cezanne said, ‘With an apple I will astonish Paris’. In my painting there are two apples, but I doubt they will astonish anyone…”

Charly Skilling

“While exploring the art and intricacies of the tea ceremonies of Japan and  China, it struck me that  the British have also developed many forms of tea ritual over the centuries since we were first introduced to this fragrant tonic. Many of these rituals faded almost to extinction in the latter part of the 20th century, with the ubiquitous upsurge in coffee-drinking. But tea has made something of a comeback, evolving, fragmenting and adapting to meet the needs of the 21st century Brit.  Of course, different generations and different environments require different rituals.  My beloved and I went into a café once, when we were on holiday, and the following conversation took place :-

Waiter: What can I get you, sir?
Beloved: Coffee for me, please.
Waiter: Expresso, latte, cappuccino?
Beloved: Just ordinary coffee, please
Waiter: Milk or cream?
Beloved: Just ordinary coffee with milk.
Waiter: That would be a Flat American, sir.
Beloved: Fine.
Waiter: Anything else, sir?
Beloved: A tea for my wife, please.
Waiter: English Breakfast?
Beloved: No thanks, We ate at the hotel.
(At which point, the waiter gave up the struggle).

I digress.  So back to British tea rituals and the proliferation of varieties and styles in serving tea. One area of ritual that never entirely died away, especially amongst  a certain sub-sect of English middle-class women (myself included) are those rituals surrounding “Hosting a Committee Meeting in One’s Own Home”.  I am sure the following will seem quite bizarre to some of you, but I hope it chimes, however faintly, with some of you.”

And for our next Kick-About together, a melancholy wisp of a thing from Molly Drake…

We tramped the open moorland in the rainy April weather
And came upon the little inn that we had found together
The landlord gave us toast and tea and stopped to share a joke
And I remember firelight
I remember firelight
I remember firelight
And you remember smoke

We ran about the meadow grass with all the harebells bending
And shaking in the summer wind a summer never-ending
We wandered to the little stream among the river flats
And I remember willow trees
I remember willow trees
I remember willow trees
And you remember gnats

We strolled the Spanish marketplace at 90 in the shade
With all the fruit and vegetables so temptingly arrayed
And we can share a memory as every lover must
And I remember oranges
I remember oranges
I remember oranges
And you remember dust

The autumn leaves are tumbling down and winter’s almost here
But through the spring and summertime we laughed away the year
And now we can be grateful for the gift of memory
For I remember having fun
Two happy hearts that beat as one
When I had thought that we were “we”
But we were “you and me”.

The Kick-About #59 ‘Augustus Osbourne Lamplough’

Our last Kick-About together was fired off by the super-saturated decor of Henri Matisse’s 1908 painting, Harmony in Red, also known as The Dessert. As Vanessa Clegg observes, there is but a small difference between the word ‘dessert’ and ‘desert’, but a whole world of difference between Matisse’s spatial effects and use of colour and those distinguishing the paintings of Augustus Osbourne Lamplough. With Lamplough’s evocations of exotic landscapes as our muse this week, enjoy this latest collection of new works made in a short time.

Jordan Buckner

“The magic of Lamplough’s work is all in the soft, low contrast haze. He managed to capture those dusty, golden hour landscapes with a gentleness and calmness – a painting that feels barely there. My own contribution isn’t quite as calm – perhaps a little more sickly, but an exploration at least of the similar, low contrast magic landscape.”

“One process I often use to get a composition off the ground, is to take my old paintings and remix them. I collage and collide them together to create new forms, compositions and colour harmonies. It all feels a little mad and chaotic but it is the only way in which I can find some spontaneity in the digital medium.”

Tom Beg

“I love the mirage-like quality of the African desert paintings and was instantly reminded of fata morganas and mirages in endless landscapes. With that in mind, I just had a bit of quick fun with some minimalistic desert imagery and a simple impression of mirages. Are they distant columns of lights? An epic oasis city in the desert? Or merely just a trick of the camera lens?” / /

Colin Bean

“I met this Kick-About with a beautifully decorated box, which, some years ago, was given to my father on a removal job. He said it belonged to a nun, but it’s unknown to me if it was she who presented it to dad as a thanks, or if it was just something the owner no longer needed. My dad was never one to refuse anything. 

Inside the lid is a sticker marked ‘Relics’ and four smaller boxes are revealed. Each box, decorated all over with detailed floral sprays, contains fragments and objects collected on travels. Sadly, no body parts. In one are two pieces of building stone from the Great Pyramid… and so my rather obvious connection with the prompt.  It’s a  marvellous object and a bit like a transportable ‘cabinet of curiosities’. Apart from the pyramid fragments, there are some shells from the Sea of Galilee, a chunk of Fountains Abbey, and a bit of brick from the spyhole through which Wellington spied the French at Waterloo – and numerous other bits and pieces.

So the drawing (collage, coloured pencil and ink) that came out of this, is of that inner box: its contents and dedication. The obelisk (foam board, pins, beads and Pritt Stick materialised as a way of using the pattern of the red granite – useful if you happen to be staging ‘Aida’ or ‘The Magic Flute’ and you need a desk ornament.”

Vanessa Clegg

“Having missed the last two prompts I thought I’d try, with limited technology, to combine all three… So, drawing (Peake), dessert (Matisse) and desert (Lamplough). ‘Dessert in the desert’ (helped by an old yellow lens filter for the heat!).”

Phil Cooper

“It just so happened that the week this prompt appeared I was asked to paint a picture of the desert by a friend from Dubai. I thought it was a fairly straightforward task, even though outside my usual oeuvre, but when I started trying to paint the sand dunes in the evening light I soon discovered it was tricker than I thought. The tones and colours were elusive and everything I did ended up too warm, too cool, just not right, and so the prompt was perfectly timed for me; I didn’t know the work of Augustus Osborne Lamplough, but as I looked at images of his watercolours, it was immediately clear this man really knew how to paint sand! The delicacy of the tints he used and the skill of his watercolour painting is breathtaking; so here was the master I could learn from to try and make my Dubai painting more convincing. I found it difficult enough with oil paint, where you can correct your mistakes, so I’m in awe of Lamplough’s skill painting desert-like landscapes in watercolour, where there’s nowhere to hide if something goes wrong.” / /

Kerfe Roig

“I decided to do watercolors, which perhaps lean more towards Turner than Lamplough, but the sunset feeling is still there I think.” /

Gary Thorne

“Using a tight colour palette with aim for a unified tonal landscape, and making use of the palette knife to harmonise structure and composition, this endeavour at 30cm square, tries to integrate tree structure as much with the air as with the ground. Spatial depth is somewhat sacrificed when a push for atmospheric effect prevails. Lamplough’s blue-saturated ‘Cairo Mosque from the Nile’ (on the Lyon&Turnbull auction website) provided the inspiration.”

Jan Blake

“I have a book of sepia photographs I bought in a junk shop many years ago. It is full of these curious landscapes from far away places of a Grand Tour taken in the early days of photography. I was going on some short travels of my own to Cornwall by train and I was prompted to think about my previous ideas of travelling I have been musing upon for quite some time. I love these soft muted colours Lamplough uses and have tried to apply them to a short series of my journey into Cornwall. I have taken the contrast of moving so rapidly from the verdant  lush quality that suddenly changes to moorland in a moment as you approach the landscape of the deserted tin mines around Redruth. As I was moving in the train it was like a stage set with moving sections. These sections move at different speeds so the furthest remains for the longest time with new images to the foreground that flash past. The perspective changes as well and I would like to continue this journey so that your eye dips into a valley… but I ran out of time!”

Phil Gomm

“I wasn’t familiar at all with Lamplough’s work (much obliged, Jordan), but find his paintings completely magical, and can hardly believe they’re paintings at all, in so much as all that soft golden light and gauze is produced from paint and brushes onto paper. In Lamplough’s landscapes, I find the impressionism and light-play I always want from my own photographs, and it was a happy coincidence that Jordan’s choice of prompt should arrive in the same week I was experimenting with physical gauzes to produce more diffuse lighting effects of my own. Suitably inspired, I returned to a local bit of unadopted scrub set just back from the sea front (last seen on here under very different circumstances) and indulged once more my love of grasses, in all their billowing contours. First putting my camera into an organza bag, I proceeded to photograph the scrub as the wind pushed it this way and that, and the sun illuminated every quill and strand of it. Meanwhile, the gauze served to flatten everything out and flood the subject with light, producing some Lamplough-like atmospheres from a largely over-looked landscape.”

Marion Raper

I am trying to convey the idea of heat by using very hot and luminous colours.  Augustus Lamplough however, managed to portray this by a marvellous technique of softness and reflection of light and shadow.  His paintings are simple but very effective and it must have been so wonderful a time at the turn of the 19th century, to wander around Egypt with your watercolours, and just explore and paint.

Graeme Daly

“When I recently came back to London after experiencing the greens of Ireland I was taken aback with how brown and muddy the earth felt, the grass crispy under my feet, the leaves and flowers with burnt liver spots. The world was well and truly scorching alive with a wave of heat that follows your every move. Sweating, I set out with my camera in the sweltering heat to explore the torrid areas and capture similar landscapes to Lamplough’s work, the park near my house where I run every day being the main jumping off point, coupled with the coloured slats, trucks and caravans in the midst of setting-up shop for a funfair. I wanted to explore taking the photos that step further – upping the exaggeration by adding a plethora of different shapes hinting at some civilisation in the distance. But is it nothing more than a mirage?”

@graemedalyart / / / /

With many thanks to Berlin-based artist and regular Kick-Abouter, Phil Cooper, we have our latest jumping-off point, but before you take a look, you might want to pop the kettle on…

For Drummers Only #2 (2022)

With Sandy Nelson’s 1962 12 minute drum solo as a starting point for our latest Kick-About, I wanted to respond to the divine bash and crash of it with moving images. I had a technique in mind and sense of what I wanted, but couldn’t achieve it, and not for want of trying. That said, I did identify a way to produce imagery that pressed my mid-20th Century buttons and communicated something of the vibration of Nelson’s drum kit.