copyimage4What would Rosalind Krauss say if I claimed working on the laser cutter was akin to Jackson Pollock and her definition of   horizontality  on digital stimulants.

Krauss described working across the canvas on the floor horizontality. She commented on the angle and flatness to the body instead of the parallel to the body and vision of the vertical. She focussed on the movement and physicality and she paid attention to the debris from the floor that was caught up in the process. This was base, ground and a horizontal field.

The laser cutter is programmed by uploading images adapted and vectored in the Ethos software package. You can click on minor digital points and move them, draw accurately and align precisely. However there is a certain set of principles that render the process long and fraught with attempts. For instance identifying points and erasing them can drastically alter the form of an image. It is open, as you can do this precisely or in a free clickety click manner. Forms become formless; Altered states reminiscent of forms rather than inherently identifiable or clear. As Pollock moved across the canvas, backwards and forwards, so does the arm of the laser cutter throwing down its lasered points of light.  While these are precisely programmed, I would not say I have precisely programmed it.

Often the size alters or does not save; leaving chance fragments as it sends to the cutter, to etch. Often I’m succumbed with playing with the layers that distort and alter through repetitive application of the laser, similar to the repetitive layer of paint and dribbles from Pollock. I am not claiming to be any Pollock but the actions, processes and the working in the flat appear connected. This simile of process collapses when I consider some image fragments   created have been gathered from the vertical capture via the camera and rendered in photoshop. However, the drawings produced on the flat, as semi draughtsmanship moving backwards and forwards flings my drafts and process back in the direction of Pollock and working with the flat ground.

The debris and dust or chemical residue gathered into the laser cutter does not end up on the surface of an etched piece. Yet it is this baseness, engineering design base utilised with artistic purpose, intent and strategy that causes me to reflect on Krauss’ interpretation on the process of Pollock. The mechanical actions of movement, repetition and the strategy of ground provide a blueprint of understanding the space between mechanism: Labour and production with the subtlety of minor adaptation; a splash mark difference or 10 pixels difference; a shortened arm swing with the brush to a missed point in the programme image file. Pollock’s approach had many characteristics of this kind of production as building up from the ground swell  moving across the ground rather choreographically, with the work emerging as a result rather than a scribed blueprint in relation to the vision of the body at eye level and at body scale.  This moving across the range of horizontality as body appears to move Along and Across horizontality. This is a little rumination here and already flaws in the likeness can be seen but some common ground remains and it is possible to present horizontality via engineering tools with artistic inception to question ideas on value of production, labour and art, the flatbed and ground, baseness and debris. Pollock literally gathered up debris from the floor, wrappers and chewing gum into some of his work and the drawings and marks scribed into the glass on the laser cutter gather up the debris of edgelands, the drossscape of built architecture. This use of ground the most horizontal plane of thought residing in this reflection.

In Alan Berger’s definition of drossscape in 2007 as an urban design concept, it is produced through rapid industrialization and horizontal growth. In the tide of horizontal sprawl (an architectural definition) the debris of lost drossscape emerge and are inherently part of the edgelands landscape which  present problems for infrastructure in both the built context and its value. Berger asserts that it is a challenge and should not be feared. However in the horizontal sprawl while the waste is revealed, it is not necessarily collected into the debris to become part of the new work as in Pollock’s canvases;  at least the dirty parts are not. The wipe clear method, clean up, refurb, renew or regenerate is employed. Yet in Diller and Scoffidio’s High Rise the dross, the overgrown segments, the rusty tracks are echoed in the design as what remained  as clear traces of the debris and the broken disconnected parts.

Furthermore rather than contributing to purpose built infrastructure, an acknowledgment that the horizontal sprawl that is left as drossscape perhaps makes for  ready-made canvases on which to move, choreograph, contour and play along and across as Pollock. Yet ready-made space refers to the Cartesian understanding that there is prior-existence of space and the edgeland space activated is not that;  It is a discursive space in the manner that is not ‘filled’ (Krauss.R, Artforum,Nov;1973 ). Krauss who recognizes the ephemeral nature of space, time and scape as a movement and debris collected surface also recognizes that it is experience that shapes the space. In other words it is not a ‘passive space that has a predetermined psychological state’ (Krauss.R, Artforum, Nov;1973;4). There is no self that exists replete with meaning prior to existing within that space. In fact it is the edges, the limits that determine the space, that is, type of space. Krauss uses Stella’s unbroken expanses and the delineations of edges to demonstrate the achievement of  flatness and the removal not of debris but of  ideologies or illusion.

If the concepts are valued in relation to the ground as canvas and the  latter point on the experience of space  valued then the sites become a moving shifting, gestural horizontal canvas for the playful and the very democratic base ground for open creative activity which is so sought for. In other words leave edgeland sites alone and open for a democratic body to choreograph into a space.


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