Welcome to the blog of Spike Dennis; an artist and sometime curator. Trained in London Spike has exhibited widely, from London to Los Angeles, and has delivered projects from Cardiff to Stockholm, for organisations including the Illustration Research network and Cardiff Design Festival amongst Others.
Drowning (Not Waving) is my first attempt at making an automaton. I’ve been talking about making automata and kinetic sculptures with fellow members of the Pack of Wolves for a few months now. With a few days to spare over the summer Faye Scott-Farrington and I got together in the studio to set to work making our first automata.
The final creation seen in the video above is made almost entirely from MDF, aside from the porcelain doll hands. Before this however, we had to gain an understanding of how basic cams and cranks work. Following some research online we created a couple of cardboard maquettes to help us figure out how the basic mechanics would work.
Having grasped the basics we set about making more permanent constructions from wood and MDF. I created a simple shelf to house the machine and then I cut each cam individually, sanding them to as near a perfect circle as I could. These were then drilled out an mounted on a piece of dowel that would act as the main crank.
Using offset concentric cams I was able to ensure that the hands would all raise and fall at diffferent times.
The motion in my automaton is a little rough which I think is in part due to the bamboo skewers I used to spear the dolls’ hands. I also had to add some extra weight to the cam plates beneath the smallest hands because there wasn’t quite enough weight to enable the hands to drop back down again.
Keep an eye out on Faye’s blog for some photos of the automaton that she created. It’s a suitably creepy machine!
The Pack of Wolves have been invited to show a recording of their Punch and Judy performance from “Once Upon Again…” at Kalopsia’s new exhibition “Con-Textiles-Isation” in their Edinburgh gallery space. The exhibition will explore the intersection between performance art and textiles.
Performance and Textiles are two strands of artistic practice that rarely meet, yet here they become entwined in a manner that seeks not only to return textiles to its rightful place in the orbit of contemporary art, but also to showcase the conceptual and communicational potential of the medium.
Works by a selection of international artists will be on display and will include performance pieces interwoven with the use of classic textile techniques and textile pieces that engage both physically and conceptually with performance. There will also be live performances at the opening on the evening of the 8 August 2014.
I came across this great little video interview with Erin M. Riley the other day. I’m very familiar with Erin’s work and have had the pleasure of exhibiting alongside her in a couple of shows over the last year or so but I hadn’t seen this interview before.
For those of you who don’t know her work, Erin produces hand woven tapestries from photos that might otherwise be associated with the likes of Snapchat or Tumblr posts. Imagery often includes semi-naked women, used condoms and drug paraphernalia.
I grew up on the internet, so for me nudity is very normal, and when I was on AOL and when I was on these early chatroom things there was always this nudity, and maybe I am really desensitized to it and I am very much not shocked by it. I do know that it’s shocking but I don’t intend it to be. I intend it to be more like: “This is what’s going on!”
As an artist who also grew up on the internet and now works with textile based material processes along with contemporary (often explicit) content sourced via the internet I find I can relate to a lot of what Erin says in the video above. I was particularly interested her comments about the medium of the work removing the work from the pornographic realm.
Whilst the response of others to some of my work can be that of shock and disgust it’s good to hear that I’m not alone in my attitude and approach towards the content that I’m using as source material for my work.
Embroidered photographs aren’t a new thing; in fact there are quite a few artists combining stitch and photography at the momennt. I do like a well executed animated GIF though and these images by Japanese artist Mana Morimoto combine this digital medium with embroidered photographs to great effect.
I don’t know much about this artists work but I really like what I’ve seen on her Tumblr page so far. As I understand it she uses images found via Google search for her embroidered photographs which she then prints off, re-interprets with thread, and then digitally scans the resulting image.
I’ve been tinkering with some different grounds as I look to develop some new work. In this instance I have been playing with plastic canvas as it offers some structural qualities that can’t so easily be achieved with fabric. Unlike raw linen though it isn’t available in such fine count. This particular example works out at about 10 stitches per inch.
A new issue to consider when working with this plastic canvas is how to finish the edges. Unlike fabric it can’t be wrapped around a board to be stretched and mounted and you wouldn’t really want any of the material showing. Common consensus seems to be that an overcast stitch or whip stitch should be used to finish the edge of the material or to join two pieces. I’m not quite sure if this will work for what I have in mind but I’m going to give it a go with a couple of test pieces.