January 2017

When science, art and happy accidents collide – a meeting with Samuel Rodgers, AA2A artist-in-residence

January 30, 2017 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

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University of Wolverhampton AA2A artist Samuel Rodgers is a musician and an artist. His practice encompasses performance, composition, installation and phonography.

Jackie Sanderson and I, AA2A student reps at Wolverhampton, went to meet Samuel to find out more about what he’s currently working on while at the university. We met him in his adopted studio: the sound proof fine metalwork room (which has an impressive collection of hammers).

The many hammers in the fine metalwork room

Samuel’s academic background, he explained to us, is in music and performance. However, since graduating from his masters he has become increasingly interested in the materials he uses just as much as the sounds they create. He has recently been exploring the spatial and material aspects of sound and listening. He has also been considering material in relation to light and looking. This is Samuel’s second AA2A residency, his previous being at Dudley College, where he worked with glass. He is now looking at metal.

He explained how he sees a parallel with the way that light responds to the metals he is working with and the way that sound responds. He seems to be very much an artist of the many senses.

Samuel told us about his current project. He is currently looking at parabolic metal forms. His aim is to create sound parabolic metal reflectors to use in an installation or installations towards the end of his residency. He’s been making small bowl-shaped metal forms in the fine metal workshop, which he showed us. However, he is hoping shortly to make larger-scale forms as well. He talked us through how the smaller bowls are crafted and what he’s observed about them in relation to sound and light.

These objects may have a function in his work, but they are beautiful objects in their own right.

One of Samuel's bowls

Samuel told us about how he usually works in collaboration with other artists or musicians. We suggested to him, after noting the link between what he is doing with the metal and mathematical theory, that he might consider branching out into working with people from other academic disciplines.

Looking at what Samuel has been doing seems to confirm the idea that art is no longer an isolated practice. Perhaps it used to be more so. Contemporary art encompasses so many different academic disciplines. In Samuel’s case this may be mathematics and physics, but for other ideas it could be biology, genetics, economics, sociology to name but a few. The role of the artist is not restrictive. There is a huge scope for what an artist can do and explore.

Despite the link between mathematics and what he is doing, Samuel told us that his actual performance work tends to be intuitive rather than composed. There may be an element of science in the crafting, but in the performing it is all ‘happy accidents’. It is impossible to know for sure how the material is going to respond to sound (or light) until the performance happens; there are many factors that can influence the outcome. That is what makes this project so interesting. The process begins by being very controlled and dependent on theory and the performance outcome is currently unknown.

Burnt metal

We very much look forward to seeing the end result!






Finding Art in the Everyday - The Projected Kitchen

January 14, 2017 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

I am fascinated with objects, things, stuff. I love the stuff that we are surrounded by. I find our relationship to stuff fascinating, whether it be real stuff, solid stuff, ethereal stuff, ancient stuff, virtual stuff or digital stuff.

'The Projected Kitchen' an exhibition of recent work by Rosemary Terry, one of the fine art tutors at Wolverhampton, currently on show at the Wolverhampton Art Gallery, is about our relationship with real stuff. It challenges our perceptions of real stuff. Specifically, it challenges perceptions of ordinary domestic objects through the manipulation of material and size.


The pieces in the exhibition lie somewhere between dimensions - not quite completely 3D, but also not 2D. The works also sit between media - not quite drawing, but also not quite sculpture. The objects, spoons, pots, cups, pans, are carved out of wood. They loom huge, much larger than their originals, and are placed seemingly randomly around the gallery space either on the walls or on rustic shelves. 

More pots

Walking around the objects I felt a strange sense of my shifting perception. Front on, they seemed significant and solid, side on, they shrank and thinned, losing their sense of importance. I was reminded of scenery on a stage. Front on, they sat majestically about the room, willing me to examine them closely: the texture, the ripples of the wood, and the shadows cast by the sculptural element of the objects. Side on, they looked the other way.

I found the objects quite absorbing and thought-provoking.  

The exhibition runs until 12 Feb.

The Repetition Room - eat, sleep, draw, repeat

January 14, 2017 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

Last week was assessment week for me at Wolverhampton so the culmination of the first semester’s work. For the assessment, I was asked to display a piece / body of work that reflected my current 'thinking and understanding'.

During the last semester I had been researching the concept of repetition. Repetition touches many levels of existence. It can be a comfort and a disturbance; a compulsion and a revulsion. In Western culture, repetition is traditionally condemned as something parasitic and negative. Absolute originality is honoured over imitation. In my research I had been challenging this notion. Repetition may be the act of creating another and another ad infimum, but out of all of the similarity, something new may emerge. Repetition is not a static process, it is a dynamic one.

It isn’t the act of repetition that is important or even the nature of the repetitious events; it is the effects, or vibrations, of the repetitions. The moments between repetitions and the changes that take place are more interesting than the pieces themselves.

My assessment 'piece' was composed of a number of strands which are all interrelated. The 'piece' I called The Repetition Room.

The Repetition Room

The aim of The Repetition Room as a whole was to reflect the disordered, infinite nature of the various repetitious acts I’d been engaged in over the last few weeks. I wanted to see if anything of value could be teased out of the chaos. The question I have been asking with this project is: how can I visually capture the ‘sudden illumination of multiplicity’ (Michael Foucault). Gilles Deleuze states that the aim of the artist is to defeat the chaos by setting up a ‘being of the sensory’. I want to know: is that possible here?

Over the semester, every week I had put posters up around the art building. The point of the posters was to challenge people's assumptions about what constitutes art: can a copy of a pre-existing image and text become art? I also wanted to provoke thought about repetition and show how repetition is omnipresent through following various themes with the posters, such as TV, film and consumerism. Finally, I wanted to be an annoyance through the repetitious nature of the posters. The posters covered a wall and a half of The Repetition Room.

I also created what I called a 'repetition board' which was a piece of wood upon which I drew the same image over and over again during my travels around Wolverhampton and my home town, Shrewsbury. This board came with me everywhere and whenever I stopped, I drew. Immediately after each drawing I transcribed my thoughts during the drawing process. I wanted to ask a number of questions: Would the thoughts be related to the drawing? Would the thoughts be repetitive? What does the act of drawing do to the act of thinking? Do they impact each other? Would I become more conscious of my thoughts as I knew I was going to be writing them down? How much of what I wrote down would be genuine, based on memory, and manipulated?

In the centre of The Repetition Room stands a plinth which is covered with doodles about repetition. I had used this plinth as my sketch pad, to note down all my thoughts and ideas over the semester. I took the plinth home over Christmas and obsessively drew on it over the holiday. It interested me exactly how obsessed I became. It was like my drug.

The walls were also adorned with paintings of the same shape on the repetitious board. Again, these were drawn without reference to the original image (a sheep poo photographed on holiday in Wales), using colours as I found them.

The final element of the room was copies of 'nothing', i.e. holes in the wall. If you can replicate nothing, does nothing exist? Are my copies the positive of the negative? Is there something interesting about the repetition of a void?

In the room, which creates an immersive experience of repetition, I wanted to express the chaos and the rhizomic nature of repetition. The only way I could see to do this, was to saturate the environment with all of my current creative output.

If the aim of art is to find focus in the chaos or rip the fabric of ordinary existence with a ‘genuine encounter’, then I feel that I have been unable to do this so far within this project. I can, at this point, I decided, only reflect the chaos and omnipresence of repetition and hope to convey something of that to the viewer.

There is also a blog for the #FreeRepublicofRepetition: www.freerepublicoforepetition.com.