Janet Tryner Fine Artist

Fine artist and live graphics designer.

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

Claire Colebrook: “[C]an we imagine a mode of reading the world, and its anthropogenic scars, that frees itself from folding the earth’s surface around human survival?”

Quote: Claire Colebrook, Death of the PostHuman: Essays on Extinction, Vol. 1



For some years I have kept the image above on my Mac desktop. It reminds me of what inspires me to make art in the way I do and why I think making art like this matters. It is a photograph of the abrupt ending of a freshly lain path at the edge of a new housing development near my home. The imported sand and gravel burbles off at the end into a sea of clarty brown marl, giving lie to its obvious intention to join up with the older path looping round the spinny giving access to the Rec and its marshy boundary of the golf course. Instead, you must hop through a gap in the hedge, walk the verge by the road and then broach the spinny via another gap. 

These days, the spinny resides in a different parish to the the new housing development which wouldn't have been built at all if a pre-2014 environmental report, stating that green space had already been reduced to pockets and there was no more room for houses, had been upheld. This one field this side of the railway was all that was left from the old farms. Instead, the parish boundaries were moved so that it became enclosed by the neighbouring parish belonging to a village more than a mile away, between which conveniently lay much green (yet unaccessible) space.

The houses were duly built and I spent 2017 and 2018 exploring, cataloguing, collecting, and making art, about the changing environment and affects of home building made on the ground. A great deal of material from the building site ended up causing pollution; foam, metal, plastic, blown and scattered around, but it was the path that provided a prime example of what Beatrice Cortez' paragraph, which hovers above it in my image, is set radically against:


If we consider, following Deleuze and Gattari, that every face and every object diagrams the space in front of them, due to the massive scale of hyperobjects, we imagine their diagraming of space in non-human ways, not as a landscape in front of us, not as an environment around us. This brings us to a question posed by Claire Colebrook: “[C]an we imagine a mode of reading the world, and its anthropogenic scars, that frees itself from folding the earth’s surface around human survival?” (Claire Colebrook)          


There is a huge amount just in this one paragraph, and the point of my blog is not to explain it   the link to the essay is above  but to explain its significance to me.

What grabs me is the complexity in the to-and-fro-ness of the act of ' imagin(ing) a mode of reading the world  ~ that frees itself from folding the earth’s surface around human survival', of trying to understand the world, with all our pasts and continuing processes happening, all the while being within it yourself, during which you try to convince yourself against lifetimes of conditioning, that yourself, and all others like you, are not the most important lives in it. 

For once you get into that non-survival frame of mind that thinks of the human species not as a hierarchy but as one of many; as part of a flatter organisation of many, many beings  and things, because we are amalgamations of objects/things too as well as living things  merely walking minerals (3)  then you realise that the world, and all its pasts and processes, are also looking back at you and that the space you live in is shared on many levels; and most of them don't know you exist just as much as you don't know that they exist. 

This mode of sharing space sent me on a trail of looking for where the other beings who look at us are, and how they exist in the spaces we tend to think of as ours.

This sent me to where moss and pigeons live. Perhaps this is predictable  to go to the macro places; the literal cracks that moss and lichens inhabit, the largest of the small and overlooked places visible to the naked eye, especially once those being gather together and cover a surface, and to the lowest of the old hierarchy  'the rats of the sky'  but there's the clue: if you flatten your hierarchy, it's the ones at the bottom that are used to living there that may provide much needed clues on how to live. 

Much is done in our cities to prevent other species clinging on; impenetrable self-cleaning glass office towers, the corralling of 'Nature' into other places, parks and peripheries, away from our machines, homes and working spaces; a belief that there can somehow be an allotted percentage acceptable per population figure. This is not a manifestation of enmeshment within a shared ecosystem.


1. Beatriz Cortez ‘The Face as a Hyperobject’ Chap 14 in  Hyperobjects for ArtistsA reader, edited by Timothy Morton and Laura Copelin with Peyton Gardner   

2. Claire Colebrook, Death of the PostHuman: Essays on Extinction, Vol. 1, (Ann Arbor, MI: Open Hu- manities Press, 2014), 3. 

3. Jane Bennet, Vital Materials







Monday, 17 October 2022

Radical Landscapes, Mead Gallery

Thought I’d share a few pics from the Radical Landscapes exhibition at Warwick University in the Warwick Arts Ctr Mead Gallery with you.


The exhibition is as much about ownership, of being there and claiming a stake, as it is metaphors of depth and spiritual connection with land. There was a distinct feel of not belonging, of having to tussle and fight for space to stand felt across gender, race and class, but little reference to our greater ecosystem and not much reference to a missing species embeddedness - but human aloofness from environment is usual, if surprising in this context - and a connection between cultural and environmental dislocation and lack of fair access to land not made overtly. 

Eco-breakdown was only a direct subject of 3 of all the works, and then oddly curated in connection with late 20C nuclear fears. Therefore, I agree with the negative Guardian article which lamented a missing contemporary radical aspect, that the climate section is 'catastrophic.' Maybe more so in the truncated selection that made it here from Liverpool, perhaps it was lost in an attempt to produce a whole 20C survey of attitude to landscape. BUT it was still good to see the work and glad I went. Good to see the photo of the Kinder Scout mass tresspass and Ithell Colquhoun’s Attributes of the moon in the flesh. 

Sadly, the two new commissions didn’t make it from the Liverpool Tate to Warwick Uni, and nor did Ruth McEwan’s Back to the Fields - I would love to have seen her living calendar of plants.


















Friday, 12 August 2022

Stalemate


I saw the remains of this hawthorn which has become impaled upon a galvanised steel fence between industrial road and rail track. The tree with its limbs pinned in the fence, scalped by the rail workers who were eating lunch by their vans down the way having just finished tidying up when I passed by, seemed to me an allegory of the embeddness of human structures in an organic world rather than the other way around. 

As an organic intervention in the metal grid requiring branches to become involved in the fence I was reminded of the failed freedom of Steve McQueen’s character in The Great Escape; caught up in razor-wire with the motorbike engine still pointlessly throbbing. I’m Generation X and this to me is an iconic image of failure of the individual despite determined action against a larger, organised and well-equipped foe. Yet we know the outcome of that war and therefore know that combined action can create freedom from tyranny. In this instance, the tree still lives and will regrow. There are small shoots of regrowth showing even as it stands chained to litter and decay. Its roots are wedded in concrete through which the railworkers will not cut. So the system that impoverishes it also saves its life. It is embedded in this landscape. It can't escape but neither will it die. It remains in an obstinate stalemate which is what I chose for its name. 

I think this is a poor framework for a future relationship with our environment. I dislike framing that as a battle as much as I am repulsed by actual violence. It is an inherited battle for survival that no side can win without sustaining loss and I think we are better to reorganise our culture around acceptance and making space for all. 



I recently read Nick Hayes' book 'Trespass' in which he recounts his own travels across several constructed barriers and the history of enclosure of land in this country. He reveals the private/public ownership of land as a vastly unfair monopoly of shared resources by the rich and a dichotomy that is visible sculpted into our landscape as field boundaries, hedges, walls and ditches. So I'm showing the (current) final print as part of a fence-like assemblage.




Because it's installed in a window it can only be viewed from two dissimilar points so I chose to put Stalemate on the inside because it is more hemmed in. 

On the side that can only be seen from outside (which you can see here) I put prints made from marks that try to transcribe birdsong above a hard-ground and aquatint print of a group of digger buckets that were being used in the same plot of land where the birds live. I suppose it is a flight of fancy, but if it is possible for me to try and write in human ways the conversation between birds, and I obviously did, then perhaps it is also possible to imagine a conversation between inanimate objects and the living. And it might be easier to do that if we comprehend that we cannot understand either of the languages of the speakers. Hense, the name of my installation is 'Other Conversations'.

I've been working on Stalemate for a while and it's taken several forms so far. Firstly, I painted it on polythene but the result was too light and flighty for such an obstinate tree.



At first drypoint versions of it were constrained by the size of my A4 press which led to a fragmented version. This has its own character and might be something I look at doing again. 

I'm planning to make a hardground and aquatint zinc-plate of it which will allow me to explore the detail and stand up to more experimentation than the plastic CadFoil version I've been using.




Sunday, 24 July 2022

Radio Public: 'At Home On The High Street'

Here are a few images of Radio Public Art Festival held on Dudley High Street July 9 2022. This is all from the beginning of the day. I wish we had more photos but we got too busy to take them.

Radio Public happened as art festival in a variety of ways, including a found-sound MixCloud radio programme, street theatre, visual art and workshops. We called the sound-scape exhibition 'At Home On The High Street' because it describes how we wanted Dudley High Street to be felt as a space not as it currently is - but warm, cuddly and a bit silly - completely different to a normal day!





 Rachel setting up the Textures Printing Workshop

 The Observation 'Radio' Station displaying a collection of old radios.

 Some results from explorative Textures Workshops

The Observation 'Radio' Station again.




Textures workshop 'gallery' showing works made by passersby who dropped in and had a play at printing with us.





Monday, 20 June 2022

Radio Public - playing and planning

I think it might be the eleventh week of this project already. Time has run on without me in terms of blogging about the Radio Public project in Dudley High Street because of various other projects and work, so this blog is an attempt to catch up.

Weeks 5 & 6 saw ideas being shared and tentative steps made between group members to try for a collaborative piece of work. Space was made within those ideas for others and they evolved. 

[oOo]!  WINDOW DRAWING  [oOo]! 

7 May saw a leap forward in communicating between us as a group and us and the High Street as we worked together on a sunny Saturday to create a drawing on the window of CoLab, which is a retail unit and therefore has a very large window. This drew passersby into conversation - some of whom ended up being drawn into the montage. Amongst the many enjoyable creative moments within this project this has been a highlight for me.

Me drawing my reflection 

Me drawing my reflection

 Helen & Rick drawing

Helen & Rick

Helen drawing

Helen drawing 

Window towards the end of the day 

Dan drawing

Dan drawing 

 

Rachel drawing

Rachel drawing 

Small Things and Elena's flowers

Bill curating The Observation Radio Station

Bill curating The Observation Radio Station

We got to test a number of methods and materials for making marks on glass and everything we did will feed into later work because we plan to create another montage on the window for the Radio Public Art Festival, July 9th.

Weeks 7, 8, and some of week 9, saw Helen and Bill helping us to test and commit to our plans, working with us to grow our confidence where that was needed.

During weeks 9, 10 and 11 ideas were still evolving. Things always change between the place where they are in your head to the place where you can poke them. 

We had to dismantle our lovely window drawings and clear up to make room for another event, so what once looked like quite a large store cupboard when we started filled up with work and materials. And so has a display space at the back of CoLab, which has become a sort of test-ground for the final exhibition.

[oOo]!  RADIOS  [oOo]!

Bill and Helen have been playing with radios and making radios for a while. Building them in ways to express their multifaceted idea of radio in its widest sense. They made a point of inviting the rest of us to join them to make more, and now there are many more radios! These are two of mine. 

This one makes a sound. This one is aromatic!

Our group has begun to expand. Now we all knew more about the project and how it would work, Bill and Helen challenged us to think of and invite other artists to join us. We also experienced a few delightful enquiries from passersby who dropped in.


[oOo]!  HIGH STREET TEXTURES  [oOo]!

It might have been Week 6 when Rachel and I decided that we would bite the workshop-bullet and collaborate on a three-hour workshop around textures on the High Street. Doing this ahead of the actual festival would hopefully kick start some creativity and generate some public interest. 

Rachel has been making exquisite little hand-drawn illustrated artist books for some time and it was clear these would be very effective. On the other hand, I had a stock of heat stamps that I'd never used but was sure they be fun to experiment with, would be fairly accessable to most people and would create images that could feed into later projects. However, we had to make sure they worked and that heating them up was safe enough to do with a group. 

So we set a date to try them out a Tuesday meeting and the results were pretty good. Easy to use, they never got too hot to burn skin (even the one that partially melted) and the prints on unbleached cotton fabric produced a pleasing mid-20th Century aesthetic. They provided a base for some lovely artist books by Rachel and Rick.

 

One of the best things about the stamps is that they can be reheated and reused - even the melted one.

The resulting workshop went fantastically with our participants and we plan to run it again at the festival on the 9 July when our plan for the patterned fabric we have created will also become apparent.


[oOo]!  RADIO IN THE WIDEST SENSE  [oOo]!

While we were messing around with paint and ink several other members of our group continued with their own projects. Amongst these are a piece of street theatre and a radio play, a choral work and sound piece made in the church at the top of the High Street, as well as other dialogic works in various formats. I hope to include more about them in subsequent posts and will provide links to works where I can.




Monday, 13 June 2022

Can we land on earth?

I have recently read ‘Can we land on earth’ an interview with Bruno Latour by Line Marie Thorson, which is resonating hugely with me, worth saying ahead because so I’m communicating with you through that lens in this post. It's been one of those affirmative reads for me. 

As an artist my ‘material’ is ‘matter.’ I also work with with a portion of our planet that Latour calls ‘Critical Zone ~ the membrane that goes a few kilometres up and a few kilometres down.’ 

 

Matter expands infinitely into nature; which is everything. This immediately causes in me a feeling of stretching dismemberment quickly followed by anxiety about reconnecting so that I may become re-entangled with other earth matter. I feel I must somehow learn to engage with this reentangling urge.

 

So I work with materials I find in the pre compost layer. This is the becoming-critical upper zone, the layer visible underfoot and overlooked. Searching for understanding of what it is to be entangled. Deliberately trying to move observation downwards to reveal human affectivity in the soil. 

 

Like Latour, I “take a field site and try to understand as much as I can.” My first project was the mass housing estates being built on top of greenfield secondary terracotta deposits near home. Then there was suburban to urban Coventry which was also subject to re-modelling. These projects remain ongoing. 

 

I’m a fan of focus over distance.  I think you can learn so much from close looking at what is quite near.  Latour speaks of the amazing differences between specific places: ‘When you are on the earth-system, every single kilometre, metre and centimetre is different, and they confront and enhance the heterogeneity of the critical zone.’ My material/matter is specific and local. I revisit and note how things change next to other things changing. 

 

Actually, the scale at which my observations operate are getting smaller and smaller. So you could say my material is shrinking, but at the same time I experience a personal stretching and expanding as my knowledge grows, and then a further shrinking as I realise my enmeshment as a living being in the earth system followed by expansion with conjecture at the ramifications of my choices working on that system.

 

It’s important for us to know where life is and how it is affected. 


Mainly working at ground level means I work with waste; plant, creature and human. Working through a project about urban litter, notwithstanding my anger and disgust, I formed a conclusion that every living thing drops things. 

 

Parts of bodies fall to the ground constantly within our ecosystem. 

What falls matters. 

 

What is dropped becomes indelibly connected to others – after all, the ground is our grand and ultimate point of contact with each other. Gravity brings us together. However, we must conclude that human beings have lost the knack of dropping. Where trees are experts, we fail.

 

Working with ground level means I frequently grapple with the aesthetic problem of the small and mundane in art, in a culture that like the big and shiny rather too much. And this is where I feel kin with Latour, who calls it the ‘representational crisis representing Gaia.’ I feel my work is part of a cultural movement towards ‘rediscovering earth – reinventing what it is to have soil – and learning to find our ground.’ Landing on earth and still looking down carefully.

Thursday, 9 June 2022

Two Printing Workshops

I’m rather breaking the mold this week in running two workshops!

On Friday there is Print Sculpture in Coventry, and on Saturday there is High Street Textures in Dudley, which I am co-running with artist Rachel Massey.

I'm posting this here more for a point of documenting my practice development, but if you happen along to this page in time and want to come along, contacts are:

Print Sculpture, Coventry: Coventry Artspace

High Street Textures: Helen or Bill at workshop24