“Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected” (The Fractal Foundation). “Kaleidoscope” is derived from Ancient Greek - ‘Observation of beautiful forms’.
This week I will be switching gears and sharing some recent work I’ve been working on entitled: RAVE ON. Between 1991-93 whilst I was doing an HND in Photography at Bournemouth Art School I made some miniature paintings. They were made with fluorescent acrylic paint on tissue paper. They were housed in some old Betamax video cases. The idea was you would view them in the darkness with a UV light, you’d open the case and the glowing artwork would appear. Why I was making Fluro art on a photography course, is anyone's guess? Maybe making these artworks just made me feel happy, maybe these paintings were inspired by a few years raving in the early 90’s, maybe there's a clue there? (I’ll get into that in a future blog). When I left college in 1993 I hawked my fluro paintings and a UV light around to some record companies in London - much to the record execs bemusement. I was hoping that they could be used as artwork covers for musicians - No luck there.
Jump forward to the end of 2020 I was digging through my archive researching and editing for a forthcoming book about my trip to Thailand in 1990. I found some 35mm negs. of photos I’d taken of my fluorescent artworks. I hadn’t seen these negs in nearly 30 years. I scanned and cleaned them up.
The reworking of these artworks was inspired by the documentary 'The Secret Life of Chaos'. Which goes into depth the works of Alan Turing’s (pattern formation), Andrey Belousov’s (chemical reactions), Edward Lorenz (butterfly effect) and Benoit Mandelbrot’s (fractals). Below in Italics are some quotes from the documentary that resonate with me.
“The discovery of chaos was a real turning point in the history of science as it tore down the Newtonian dream. Scientists began to look more favourably at Turing and Belousov work on spontaneous pattern formation. That there was a very deep and unexpected link, a truly cosmic connection between nature’s strange power to self organise and chaotic consequences of the butterfly effect. They discovered the natural world could be profoundly unpredictable. The very same things that make it unpredictable, also allow it to create pattern and structure - order and chaos. It seems the two are more deeply linked than we could have ever imagined.
Order and chaos can emerge on their own, from a simple system with feedback. A feedback loop is a picture in a picture in a picture. Small changes become rapidly amplified as they loop around. Even though you can describe each stage in the process mathematically. There’s no way of predicting how tiny changes will end up in the final image. This is the butterfly effect in action. With just a slight tweak to the system, these strange and rather beautiful patterns begin to emerge. The same system, one that's based on simple rules with feedback, produces chaos and order. The same mathematics is generating chaotic behaviour and patterned behaviour”.
During the UK Lockdown 2.0, I started playing with (reworking) these artworks. I first manipulated the colours. I then flipped one artwork creating a mirror image, a kind of butterfly effect. I was excited by the results, so I flipped and looped the same artwork again and again and again. Creating new forms, shapes and patterns.
During an early part of the process I had a happy accident: a digital ‘glitch’ (right image). This then became part of the design forming new patterns.
Stuck in the house during lockdown, the creation of these artworks proved to be a welcome distraction from the world at large. With the help of music by Nils Frahm, Jon Hopkins, Bonobo and Four Tet I submerged myself in this kaleidoscopic reality, transporting me into a psychedelic world of endless possibilities. Some of the pieces are single artworks looped, others are multiple artworks pieced and then looped together. The biggest question I faced was when to stop each piece?
To see more of the final artworks available to buy HERE
Limited edition prints, stamped, numbered & signed (verso) in 3 sizes