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Going down to visit the ‘net lofts’, last week, seems an aberration of where such places are usually located, but curiously, these industrial lofts are situated in the cellars below the artist’s studios at Porthmeor: the original wooden floor boards, forming, on my side, Studio 7 and those of Studios 3, 4, 5, 6, 18 and 19: on the other side, creating one long continuous ceiling over the heads of the fishermen working below. The floor/ceiling/floor is suspended by iron pipes and to complete this assemblage of ‘logic’ a broad tree trunk as well. (The pipes were salvaged from local tin mines in the mid to late 1800’s).
This characteristic of the ‘net lofts’ and studios in which to discover, improvise and experience the unexpected is a continuum of my own visual art practice. It creates a potential opportunity to explore, with fellow collaborators and participants, sound and visual work in unexpected ways - types of music score evolving from the performative elements of our Time – Trace – Place project.
The photographic recordings for the project which I made last week of two of the fishermen setting nets seem to reveal the men’s own choreography, a duet of movement in a haptic ‘performance’ of materials and handed down knowledge through the actions of weaving and sewing. (‘Stuff’ is pervasive in the ‘net lofts’ - collections of floats, tools, equipment, particularly line and rope is ever present).
In these blurry images, the traces of the fishermen’s fleeting and deft hand movements, their drawing in real time with needle and thread, attaching the nets to the ‘tramills’ or ropes, evoke the early experiments in photography to capture the moving world. I am interested in the idea that the artists who first occupied the studios above the cellars in the 1880’s were contemporaneous with many photographic experiments and inventions happening in Europe. For example, French scientist and physiologist Étienne-Jules Marey’s (1830-1904) chronophotograph and 1887 image of a gull in flight. And, later, the Italian theatre director and cinematographer, Anton Giulio Bragaglia’s (1890-1960) subject matter for his 1911 photograph recording the dynamic chiaroscuro of a cellist’s hands re-tracing in a criss-cross of lines moments of contact with string and bow. The ropes, like lines in a drawing or symbols on a music score are weighted, some will fall in the water whilst others – the top ropes - will rise like notes. There is one other feature in this process - a line with colored markers in situ acting as an indicator of time and space against which the fishermen create and make adjustments within their performative net-scapes.
I’ll take the merging, blurring, blending and smudging of the subject matter in the photos of the ‘net-setters’ - where we just lose sight of something we know, before beginning to create something new and unknown - as my own potential and colouful marker for the experience of the collaborations and performances to come.
Next step: preparing and developing ideas for the ‘off-set drawing’ prototypes…
Ref: SCHARF, Aaron. 1974. Art and Photography. UK: Pelican Press.