Visual Studies 1: Creative Arts Today: Part one: Contemporary Art: Page 38 – Project 3: Place in Art – Exercise 1 and Research Point

Place. London: Thames and Hudson by Dead, T, and Millar, J. (2005)

I have chosen to show my notes on this essay in a mind map so that I can
link together and group the various concepts rather than just having a list of

There were quite a few difficult and sometimes abstract concepts in this
essay that I had to re-read a few times in order to grasp the idea that was
being described.

I believe the authors have tried to include a number of different viewpoints
on the concept of place which has helped expand my understanding of the idea.
The idea of place being a manmade creation was one I was particularly
interested in.

Nature can create its own places, and we do not necessarily need to have any
involvement in their cultivation. e.g. rock formations caused by the sea. These
places are special to their natural inhabitants e.g. wildlife and not just to
humans. Although they use the place in a practical sense, as shelter and a
source of food rather than as a space to look at.

However, when a place is named by us, it becomes something different. For
example Giant’s Causeway in Ireland. This space is now an internationally
recognised place and many people being showed a picture of it will recognise
what and where it is, even if they have never been there.

However this place can still mean different things to different people. For
a Geologist they may look in wonder at the fantastic form of the rocks, for a
child they become stepping stones, somewhere to play and explore and for an
artist they become somewhere to look for inspiration, a quirky landscape to
look upon and somewhere to photograph. Now owned by the National Trust this
place is now protected but also now a source of income, making this place also commercially
viable and now also a resource, sometimes simply referred to as a set of
numbers on a set of accounts.

I understand now how the concept of the Place can vary far beyond the simple
explanation of simple geography.

Artists mentioned in the essay with text incorporated and a relation to time.

Ian Hamilton Finlay

Wave Rock 1966

This piece could be about any geographic place however it is evident that we are by the sea. The text creates the landscape with the word ‘rock’ outlining a rock and the word ‘wave’ making the water. The ‘wave’ is jumbled and bouncing as it cascades across the work with it jumbling where it and the rock merge. This work could be based upon an actual place or somewhere made up. Only the artist could tell is. This is a very simple view of a place, labelled and devoid of any recognisable features.

Alec Finlay

Alec has done a number of projects relating directly to places. An example is Some Colour Trends (2014). This took place names in the Scottish landscape and then displayed them in coloured text. The colours were based on the Gaelic to English translations of the name of the place where they related to a colour. For example, The Dark Hills. This work simply looks at the secondary quality of colour when describing a place, alongside the geography and given name.

E.g. Caochan Bheithe is Birch Burnie (Stream) and is shown in a line of Green.

Doug Aitken

Doug produces a variety of different works containing text. A lot of his pieces are site specific and the text is often displayed alongside his other work as part of a theme.

An example of his work is NOW (2009) which is an LED lit light box. It features a collage of photographs which appear to be overlayed with an image of the earth from space with the sun rays shining over it. The images seem to represent various images of the earth in relation to human activity. The images are of people, buildings, rooms and some places. Whilst the individual images are likely to have some emotional meaning to the person who took them, to the general viewer they are unrecognisable. It shows connections to the earth through the lives of individuals, each place, and reference to an individual helping to make up the earth, as it is today, as a whole.

Graham Gussin

Someplace Sometime 2002

This piece specifically mentions place and time in its title and composition. It is a work of bright neon lights in text with the words ‘Someplace Sometime’. It was originally intended to be a travelling work of art, applying itself to anywhere that it is positioned. The place could relate to anywhere it is currently on display and any point in time. The meaning of the piece could change depending on who is viewing it, they could remember a particular event at a particular place, or similarly think of no particular place at all.

Mariene Hugonnier

Her works primarily seem to focus on coloured in newspaper cuttings. The photographs are replaced with coloured squares. The reference to place come from the newspapers themselves and the articles detailed on the page. Without any images the viewer is left to think up their own images to go with the articles.

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