Arch 350 (2009)



A film documenting the project has been published:
6 panel digipack.
Playing time [29:51]

Product description:
The film documents the brief existence of a painting and sound installation, made and assembled specifically for a newly renovated railway arch in east London. It contains a mixture of still photographs, live film with the original sound recording and images of the preparation carried out by the painter (Anders Rindom) and the sound artist (Tom Hopkins) during their planning. The work was never shown in public and apart from the memories it may have given to a few friends, colleagues and the projects host, the Arts charity [SPACE], this film is all that remains. With the two written introductions (by Anders Rindom and Dr. Linzi Stauvers), printed inside the cardboard cover it attempts to give a comprehensive view of all aspects of the work. It is a piece of documentation, the sum of which hopefully can provide an experience from which the scope and nature of the work can be understood.


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An introduction to Arch 350

On entering the room, I was literally taken aback by the furniture that took the place of art. I figured that to list and to count was to take a constructive approach to the artwork: one wooden box encasing a laptop computer; two wooden stands, of different heights, supporting a speaker each; twelve wooden constructions containing a speaker and holding between five and twelve paintings on hardboard each; three rectangular canvases, one singular and one pair, each of which are laid directly on the floor. Therefore, what I was looking at was a complexly serial, as opposed to simply repetitive, arrangement. In fact, it seemed possible to approach the artwork in terms of its following the Fibonacci sequence: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 etc.

When I asked the artist about the mathematical nature of Arch 350 he gave me a complementary poetical answer: ‘There are indeed 3 pieces of what I have called ‘architecture’ (computer and speaker stands) and twelve constructions with paintings that I have called ‘the trees’. Think of a small cottage in a forest and you get the picture!’ The point here is not to merely isolate the artist’s serial method. Rather, it is necessary to identify the conditions for the cultivation of painting to take place. Examining the contents of the hardboard paintings it is clear that structural subdivision results in formal proliferation: the emphasis here is on growth. In this instance the analogy can be drawn between painting and a microorganism found in a Petri dish. If painting is a task of mourning, as the art historian has declared it to be, then the contemporary artist’s objective has been to experiment with the revival this ‘lost’ culture.

In ‘Experimental Music’ John Cage outlines that a ‘composer knows his work as a woodsman knows a path he has traced and retraced, while a listener is confronted by the same work as one is in the woods by a plant he has never seen before.’ Cage is someone who can account for the prolificacy of the pictorial, architectural and musical elements that make up the installation environment of Arch 350. In the above essay (published in Silence (1963)) Cage advises the composer to enact a ‘psychological turning’ away from ‘a measuring mind’ which ‘can never finally measure nature’. This is the kind of project that we are presented with here in which the artist has negated his ‘desire to control’ the work of art. That is, in constructing a woodland out his paintings he also made space for a musician to draw upon surrounding sound. Together, the artist and the musician composed a piece that used samples of Bossa nova music and recordings of bird song, foxes, wind, shuffling feet and a case being opened. However, the point here is not to fill the time and space of the artwork so much as to keep it open for the audience to experience it fully through a form of ‘play’ which, in Cage’s words, ‘is an affirmation of life.’

My experience of Arch 350 was nothing short of uplifting. At one point, when the sound of wind kicked in, I started to weave between the wooden stiles convinced that the wind created by my body pushed the painted vanes and made the device rotate on its axis. It follows that the audience actively perform Arch 350 in the sense that they fill in the gaps between the painted and sonic elements. The fact that some of the music was taken from a film – the classic Black Orpheus (1959) – is telling, in that it is us, the audience, who piece the disparate parts of the film together to create a cohesive whole. The point of Arch 350 is for the audience member to dance with the experimental artist and musician in celebrating the fact ‘that nothing was lost when everything was given away’, regardless of how childish this may appear to be.

Dr Linzi Stauvers © 2009

PhD thesis entitled ‘Stein through the sixties: Minimal and post-minimal artists rehearse Gertrude Stein’s poetics’ (UCL, 2008).