On the Concept of History. By Walter Benjamin.

Benjamin W(1974) On the concept of History: Gesammelten Schriften I:2. Suhrkamp Verlag. Frankfurt am Main, 1974 [viewed online] https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/benjamin/1940/history.htm [accessed 23rd September 2017]

Derrida, J(1967)The exorbitant: question of method & The engraving and the ambiguities of formalism In:Art in theory 1900-2000, Harrison, C. Wood, P. Oxford: Art in theory 1900-2000. pp. 944-949

I Tale of a fake puppet that is controlled by a human to explain that the illusion is the inevitable culmination of society and its history

II Our requirements for happiness are linked to the time we are in, the people we interact with and therefore the history shaping it, over looking to the future. Again, this is inevitable

III A chronicle of events would have to detail all of the events, notable or not on top of an account of previous events to be accurate, the person recording would have to not distinguish between facts (this is kind of the point Derrida tried to make, in deconstruction, although he was mostly talking to the reader).

IV Marxists always bring it back to a class struggle ie acquisition of things that allow for spiritual effect. I think this is about the recording of all history, ie whist William the conquerer won the battle, Joe from Salisbury lost his family in the battle and that is as important as Harold getting it in the eye (not that current thinking says he did).

V We don’t record the ‘whole’ of history so actually we haven’t got an accurate picture of it. We don’t account for all of it when historians look however philosophers do because they make the allowance for the rest of history that makes up the moment being studied.

VI This one is tougher. I think its about taking a specific point in history and forgetting the bit that came after it so you are only dealing with the thoughts and emotions of that moment, not the sure knowledge they all die in the end with hopes unfulfilled.

VII Yes, this is about remembering only in the moment and the difficulty of not automatically siding with the winner when you view history because thats who won. and how depressing it is to actually go back and side with the losers. This is a good argument for the return of cultural artefacts from previous parts of history (although I’ve always wondered at what year you say stop).

VIII Again, another paragraph I’m feeling my way around. Emergency situation is I think  events that emerge over a catastrophe, and that we cannot plan for a future without understanding that our history is open for debate.

IX This uses an analogy of an Angel watching a point of history unable to stop the future events, which is the point of the paragraph, that because of history, the future is already written, only we can’t see it (the angel has its back turned to history so it can only see the past).

X Rules written by monks in their own way are not much changed over the centuries. Politicians fail  to grow beyond these rules so don’t realise that history is holding us back as we don’t rewrite the rules based on today.

XI we are ruled because we want stuff. In basic terms. Unless we do as we are told, we won’t be socially acceptable which means we will earn less. The basic worker who owns nothing but the hands to make money will never earn enough to gain the trappings he wants. Example is the rise of the german workforce accepting the political views they were offered because it was on the back of progress in technology which meant future and jobs and trappings… Another example siting Fourier(pre 1848) progress as occurring at the exploitation of nature” – and the worker. that a balanced and fair spread of labour throughout the land has the same chance of happening as pigs flying (its much more eloquent and just as unlikely).

XII Historical cognition- actual understanding of our history. owned by the revolted masses, looks to its past to see its future instead of saying we want the opposite for our children lets make that happen!

XIII This paragraph centres on our understanding of social progress and how it isn’t based on progression of thought and understanding but a never-ending continuation to human perfection. without end. Criticising this concept has to also become a criticism of the basis for recognising social progress.

XIV History is always viewed from a point in time which twists what is seen as important and reported on (Robespierre, Roman antiquity).

XV History is owned by those using it, revolutionaries compare themselves to history with none of the facts and then create history

XVI You cannot look at history from a specific point of time without recognising that there is a future beyond where you are

XVII A historian has to view a point in history as a thing experienced in its entirety a distance apart from its future, the recording of this brings history alive for others.

XVIII The downplaying of human existence as the last few minutes on a clock that includes everything down to the creation of our orbiting planet. Which I don’t think Benjamin is too keen on.


Whilst you can be aware of these points, I’m not sure you can view all art with the herculean strength of mind to take it into account. Also we are only aware of certain points in history anyway so as humans and artists we can’t possibly know all sides and lead ups to the point you are looking at. Looking at the accumulated objects that make up the research aspect to Pt 2 of PoP 1 UPM, the work of Fred Wilson stands out in the re-curation of the museum, a re-evaluation of history giving the objects another emotion for the audience that they haven’t had since they were held by their original owners.




Assignment 1 UPM


https://www.instagram.com/p/BY1NMpAlpbZ/?taken-by=aura.art.br Multi media [accessed18th September 2017] seen in passing and interested on utilising for display of my 20 assignment pieces.

Denis Castellas. 2017. Painting/ selected works. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.deniscastellas.com/root/selected-works/2/. [Accessed 21 August 2017]

I picked one style of painting from the research element of Pt 1 to use for the assignment,  This was based on the work of Dennis Castellas. His use of colour was interesting to me as most of my previous painting has relied on a more accurate to the original use of colour. I’m not comfortable with my lines to leave the picture as a line painting on a colour background yet, I think a bit more detail helps define the image to the viewer.

I worked up the paper with a different skim of colour on each picture, this (in my head at the time) would give me an extra way to link the pieces at the end, which was good as I didn’t have enough photos to create a story.

Some of the pictures work better than others, thats not through lack of investment, its just sometimes (still) the brushstrokes work and sometimes they don’t. The lime green picture of my children together, I loaded the brush with too much colour to start with instead of a lighter wash so the facial lines are to my mind too strong. However, the lines are in the right place to convey the odd pose (under the pier at Bournemouth where there are tiles on the bridge supports) and overworking would have lost the rich green skim. I’m also not convinced I needed to use the ginger hair on the blue picture of my daughter. Thats accurate (‘cept the blue) but not really necessary.

The choice of a colour link helps to unify the images in a way the contents cannot, they are mostly pictures of my children, with a bit of our holiday landscape in St Agnes, some local shots in Salisbury (the aqua door and the gasometer which is in process of being taken down, a large number of us are quite sad at that) and a random picture of Matt Damon because I like the reflection and shape to the glass. So there only link is to me as things that caught my eye and that includes my kids I suppose. They don’t culminate in anything though which is why I didn’t play with them as a line of images, it wouldn’t matter were you started the line, the only way I would be comfortable with that display would be organised by colour ie. going through the rainbow.

I did sort the block by colourIMG_2282

Bu as I didn’t choose the picture for each colour prior to starting the process, I end up with both pictures of both children next to each other and Matt Damon at the end which doesn’t feel right.

I asked a colleague to have a go, hers is the one to the left with the hands visible, her response starts out promisingly with the blues contrasting with the oranges and browns, but doesn’t continue further with the stronger clash between red and green.

My attempt to the right has a better spread of colours and the closeness of the pictures seems to add another link, like pixels making up a whole.


I then tried to spread the grid out, there is now more space to see the images and the start is both my children as is the end (probably sums up how I feel about my life really)

More space for the whole gives more breathing room for the eye as it wonders through, but still has them close.

I won’t frame these (the frame would separate them from each other), I might mount them on individual MDF boards with a hanging option on the back, that would stop them curling and keep the pictures closer if hung together.

The link at the top caught my eye as an image on Instagram of an artists work (Haven’t found out who) that uses small images in a larger formation and adds fabric swirling around to help with cohesion, this seems like a good idea and may be something to think about after the course is finished.

The other way to look at it as a bunch of square images would be to add another 5 to build a square and take it more down the road towards an Instagram square post. Overall, I prefer working to a larger sized image, however, the research and exercises in this part of the course have been good to work at the smaller size.




Pt 1 Exercise 1.4 Look at what you see – not what you imagine

Using A4 or A3 paper, lay an image upside down and, using ink, watercolour, gouache or acrylic, make a 10-minute copy of your image. Do this again with another image. This time make a 20-minute copy.

I’ve done this technique with drawing before, it worked a treat, as an exercise to prove to yourself that you can draw accurately its a good one. However I can get a closer likeness with the damned thing up the right way. The Renner picture has a certain appeal, the shadows under the hat around the eyes the random nature of the ink the crookedness of the nose, Mr Oliver is suffering from the effects of me looking at the gap at the edge of the paper, when the sheet I used has come in wider than the photo I’ve copied from. Its recognisable as him, but possibly not in a very flattering way…


Pt 1 Exercise 1.3 Quick and focused

Use A3 paper for this exercise; cartridge is fine but HP watercolour paper is even better. Select five of your found images. Now use your brush as you would a pencil. A long thin brush is useful for this. Get a plate or palette and have any combination of water-based paint and a large vessel of water at the ready. Now, looking at the images and NOT the paper, paint what you see. Time yourself for one minute. Overlap the images as you go and work quickly. Do this three times on three different pieces of paper. Make brief notes on the outcome



My 5 photos. In the order they where painted.



This as an exercise is odd at this point. I’ve been going to a life studies opportunity for a few years now, the sessions all start with warm up sketches, these are 30 seconds to 5 mins before we move on to anything longer. They free you up and remind you to look for the weight in a position and the important lines that inform the shape. So doing it after you’ve started the work seems a bit counter intuitive to me.

However, as a result of lifestudies, each of my 5 photos is recognisable in the 3 paintings, the only difference to what we do at life studies is the use of a brush over pencil, the continuous line (which is impossible when you use paint, a fine enough brush to see the detail of what you’ve painted, means not enough liquid to last a minute) or dip pen and ink and the use of different colours to separate the forms. I picked colours because they please me together, they are distinct from each other. However because of the lack of time between pictures to dry, the colours have blended somewhat, creating ambiguity between the shapes. In this its pleasing to view, I didn’t pick 5 related photos so there isn’t a link, however they seem to peak at the same point quite well with Jeremy Renner looking through.

I know my work frees up under time pressures, achieving this was a reason I started life studies in the first place, more time and I get bogged down in the detail. So I guess its nice to be reminded to free up every now and then.

Pt 1 Exercise 1.2 Black and white

Make five postcard-size black backgrounds and five postcard-size white backgrounds, using poster/acrylic paint on cartridge paper, watercolour paper or cardboard. When your backgrounds are completely dry, make paintings of one or more of your found images – one on a black surface and one on a white. Use the following materials, thinned only with water: • black ink • black acrylic paint • white gouache • white acrylic paint • grey acrylic or gouache. Don’t forget to make brief notes in your learning log when you’ve completed this exercise.



I’ve used acrylic paint, mostly because I don’t have white and black gouache and I know how thin watercolour can be which means extra layers, and colour shift as you paint.

I worked the white on black first which is why they aren’t as good as the black on white, I don’t believe its because one is better than the other, merely that practise makes perfect, or at the least a better picture than no practise. I picked portraits because they are easier to compare against the photo for accuracy which should make it easier to see any improvement in my technique and observation. Having said that, of the two Trumps, I prefer the first because I think as an image it stands out more. The second bearded cricketer (its cricket, I haven’t got a clue what his name is) is better and def more accurate, however I don’t have his skin tone correct I’m also concerned that the extra layer would take away from the delicacy I think the picture has. New really fine paint brushes are the only thing that made these possible, the images are recognisably similar to each other and their photographic origins.

Am I satisfied with them? the white on black has the complication of getting the white paint to show up whilst being smooth enough to work with that small, I’m using a sennelier at the moment because I’ve run out of Galeria and Liquitex heavy body white that are the two I normally use. The Sennelier is a looser paint, but its also thinner on the paper, further steps in this style would take purchasing more paints to experiment with, which is going to be an ongoing thing that generally occurs after payday and not for the next month, summer holiday has just finished, I have 2 kids who have bled me dry and September is my extended families birthday month from hell…

I’m happy to see improvement in the accuracy, I don’t think thats observation, more capability with the brush.