Sunday, September 11, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Call for Submissions!!!

The Periodical Project
A free curated newspaper promoting emerging art in Halifax

THE PERIODICAL PROJECT seeks submissions for its very first issue on the theme of ECONOMY.

Produced and Curated by Chris Foster & Natalie Slater, THE PERIODICAL PROJECT is a printed venue promoting the work of Halifax based emerging artists. Our very first issue will distributed FREE to the masses during Nocturne 2011 on the first floor of the Khyber.

Please submit images / text that will translate well printed black & white on newsprint. Work must relate somehow to our first issue's theme of ECONOMY. We like work that is challenging, funny, honest, original and/or subversive. We are interested in a wide variety of mediums including but limited to:

 painting / collage / drawing / print / photographs / text / film / video stills

Submissions should be high quality .jpg or .tiff 300 dpi, 11" X 17". Feel free to submit up to three images for consideration / context. Please also include a brief bio / artist statement to lend context to the work as well as your website address if applicable.

The submission deadline is Friday September 23 at midnight. Submissions should be emailed to

All applicants will be contacted by October 1. Selected artists will be promoted in our first issue with local distribution of 3000. We are unable to pay artist fees at this time.

Please email us with any questions, concerns, proposals or to request a studio visit.

Chris Foster & Natalie Slater

No Dicker with the Sticker, Back to School Sale Event

Its time to make room for new product, so we are having a sale on selected items.

To see some of what is on sale and the prices, visit our website and look under, "FOLK ART", "OTHER ART", "CERAMICS/GLASS", "FURNITURE" and "OTHER".

Also all Salt and Pepper shakers are 20% off and selected "FOUND FOR SWOON" items are 40% off!!

There are also some great in-store deals!

See you Swoon!
1410 Hammonds Plains Road
WAS: $850 NOW: $475

In the Alchemist’s Kitchen: Recipes for Transliteration

In the Alchemist’s Kitchen:
Recipes for Transliteration
By Rosemary Metz

Imagine a mass of copper vessels, glass tubing and funnels assembled on the kitchen table. The alchemist’s task is to distill and transform qualities and properties that inhere in commonplace objects into extraordinary ones. By consulting an arcane periodic table and preparing secret recipes, the alchemist can brew exotic liquors: anyone consuming the smallest draft could, with one breath, blow down the legendary Tower of Babel. 

Magic might seem the only possible way to transform the visual world into a verbal one. A subject may appear so deeply embedded in its particular visual medium as to defy simple verbalization. The need for a formless base to represent all matter might make the process easier to contemplate—something like the Prima Materia described by Plato (427- 347 BC). Far from being lost in the mists of time, the idea has survived the centuries and been carried through to the twentieth century where it found expression, for example, in Jungian psychological terminology. This magical material appreciated as  “original matter”—or the raw material of life—may go some way to enable the translation from visual to verbal. The process could be compared to ingesting an alchemist’s brew so its consumer might decipher every word, every sound, every feeling, every smell, every image with knowledge and understanding.

In the above fantasy, the alchemist holds transformative powers. Equally, the Art/Crafts practitioner works with a perpetual impulse to make and re-create form and substance in a particular medium. Suppose a source of inspiration for that work revolves around a display in a museum; for example, the Egyptian section of the British Museum.  Emotive images of desiccated human remains cause viewers to  cluster around a particular mummy case. According to sources at the museum, this area is categorized as the “Hot Zone.” The public always views this exhibit longer than others. Emotionally engaging, the individual on display has a flattened face, retains hair, and fingernails: it makes its presence deeply felt. Direct translation from this evocative object into a text might focus on the language of emotions and senses. And it is   difficult to convey factually a life in a culture that has been dead for several thousand years. But is it any less difficult to convey our own?
The museum provides visitors with visual experiences which may evoke memories of personal struggle. Interpretation in emotive terms can leap the boundaries of time. Some aspects of human experience remain constant. Carl Jung introduced the term, the “Collective Unconscious,” to represent that part of the mind containing memories and impulses of which the individual is not aware and yet common to mankind as a whole. Viewing the mummy in the museum awakens an observer’s forgotten memories and experiences. The experience may be a powerful one, hence the reason for calling the Egyptian collection in the museum “the Hot Zone.” Emotionally charged subject matter may fuel the creative impulse, but to move the topic from the emotional realm to one of an intellectual position requires a new vocabulary. This example illustrates the problem of verbal/visual interfaces. Establishing a written vocabulary relating to the creative medium used is a place to start.The needs of different eras vary considerably, and so too, in this search for vocabulary, do their needs for words. Changes in social need would also impact on the process and nature of talking and writing about the creative process.
According to Richard Rorty, Plato and his contemporaries were concerned with things as the topic of philosophy. During the 17th to 19th centuries, philosophers focused instead on ideas. In contemporary philosophical discussion, words are once more in view. Such “turns” of thinking eventually influence attitudes in everyday life. There is considerable debate today regarding the position of pictures and visual culture. McLuhan was already writing in 1962 about image and text. He and others saw the sea-change engendered by the advent of television and foresaw, decades later, that of computers and digital technology in everyday life. Following a related train of thought, in his book, Picture Theory, W.J.T. Mitchell noted, “our common culture seems increasingly a product of what we watch rather than what we read.” As the visual domain is instantly available through electronic media, a kind of shorthand has appeared through text-messaging, and the rule of words-first-images-second is changing.  Society is altered as technology provides ever-more sophisticated ways to communicate.
How much longer will writing hold its preferred status over other media? True, social concerns change over time. Plato and his contemporaries, for example, focused on the nature of things; they regarded neither poetry nor painting as a source of knowledge, inasmuch as these areas were imitations and deceptive in their rendering of truth. Will the widespread deployment of electronic media today nurture an equal skepticism?
Reading and writing skills can more easily be tested by an education system than those of visual literacy. Up to now, children are tested only for alphabetic literacy; as everyone knows, the results in recent years have been alarming. It is of concern that book-reading decreases as involvement rises with culturally “cool” electronics (whether used for immediate work or amusement). At present, visual literacy is not regarded as important, even though literary skills must be taught, whilst visual literacy is innate.
In the field of Craft, practitioners are under constant pressure to articulate the visual/verbal links the better to inform their audiences and educate themselves. For example, Bernard Leach, in A Potters Book (1951), presents an impassioned view that, in the case of Pottery, the subject has its own inherent language and laws. A potter with a background of painting and printmaking, he tried to identify criteria by which good pots could be defined. The definition process uses both speech and writing while looking at and handling the ceramic object itself to aid the understanding. It develops the capability of being in tune with the world of objects and of learning from their visual presence. Leach’s intention was rooted in his commitment to the Japanese Holistic approach—“the head, heart and hand model.”
While acknowledging the work of Leach and his contributions to understanding ceramic form, other authors have offered fresh input to understanding transliteration. Authors such as Foucault and Deleaze are concerned with the related areas. They doubt that total meaning from one medium will ever translate into another. Deleuze writes,There is no link that could move from the visible to the statement, or from the statement to the visible. But there is a continual relinking which takes place over the irrational break or crack. Deleuze raises the difficulty involved with transferring essential meaning between one medium and another.
When the maker is engaged by the creative impulse, it can be difficult to objectify his or her responses. To put an emotional response in its proper place, one needs a vocabulary that allows easy movement from one language form to another. Then, the knowledge of materials can flow through this process and complete the triad of the head, heart, hand model offered by Bernard Leach in1951.
As Art/Craft makers in the twenty-first century, clearly we need to build a contemporary vocabulary related to each medium of choice. Rather than allow the hands-on process of making to go into the ether, let us create a shopping list of words directly associated with this or that medium and our experiences of making. Write down the key words and key terms associated with the making process. Create metaphors around the making experience. As with any well-thought-out recipe for producing a palatable result, knowing which   ingredients to use and when provides the basis for success.