Absence of Purpose | Exhibition by Janus Fouché, Mienke Fouché and Reinhardt van Zyl
10 June (18:30) – 4 July 2017
at ArtBox Gallery, 86 Skilpad Road, Monument Park, Pretoria
Drawing with Light: The Blue Print Cyanotype Workshop
10 June 2017 (10:00 -13:00)
Janus Fouché, Mienke Fouché and Reinhardt van Zyl are three young artists who are holding a joint exhibition for the first time. “Absence of Purpose” is an exhibition on the notion of purpose from the perspective of the three artists, using completely differing mediums. Digital artist Janus Fouché explores the lack of intention behind emergent ecosystems by means of generative algorithms, which are then either burned onto paper by laser light or printed in ink. Puppet artist Mienke Fouché delves into evolution and the lack of purpose to mere existence through her skeletal wood sculptures. Jewellery designer and manufacturer Reinhardt van Zyl investigates abstraction in jewellery as an art form that, in essence, serves no purpose other than being an aesthetically pleasing form of adornment.
Janus has worked with some of the biggest names in the South African art world. He worked on a number of installations by renowned artist William Kentridge as software designer and engineer, video editor, and circuitry designer. He has been credited for Kentridge installations such as “Right into her Arms” (2016), “More Sweetly Play the Dance” (2015) and “O Sentimental Machine” (2015). He created the interactive design and software for the Deborah Bell interactive musical bronze sculpture installation “Return of the Gods: The Ancient Ones”, which featured in her 2015 exhibition “Dreams of Immortality” at the Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg. Earlier this year Janus created two algorithm film pieces: “Portrait in Motion” and “Landscape Painter”, for a group video installation at “The Centre for the Less Good Idea”. He also did animation for “Spooky Looking City” by artist Blessing Ngobeni.
Janus draws inspiration from emergent systems and patterns in mathematics, nature and society. His background in information science and multimedia (he holds a BISc Honours degree from the University of Pretoria) allowed “The Algorithm” to become his primary medium of artistic expression. He designs and creates algorithms which are manifested in music, robotics, installations, film and visual arts. Each work created for this exhibition is generative: grown over time with an algorithm. An algorithm is a computer programme – a set of rules or instructions for the machine to follow. These steps however only define the ecosystem: the “how” rather than the “what”, the end-result being unknown until the system plays out. The work takes on a life of its own. What emerges is recorded and either burned onto paper with laser light or printed in ink.
Janus has observed the extraordinary patterns and behaviour that emerge as a by-product from the interaction between individuals in a large group, or by dint of a set of circumstances over time. The result is unpredictable and in many cases unexpected, but if we record these changes we can piece together the underlying system by looking backward from the outcome. The works in this exhibition is about the emergent ecosystem – an abstract space of possibility between events without cause or intention, which culminates in an apparent and clear direction. Janus constructs an environment of carefully assembled circumstances and possibilities to see what emerges; introducing the viewer to the ghost in the machine.
Mienke is a part-time lecturer at the Tshwane University of Technology, where she teaches students to design and construct props for stage productions. She completed the degree Magister Technologiae in Performing Arts Technology in 2016, writing on the topic “Adapting Marionette Movement through a Physiological Study of Animal Motion”. For the practical part of the degree she designed and constructed sloth, owl, crocodile, bullfrog and hammerhead shark marionettes. The National Research Foundation granted her an Innovation Master’s Scholarship for this study. Mienke participated in various group exhibitions and had her first solo exhibition entitled “Anatomy of Puppetry” in July 2015.
Mienke presented a paper on puppet design and construction at the “Dolls and Puppets as Artistic and Cultural Phenomena” Conference in Poland in 2014. The paper entitled “Design and Construction of Fantasy Marionettes through the Study of Animal Anatomy and Movement” was later published as part of a compilation of the conference papers. She presented a paper on puppets in politics in the South African context at the “Puppets in Politics” Conference in Denmark in 2015 and the “Theatre as Critique” Conference in Germany in 2016.
In this exhibition Mienke explores the delicate skeletal systems of animals in their diversity, demonstrating the physiological similarities between humans and animals. Man tends to arrogantly consider himself as superior and unique, harbouring a divine image of himself as having been created in his Creator’s likeness. However, evolution refutes Man’s claim to being a supreme being, as the observations and confirming experiments supporting the theory of evolution demonstrate that creatures developed randomly without a specific purpose, based on chance. Man has developed a more complex mind that allows him to transform his environment and create a social structure, forming cultures and building nations, but Man and Animal share a similar body plan and have the same base desires.
With this exhibition Mienke asks the question: If we strip away all the frills and fancy words, human ideals, narcissism and our offences against nature; are we not all reduced to beautifully complicated skeletons? Can creation not be beautiful without having to argue about who engineered it or what process developed it? Can it not just be beautiful because it is?
Reinhardt van Zyl
Reinhardt has his own jewellery design and manufacturing studio on the premises of the ArtBox Gallery, where he also offers jewellery classes. In addition, he works for goldsmith Tehila van Engelenhoven from Wierdapark, Centurion on a part-time basis. After completing his studies, he participated in a two-year internship programme coordinated by the Mining Qualifications Authority. Reinhardt completed the BTech degree in Jewellery Design and Manufacture at the Tshwane University of Technology. The topic of his research was “Jewellery inspired by heavy metal band logos”, reflecting his love of heavy metal music. He also designed and manufactured several jewellery pieces based on the logos of a number of heavy metal bands.
In 2010 Reinhardt was the overall winner of the international Pearl Essence jewellery design competition for his design “Curvature”, a unique, edgy bracelet created by using fresh water pearls. The Pearl Essence Design programme, the world’s first ever global pearl design initiative encompassing all different types of pearls, was run by the Dubai Pearl Exchange, a subsidiary of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre. The competition drew 644 designs from 46 institutes across 10 countries. The first prize was a month-long internship at international jeweller Stephen Webster in London. Some of Reinhardt’s other work has been exhibited in various group exhibitions, including a regional PPC cement exhibition.
Humans have been creating and wearing jewellery for thousands of years, probably even before they started to wear clothes. Jewellery is, in essence, an aesthetically pleasing form of adornment, but is often imbued with a higher purpose by applying a symbolic meaning to it, as with wedding bands or religious emblems. Functional artefacts used to fix clothing or keep hair in place are often decorated, transforming it into something more than a mere tool. Jewellery can also be used to denote personal or social status, signify ethnic, religious or social affiliation, or provide talisman protection. It could also simply be worn as an artistic display.
Reinhardt’s design approach is generally focused on form, shape and personal aesthetic value. He uses sterling silver, copper, brass and found objects to create his unique pieces, which range in style from steam punk and fantasy to gothic and industrial. Although the jewellery he crafts does not represent any specific symbol, emblem or motif, the designs intentionally appear to be symbolic, based on its aesthetic qualities. This leaves the jewellery piece open to the personal interpretation of the observer, giving it almost endless subjective symbolism.
Drawing with Light: The Blue Print Cyanotype Workshop
Join the Artbox Gallery in welcoming Rika Herbst in her hands-on cyanotype workshop, an excellent way to learn the traditional approach to one of the first photographic printmaking processes on Saturday, 10th June, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The cost is R950 per person.
Herbst’s cyanotype process uses traditional techniques and chemicals designed to create unique, one of a kind, handcrafted prints dating back to the invention in 1842 by Sir Jon Herschel. The workshop will introduce some basic printmaking techniques, she will cover how to create the chemical solutions and start printing.
Students will walk away with a 3 paper prints along with the knowledge to continue to print in their own studios and homes. Cyanotype chemistry and supply of prepared paper are included. You will be asked to bring objects from your home, flowers from your garden, found objects that are approximately the size of a 5×7 image or slightly larger.
NOTE: Your objects will not be ruined or damaged in the printing process!
This is an all ages all levels workshop; participants are expected to have no prior knowledge of the printing process only a certain amount of enthusiasm for image making! Enrolment is limited to ensure one-on-one attention.
An advanced workshop printing photos onto paper will follow in July and a workshop printing on fabric will be conducted in August. Follow-up workshops for further exploration on paper and Fabric will be conducted and supplies of the chemicals and paper will be available.
Image: Janus Fouché