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Martin Baker

Com ponents

In attempts to theorise my pre-existing creative methods, a common structure of binary


composition has revealed itself, and suggested a thread connecting elements of my life’s
experience, interlinked by the familiar patterns of processing information. Initially this raises
my experience with dyslexia and dyspraxia, such as with reading comprehension, forgetting
words and limited attention span, that, (amongst other symptoms) often made for coping
mechanisms inclined towards a ruthless simplification of the accessible information, along
with cutting corners I had not absorbed, and riding an analogue currant between what points I
could confidently place, tentatively scratching an uncertain surface along the way. I believe
my creative inclinations have continued to signify a broader condition of cognitive input and
output, weaknesses and strengths built upon a fluctuation between polarised components, and
a present longing to liberate oneself, and to convey that liberation, by capturing a structured
certainty beneath something seemingly infinite and uncontainable. I’ve found that to express
myself in any worthwhile manner, I trend towards a process of contextual/artful ambiguity, it
is a feature I’ve experienced in all creative outcomes I admire, yet however unassuming I
may wish my output to appear, some clear sense of essential absolution in its structure is
present.

2017 Doodles

Last autumn while doodling, I considered what limitation I could impose on my typical
drawing practise, I began drawing this time, strictly no straight lines, and the results
intrigued me, I had up until that point been directing my interest towards biology and
anatomy, attempting a long-standing wish to visually intersect organic and artificial qualities,
and then, in dividing these visual elements, I considered the correlation in that pattern of
splitting things into two components. The curved drawing evoked in me something life
giving on a cellular level, echoing a notion of natural gestation, before then in recollection
through a contextual masculine and feminine lens.

That specific subject had previously occupied my interest with challenging and cautious
research, in the wake of evaluating my own identity in a male context, recovering from the
then recent experience of circumcision, shortly before enrolling on the course. What I found
the bulk of that contextual momentum started from reading an interview with anthropologist
Bettina Shell-Duncan, where she spoke about the internal perceptions of voluntary male and
female circumcision practice in the Rendille in Kenya, describing how:

“Some people in Africa believe that bodies are androgynous and that all male and female
bodies contain male and female parts.”- “So a man’s foreskin is a female part. And for a
female, the covering of the clitoris is a male part. The idea of becoming a wholly formed
Martin Baker

female includes being cut—having any part that is somewhat male-like removed from the
body.”

Reading this while psychologically adjusting from my own experience, I contemplated an


evident correlation with the notion of sensitivity and many male gender cultural conventions,
that would in retrospect, illustrate one of several examples of navigating my own pursuit of
contextual legitimacy, noting the binary like structure of basic elemental distinctions present,
against a politically charged subject of gender, that itself is a heated landscape of intellectuals
polarized by misinformation and ulterior motives. Regardless for me I struggle in my visual
practise to explicitly apply notions of male identity with a clear contextual substance, having
more of a generally subversive inclination of playing with phallic imagery, and then while
further unpicking my own experience of male identity against parallel with resources that
could satisfy my comprehension against all controversial cherry-picking of data, and
politically charged material, the pursuit of instantly unbiased, empirical facts I was naively
hoping for, was far beyond me. I learnt quickly that my contextual strengths lay with far
more relatable themes, and while I’d discovered a subject of new interest, the struggle and
eventual abandonment of this contextual theme, taught me something about the importance of
keeping stricter structural limitations, selectively abstract and ambiguous in contextual
meaning, minimising the undesirable compromise of loaded statements.

As I moved back towards the use of anatomy and human figures that I’d
been increasingly integrating into my work for a few years, I ran into a
similar obstacle. The motive was all together simpler, and more visually
fruitful than the previous venture, but my reasoning wasn’t much more
than its aesthetic potential,
anatomy interested me, and the
way it acted as a universal
signifier, as a visual device to
invite the observer into a more
abstract realm, was and is an effect
that excites me a great deal.
Martin Baker

Taking some inspiration from Simon Thorogoods


explicit geometric abstraction from human form,
Dani Olivier’s abstract projections onto living
nude figures, and with some reflection on my
fascination with pre-history art: the Cro-Magnon
drawings like the ones in The Lasaux cave, where
visual hand drawn medium integrates itself onto a
body like a naturally three-dimensional cave
surface. I observed the potential marriage of a
visual specificity, something beautiful in its natural composition, with a
deliberate visual ambiguity of abstract energy, potentially
blurring the lines of deliberateness and purpose in the contrast of
organic forms and human expression, making for precisely the
kind of stimulating fusion I envisaged. But while maintaining the
anatomical theme of intention, I
struggled to justify it contextually
beyond a playful desire of creative
intuition, it became more and more
evident in the work I was making, that there was a deeper trend
going on of structure, of opposing complimentary elements at the
core, offering a more relevant contextual substance.

While revising an old animation method I’d attempted in the


past of seamlessly looping a series of frames to create imagery
fixed in constant motion, I set out making a more ambitious
piece from a basic template of moving black dots, inspired in
part by Norman McLaren animation ‘Dots’, and other such
abstract works of that era. There was a constantly present
association with some microscopic biological process going
on, I’d recently been drawing abstract iterations from MRI
imagery, hoping to capture some subtle essence of movement. After the demanding process
completing the continuous dots piece it became evident my focal point was getting more
isolated on a basic, otherwise discrete process of motion, that was tapping into something
more elemental of tone, that’s discreetly present, (and absolute) in life.

Dots (Stills)
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My animation frames

Shortly after, I produced these experiments with ‘binaries” focused my mind connecting on
the notion of connecting dots. I was reminiscent of a process in my job transcribing requisite
information for students with learning difficulties, running into familiar challenges from my
own studies, the biggest challenge I often find is just figuring out what the challenge is.

Avoiding those familiar fears of my own conceptual paralysis, I explored evidence of


potential absolutes, like the leap in cellular evolution called endosymbiosis, where two
distinctive bacterium cells merged and gave way to complex organisms it evoked some vague
echos of the same elemental templates present in sexual reproduction, but deliberately
straying from revisiting undesirably charged gender contexts, I was isolating my gaze on the
smallest focal point and how deep that binary search goes. I wonder if there is some ultimate
code, that discreetly drives the common cultural habit of evaluating life through one of many
binary template lenses, a Yin and Yang, or more contemporary lens of computational ones
and zeros. The world of digital philosophy and physics opens up the later example of binary
notions, physicist Rudy Rucker proposing “subjectivity arises from computational
universality.” Raising a question: Is the totality of existence discreetly digital? The full depth
of such subjects and debates can only offer a tantalising sense of a grander process of
universal navigation going on, that in some subtle way feels familiar to me.

Like dyslexic artist Nick Fagan’s work ‘Come’, the work was
attempting to “find the area where communication breaks down
into something more abstract.” I then began developing a series of
short animated
bursts assigned
to the different
sounds listed
in the phonetic
alphabet,
initially with a
hope to
automate it
with some
form of voice recognition in real time.
The animated bursts where intuitive
Martin Baker

responses to the sounds internalised, hoping to evoke a flow of cognitive thought through
internal dialogue, (the words of which could be obscured beyond recognition).

Phonetic Alphabet Hand Drawn Animations

This felt similar to Fagan’s obscuring of text, something which I have done a great deal in my
work, often as a playful act of subversive mischief, or with slightly more explicit context like
my piece “Miscellaneous Content Within”. In this case the service of animated bursts can
play out against a continuous flow of imagery expanded from the liquid like flow in my
interim piece, (which also drew an interesting parallel with my very first abstract work
resembling what I do now. The idea of a flowing, continuously moving piece was a frequent
inclination, and while breaking down this creative process with the two elemental parts, as
the straight, and the curved, and or the black and the white, on this platform of continuous
motion, enabling an element of ambiguity that feels in keeping with the idea of processing
between two other relevant elements, elements of interpretation and response, navigating
between the ambiguity and the deliberately obvious.

Ryoji Ikedas ‘Test Pattern 12’ delivered a satisfying experience for me, echoing a lot of
common aesthetic inclinations and likewise with the use of sound and sensual, entrancing
progression. What Ikeda describes as “the threshold of human perception”, explicitly
breaking down aesthetics to two elements in a very digital, computational way, and in many
senses blurring lines in an illusionary effect. Feeling very internal, almost eternal in how I felt
it resembles consciousness. In evaluating its impossible not to feel governed by endlessly
navigating the map against the territory, or menu vs meal reminiscent for me of the “artfully
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vague” process of identifying and communicating practical information explored by Bandler


And Grindlers NLP Meta and Milton Models, although it commonly applied in a therapeutic
context, also specifies the essential in-specifics present intuitively in all manner of impactful
communication and expression. () “the Milton Model allows you to be "artfully vague" so
that your subject can create a meaning that is appropriate for them.”

I found De Beuaviors Ethics of Ambiguity relatable here, the territory against the map,
resembling the facticity against the transcendence. Contemplating that universal truths are
constrained only within the now, truth as a factor of our shared presence of interaction,
reminiscent of Milton models ‘universal quantifiers’ and ‘timeshifts’ language patterns, that
illustrate the fluidity of human connection while we continuously navigate between our
immediate truths and our potential outcomes. And the means of navigating myself by some
context of binary duality seem inevitable, whether it’s to “escape” De Beuaviors “ambiguity
of existence” or provide the most reliable framework to self-enable with ambiguity. I have
always felt some manner of internal tug of war duality present in myself, an indecisiveness
that with time I have become fond of, and relish open-ending the details of my creative
expression to a gratifying form of subjective interpretation. I don’t wish to obscure precision
in the process of my expression, rather openly invite a contribution of precision into a shared
experience that can play to my blurred abilities.

A number of Carl Fudge’s pieces from digitised


abstractions engaged my aesthetic formulation,
particularly considering the Hokusai prints
common sources for his abstractions, and my
inclination to explore the space between
recognisable natural and mechanised form.
Fudges use of automation in his process seems to
resemble aspects of the intuitions at play in my
visual imagery, a process of unconscious
approximations from pre-existing information
that appears analogue, but perhaps, something in
its essence is discreetly digital.

Carl Fudge-Level 4

Igor Stravinsky

Although these very colourful Stravinsky paintings have a more blended and immediately
fluid expressiveness to them, the use of unambiguous shapes and lines, for me, elevate the
Martin Baker

sense of infinite uncontainable depths. A reminiscent contrast (or perhaps overlap) between
the analogue and digital formats, that suggests to me an ongoing binary relationship
regarding one’s internalised reflection of our “consensual reality” as described by Heller PhD
in Monster and Magical Sticks.

The separation of visual elements in the


interim work, original animated process
that continually pours down into the hands
excited me, and while evaluating in
reflection of this work, as to how I could
technically create that effect of endless
continuation. I’d experimented with
animated loops before and began to notice
an interesting resemblance to the ideas
opened up in my interim piece to the very
first image I produced 12 years ago. That
established the style I later on developed.
Inspired somewhat from Kandinsky and
the subject of synesthesia, I made a very
spontaneous piece flowing down from an
image of my record stylus, expressive of
the fragmented, anarchic electronic music
I was listening to at the time. College Work
Interim

To develop this effect of flowing continuation in video format I approached it as if a


wallpaper design, beginning a drawing from the top, then copying that section, so as to match
it up at the bottom. The results made for a number of technical obstacles thereafter to
maintain as much seamless fluidity and continuation when stitching the images together
digitally and automating the motion. Tiny variations in size and positioning as the lines and
swirls made their way through their repetitions made the ending of one cycle and beginning
of another require subtle fixes in editing automations, to make them more seamless. Such
incremental increases and decreases of size and positioning, which serendipitously made a
slightly more hypnotic effect. With clearer measurements of parameters at the beginning of
the work process could be better prevented in the future, however the necessity to become so
fluent in the editing methods kept the workflow immersive.
Martin Baker

After completing the two elements I ran through the


same workflow to make a wheel form of
intersecting elements, while the other elements
could only travel in up/down, left/right dimesons,
the intersecting piece could connect them. Then
with factoring in endless potential variations of
collating these parts with their numbers, direction,
and inverted colour. One idea of collaging them as
a circular loop was unsuccessful due to the
automations of size and position necessary for the
flowing repetition, but ultimately, I wanted a living
image with no identifiable beginning or end, like a
trickling stream.
Martin Baker

Sound has always had presence in my process, and the use of sound as well as music are very
present in my intention moving forward. During this project I revisited my interest in
Binaural beats, which use the stereo effect to playback incrementally differing tones to evoke
different brainwave frequencies, this method is popular in meditation and hypnosis mp3s.
The potential of applying this method with sounds more creatively has fascinated me and
illustrates another relevant element of binary components in the overall experience of the
piece. The listener of these, experiences an illusionary sound, created mentally by making up
the difference between the left and right tones, adding an extra level of immersion by
requiring the mind to create its own sound by responsive hallucination, to depict as much of
the internal process of sorting information involved in its creation, a potentially broad but
immersive field of subjective interpretations. In addition to that the inclusion of my phonetic
animations featured intermittently against a pulsing tone in the final work.

Sound Production
Martin Baker

The final outcome of this process is an expressive pursuit of structure in its most simple and
mechanised available format. It echoes common personal challenges from the past with
processing and accurately memorising specific information. In this artfully ambiguous
method of managing these challenges and navigating through what I seem to have used, there
still seems an ever present pursuit of simple structure, reminiscent of the joy I get from the
contrasting marriage of natural and mechanical imagery, this is tracible from my childhood;
Infatuation of the interlinked visual and auditory details of films like Star Wars and Alien,
and continuing interests in music and visual arts since then, all seeming to exploit a familiar
fusion of elemental components in as far as my more recent obstacles of determining truth
and relative certainty. My increasing mediation from divisive subjects and aversion of
unnecessary conflict, informs my inclinations to express thoughts and ideas in contextually
ambiguous ways, with no explicit attempt of certainty, (or perhaps evident message) other
than an active suspicion that components of a dependable certainty can exist.