Reading “A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney” by Martin Gayford. The book is partly about Hockney’s huge paintings of Yorkshire landscapes, but he also talks about how he uses his iPhone to sketch and paint, and how digital printing has enabled him to make much bigger works that are painted outside in the landscape, because they can be used as a reference to the sections he has painted earlier. The following section reminds me of what an app like audio-mobile, and using the recorded sound to compose new things, does to landscapes, both urban and rural.
DH: Drawing makes you see things clearer, and clearer, and clearer still. The image is passing through you in a physiological way, into your brain, into your memory – where it stays – it’s transmitted by your hands.
MG: So, as you understand it, one of the purposes of visual art is to make you look – to fix your attention.
DH: I love that about it. Pictures influence pictures, but pictures also make us see things that we might not otherwise see. (Gayford 2011:85)
Gayford, M. 2011, A Bigger Message Conversations with David Hockney. London, Thames & Hudson.
In a section of the book about Hockney’s use of an iPhone and computers for drawing, he talks about the immediacy of the iPhone, Hockney says
DH: The iPhone makes you bold, and i thought that was very good. I’ve looked at them blown up on a big screen, and they made me very excited because you didn’t have any loss of colour, and instead of the finger doing it, it looked as if you were doing it with your arm swinging round. I thought, ‘Hmm, this will affect my painting, trying to find the minimum number of marks needed to do something.
I’m trying to think how this relates to the work that Owen & Sam are doing with audio-mobile, but also how it relates to the work I’ve done with GPS apps. How working with a mobile phone is about being inside the medium that you’re working with, but that it also effects how you see and hear, and in a sense is an extension, a different medium to think through. In the same way that Hockney discusses broad simple marks possible on an iPhone, how is the use of sound different? how does it make different things possible.
Gayford discusses art that emits light, Gainsborough’s landscapes on glass that were made to be illuminated by magic lantern, and medieval stained glass. He goes on to discuss iPhone images that Hockney sends to him by phone
The iPhone, however, in contrast, is intimate – held in the palm of an artist’s hand, the mark made with the hand itself. This was digital sketching, free and wonderfully immediate. (Gayford 2011: 94)
Do ‘audio-mobile’ and ‘Comob’ make sound, and social relationships ‘immediate’ and ‘intimate’ because of their scale, and their sitting on this small screen that has recently been taken from your pocket or bag, and sits in your hand, being ‘to hand’ in a way that other devices for recording audio, or social relationships are not so personal or ‘ready to hand‘?
“DH: We see with memory. My memory is different from yours, so if we are boht standing in the same place we’re not quite seeing the same thing. Different individuals have different memories, therefore other elements are playing a part. Whether you have been in a place before will affect you, and how well you know it. There’s no objective vision even – ever.
There’s a story about the French philosopher Henri Bergson. He was sitting in a cafe opposite Rouen Cathedral, and he said that the only way you can see the cathedral properly from here is to get up, walk right round it, and then come back here. I like that. The point is that you would then haveaa memory that you were looking at.”
DH: They were drawn from life; most took about eight hours. Photoshop is a terrific medium. What you are really doing is drawing in a printing machine. You don’t look at your hand, you look at the screen. Then I print it out, see what it’s looking like, see what colours you get. So you actually use the colours that the printing machine makes.” p97
The idea of working from inside the printing machine, is it the same with sound on a mobile?
DH: Anyone who likes drawing and mark-making would like to explore new media. I’m not a mad technical person, but anything visual appeals to me. Media area bout how you make marks, or don’t make them. (p98)