Simon Lewandowski

Where did it start...?


Where did it start? this form (or rather this family of forms)... Is it a virus or a meme... it is a reorganising of something that should take another form spontaneously rearranging and increasing its facets to conform to some alien geometry from another (or multiple) dimension(s) pleasuring the warped senses of an intelligence about whose Nature it would be best not to conjecture...

(Notebook entry November 10th)

Its a bit Lovecraftian isn’t it really. I don’t want to sound like a crank or a nutter but it was easy to get carried away. In a sense I am really a) intrigued/baffled b) concerned (in a brow-knitting curious way) about where these things come from. By these things I don’t just mean the “alien geometry“ thing but all these forms and ideas that seem to suddenly be in lots of peoples’ work separately... It really spooks students of course - they see someone’s done something already that looks just like what they did even though there’s no way they’ve seen it before (well, there wouldn’t be would there they’d have to have read a book or gone to an exhibition for god’s sake!) and they go into a panic because they’re NOT ORIGINAL so they have ditch it and think of another Big Idea... Personally I find it very reassuring to walk into a gallery and see something there I just looked at in my own studio - it makes me feel like I’m still a member of the same species as everyone else.

So a couple of months ago I took a drawing in to work to show to one of the technicians and get a bit of advice and help to make this thing I’d been idly but consistently (short of obsessively) drawing and had even got as far as making out of card. He looked at it and said “don’t ask me to make that!” (a bit pitifully but not resentfully) and showed me his own plans and a half-built MDF shape. Same thing pretty much. Then the following week I went to Zoo Art fair and saw one after another of these forms - a John Isaacs (odd for him, no guts and gore) and a Richard Woods stick in my mind but there were about six more in one medium of another - including a couple of drawings. It was there in Andrew Bick's painting that I saw a bit later, flattened out but still there.

My first sighting, though (unless you count Daniel Liebeskind’s building for London Met on Holloway Road, which I don’t really) was Richard Wilson’s fractal hot dog truck in the Barbican back in 2006. I’m a bit obsessive about trailers and trolleys anyway, but this looked as if it had fallen into an alternative universe and been pulled out rearranged. I stared at if for ages

Then I forgot about it until this summer.

In August 2008, I carried out a series of drawing or visualising exercises where I worked with self-hypnosis. This was a sort of spin-off from my ongoing Imagining Machine project where I hypnotised volunteers in an empty gallery and got them to “fill” it and describe in detail what they visualised. I’d learned the techniques in a course the year before (I’ve got a certificate!) and as well as being able to hypnotise other people I can put myself into a trance. In this case I used a script I’d pre-recorded - it starts with what my instructors call “guided relaxation”, then a gradual countdown from 20 to 1, visualising myself writing each number on a blackboard them rubbing it out to write the next one; then there’s some general stuff about creativity and positive reinforcement that has slightly different things coming in to each ear and finally I tell myself to open my eyes and draw what comes into my head for a set amount of time.

These are some of what I kept coming up with:

It put me in mind of multidimensional geometry; like if you project a form into more than three dimensions and the geometry gets complicated and this is what happens when you try and model the n-dimensional shape in just 3!

You know that bit in Close Encounters where everybody starts making that shape out of mud and mashed potatoes and shaving foam and things and it turns out to be the mountain where they meet the aliens...? Well, maybe it’s like that, maybe beings from another dimension or another level of reality are transmitting something to us mentally but because we can’t visualise all those extra dimensions whatever they are transmitting gets resolved into these forms - maybe it’s just an image of what they look like (or what we look like to them). Is there some kind of message? Are they benign?
Do I believe this? No, of course not, but I have to admit I've been having these wierd, disturbing dreams lately...