A system for sentiments, 2018

See the exhibition online at Flinders Lane Gallery: https://www.flg.com.au/exhibition/system-sentiments

All artworks are pen and acrylic on aluminium composite, 2018
Toska, 1220x1220mm
Tartle, 1220x1220mm
Kilig, 1220x1220mm
Komorebi, 1220x1220mm
Litmus, 1220x1690mm
Fernweh, 1220x1220mm
Saudade, 1220x1690mm
Diadem, 1220x1220mm
These drawings began a number of years ago, initially inspired by the research of Associate Professor Russell A. Barrow’s work into the sexual deception of the Spider Orchid (Caladenia crebra) through its ability to produce analogue pheromones to attract its male wasp pollinator – an encoded response to a very particular stimuli. My own work experimented with pictorial methods of representing pheromones, beginning with databases of 3-dimensional models, molecular approximations, and in turn translating these into machine driven drawings.

My work then engaged with ideas of smell as a system of encoded interaction. The physical form of particular molecules activate the protein receptors within the nose, in turn creating signals to the olfactory bulb, which is spatially organised into similar ‘types’ of smells. In the perception of odour, language has a unique role. Those who have a better ability to describe smell through language are often considered to have a better nose. The transition from smell to recognition can be facilitated through language—often an ‘ahah’ moment when a smell is described as having certain notes, flavours or characteristics of another familiar odour. These interactions of form, code and pattern recognition influenced the development of these drawings towards investigations of truly volatile and yet almost imperceptible molecules such as pheromones.

Threading these ideas of pattern recognition, language and the imperceptible, I took liberties with the Japanese concept of ‘reading air’. For the Japanese, this concept is perhaps closer to the intuitive act of reading between the lines. For my own purposes, the poetry of reading air presented a methodology to experiment with ideas of the immaterial. Following on from a fellowship at the Australian National University, I developed the current work based on an Asialink residency at the Kyoto Art Centre.

While in Japan, I used 3D scanning as a means to extract, map, and translate, sculptural forms into 2-dimensional works. These drawn ‘air studies’ are based on the rocks found in Japanese karesansui – Zen gardens – places designed for meditative contemplation. The drawings in this series were initially derived from constructed karesansui stones made only from air and a mylar skin – diaphanous balloons. 3D scans of these inflated forms were then created, light used to map points approximating the surface of the mylar. The modelled scan then becomes a flattened mesh, drawn by a plotter, like phantasmic nets, translated by iterations – from air through light, to code then ink.

AR technology is used through smart devices and the images in this book to re-display the original 3D scanned models in relation to the rendered 2D images. Completing the return of the physical to the vaporous digital realm.

Jay Kochel October 2018