Ottawa, Ontario

While being in my home town of Ottawa, Ontario /Gatineau, Québec, there were many people and artist friends to visit. This year I had the opportunity to have a fantastic dinner with artist Adrian Göllner and his wife Joanna Swim, an artist and career Art Educator. We recounted many stories of our previous years and what we have been up to.

© 2018 Louise Levergneux. Birds were of interest for me this summer. A Woodpecker visiting at my brother Denis’ cottage in Notre-Dame-du-Laus, Québec.

© 2018 Louise Levergneux. Birds were of interest for me this summer. A Woodpecker visiting at my brother Denis’ cottage in Notre-Dame-du-Laus, Québec.

Adrian has exhibited extensively since 1987 and has received a number of public art commissions. His studio practice concerns the transposition of sound, time and motion into other forms. In 2017, Adrian set himself against famed ornithologist’s John James Audubon’s declaration that he observed 10,000 birds a day for his new project All the Birds I Saw Last Year being exhibited at Central Art Garage through November 02, 2018.

© 2018 Julia Martin. Central Art Garage, Ottawa, Ontario

© 2018 Julia Martin. Central Art Garage, Ottawa, Ontario

Göllner’s daily avian observations are exhibited as large illustrated lists from which the viewer can distinguish the increasing dominance of invasive bird species.

© 2018 Julia Martin. Exhibition of  All the Birds I saw Last Year  by Adrian Göllner

© 2018 Julia Martin. Exhibition of All the Birds I saw Last Year by Adrian Göllner

All the Birds I Saw Last Year as described by Adrian.

I have become distracted by birds. Early in 2017 I began to take note of the local flocks of starlings, sparrows and crows. Depending on the weather and time of year, their location and activity varied considerably. It occurred to me that if I were to make a record of every bird I saw for a year, some larger patterns might emerge that speak to our relationship with nature. Indeed, conceiving of the local bird population as a collective canary-in-the-coalmine, I thought I might begin to detect how human activity is adversely affecting our shared environment.

As I began my bird count on September 18, 2017, I was conscious of famed ornithologist John James Audubon’s (1785-1851) declaration that he saw 10,000 birds a day. How long might it take me to reach that number in an urban environment some 200 years later? Properly, each bird image denotes one sighting, so can represent either a single bird or a flock. Still, I estimate it took 240 days to meet Audubon’s one-day total.

© 2018 Julia Martin. Exhibition of  All the Birds I saw Last Year  by Adrian Göllner

© 2018 Julia Martin. Exhibition of All the Birds I saw Last Year by Adrian Göllner

Admittedly, my pursuit is pseudo-scientific. While the regimented manner in which the results are presented suggests a scientific eye, what birds I see from day to day is largely random. Perhaps the project is best expressed as the meandering of one being intersecting with the meanderings of many others. Be that as it may, over the course of several months, the fluxes in the local bird populations are apparent and patterns can be discerned. One observation that is particularly telling is that 38% of our local bird population are invasive birds, species that humans naively introduced and which now thrive in the urban environment, displacing endemic birds.

© 2018 Julia Martin. Detail of  All the Birds I saw Last Year  by Adrian Göllner

© 2018 Julia Martin. Detail of All the Birds I saw Last Year by Adrian Göllner

© 2018 Julia Martin. Full print of  All the Birds I saw Last Year  by Adrian Göllner

© 2018 Julia Martin. Full print of All the Birds I saw Last Year by Adrian Göllner

© 2018 Julia Martin. 5 x 5 inches/12.7 x 12.7 cm detail of  All the Birds I saw Last Year  by Adrian Göllner

© 2018 Julia Martin. 5 x 5 inches/12.7 x 12.7 cm detail of All the Birds I saw Last Year by Adrian Göllner

During the course of the year, I realized the project pitted my Neolithic brain against my modern sensibilities. While I am now able to rapidly identify birds by their colour, call, behaviour and flight pattern – something our ancestors would have relied on to find food or be warned of approaching predators – I am compelled to categorize and order those birds in the same all-too-modern manner that has, ultimately, led to the exploitation of the natural world. That all my bird sightings are recorded on my mobile phone, something that keeps us disengaged from our physical surroundings, belies a whole other set of ironies.

My desire is for the project to be read as a gesture of hyper-attunement at a time in which we are all increasingly aware of the rapid pace of environmental change. I am at once buoyed by the intelligence, ingenuity and incredible beauty of our avian neighbours and distressed by how we humans impinge on their lives on a daily basis.


As soon as Adrian described All the Birds I Saw Last Year, I was hooked by the idea of how a collection can be amassed and the way it’s transformed from concept to practical reality. Have any of you worked on developing collections?


More Drawings

Last week, I re-drew the final element in Tinkercad for my artists’ book Finding Home. Major problems were surfacing, and the results were not good. Defeat, no way! This simple structure can be 3D printed, I’m sure.

My solution was to break down the sections of my structure into 7 pieces and once printed I would glue the sections together. The question remained, will the parts fit together? I’m hoping it works! 

Friday, I travelled one more time to Unbound to retrieve my work. Well, surprise! surprise! every part fit, amazing!! Persistence as always served me well.

The slipcase for my book Xtraction was also a success. My strategy worked. I’m excited to finish these projects. J'ai le vent en poupe ! I’m on a roll! as they say. I will elaborate on this project later, but here is a photo of the result of the last 3D print of Xtraction's slipcase.

© 2016, Louise Levergneux, 3D printed slipcase for Xtraction

© 2016, Louise Levergneux, 3D printed slipcase for Xtraction


Last week we visited the compelling Clock Drawings by Adrian Göllner. One more drawing from the series is worth looking into because of it’s interesting history.

The MGM blockbuster movie Ben Hur made its screen debut in 1925. Borrowing on its success, the Westclox Clock Company designed a handsome, roman-style alarm clock, which they called the Ben Hur and began marketing in 1927. The Ben Hur clock in my collection was purchased at Rideau Antiques in the Ottawa Valley, so it had likely been the property of a farm family in the vicinity. A mark on the reverse indicates that it had been serviced in 1942, but sometime after that it ceased to run and a repairman scavenged its winding keys. The clock is in poor condition and the spring was broken, but the alarm spring was still partially wound. I suspended the clock movement above a piece of carbon paper and then triggered the alarm. The alarm hammer struck the surface for several seconds. A decidedly men’s-style alarm clock, one might conclude that it was a birthday or Christmas gift for the father of a household. Perhaps he had traveled to the big city, seen the movie and now his family honoured him with a clock of the same name. If that is the case, then memories of the movie and thoughts of his family were an inextricable part of the energy coiled on the alarm spring and which made the marks upon the paper.

© 2010 Adrian Göllner, Ben Hur

© 2010 Adrian Göllner, Ben Hur

Another series, another device. Adrian’s project the Norwegian Wood Drawings configures a turntable so that the vibrations of the needle are transferred onto a drawing surface.

© 2012, Adrian Göllner, Norwegian Wood Drawing Mechanism

© 2012, Adrian Göllner, Norwegian Wood Drawing Mechanism

 A vinyl recording plays on the turntable causing the speaker’s woofer and attached pen to vibrate. The pen is slowly drawn backward across the drawing surface that itself rotates at 33 1/3 rpm.

Adrian’s intention was to divine the shape of John Lennon's loneliness from the grooves of his old Beatles albums. 

“A brilliant but troubled song songwriter, rejection and self loathing underlie many of Lennon's most enduring songs: Girl, I'm a Loser, Help and Norwegian Wood. Speculative? Absolutely. But even the consideration that the lines before us contain the essence of John Lennon’s loneliness make these drawings both curious and compelling.”—Adrian Göllner

© 2012 Adrian Göllner, Come Together, ink on vellum, 34 x 22 inches

© 2012 Adrian Göllner, Come Together, ink on vellum, 34 x 22 inches

© 2012 Adrian Göllner, I Want You, ink on vellum, 34 x 22 inches

© 2012 Adrian Göllner, I Want You, ink on vellum, 34 x 22 inches

© 2012 Adrian Göllner, Across the Universe, ink on vellum, 34 x 22 inches

© 2012 Adrian Göllner, Across the Universe, ink on vellum, 34 x 22 inches


The studio of James G. Jenkins is part of the Water Street Studios an artist co-op in Batavia, Illinois. Lucky to meet this talented artist, luckier to have him as a friend.

Drawing the Line(Somewhere) was made on one of the many bicycle paths around Batavia, Illinois. The reason for building this device was to "connect the dots" around the world to all areas suffering from climate & environmental problems. "We all must "draw the line" on something," says Jenkins. I use this device and performance to demonstrate it. 

© James G. Jenkins, Drawing the Line(Somewhere)

© James G. Jenkins, Drawing the Line(Somewhere)

James also notified the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago that he would be "drawing rings around them." This drawing is from that performance.

© 2004-2006 James G. Jenkins,  Drawing the Line(Somewhere), detail of drawing 

© 2004-2006 James G. Jenkins,  Drawing the Line(Somewhere), detail of drawing 

James’s sculptures provide a theme for both intellectual and visual curiosity. They contain road maps directing the observer through a process of distillation and fusion of contrasting ideas and investigative humour. James a genius at work is always happy to show you around his studio and direct you to the actual installations around Illinois. If you are in Illinois, James's studio is worth the visit!

 

These wonderful well thought out art pieces leave me with deep thoughts...

 

 

 

Drawing

Would you like to delegate certain tasks?

My work exhilarates me and I enjoy the activities in my studio. Certain activities are monotonous repetitions. After a day of these, I get cross-eyed. 

The learning curve with Tinkercad is more work than I assessed. I have figured out how the Ultimaker 2 3D printer handles measurements depending on heights and widths. I have redrawn my prints so many times...did I mention redo, redo, redo and redo! Oh! and re-measure. An Epson or an Ultimaker 2, Aargh!

As simple as my Tinkercad drawings are they are difficult to print. I should job out this task for sure! There were changes and savings too numerous to illustrate. Here are a few images that show the steps I took to break down the slipcase into two pieces to print. The last drawing is ready for print. Let's see if this works!

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, 3D printed slipcase for Xtraction

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, 3D printed slipcase for Xtraction

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, 3D printed slipcase for Xtraction

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, 3D printed slipcase for Xtraction

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, 3D printed slipcase for Xtraction

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, 3D printed slipcase for Xtraction

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, 3D printed slipcase for Xtraction

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, 3D printed slipcase for Xtraction

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, 3D printed slipcase for Xtraction

© 2016 Louise Levergneux, 3D printed slipcase for Xtraction


Do you thrive on endless repetitions? Is it meditation?

Which experience is worse drawing in Tinkercad or Miguel Endara’s pencil touching the paper 32 million times to create Hero?


Karina Smigla-Bobinski gave the task of drawing to the audience that came to play with her kinetic sculpture installation.

ADA is a post-industrial "creature" self-forming artwork. She is a 3m diameter PVC balloon performance machine and her patterns of lines and points, get more and more complex as the number of people playing increases. What an experience this must have been! 


Adrian Göllner, an installation artist who collects old wind-up alarm clocks. Compelled by the energy stored in the spring of over-wound clocks, Adrian channelled this found energy into drawings. 

The Clock Drawings were either created by the clock’s movement, which was directly set atop a piece of carbon paper, or the movement was suspended just above the carbon paper. In both cases, when the alarm spring was released, the hammer struck the surface and made a mark.

Each clock used to create a drawing had its own particular temperament. Getting a clock to run continuously or convincing it to give up the energy bound on its alarm spring often required a specific apparatus. As a result, the weight of the drawn lines and the size of the paper vary considerably. Each drawing is presented in simple box frame and accompanied by a one-page account of the drawing process and Adrian’s suppositions about the clock owner’s circumstances.

The first of the alarm spring drawing was created using an old Italian Veglia alarm clock. When released, the alarm hammer struck the surface of the paper so vigorously that it dragged the movement for 3.5cm. 

“The person to last service the old Italian Veglia alarm clock had written his name and a date on the inside of the clock case, which allowed me to conclude that I had just witnessed and recorded Possibly the Last of Bill Tets, Clock Repairman,” as narrated by Adrian.

© 2009-2011 Adrian Göllner, Possibly the Last of Bill Tets, Clock Repairman

© 2009-2011 Adrian Göllner, Possibly the Last of Bill Tets, Clock Repairman

To facilitate another clock drawing, Adrian partially disassembled the clock and prepared a piece of paper to fit over the face. He then started the clock, fitted the piece of paper and replaced the minute hand of the clock. Glued to the minute hand was a small pencil lead. Powered by the winding motion of an old farmer’s hand some seventy or eighty years ago, the lead was dragged across the surface of the paper for a period of 3.86 hours.

© 2009-2011 Adrian Göllner, 1919 Westclox Big Ben, Style 1A Alarm Clock

© 2009-2011 Adrian Göllner, 1919 Westclox Big Ben, Style 1A Alarm Clock

These drawings intrigue me, the straightforwardness of the idea gives me chills, brings me back to old history. The drawings are pure and the energy is strange and yes, Adrian ghostly.


What could I devise to help with the monotonous tasks still ahead? How does an artist rethink the process or think minimalism?

Simplicity is best, but for right now my new project needs its final feature to be complete!