Ken Wentworth


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Are we losing grip?

Posted on March 27, 2016 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

We are holding onto our future as it hangs perilously, our cultures pending demise being dependant on our collective actions. Holding onto outdated thought patterns, cultural infrastructures and histories at our peril. Dangling in a delicate predicament, where the future we hold in our hands can fall from grace. Hovering, and potentially slipping from our collective hands, as we blindly move forward, ambivalent  to the impending oblivion we co-create. Text inspired by artwork: Losing grip (Michael), 2005.

Emptiness filled with signs

Posted on March 18, 2014 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (0)

'We are surrounded by emptiness, but it is an emptiness filled with signs.'

Lefebvre, Henri. Everyday life in the modern world

The cord between aspect and materiality has been severed.

Posted on March 18, 2014 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

'Photography signaled the beginning of a time when the "image would become more important than the object itself, and would in fact make the object disposable." [Oliver Wendell] Holmes foresaw a time when surfaces would be routinely appropriated from any conceivable source, and would then take on an autonomous, yet objective, life of their own. "Form," he proclaimed, "is henceforth divorced from matter. In fact, matter as a visible object is of no great use any longer, except as the mould on which form is shaped." The cord between aspect and materiality has been severed.'

Ewen, Stuart.  All consuming images: the politics of style in contemporary culture ( Basic books, 1988 )

Not something natural, but cultural.

Posted on March 3, 2014 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Collages and ready mades are testimonials to the fact that all forms of representation whether they be pictures or words or gestures - are dependent on cultural languages. What we know and represnent is not something natural, but cultural, and does not exist in an ideal essence but is shaped by history.


Staniszewski, Mary-Anne.  Believing is seeing - Creating the culture of art. 

The bubble.

Posted on February 1, 2011 at 5:24 PM Comments comments (0)

'We can describe the bubble two ways, the first being what it stands for. The bubble is a world of entertainment, pleasure, and fun where happiness is derived from material things and sensual experience, where there are no limits on personal freedom, and where there are no consequences for our actions. Alternatively, we can define the bubble by what it opposes: the bubble exists to deny reality to us, to keep us from our truth, be it moral, cultural, spiritual or aesthetic. Truth is like a pin, poised to pop the bubble'

' The bubble thus represents the great narrowing of human horizons away from ulimate questions of meaning and purpose, being and existence, soul and god, and towards the cash register. The dulling of the intellect, the decline of philosophy, of religion, of literature, and the humanities in general, all begin here'

Paul Stiles Is the American Dream Killing you ( Harper Collins, 2005)

Notes from VCA lecture 13/08/96

Posted on September 12, 2008 at 10:53 AM Comments comments (0)
Images become nature - constructed cultural activity becomes natural.
How does the artist function within this?
Text has become novel - images are now more prevalent... functioning in a suggestive, emotive and seductive manner.
'coloured light echoing illusions' (television)
How has the image been constructed?
The postmodern photographer (artist) is a manipulator of signs, rather than a producer of art objects.
The viewer becomes an active decoder of images.
Analogy of painting to cosmetics - painting conceals the image it tries to reveal.

about representation

Posted on April 15, 2007 at 7:01 AM Comments comments (0)

'But suppose we thought about representation, not in terms of a particular kind of object (like a statue or a painting) but as a kind of activity, process, or set of relationships. Suppose we de-reified the thing that seems to stand before us, standing for something else, and thought of representation, not as that thing, but as a process in which the thing is participant, like a pawn on a chessboard or a coin in a system of exchange. This would bring us back to the notion of representation as something roughly commensurate with the totality of cultural activity, including that aspect of political culture which is structured around transfer, displacement, or alienation of power. culture understood as an economy, a system of exchanges and transfers of value'


Mitchell, W. J.T, Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation. (1994, University of Chicago Press)



What do pictures want?

Posted on March 26, 2007 at 5:21 AM Comments comments (0)

'Pictures are things that have been marked with all the stigma of personhood and animation: they exhibit both physical and virtual bodies; they speak to us, sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively; or they look back at us silently across a gulf unbridged by language. They present not just a surface but a face that faces the beholder. In short, we are stuck with our magical, pre-modern attitudes toward, especially pictures, and our task is not to overcome these attitudes but to understand them, to work through their symptomatology. If we indeed are living in a time of the plague of fantasies, perhaps the best cure that artists can offer is to unleash the images, in order to see where they lead us, how they go before us. A certain tactical irresponsibility with images, what I call 'critical idolism' or 'secular divination', might be just the right sort of homeopathic medicine for what plagues us.



Walter Benjamin concluded his meditation on mechanical reproduction with the spectre of mass destruction. The dangerous aesthetic pleasure of our time is not mass destruction but the mass creation of new, ever more vital images of life-forms  terms that apply figuratively, as we have seen, to everything from computer viruses to terrorist sleeper cells.  The epithet for our times, then, is not the modernist saying, things are falling apart, but an even more ominous slogan: things come alive. Artists, technicians, and scientists have always been united in the imitation of life, the production of images and mechanisms that have, as we say lives of their own. Perhaps this moment of accelerated stasis in history, when we feel caught between the utopian fantasies of biocybernetics and the dystopian realities of biopolitics, between the rhetoric of the post-human and the real urgency of universal human rights, is a moment given to us for rethinking just what our lives, and our arts, are for.'


Mitchell, W. J.T, What do pictures want? The lives and loves of images. (2005, University of Chicago Press)

Picture theory.

Posted on March 25, 2007 at 7:43 AM Comments comments (0)

'It was an attempt to diagnose the 'pictorial turn' in contemporary culture, the widely shared notion that visual images have replaced words as the dominant mode of expression in our time. Picture theory tried to analyse the pictorial, or (as it is sometimes called) the 'iconic' or 'visual' turn, rather than simply accept it on face value. It was designed to resist received ideas about 'images replacing words', and to resist the temptation to put all the eggs in one disciplinary basket, wether art history, literary criticism, media studies, philosophy, or anthropology. Rather than relying on a pre-existing theory, method, or discourse to explain pictures, I wanted to let them speak for themselves. Starting from metapictures, or pictures that reflect on the process of pictorial representation itself, I wanted to study pictures themselves as forms of theorizing. The aim in short, was to picture theory, not to import a theory of pictures from somewhere else.



I don't mean to suggest, of course, that Picture Theory was innocent of any contact with the rich archive of contemporary theory. Semiotics, rhetoric, poetics, aesthetics, anthropology, psychoanalysis, ethical and ideological criticism, and art history were woven (probably too promiscuously) into a discussion of the relations of pictures like description and narration; the function of texts in visual media like painting, sculpture and photography; the peculiar power of images over persons, things, and public spheres.'


Mitchell, W. J.T, What do pictures want? The lives and loves of images (2005, University of Chicago Press).



Working with artefacts.

Posted on January 9, 2007 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I view my work as working with artefacts, the magazine image is the original artefact, and by painting over it I enact a form of reverse restoration. Through the painting over, highlighting and accentuating elements of the original, I reveal symbolism within the image... but instead of revealing new colour and form through a process of removing dirt and accumulated blockages to meaning, as with traditional restoration. I reveal layers in reverse by adding, highlighting and exposing elements of the image, investigating visually and metaphorically the culture that created it.  I make a puzzle or fragmented mosaic out of an image that had an initial appearance of wholeness and uniformity as a printed image on paper, now reworked to be a constructed physical representation of the puzzling  and fragmented collective cultural and psychological space that we encounter on a daily basis.