November 21, 2020

Have visual and practical languages become the poor relations?

Anne Rae

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Cyanotype and pastels on floor lining paper, framed behind reflective glassWATTIE, 2020

An over-reliance on words to convey information that could otherwise be communicated better and more succinctly – together with a perceived relegation of visual and practical languages – were reasons I adopted McLuhan’s communication theory ‘the medium is the message’ as an approach to portraiture. In this portrait, materials-used; style; rendering; size; format; content; framing/glazing (eg reflective/non-reflective/lamination/none?) – are selected to say something more; to try and maximise integrity and narrative. Why use the best, most expensive, ready-made materials, if the subject is a resourceful improviser who would adapt whatever came to hand? Why render the image abstract, if the subject vehemently favours the representational? Could mixed media better describe a multifaceted character? Or, can a perceived black-or-white perspective ever be conveyed in full colour? … and so on. Everchanging reflections in the glass are integral to this image. This portrait attempts to explore and narrate a bigger picture – of personality, alter ego and context – by juxtaposing past and present, reinforced at all levels by the media used. It is a precedent for future artwork, in recognition and support of pure practice and non-verbal thinking.