Ana Čavić, currently a WSA PhD student, below discusses her artwork, ‘Rules that order the reading of clouds’, exhibited by the Intermission Museum of Art.
“Our current IMA exhibition questions the wider implications of translation. In ‘Rules that order the reading of clouds’ artists Ana Čavić and Sally Morfill create a series of rule-based exchanges, in which they take turns moving a specific number of lines, each time creating a new translation of what came before. The skyscape is gradually deconstructed and recomposed as a poem, then in turn, the poem is deconstructed and reconfigured as a drawing. Through the animation process a generative call and response is set in motion as image translates into poetry, and poetry translates into image – emulating the unpredictable and mutating movements and readings of clouds.” – Intermission Museum of Art
The recent Intermission Museum of Art (IMA) exhibition Translation (September 2020) showcased ‘Rules that order the reading of clouds’ (2016), seeks to open up and question the wider implications of translation. Exploring gesture and mark-making through the protean potential of line, ‘Rules’ proceeds to enact a series of translations between the languages of drawing and writing, which are captured in the form of an animation. In ‘Rules’, my collaborator Sally Morfill and I created a series of rule-based exchanges, in which we take turns moving a specific number of lines, each time creating a new translation of what came before. The resulting skyscape of lines is gradually deconstructed and recomposed as a poem, then in turn, the poem is deconstructed and reconfigured as a drawing. Through the animation process a generative call and response is set in motion as image translates into poetry, and poetry translates into image – emulating the unpredictable and mutating movements of clouds as well as the multiple meanings we might read into them.
‘Rules’ is available to watch on the IMA’s website until November 2021.
A bit about the work
‘Rules’ is a screen-based work that explores the process of constructing meaning using line. In this work, the medium for Sally’s and my collaboration is the nomadic line that traverses visual and literary fields as it moves between drawing and poetry. With this work, we were interested in exploring the protean potential of the line to be text, image or something in between—something resembling the ambiguity of clouds.
Our starting point was the poetic idea that we could construct a set of rules that could be used to generate an animation as unruly and untranslatable as the animation of real clouds. We followed a set of simple rules to make the animation (using layers in Illustrator) whereby each took turns to animate a scene within a set number of moves (one of the rules). In the course of the animation, a drawing (by Sally) is gradually deconstructed and recomposed as a poetic text (by me), then in turn, the poem is deconstructed and reconfigured as a drawing (again, by Sally) and so on and so forth. In our attempt to capture the poetics of clouds, however, we inadvertently created our own generative system of making the animation that resembles chaos systems such as those that govern weather patterns.
As it turned out, the rules for creating the cloud-like animation are not unlike the rules that generate real clouds. The resulting series of alternating poem and drawing sequences ensured that the animation not only emulated the movements of clouds but also behaved like the chaos system that produces clouds. Clouds, like weather systems, are chaos systems that tend towards entropy because they too follow a set of simple rules. In applying a simple set of rules to generate our cloud animation, we produced a system that likewise tends towards entropy, which is rendered in the animation as the gradual accumulation of surplus lines creating areas of visual noise. This unanticipated result was a complete surprise to us, proving that the artistic process can yield unexpected results and that, sometimes, it’s alright to have your head in the clouds because you might actually discover something about them.
A bit about us
To introduce myself and my long-term collaborator Sally Morfill and co-author of ‘Rules that order the reading of clouds’ (2016):
Ana Čavić is a Ljubljana and London based performance artist, poet and postgraduate researcher into performance-born artists’ publishing. Her art practice, at the intersection of the fields of performing and literary arts, includes works on paper, artist publications, digital poetry animation and digitally assisted poetry and storytelling performances. She is one half of the performance and publishing duo Ladies of the Press*, a pair of theatrical girl-gonzo zine makers who stage pop-up LIVE PRESS performances merging publishing with performance art.
Sally Morfill is an artist who lives and works in both London and Manchester. Since 2007 she has been a member of Five Years, a collaborative artists’ project based in Archway, London, sharing responsibility for the programming of events and exhibitions. She has recently completed a practice-based PhD, making work that investigates the relationship between drawing and different aspects of language, as found in and between speech, movement and writing. Her thesis describes a drawing practice in which translation functions as a primary methodology.