Week 3: Learning to Laser Cut…Again

This week I decided my priority was to get back on the laser cutter. It’s been a good few months since I’ve created anything so the thought of getting back on and familiarising myself with the machine seemed like as good a plan as any.

Monday was spent reading Aristotle’s Poetics for the Tragedy’s Figures philosophy module. I decided to have a go and audit the philosophy module as I like Professor Mark Robson’s style of seminars. Monday afternoon I was back in the laser cutter and had an attempt at laser etching some of the textures and prints I had created. It took a while to become accustomed to the process again, but kind of like riding a bike I hadn’t really forgotten although it took me longer than usual.

On Tuesday I audited the philosophy lecture. It was strange because I really thought I would be out of my depth reading Aristotle and participating in the discussion. It turns out though there isn’t really a ‘wrong answer’ in philosophy and I really enjoyed the exchange of ideas. It is something I am getting used to and beginning to really look forward to. I think instead of sitting in a two hour lecture and falling asleep it is a really great way to become engaged with the topic and ultimately remember it.

That afternoon we had a lecture followed by a seminar from Graham Fagan. He talked about his work and the idea of ‘form’. It was great to hear him speak about his work and his process and I found the part where he discusses consciousness particularly intriguing. The seminar afterwards was slightly difficult for me to follow but it was fascinating to hear everyone’s points of view on ‘form’ in relation to their artwork.

Wednesday was my humanities lecture day and we discussed Walter Benjamin’s work ‘The Work of Art in Age of It’s Technological Reproducibility.’ This particularly interested me as I work with digital media so it was great to see all the differing opinions Benjamin had as to what constitutes an artwork and how in his opinion it’s ‘Aura’ gets lost in the act of reproduction. It was also great to discuss how works of art remain so when they are reproduced – the Mona Lisa for example – and why as humans we have this need to collect things like postcards with the artwork on.

Wednesday afternoon the laser cutter was fully booked for tutorials so I took to the library to read ‘the Search for the Real in the Visual Arts’ by Hans Hofmann. At the weekend I had been walking down by the city quay and was inspired by a sculpture there. It was layers of stone when lined up right you could view the river Tay through. I thought of an idea to layer pieces of acrylic up like this – maybe just a few to start with and then more as I figured it out. I began editing photographs of some birds I had taken to try it out.

Sculpture Installation that inspired me.

Thursday afternoon we had another lecture with Professor Mary Modeen, this time entitled ‘The Agency of the Artist.’ We had to ask ourselves what agency meant and we learned that it can be many things including power, the ability to affect change, intervention and taking action. In the seminar we discussed the Hofmann reading and I particularly liked his use of the words ‘magical’ and ‘spiritual’ in art as it related back to our readings earlier on Tuesday and the idea that art has a physical presence or ‘Aura’.

An idea was brought up in the lecture was the concept of the ‘Anthropocene’ – ‘the proposed epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change.’ This really intrigues me and I would like to explore this idea in my art practice as I work with a lot of digital media and we live in an increasingly digital age. After the seminar I had a little mooch around the art shop and bought some acrylic that I felt would work really well for my layering experiments.

After a few trial runs of etching that didn’t turn out so favourably on Friday morning, I finally managed to get the etching working correctly. The machine had to be set slightly differently as the acrylic was 3mm instead of 5mm. It took a while but I managed to get a test piece of work finished. I’m not sure it came out entirely as I wanted it to, I need to play about with more defined layers and contrast next time, although there’s something about the hazy dreamy quality that intrigues me.

All in all it was a good productive week and I am looking forward in particular next week to more philosophy discussions, we are reading Fredrick Nietzsche’s ‘The Birth of Tragedy.’ Will update you all next week!



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