Saturday, August 3, 2013


a visit with Richard Sewell

Your studio images remind me of a science lab. What experiments are taking place in there??

 You are right. My studio does function like a laboratory, as wherelocal is an investigation about a category of located occurrence that we call image. One’s ability to observe a located object as image is effected by one’s experience; the need to do so affects one’s culture. wherelocal is an investigation which considers these two occurrences- observation and image, to be also conjoined to a specific (albeit often hidden) morality. Morality in this context is also located as within one’s (the observer’s) own history.
wherelocal is a dimensional study of such occurrences and assumes that the relationship between these three physical links; a location, an object, an observer- define meaning as a located relationship called: locusethic(s). 
There appears to be sympathy for wherelocal and such an investigation as selections will be included this fall in the Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery exhibition, Circling the Inverse Square, curated by Shannon Anderson. 

How would you describe your subject matter and the process you use to dissect it?

wherelocal began in 1997 from a different intent- to evolve a visual-notation system of symbols to notate observation within the teaching of drawing. Not resolved, their use was to be integrated into critiques and evaluation. Three of these symbols did make it into my drawing curriculum. That visual notation could aid in the understanding of visual images was an approach borrowed from the Benesh Movement Notation system. Co-invented by Joan and Rudolph Benesh in the 1940’s, for 5 decades this system provided a visual notation for dance and choreography. It was eventually replaced with the use of video. 

The symbols eventually integrated into a parallel investigation I was doing, working with materials from Home Depot, chosen, as I had no prior experience using them.
The symbols and materials, using heuristic principles, eventually combined into symbol- object-images, (currently about 500). These provide a format as notation now used in both the wherelocal works and in the writing about wherelocal.



How do you deal with both negative and positive criticism?

(As a form of logic)
Though we love and need Aristotle’s sense of logic, (here associated with the format: criticism)
it’s influence on academic thinking, with its reliance on words as used in conversation, is not always appropriate.

A preferred approach to the understanding and evaluating of visual observation or images is for example-
The eye exam. Evolved across real life experience this approach to evaluation and observation is best understood from year to year, as a visual occurrence which itself provide the criteria for it’s own critique. The eye-exam uses the very same eyes and the same located object image to evaluate the act of one’s observation- (A visual occurrence as best evaluated by a visual occurrence).
Referencing other observational formats such as drama, craft, video could modify this approach, or drawing...this would be in contrast to the current critique culture that attempts to critique visual observation with non-visuals such as words, sentences, and this....
Hence my sympathy towards a notation-expansion so as to include as image: location, object, and observer. 

What is fueling your work these day - in particular the things you are
reading, eating or listening to?

My preferred context as research is to locate myself with objects that can be observed closely to how they actually evolved and occurred. Such artifacts as found in natural and scientific museums as the Smithsonian, the ROM, the Science Centre, and, most recently for me, the Museo Di Storia della
scienza in Florence. (Just around the corner from the Uffizi.)

On a lighter note- this approach using context-object-observation and located sharing is similar to the methodology used by the late comedian George Carlin. He explained that his base for investigation, his job so to speak, was to try to observe what one (including initially himself) had previously missed. Having noticed he was then able to bring this to his own and then to other’s located attention. (My words...) 

What lays beyond the work you are doing right now?

As wherelocal works with locations, objects, and observations, which have already occurred but remain unnoticed, as these located words themselves are, other objects, each themselves such an occurrence each suggest for investigation such locals, objects, and observations as their own history is a continuity. Similar to an eye exam- a location of symbols and observations which continue to combine as one’s investigation and observational history, so in this case does wherelocal

Thanks for inviting us in to see your studio Richard!