Studio Research - Reading a painting / by Ally McGinn

Much of the research I've been doing explores and defines the ways we read visual information. The ways we understand it and the meaning applied by us and the artist. These themes have arisen in researching Heidegger, Derrida, Danto, Bell, Hume, Kant and others. This has led to a particular interest in the ways we read paintings.

So I today spent the day in the workshop cutting up two canvases to explore the practical idea of turning a painting into a book. Highlighting the ways we read paintings, and forming a new way of exploring a work.

The first test was done with a painting straight off the wall. It has a solid layer of primer (probably about 4 coats) and a mix of acrylic and oil paint on the surface. The template for this book is 19x40cm to make a book 19x20cm wide.

The second is with an unprimed canvas that was placed on a studio floor for two months. Acrylic paint and dust cover the majority of the surface. This canvas had previously been stretched and nominated as a painting. I applied a single layer of acrylic sealant to either side.

The template for this book is 36x25 to make a book 18x25cm, this measurement is taken from an art theory textbook, which generally have slightly different ratios to other books.

My aim for this process is to discover the best way to turn my floor piece (see here) which is 9x2.5m into a book. The pages will be the size of a traditional painting (which one I am not sure at the moment) and I don't yet know whether it will be displayed horizontally or back onto the wall.

Both tests should work through the next stage (binding) but the sealed canvas (experiment 2) has a tactile quality that is hard to define. The sealant has a plasticity that primer cannot achieve (due to the addition of pigment) and is something that encourages the viewer to flip through the pages of the book. It is a pleasurable experience.

I am going to have to decide whether the work will be shown on the wall or on a plinth as this will define the size of the pages. For now, the binding experiments will continue with these two smaller books.

  Cutting the pages, in a double spread, using a metal template and mortuary blades.

 Cutting the pages, in a double spread, using a metal template and mortuary blades.

 Pages piled together. 

Pages piled together. 

 Quills grouped into sets of two, due to the thickness of the canvas and paint. Ready for binding.

Quills grouped into sets of two, due to the thickness of the canvas and paint. Ready for binding.

 Book experiment 2, with acrylic sealant. Ready for binding. 

Book experiment 2, with acrylic sealant. Ready for binding.