Paul in front of the installation 'The Chemistry of Molecular Clouds' 2015
I have always been interested in the nature of the objective world; how it originated, how it maintains itself and how it is self evident. In parallel, I am also interested in consciousness and how it is related through its sensory perceptions.
In the early days, I became interested in constructing and assembling physical experiments to see how the perception of surfaces affected the comprehension of objective reality. It included the optical surface as indistinguishable from the intrinsic nature to which it was applied. I had in mind the assembly of ‘quasi-holograms’ but using material. The object is-what-it-is but its reality is perceptually interpreted as a constructed ontology.
Most recently I have been constructing models of the phenomena of ‘particulate aether’ and its effects on the natural world. This phenomenon is what I suspect is the underlying substrait between an object and consciousness, and how both sustain themselves.
My main theatre of curiousity is in astrophysics and associated fields. As many of my artworks concern grand concepts I enjoy employing toys, scavenged material and crass stupidity as a humorous counterpoint. In many ways they are in parallel with the English metaphysical poets and their ‘conceits’.
I studied Fine Art at Reading University for B.A. Degree in 1976 and MFA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 1980. During my time at college, and for the 40 years since leaving, I worked as a milkman in South Central London to live and fund my practice. In many ways a vital part of my education. I retired in 2020.
*Read about my career as a milkman - Bettery Magazine (pdf)
I have been resident in studios based in the London districts of Waterloo, Greenwich and, most recently, the Art in Perpetuity Trust in Deptford. I have exhibited extensively and sustain a curatorial practice through my Cipango and Ottica TV projects. I also have an extensive online presence both as an artist and as a curator since 1996. These can be found via my artist’s homepage below.
I have always been interested in how the physical world comes to be; how it originates and what are its mechanics. Included in this is our relationship to consciousness and its freedom to explore internal metaphorical landscapes. In pursuing this research I have explored many historic, lost and forgotten theories of science and natural philosophy; especially so in astrophysics. My extended artworks use common everyday materials, though viewed through the agency of light. My art objects are assembled with a view to mechanics and engineering. This pragmatic approach counters what could otherwise stray into the domain of the ‘metaphysical conceit’; given the concepts that I engage with.
With the movies, they act like a digital sketchbook. Often just a few minutes in length they elaborate on phenomena that I capture from observations in the natural world. As such they act as source material for my other art projects and installations. My current studio practice is based at the Art in Perpetuity Studios in Deptford and from where my exhibitions are assembled. I also use this base to curate projects on themes that are interesting to me. These are catalogued through my Cipango and Ottica TV websites. I studied Fine Art at Reading University for B.A. Degree in 1976 and MFA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 1980. Since 1980 I continued my employment as a South London milkman (South Bank and Bankside) which has funded my activities over the years. I am now ‘retired’.
I have been making art since as long as I can remember; it has always been a great friend. But more than that, it has also been an essential tool for finding out about the world and how it works. How it is that this reality that we are in can possibly find equivalence in our perceptions and conscious thought? So a curiosity has developed over the years. I have become interested in how the physical world originates, how it maintains itself and how it progresses in its relationship to consciousness.
Specifically, I have been interested in experimenting with the perception of surfaces as a gateway into this domain. During my student years in sculpture the intention was to assemble works from completely imagined materials. These were generated through processes that alluded to the transubstantiation of light. The was exemplified through the optical presence of intrinsic surfaces and the processes that generated them. It could be seen as a synthetic compounded through the inversion of their primary and secondary perceptual qualities. Form did not necessarily follow function but could usurp attempts at structural analysis through (for instance) the metaphorical environment of the imagination, or of dreams.
I am fascinated by this novel perception of the everyday. The world is a very strange place to be, the realisation of which can strike at the unlikeliest of moments. It is sometimes only by the application of tenuous mythologies that this perception of reality is kept in place. My experience is that these meta-narratives undergo inversion with alarming regularity. I hope to interest my audiences in accompanying me on this journey; a dérive through strange and unfamiliar conceptual and perceptual landscapes.
And how would these topographies operate? According to the theory of Julian Jaynes* the mind operates by the hallucinogenic transfer of temporal lobe metaphorical traffic. This both generates and evolves consciousness in an historic movement away from bicameral modes of thought. Instead of being a ‘passive recipient’ of consciousness, it is something that has to be sought out and constantly refreshed. This is the evolutionary experiment that humankind is currently engaged in. I see my artistic practice as a contribution to and a contextual participation within this adventure. My practice could be seen to be acting both as a monitoring of this traffic and as a synthesis of new metaphorical and narrative content.
As I wrote at the outset, underlying these events are the processes of Life and its meaning within a greater physical environment. My researches are currently pointing towards the agency of photons (light) and how they 'stack spin'** into the substantiation and the morphologies of the physical world. In turn, this informs us 'what it is that we are' and what determines the nature of the universe that we inhabit. This can be loosely described as 'Charge Field Theory' (Miles Mathis), ‘Ballistic Light Theory’ (Walter Ritz d1907) or Particulate Aether. In this case photons are channelled and recycled through material at a prodigious rate and in spins of near-infinite complexity. The more complex the atomic and molecular structures, the more complex the routing. This increase in complexity is what is perceived as the phenomena of the material world and its transition into life processes. I follow these researches, not in any mystical sense (and certainly not to position a moral imperative!) but as an attempt to more fully understand descriptively these phenomena and pragmatically how they could be applied to the construction of my artworks.
In terms of my art / astronomy hybrids, I am researching how the optical presence of the night sky has been (and can be) alluded to. In essence all these works function as prospective experiments - as if a kind of star map. However, these are maps that navigate the conceptual landscape of contemporary cosmology. In particular, those skyscapes marked as 'terra incognita' or even 'terra prohibetur'. Informing and inspiring these are those theories from the pre-Einstein era and derivatives. There are so many mysteries that are currently awaiting explanation and the list grows daily. It is not just exotic objects but those we see on a regular basis. Why is the Sun a perfect sphere, why is the Moon so bright, why do the clouds stay aloft and so many, many more?
Sometimes these researches engage in a conversation with the pragmatic world in the form of discursive projects and websites. My identity as an artist is temporarily metamorphosed into that of an astronomer, a medical practitioner, musician, a milkman, etc. so as to better understand those dialogues. Information from these processes feed back into the generality of my art practice and inform a continually evolving narrative.
"When one is free to do anything, how is it that we decide what to do?"
*Julian Jaynes : 'The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind'
** Particles engaging in multiple spin axes through locating the spin center on the exterior of the particle. Photons then acquire physicality through the simple expansion of their cross-section and slowing relative to the velocity of light. (H/T to Miles Mathis).
Paul Malone 2023
Interview with Wharf Life 28-03-2019 (on Issue spread 20-21)