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Labyrinthine Artistry: Andy Cumming Adam Linklater: Mythopaedia Maritime Lane Collective, Leith; Edinburgh Art Festival 2018.

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Edited by Steve Bamlett, Tuesday, 11 Sep 2018, 17:12

Labyrinths III: Andy Cumming Adam Linklater: Mythopaedia Maritime Lane Collective, Leith; Edinburgh Art Festival 2018. Labyrinthine Artistry

For internet site visit: http://www.andycummingsite.com/about/

For excerpts of video see: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-2Ml1qbSdWp-JwuCuR50sw

For selected images see: https://www.pintaram.com/u/adamlinklateroccultartist

Images from the installation:

I visited Cumming’s exhibition on Wednesday 22 August and and then attended his presentation of the work the same evening. The work comprises an installation with a 27-minute video and a collection of works (including large colour photographs) attributed to Adam Linklater that also, largely appear in the film. Adam Linklater, Cummings tells us, is an ‘avatar’ of himself, the artist but also a kind of ‘double’, whose paranoia and psychosis Cummings admits he can get dangerously near to. On his website Cumming says:

“My work deals with many different themes from the origins of creativity with the understanding of inherent and embedded knowledge, to the study of human behaviour and the social sciences. I am also interested on the effect that the internet is having on our learning. Having unlimited access to knowledge on every possible subject is an amazing thing but it also opens us up to false and or conflicting information, adding to an ever increasing mistrust of our governments and the education we are taught at school. I find interest in many things but I also enjoy the process of allowing the chance mark inspire the form/idea. I tend to start my work with no particular theme but through the process of play and random markmaking a theme starts to come to fruition. I very much allow my tacit knowledge to take over whilst I make art.”

Andy Cumming 2017

Cumming’s insistence that ‘tacit knowledge’ constitutes an alternative identity that like the traditional doppleganger can ‘take over’ a more conscious self, goes a long way to explaining the origins of Adam (the first man) Linklater (a man of belated networks). His theory here sounds a lot like that of the Dadaists’ practice of automatic writing or creation – such practices try to go underneath the layers of convention that we call our conscious selves to something we call either ‘primitive’, ‘tacit’ or unconscious. At one point in video, the artist’s search for clues to Linklater’s quest for knowledge, and the control he believes inheres in that knowledge, is labelled firs I.D. (at one level identity) and later ‘id’ (the ‘It’ which is the name Freud actually gave to the unconscious).

The search Linklater, and Cummings – sometime with his girlfriend – after him, undergo, involves a descent to an underworld – such as we find in archetypes like Orpheus, Odysseus in Homer, Aeneas in Virgil, Satan in Milton. But underground caves also recall that fearful palace of art made by Daedalus, the Labyrinth.  One section of the video is named ‘labyrinth’ and shows Andy and girlfriend penetrating a cellar and finding within evidence of earlier occupation by Linklater.

Strangely, when I asked Cumming, at his presentation, why he did not talk about labyrinths, he prevaricated but later said that the labyrinth was a kind of emotional-cognitive space (my term) in which he experienced feelings of self-loss, and which prompted him to ‘disappear’ his Linklater avatar. Artists have to move on. That labyrinths are a symbol of the artist is clear in the Daedalus story. That master of art (techne in Greek) made marvellous monuments but they became prey to the uses to made of them by tyrants like Minos and dangerous for neophytes, like his son Icarus who died in the attempt to escape the labyrinth by getting too near a more pure Apollonian knowledge.

But Cummings work is an excellent translation of the labyrinth trope to the nature of what we naturally call ‘the web’ (a classic analogy to the labyrinth). It associates with Cumming’s use of maps and links later made upon them (as in Rosicrucian thinking), and to the ubiquitousness of mind-mapping as a means of charting mental operations in modern education. Hence many of the works are mind-maps, charts of the mind that allow for labyrinthine following of links and connections, some of which fall into a dead-end. Of these Cumming makes for rather interesting art. Ultimately these networks are also neural networks, which too can be labyrinthine and sometimes dangerous link hungry. For Cumming some of this relates to the aetiology of what he calls paranoia and which I’d prefer to call more widely psychosis – in which patterns and meanings get over-perceived, although not necessarily therefore becoming delusions (at least not always).

At the book festival I saw some similar connections made by very good contemporary poets in poems about descent to undergrounds. Those were Sean Borodale (clearly a very great poet in the making) and Ruth Padel.

 Linked to this review are:

1.       The exhibition The Green Man in and of the Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh University collated and curated by Lucy Skaer and others.

2.       An art installation on Maritime Lane, Leith Adam Linklater: Mythopoeia by Andy Cummings (this).

3.       An introduction through Charlotte Higgins’s new book.

4.       An addendum: the way in to Anselm Kiefer - a labyrinth with no end has, of course, no way out.

5.       A second addendum - Paul Broks: the labyrinth in the Neuropsycholgist's Odyssey.

All the best


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