Dominic Fonde’s Analogue Hearts exhibition at Gallery Arai
A solo exhibition of drawings and engraved glass, called ‘Analogue Hearts’, by Dominic Fonde, takes place at Japan’s Gallery Arai in June 2022.
The definitions of the word ‘Analogue’ are:
relating to or using signals or information represented by a continuously variable physical quantity such as spatial position, voltage, etc.
a person or thing seen as comparable to another.
“an interior analogue of the exterior world”
Dominic explains the thinking behind his ‘Analogue Hearts’ exhibition pieces:
“At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with all my exhibitions cancelled, I sat down in my studio in Kobe, Japan, and wondered what I was going to do. Even access to the blowing studio where I made blanks to engrave on was restricted.
“In order to have a plentiful supply of glass, I visited a 100-yen shop, which is the Japanese equivalent of a UK pound shop, and bought a large supply of magnifying glasses. Then I began engraving images of people wearing facemasks. These stipple engraved portraits evolved into a series called ‘Pandemic Portraits’.
‘Images of these posted to Instagram resulted in requests for commissions. Then, as lockdown eased, I had invitations to submit them for exhibitions. I also got asked one question again and again: ‘How do you do these?’
“When I explained that I use nothing more hi-tech than a tungsten scriber and sit for hours tapping at the glass, creating an image from an unimaginable number of tiny dots, the reaction was incredulity. Then they asked a question that stunned me: ‘Why don’t you use a laser?’
“This got me thinking about our love-hate relationship with modern technology and modern media.
“I told Arai San, the owner of Gallery Arai, that all the processes used to create the artworks for this exhibition would be traditional hand drawing and engraving techniques. However, as I worked, I realised how much I depend on tools like my digital camera and computer. The majority of the Pandemic Portraits were developed from photographs. It was the only feasible approach with social distancing. A couple were even engraved via screen grabs over Zoom.
“We live in a digital age, where everything is experienced via the magic portal of the smart phone or tablet and people cannot imagine there may be a way to create something without using modern technology. We can 3D print everything from guns to replacement heart valves, so why shouldn’t you use a laser to engrave?
“The answer is because sometimes the process is important. Sometimes the tools the artist uses feed back into the process and allow for the idea to be articulated in a certain way. An artist uses the cumulative experience of a lifetime to shape and curate ideas. Choosing the right tool for the job, developing the technique to use that tool well, is of vital importance.
“Lasers and 3D printers can and should be used to create art, but they lead to different creative choices. They are not the only choice, as people seem to think these days. The ‘Pandemic Portraits’ series would have looked vastly different if I had used a laser.
“My vision for the drawings and engravings featured at Gallery Arai is as a series of informational bits cross-connecting all the ideas buzzing through the exhibition; old, analogue technologies, modern digital ones, hand-engraved portraits on magnifying glasses, digitally manipulated images of laptops and typewriters, plus piles of thumb drives and SD memory cards loaded with data, but painstakingly drawn using ball point pen.
“When I first started the ‘Pandemic Portraits’ series, I often talked about how art is a way for a person to look at the world, a way to find signposts and landmarks in their life. I thought I was only looking through magnifying lenses, but I came to realise I was looking through camera lenses and screens just as much. ‘Analogue Hearts’ is me looking around and trying to make a map.
The ’Analogue Hearts’ solo exhibition of drawings and engraved glass objects by Dominic Fonde takes place from 9 to 14 June 2022 at Gallery Arai, 14-20 Koshien 6bancho, Nishinomiya, Hyogo 663-8176, Japan.
Image: Dominic Fonde’s ‘Pandemic Portraits’ series was stipple engraved on 100-Yen magnifying glasses. Photo: Yasutaka Akane.