Lancet Proposal:

Cover Letter

26th March 2004

Dear Rose

We write regarding the call for submissions to produce artwork for the cover of the supplement entitled Crime and Punishment, to be published with The Lancet at the end of 2004.

In an attempt to satisfy the submission criteria, please find enclosed an Opening Statement, Submission Statement, and examples of previous work on CD-Rom accompanied by titles, mediums, sizes and a vignette for each piece.

The Opening Statement is intended to give an insight into our general practice, our interest in how this application is relevant to that practice and perhaps provide a context for our methods. The Submission Statement not only presents our ideas regarding this application but how we intend to continue to push those ideas into a final piece of work.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like any aspect of our submission clarifying. We look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely

Lee Johnson and Chris Aldgate

Opening Statement:

It is an intriguing idea to contribute to an Issue of The Lancet. The magazine is a forum where ideas are presented, formulated and discussed. It is a space where research can develop, taking responsibility for itself, under the watchful gaze of a large and intelligent readership.

With this in mind, we approach The Lancet and the Crime and Punishment supplement, not only as an opportunity to present our image (the obvious conclusion of a visual practice) but, within the nature of the submission, to publish the visual within a forum of research.

Whether it's reclaiming a Polish and Eastern European family portrait from the pages of The Sun (Part of the Lost World Feeling comes because the Island split off, 2004, image 4), or remembering Vance Packard and The Hidden Persuaders (Smell the Sizzle not the Steak, 2003, image 8), we are interested in the pliability and fallibility of social- and belief-systems.

We share an interest in how this carries into the practices of artists. How a vernacular, especially within the language of image making, can be constructed without damaging the possibility of risks to be taken in the name of progress.

As an insight to our performativity, vignette's of varying length accompany certain submitted works along with the title, medium and size. They sing at the pace of the image and provide a short encounter with the context of the work rather than a simple description of it.

Proposal Submission:

Title: Pest Control in the Mid 1860's

The Weakest Link Theory - "A society is only as sophisticated as its' criminal constitution".

Like our vignettes or the titles that were presented to the potential authors of The Lancet's proposed supplement on Crime and Punishment, we present: The Weakest Link Theory - "A society is only as sophisticated as its' criminal constitution".

The direct but propositional subjects "Spontaneous combustion - does it exist, or is it always murder?" and "Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia - what happens where it's legal; what about when it's a crime?", whilst perhaps being more specific than we'd attempt to explore within an image, gives a clear taster as to the atmosphere within which, as a collaboration, we might explore the intonation of language, personal posturing or the development of wider social perspectives, through images and the consistency of artistic language.

We aim to confront existing confrontations of beliefs but also develop our own through artistic vernacular.

Included in this proposal is a detail taken from a panoramic illustration of a rural wine making scene (Image 1). What's presented in the overall setting is a social loop with each character playing out his or her part in the community. To all intents and purposes (from left to right, young to old, vine to wine), this group as a static picture hold their ground, perhaps representing the origins and fruition of a political ideal. However, maybe they're poised moments before the regrettable stabilising of Nitro Glycerine, or the Atom being split.

We present them here as a stable political ideal, but through the process of making the work we intend to explore the parameters of the communities' contentment and stability.

The word 'Pestilence' conjures an image of a Biblical society, say, lamenting with God over a swarm of locusts destroying crops, livelihoods, communities; heaping blame upon themselves for their own short-comings.

We think of the 'Pest' in the title of the work falling somewhere between juvenile offender (and innocent rehabilitation) and hardened criminal (visible justice). How we draw this line maintaining 'Control' is the subject of much contention, positioning and posturing in the work.

The section of the title 'In the Mid 1860's' sets up the possible historicism to The Weakest Link Theory, as though a precedent was set and its relevance remains a present-day belief. This is an example of our continuing interest in how social and interpersonal constitutions and belief systems are perpetuated. Our painting Hermes Says Aphrodite is a Corn-Fed Bitch (Image 2), reiterates this, offering the potential origins of the term 'Corn-Fed'.

The provided sketch (image 1) is a detail from a larger tableau that we intend to use as a vehicle to explore the ideas set-down in this submission. To set the scene: it can be described as an unfolding wine making 'chain-gang' of 16 characters. Set against a backdrop of acidic colours, they appear flushed as they toil purposefully in a clearing to consolidate their livelihoods.
Our creative process will consist of deconstructing the scene and exploring the sketches constituent parts: colour, line, composition and touch, character and role-play. Whilst the scene might hold its' ground visually, retaining elements that exist in their current state, we intend to tackle its' context, re-animating it to our own ends.

Our submission to The Lancet will consist of a modelling of what has been presented in the paragraphs above and will take the form of a painted image.

Titles & Sizes:

Pest Control in the mid-1860's, 2004 Sketch
Hermes Says Aphrodite is a Corn-Fed Bitch, 2003 Oil and acrylic on canvas 1630 x 2745 mm
Hermes Says Aphrodite is a Corn-Fed Bitch, 2003 Installation view, South London, 2003
Part of the Lost-World Feeling Comes Because the Island Split Off, 2004 Oil on canvas 1575 x 2135 mm
Gelid Eels, 2003 Oil on canvas 1220 x 1524 mm
Jane's Painting, 2004 Oil on canvas 1296 x 1526 mm
You Wouldn't Even Know How to Complain, 2004 Oil on canvas 1912 x 1460 mm
Smell the Sizzle not the Steak, 2003 Mixed media on wood 1620 x 822 mm
The Cull, 2004 Acrylic on canvas 892 x 3999 mm
The Cull, 2004 (detail)
Corn-Fed Bitch, 2004 Oil, acrylic and marker pen on canvas 1460 x 1705 mm


Pest Control in the mid 1860's sketch

It is widely known within the small folk tradition that Hermes says Aphrodite is a Corn-Fed Bitch is the perfect sentence. Commissioned for the Vorres Museum, Athens, Hermes Says Aphrodite is a Corn-fed Bitch was the first collaborative piece.

Installation view

Part of The Lost-World Feeling Comes Because the Island Split Off

Plucked from the collaborative convoy that is the Sans Serif series, Gelid Eels is an indelible greeting's card from the Christian ritual of Christmas.

A discarded oil-sketch, this painting was found, re-animated, believed in, and remains faithful to her touch.

The pedestrian equestrians

Remember Vance Packard and The Hidden Persuaders, the man who critiqued the new vanguard in marketing? Well, we remembered to smell the sizzle not the steak.

Pioneer of aerodynamics / (little eiffel, little eiffel) / they thought he was a real smart alec / (little eiffel, little eiffel) / he thought big and they called it a phallic / (little eiffel, little eiffel) / they didn't know he was panoramic Pixies, Trompe le Monde, 1991


Stop-motion animation