Moshe Ladanga

Posts Tagged ‘drawing

Imagination and Language Part 02: Intent

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copyright Moshe Ladanga 2009

copyright Moshe Ladanga 2009

What wills us to speak?

There has been a huge amount of scholarship devoted to the investigation of the origin of this particular intent, a phenomenon amongst all human activity. The creative will, if one experiences it, is as powerful as any of the fundamental desires.

To invent- that word has always been a favorite of mine, because it has a tinge of the salacious, of the slip. There are works of art that invent, and there are those that quite sadly only seek to re-make. There is a tremendous pleasure that people experience when confronted with the new, and also a unique joy in discovering something new in the familiar. For me, invention is a bit of both, and never exclusive to either ‘classification’ (art history etymology never really works for artists).

The reason why this is such a contentious thing now (especially here) is the loss of certainties brought about by an ever-expanding and complicated view of the world. I always thought theories were at best, well-informed attempts to understand things, not truth. Truth is an entirely  different animal, and it cannot be tamed ever, even by centuries of knowledge.

This is a tricky thing though; to actually tell an artist friend to clarify his or her intent almost always does more harm than good, but you can see it from a mile away. If the artist is simply ambitious for all things besides the thing, then, as we say in the Philippines, a rat is a rat is a rat. Be a good friend and play the fool. In short, don’t give out anymore cheese, haha!

But enough rhetoric- what I want to say is that intent is a private vocation for those who seek things that are bigger than they are, and the reason for the seclusion is that it is enough trouble as it is, and by keeping it close, we keep it manageable, safe. There still are things in this world that cannot be bought. But to clarify (as experience goes, with so many of my old friends), we are not so strong, and often too keen on proving we are clever enough for the game. I remember counseling a friend, brilliant chap, and he was trying to go back into real work after years in the industry. Funny thing was I expected that he wouldn’t have been able to be creative again, but the fire was still there. He didn’t really lose anything, except the clarity of intent.

In my own way, that’s what I’ve been avoiding. These past two years I’ve been protecting whatever artistic integrity I have left. But the knot tightens and ties itself in.  The strange thing about ivory towers is that they have only one purpose: to keep one thing. So, suffice to say, intent is one thing, but to make it real one has to step out and be brave.

Intent is the shape of will.


Written by mosheladanga

August 30, 2009 at 10:19 PM

Imagination and Language Part 01: Solitude

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copyright Moshe Ladanga 2007

copyright Moshe Ladanga 2007

I have long been an admirer of Rilke, first introduced to me by Katrin before she went on a seven-day trip to Sagada. The now-classic pocket-size Shambhala Press Edition of Letters was my first Rilke, and it was a gentle and subtly persuasive introduction to solitude, the core of my artistic practice.

To relish one’s ability to detach and contemplate things is not just a natural state, but a skill that needs to be nurtured and developed; it is a space that expands, no matter where you are in the world, no matter how you are in this life. I have treasured this gift and have even fought it.

So what does Rilke’s notion of the artistic practice have anything to do with the theoretical issues of imagination and language in art? I dare say it is the key issue, the unturned stone. The omnipresence of globalism and collaborative experiments in contemporary practices indirectly reinforce the need to slow down, to reflect, because the collective rush in my opinion is a quite human reaction to the tightening circle of information, of knowledge, not, as many are saying now, to the enthusiasm that “interconnected-ness” brings.

Yes, revolutions in art owe largely to the influx of difference, diversity, but institutionalizing a social phenomena will not only engender it, but kill it. Sometimes we forget that most theories come from observation, and this precious human facility is the one that takes time, and like a path in the woods, the riches of insight can only be gleaned after traversing the pattern of shadows.

It is an effort to be alone. Unlike the days before the internet, before cellphones, I find myself fighting constantly to be aware of my voice, to hear without prejudice the thoughts I have as I walk. Does anyone remember that fleeting subconscious moment that we have when we encounter a realisation- it felt like stepping into a light-struck place in a dense wood. Today, we often pick through our thoughts as one would pick through clothes; I must think this way, must not think like this.

Imagination and language cannot be deconstructed as Derrida would have brilliantly put it (by putting it to the page, inscribing it to form). Yes, there is an  inextractable, even inscrutable connection, but once we look, one goes into gear. Arthur Koestler, one of my heroes, once described human consciousness as an essentially metaphorical one. As we try to make sense of what is outside of us, we already create- every moment is one of invention.

As an artist, this is important to me. No matter how many pedagogical branches grow from the current trend of specialised art theories, there will always be that moment of consideration, a beginning of a circle. It is the daily choice of stepping into it that I am keen on, and to keep it I have to know what is happening. To speak of what things are, one must see as one is.

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May 28, 2009 at 1:35 AM

MADA 02 Assessment Presentation

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Moshe Ladanga
MA Digital Arts
Camberwell College of Arts
University of the Arts London
March 19, 2008
*please click on the drawings

(Video Documentation of Experiments)
Interim Report
Test Site Shows

MADA 1 Assessment Presentation

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Moshe Ladanga

MA Digital Arts

Camberwell College of Arts

University of the Arts London

December 5, 2007



*Please click on the images







Exposure as Identity



Video Studies



Studies on Symmetry






Paper Work



1 W 9- Return of the Native

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The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. There is this filmmaker in the Philippines named “Kidlat Tahimik” (Silent Lightning). His filmmaking practice is something unique, but personally I am not so keen on it. His story is an interesting one though, and his first film, featured in the poster above, is a critique of the modern western world, or rather, a pseudo-documentary vision of the Filipino’s experience of the Western world.

In one scene, he shows a jeepney (a frankenstein Filipino concoction of an American GI jeep, passenger vehicle and cultural icon) in the Champs Elysees. This juxtaposition strikes at several fronts; for many of us Filipinos, it represents the quintessential national identity, and the image of it being in the cultural capital of Europe jars the senses. But there is something problematic in this, and it is that of exoticism. Edward Said‘s Orientalism explains it as the concept of the Other, where anything foreign, unknown, undefined, was given the value of treasure, of something to be acquired- and on the other hand, Occidentalism, the conceptual equivalent of the former, was a hand of power, of definition, giving “substance” to the unknown, making it known, naming it to render it usable, to be “of value”.

When I peruse through the web pages from the Philippines, I see him, still promoting his cause of returning the Filipino to the “native”, meaning the cultural identity of our pre-colonial days. But I cringe at the cultural mechanism of donning traditional clothes to promote an “idea” of my country, and yet I love the ikat, the barong, the jeepney- not only because it is part of my culture, but because these things were made by hand, toiled in time, crafted with care.

In my personal experience, I’ve had the privilege of living with the so-called “lost culture” of the Philippines, and there, I’ve found a home. We only stayed there for a year, but that year changed my life, or to put it bluntly, saved my life. The place is beautiful, yes, the food, the air- all exquisite, a Shangri-la, Foucault’s Heterotopia- but it is the family that we got to know, the lives that we got to share with, the shelter of another kind of life that changed me. I was 25, still in search of something outside of me to solidify what I knew instinctively- in a changing world, can there still be a home for what we feel as truth, dignity, integrity?

The hours there lost their function; time was not a thick psychological fog, it was like a river that would course through the body and inform you not of loss, but of possibility. The family that took us in restored our belief in our beliefs, gave us space to be in solitude, shared their lives as we opened ours. It is not so much as the experience of discovering something in a place, but an experience of letting the self discover itself.

These past months have been quite interesting. Been on the typical routes, the experience of the tube, the weather, the astringent efficacy of First World life. Living with cameras around induces psychological vertigo, and you balance on a tightrope: learn what you can, but be who you are. A few weeks ago I had to prepare for a bank thing, and I rummaged for documents. On my passport are the marks of my passage, the formalities of territory, politics, economy; on my skin are the marks of genealogy, culture, demography. I looked for a coat, smelled it and inspected it (gotta smell like money to get some money). I took a hold of that moment, looked at myself in the mirror and saw only a reflection.


Written by mosheladanga

November 16, 2007 at 10:49 PM

1W 8- Reflection:The Act of Drawing

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I remember Katrin and I talking about Pollock with Nikolas, and the oft-repeated story/myth of him being suspended over the canvas, twisting and turning to render those beautiful complexities. Then I came upon Jonathan Kearney’s site, in which he mentions Pollock as part of the contextualisation of his work. In the interview he cites, Pollock describes this desire to “express inner worlds”. That lead me to examine my drawings, and in particular, the act of drawing.

For years, drawing for me I believed was a way of expressing how I see. It was a personal thing, a way to have a space to myself, a salve to the often tumultuous life in Manila. The abstracts that I would make were done with charcoal sticks, quick and intuitive strokes and smears of black. The process of making it is a paradoxical one, and I remember specific feelings when I look at them. One would take me around 10 minutes to do, but I remember feeling this willful intensity, like an act of un-thinking, summoning the unconscious. Yet there was a sense of purpose to it, and I would make it a point to finish a piece in one sitting.

abstract05.jpg abstract016.jpg abstract02.jpg

But when I would make my figurative drawings, the process is strikingly different; it would take me an hour to finish a piece in one sitting, and at times I can leave it and finish it in the next couple of days. In contrast to the abstracts, there was a very thorough, deliberate feeling throughout the process.

portrait.jpg bodies-study03.jpg bodies-study09.jpg

I know, I might be belaboring the obvious, but there is something in the process itself that is interesting. When I would start off with my body studies, I would begin with a line, a stroke that would lead me to other strokes and the process becomes more and more deliberate, until the image is executed with full control. Also, there is this smearing technique that I use, which I perceive as a way of experimenting with the notion of volume, mass weight (evident in drawing 2 above). But the weird thing is, when I do my figurative work, I don’t remember any specific feelings when I would view them. It was as if I was describing something I felt, the act of it becoming a release. The abstracts though bring me back to particular times in my life, and when I look at them I feel like being in a tunnel, a mix of emotion, and all the other details of that time defined by these emotions.

My question is how does the act of drawing become a means of active thought? There is a common misunderstanding that drawing is an authentic act, or, as it was painted by critics in the case of Pollock (and in a hack of a job, Matthew Barney), a heroic one. I want to understand how my process of drawing can develop into an act of discernment, of not only expressing inner worlds, but maybe engaging this world, engaging my own illusions.

Written by mosheladanga

November 5, 2007 at 2:20 PM


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This book is sort of an illustration of how I think, and the process of how I create. Ever since I started on the film, I’ve found the act of drawing a very enjoyable one. The act allows me to be less self-conscious, and I can reflect on what I observe around me, as well as express what I can’t say in words.

My filmmaking process is a very visual one, and a particular passion of mine is cinematography. Storyboarding is a skill that I find very useful, and usually it saves a lot of time and money when I set out to make something. I is also a way for me to figure out things, to try certain concepts out on paper first, then have some test shoots. For our 12 minute thesis film, I made some boards that illustrate this process, and also shows how I think in terms of the moving image.




When I look at these ideas, there is a visual theme of transformation that I’ve found quite interesting. I’ve been reading (quite slowly, too slowly I think) The Language of New Media, and the his idea of film imagery as a database lead me to think of my own visual vocabulary. This idea of a visual language, a cinematic one that can evolve as it progresses in time, holds so many possibilities. I’m very interested now in developing this and taking it further. One f problem though is that enormous pitfall of the esoteric; maybe it’s my 4 years in film school, but this thing in my head keeps urging me to communicate clearly in my work.

Written by mosheladanga

May 12, 2007 at 2:27 PM