Research & Writing

The following are some areas of research and writing I have recently been interested in, through study and collaboration with the MFA / Art in the Contemporary World (ACW), at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), and also with the new Design Thinking Pedagogy and Praxis course and Robotics Department at University College Cork, (UCC).

BECKETT’S BOOKSHELF

This short essay examines Samuel Beckett as an early postmodern artist and his Absurdist use of language through the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein and was inspired by a captivating series of lectures by acclaimed Beckett Scholar Judith Wilkinson at NCAD. 

http://alexpentek.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Becketts-Bookshelf-1-1.pdf

ORIGAMI & ROBOTICS:

Thanks to Dr. Orla O’Flynn, (President of Galway Mayo Institute of Technology), and Trish Brennan, (Head of Fine Art, CIT Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork), for introducing me to Dr. Guangbo Hao a number of years ago. Guangbo is a Senior Lecturer in Electrical and Mechanical Engineering at University College Cork, and we have been researching ways to explore connections between the ‘rigid origami’ that I use in my gallery work and robotics. Last year, just before lockdown we delivered a series of lectures and workshops using origami as an educational tool for robotics education. This explores a fluid trans-disciplinary approach between material learning, hands-on experience, and kinematic mapping of these folded joints using mathematical axioms contained within the folded surfaces of origami.

Our paper, titled ‘Art into Engineering: Demonstrating how Origami Creativity can Inform Robotics Education,’ was presented by us both at the Engineering Education for Sustainable Development annual conference online in June 2021, and can be seen on the link below. Since our first collaboration, Guangbo and I have co-authored a total of four research and conference papers linking origami with robotics and we look forward to continuing this area of exciting research together.

http://alexpentek.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Art-into-Engineering-Demonstrating-how-Origami-creativity-can-inform-Robotics-education.pdf

SOME THOUGHTS ON MARTIN PURYEAR

I was lucky enough to see Martin Puryear represent America at the US pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019, which was incredible and had a lasting effect on me. Part of our MFA study was to write a critique of a monographic essay on an artist of our choosing, so Puryear seemed like the natural choice…

http://alexpentek.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/ACW-MFA-CAP.-Martin-Puryear-Against-The-Grain.-Alex-Pentek.-2021.-PDF.pdf

THEMES OF DISPLACEMENT

According to the Internaternational Organisation for Migration Report in 2020, there are 172 million people affected by migration. This shows that displacement is a global phenomenon affecting all aspects of social, cultural, and political life. This short essay briefly examines how such a heavily politicized theme helps to identify key questions surrounding identity, agency, ethics, truth, and aesthetics by drawing on the theoretical writing of Baudelaire, Greenberg, and Danto. Looking at specific works by Ai Wei Wei, Edmund De Wall, and Richard Mosse, I examine ways that this theme continues to influence post-modern theory through the writing of Giorgio Agamben, Nicolas Bourriaud, and Arthur Danto.

http://alexpentek.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Art-and-Displacement-Alex-Pentek-2021.pdf

OBJECT ORIENTED ONTOLOGY

I recently discovered Graham Harman’s idea of object-oriented ontology (OOO), as a new way to situate modernism, post-modernism, and 20th-century philosophy with the inner qualities of things. Loosely defining events and things as ‘objects’ with only two categories of real and sensual objects each with real and sensual qualities, I explore this approach for future artistic research to possibly examine some of Wittgenstein’s ideas, such as that some things cannot be said or “uttered”, but must instead be shown.

http://alexpentek.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Utterring-the-the-Unutterable.pdf

SUB-URBAN MYTHS:

This essay builds on earlier research around infrastructures to examine some historical background to the mythically oppositional relationship between urban and rural places of cultural production. From the pastoral romanticism of Wordsworth’s poetry to the giant conurbation of the BAMA sprawl in Gibson’s futuristic novel Neuromancer, and the ‘necropolitics’ of Michael Truschello, I ask if there are criteria to better understand if urban and rural spaces are mutually exclusive or possibly interdependent?

http://alexpentek.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Rural-and-Urban-Myths.pdf