6.11.2008

Falling Softly Softly Falling


I recently started a series of screen prints based on some photos I took when it snowed a couple of weeks ago. For now at least, I've left the pixels and grid to the painted pieces, and am experimenting with layering the plates of the image onto wood with layers of fiberglass resin in between. Since I haven't done any screen printing before, this is very much in the spirit of experimentation. Nevertheless I feel that both these and the hand painted pieces are linked together. Both take an ephemeral, organic moment and freeze it in time through an elaborate process. Beginning from a digital image, I still feel connected to the idea of using technology in a way that slows it down...........

6.10.2008

Proposal for Continuing Research

Overview:

My work focuses on studying the implications of technology on our modes of communication. Specifically, I’m interested in the ways in which virtual communities are shrinking the world and speeding up our ability to exchange information and connect with each other, but doing so using a method that simultaneously distances us physically. By exploring these ideas through physical or analog means, I hope to be able to expose the underlying systems that create this disconnect and explore both the positive and negative traits of these forms of dialogue. I expect this will involve explorations in multiple mediums – object-based work, installation, and social engagement.

Issues of Concern:

Materiality: How are the materials I’m using contributing to the concepts I’m working with. What are the implications of using wood (specifically plywood)? How can I create further layers of meaning in the work?

Analog vs. Digital: What happens when we flip things back from digital to analog and expose the hidden framework? If we see the exposed systems, does it change the way we view those systems when they’re hidden?

Virtual Communities: How does the Internet change our idea of community and communication? Are we isolated and fragmented despite our greater speed of communication and connectivity? Are these false comforts, a fa├žade of a community rather than an actual one? What role does nostalgia play? If everything is turned into a game, do we become desensitized to the content?

The Public Sphere: Is the Internet a revived form of the public sphere? How do we distinguish between public and private if virtual text is replacing face-to-face talk – how is this different from the previously private letters? What does it mean if public images replace public space?
Is it possible to define the Internet or today’s societal structure using these linear forms of thought? Do we instead need to find a multiplicitous model that allows for the continually changing information and forms of communication?

4.13.2008

Storm Tharp: Lecturar Extraordinaire

I had a delightful studio visit with Storm last week which was lovely as my previous studio visit with a visiting artist (who shall remain anonymous) was depressingly uninspiring. I'm always apprehensive of these because as much as I enjoy talking to the artists and even as much as I appreciate their feedback on my work, the thought of anyone, and especially someone who is only going to see this one glimpse of me, coming into my studio to look at unfinished work made from half-formed thoughts typically makes me want to curl up into a little ball. But, happily, Storm was quite helpful -- positive, but critical and thoughtful -- my favorite kind of critique/studio visit/whatever you want to call it. So thanks, Storm -- you're a superstar. Come back and visit anytime.

Reading List:

The Future of the Image -- Jacques Ranciere
Installation Art in the New Millennium -- Nicolas de Oliveira, Nicola Oxley, Michael Petry
The Daily Practice of Painting: Writings 1962-1993 -- Gerhard Richter
Living inside the Grid -- Dan Cameron

2.11.2008

Disorganized Thought on Order

On the drive home from the lecture tonight, a million things were running through my head. I'm probably going to ramble a bit here, but in an attempt to be more free with this blog and get my thoughts down before they drift too far away, I'm going to try to suppress the desire to edit myself.

I have been thinking a lot about the way I work and the things that seems to be the most constant are the systems I make for myself. I have always liked to organize things. I'm not sure if this is something strange or not. I know certain friends or family members have thought it funny, but I grew up in a house that was very tidy so I've always thought it was kind of normal. Even so, I know it is not something that everyone enjoys. An example: This is a picture of one of the bookshelves in my house. It doesn't look very orderly, but it's actually alphabetized by author and separated by genre. Actually, this particular bookshelf only contains fiction. Non-fiction, poetry, philosophy, reference books, etc...they're all organized separately. Most of the books are tipped over so you see the pages instead of their spines. I thought if I just had some of the books tipped upright it would be more calming and not quite so much a chaotic mess of color.

I sound obsessive-compulsive. But maybe it explains my studio work a little bit: my painting pixels by hand doesn't seem so strange when one considers that I do this type of thing with a lot of things -- some more regular and some not as much. But, in all truth, I've never really given that much thought to it. Or rather, I've thought about the fact that I like to sort things, but I've never thought about it in terms of my art. Neverthless, I feel satisfied whenever I give something order and structure and more and more of this type of thing has been creeping into my work. I think it used to be slightly more subtle -- when I was doing a lot of collage type work, I would spend hours arranging pieces within an image until they were just so but somehow, the effect was hidden under the other layers of paint or wax or whatever else I was using. Now, it seems to be coming more and more readily to the surface.

So I am trying to figure out what it is that attracts me to putting things in order and I guess what I like is creating categories and rules for things. It seems that I'm drawn to the initial categorization and clean organization. The upkeep holds less, if any, interest. Rather, I tend to spend a great deal of time putting something in order only to have it erupt into chaos at some point. Or only to have some wrench thrown in my system. But why? Emily Prince lectured tonight and spent a lot of time talking about her upbringing and how maybe that had something to do with why she liked to form systems for things. Maybe that's the case with me too... or maybe I did it when I was a child for the same unknown reasons I do it now. All I know for sure is that I used to play elaborate games that involved similarly useless forms of organization or repetition. My sister and I would play library and create card catalogs for our books, we'd play school and make calendars for every month, one summer I decided I was going to make a 1000 paper cranes after reading about Sadako in school. I don't think I made it, but I got far closer than you would imagine. I literally spent hours and hours folding them as perfectly as possible and stringing them together in long colorful chains. Basically the only progress I've made since then is that now I have actual deadlines to post on the calendars I make or actual places to show the cranes or whatever objects I produce. I don't know why I'm recounting all of this. I guess I'm just trying to make sense out of what I'm doing now. It's like using art therapy on myself to self diagnose my psychoses. I somewhat feel like I'm running around in circles.

But here's what I do know. When I'm putting things in order, whether it's pieces of paper or dots of paint, I feel this sense of calmness and clarity. It's a meditative quality that I rarely get the rest of the time. When I can put something in it's place, it's like it actually frees up space in my mind for me to think more clearly.

2.06.2008

Process

I saw this piece at Aqua Wynwood when I was down in Miami -- It reads: "I wish I could do something quick and spontaneous. But no, everything I do takes forever. For example, this painting took me 56 hours to make. Richard Pettibone 1965." As I paint hundreds of thousands of tiny dots by hand, I feel very much aligned with this sentiment. I've been thinking a lot about my process lately. There is something in me that feels compelled to create work involving long, elaborate processes. Perhaps it's not even so much a need as it is simply the only way in which I am able to translate my view of the world into a physical object. For now, let me ignore whether or not the object is a necessary result and, instead, focus on the reason for this process. I have little desire to document the time I spend on the work other than through the end result of the piece. Perhaps my documentation lies in the traces of my process visible in the final piece, but to make a video of me working or to involve some other time based medium in order to show...what? the tedium involved? That's not the feeling that I have when I work. The time spent is more of a personal meditation for me -- time to let me work out what it is I'm trying to address. Perhaps I paint an organized picture as an attempt to organize my thoughts.

1.16.2008

Low-definition

If the aim of high-definition is to erase the structure through which an image is produced -- to mimic reality so much that it in fact almost replaces it -- then my work is an attempt to produce low-definition paintings. Rather than removing the traces of my process, I seek to create a piece that allows those traces to remain visible. By painting the individual pixels from a low-resolution digital snapshot, I can bring the framework that is usually hidden to the foreground of my piece. Instead of mimicking reality, I am mimicking the technology that then mimics reality. In doing so, I hope to arrive at something much closer to the truth than the snapshot could ever provide.

1.10.2008

fear and discontent

I was reading about the traditions of arts education over the past century or so and it brought to light some things that I've been struggling with for a while.... The lack of formal training in my education has given me a a lack of confidence in my skill... The push for innovation in what I do combined with the knowledge of how much has already been done has given me a sense of hopelessness of ever creating something truly new. and yet, I know that I have skill -- perhaps not mastery in all technical forms of art, but skill in some parts of it at least -- and I know that I have an individual voice so that whatever I do, whether or not addressed by someone at some time, will be new in that it will be addressed through my point of view and that alone makes it valid.

But why then, if I am so dissatisfied with school, am I back in the academic world... The truth is, despite my feeling that something is missing, I love the academic community. I love being surrounded by people promoting thought and progress and introducing new ideas into my way of thinking. When I'm dissatisfied, I'm unable to pinpoint the origin -- is it really with the institution or is it my own set of rules that I'm struggling against? There has always been a question of how much art can be taught, but that does not mean an academic study is useless: it provides a space for exploration, research, discourse, mentorship -- things that are available outside it's walls as well but not nearly as readily.

Regardless of whether I have or will ever become a successful artist (the definition itself being suspect), the article (When Form Has Become Attitude -- And Beyond by Thierry de Duve) provided an interesting opinion regarding some of the thoughts that have been circulating in my head both in regard to being a student and a teacher of art.