Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Studio Visits and Critiques

There has been a lot of feedback as of late, with a studio visit and a long critique involving grads, professors, and undergrads. I was asked a lot of questions in the individual visit, one of my favorites so far asking if I am offering a solution for this disconnected communication, or if I am simply pointing out an impossibility. That was a good one to ponder. I would say that certainly I do not have an answer. I am more representing the fact that there is no connection. There is no one on the other end. It is just an object that can only contain the ghost of what passed through. It somehow contains an energy of potential, yet remains still, with that energy sort of vibrating in a perpetually frozen state.

I also enjoy the notion of coming across objects and not quite knowing what their original use was. That is a main reason for exploring abandoned places. It is almost a post-apocalyptic scene of coming across artifacts from some long-gone civilization and wondering what they could have possibly been used for. That is all that is left. There only remain a few clues with answers few and far between. There is something I like about that object that holds so much mystery, and how its form could look like something completely different- something far from its original use.

Some other observations in the critique were that the telephone is the only image that is highly enlarged. The bull horn speaker could be actual size, or even smaller, so there is some confusion of scale as to whether I am really enlarging everything or not. Perhaps that is not it. Maybe I am just making things about the same size in relation to one another in order to make strange connections. Some were also confused about the glued tracing paper. I seemed to defend it and most agreed. There is something about the puckered, fragile, glued together surface that seems to barely hold together. The only thing I am not sure of is that they are glued in a grid. Perhaps I really need torn and irregular paper rather than more or less clean rectangles.

Some also liked how charcoal dust would accrue in the crevices of the glued pages. It was suggested that I draw them on-site so that the dust accumulates on the floor. I agree. That is something that I like happening in the studio that I could not transport along with the drawing. There was also a question about drawing directly onto a wall. I have considered it, but that fixes and stabilizes the image somehow. I prefer it with shadows and transparency, floating away from the wall and moving every time someone breathes or walks by. That makes the objects more ephemeral.

So those were many thoughts to ponder. I do think I am onto something with these pieces. I am still also working with two typewriters that try to communicate, or perhaps two phones. I also wonder if that should be a part of the large drawings as well- two rendered phones or speakers attempting to connect.

Another crit with the grads in a few hours. I will be interested to hear more on these thoughts.

An image of charcoal dust accumulation under the drawing

Something interesting happening with a film still projecting onto the drawing from sunlight- an unintentional effect

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Open Studio

More feedback to ponder at an open studio evening, where all grads, faculty and locals are invited to see what us grads are up to in our studios. I took the opportunity to set up all three large drawings so far and suspend them, also connecting them. Each drawing contains disconnected wires and it seemed they could all be strung together, so I used old typewriter ribbon to attach each one. It seems to work in a strange and dusty, impossible way. I like the idea of old wires still trying to hold together that can't quite connect or communicate.

Here are images during the daytime of the setup:

It was difficult to tell what the lighting would do after dark, and we soon found out that the fluorescents (big surprise) were a bit lacking. So we played with spots (I was sure I was going to set the tracing paper on fire, but just kept an eye on things) and found dramatic lighting to be much more suitable. It worked best as lit from the front and sort of underneath.

There was some decent feedback, but mostly I think that people were fascinated by the projection of typing hands inside the velvet accordion box. Most just wanted to know how it was working, and several liked the strange effect of projecting onto red velvet. Some even thought it was a bit creepy. One person had an interesting thought that there is something slightly humorous, perhaps deadpan (like the animation) about the suspended phone, but that is not found at all in the typewriter projection. So once again, what is it that I am trying to get at? Is there humor involved? Is it completely serious? I for one keep thinking it seems a bit morbid, but perhaps that is just me.

Still lots to figure out. More notes after a studio visit.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Speaker Horn

Thus far, this is the third drawing in the tracing paper charcoal series. It's an image of a speaker horn, actually inspired by the mechanism transmitting the disembodied voice in Fritz Lang's Dr. Mabuse. As I drew the image, I realized more and more that it seems to be about a connection with the afterlife, as well as staring into a deep, dark void (death) while also confronting the self. Some see an eye in the middle. It also looks like a lens. Once again, the cold, mechanical eye, or the mechanical recording of voice.

It didn't seem appropriate to finish the bottom or leave it completely blank. So there is a ghost of a support base and wires.

I had an interesting suggestion to make the drawing with material that I burn myself, rather than store-bought charcoal. It had sort of crossed my mind before. It is difficult to decide what should be burned though. It reminds me of Hollis Frampton's Nostalgia- burning photographs on a hotplate as we hear him recalling memories of the scene. A fleeting moment is captured and destroyed as it recognizes its own ephemerality and brief span of time.

So more to think about. In the meantime, I started hanging the drawings from the ceiling so the transparency is more evident, and also connecting all the charcoal "wires" from one drawing to the next with old typewriter ribbon. We will see how this bodes in the big open house tomorrow night!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I have continued the large-scale drawings on glued tracing paper series, and am quite happy with this one- a hovering telephone receiver. It's similar to an earlier drawing, almost a year ago, but it seems to have so much more presence when it is several times larger than life size.

After drawing this, I had a sudden memory of childhood fears and imaginations of anxiety- about strange creatures and mechanical devices that would creep out of dark places: door knobs, buttons and switches that had eyes, etc. It's amazing what strange human qualities these forms have, and how that relates to a sense of the uncanny, automata, and the disembodied voice.

One other change I made is the use of Elmer's glue instead of rice paste. It caused more puckering, and I hope it will start to age and yellow. I'm also pondering a way to walk through them, perhaps involving projection of drawings and animation.

What's next? Perhaps a phonograph horn or speaker, or close up of a phone receiver mouth piece. Disconnected wires seem to be integral as well. Hmmm.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tracing Paper Drawing

Now to post the image of the large drawing. It was suggested by a committee member that I change the scale of the charcoal pieces. Several have taken issue with them, in that they are 18 x 24, or even that they are such a regular, rectangular format that simply suggests photography. They wish to see something that breaks out of the bounds a little bit.

It was also suggested that I alternately project the drawings onto a wall, so that their ephemerality is even more exaggerated than just the fact that they are charcoal "stills".

While still pondering those possibilities, I plan on making several large drawings on tracing paper. This way, the support is very thin and fragile and coated with charcoal dust that threatens to simply brush off. In order to get such a large surface, I tore out sheets from a pad and simply rice-pasted them together. There are obvious seams that pucker and affect the texture of the drawing. I kind of like this attention that is drawn to the support material itself.

The texture behind is of the wallpapered board in my studio used as a prop in the earlier installation piece. It's about 6 ft tall.

I kind of like isolating this image. Perhaps I'll draw it again, and there will be several speakers lined up in succession on a wall. I also plan on a large telephone, electrical wires, and possibly a gramophone horn. More on the meanings of this imagery later... But in the meantime, darn you Kentridge : ) I'm sure I'll get harassed about charcoal speakers for sure. At least I don't have them marching yet.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I am pleased to report surviving two nights of openings! We had a wonderful crowd, good food and music, but most of all, it was a good experience to get so much work out of the studio and into a new space. I was amazed at how all of our (my two studiomates Brooke and Susana and I) work looks interspersed together. There are so many similarities and nuances I never would have noticed with everything segregated and piled in the studio.

I do also admit to feeling a bit strange about so much work being absent as I'm back in the studio now. It sort of feels like I've lost some dear pets or children and I'm sitting and wondering what to do without them.

So, it is all the more incentive to get new work done, which I am beginning- a large charcoal drawing on glued sections of tracing paper- taking some favorite motifs from the earlier drawings. More on that next time.

The show was interesting to see so many of the drawings installed on a wall from floor to ceiling. I at first almost backed down, still unsure of that idea from an earlier critique. The gallery owner was very interested in that installation, though, and insisted I stick with it. So I climbed the ladder after arranging things in what made the most sense on the floor, and put up a large collage. It was interesting to see this with a print done over the summer that sort of embodies all of those feelings, as well as the projection running my animation of the drawings right next to it. I think that was certainly a favorite part- seeing the animation replay and reinforce all of the work hanging on the wall. The same happened for Brooke with both her dollhouse and painting/collage pieces.

So hopefully there is a way to do that- to put it all together, possibly on separate walls, without it looking all cluttered and not like a "rummage sale." I would like the work to reinforce itself, not negate.

Till then, here are some images...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Grad Crit

This past week involved another crit. I did as suggested and pulled the different installation pieces apart. The first piece shown was the mini projection, but this time I simply projected the hands typing onto paper coming out of the typewriter. I was attempting to see a sort of "ghost in the machine" and to make something ethereal, representing actions that passed before. The camera is hidden underneath a piece of paper in front of the projector that shines into a small shard of mirror.

One person said, however, that I was trying too hard and suggested that I take the paper away. If it's really supposed to be ethereal, then it should barely be seen. I turned out the lights and played with the projection directly on the red velvet interior of the box:

This slight modification seems to be something... Perhaps it truly does need to be more ethereal. The "nostalgia" accusation would come a little less quickly, and the association is more of an acknowledgment of time passing, tradition and technology fading, rather than just preservation.

I've been thinking about this in relation to the drawings as well. Perhaps it does need to be a large-scale drawing, but on something translucent- almost transparent, and one can see a crumbling wall or surface behind. I could piece together tracing paper and enlarge images in charcoal.

Several artists project images of what passed before on abandoned buildings as well. Hopeful visiting artist Shimon Attie is a wonderful example:

More conversations so come, and in the meantime, off to a show opening. Will have pictures soon...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

4th Quarter Review

I've been busy and MIA with the 4th quarter review. It's optional, of course, and initially thought of as a bad thing, requested by the committee if someone's progress didn't seem adequate. I, however, highly recommend it just to get some great feedback. There's something different about a group dynamic bouncing ideas off one another at once- sometimes contradictory. This helps one realize it really is just opinion, and it's a quick way to debate/negate those contradictory viewpoints or see that both views are possible and valid.

Anyway, this was the original set up, as I had sort of 'exploded' my studio downstairs. I knew I threw in the whole kitchen sink, but just wanted to see what was working or not. Sadly I think a lot of things just canceled each other out:

Yikes! So here are notes from the review:
  • One member focused more on the charcoal drawings and thought something in the earlier video shown was very deadpan- about reaching for phones, trying to plug in and listen, etc.
  • Something about there being any people in the drawings kind of ruins it. The viewer can't just explore the space. It puts up a wall.
  • The drawings all have a strange, and unique perspective. If they were a larger scale, they could really draw the viewer in. This scale just says film/photograph. Slowing down time would be another factor of a larger scale. Just start working on a large roll of paper.
  • The sky with phone and wires and speaker on a pole are open images. Others are closed down.
  • Everything is evenly presented like a rummage sale. You're asking a lot if the viewer.
  • Things need to be pulled out and away from the wall. Nothing is inviting. The viewer is closed out. Typewriters should be up on desks, and phone should be by itself.
  • The drawings themselves could be projected on the wall. That would go with the ethereal nature of your work.
  • One simple image can do all the work. Just focus on what you want to get across.
  • Sadie Benning animated drawings (when her video wasn't yet processed at the Wex) by just walking around and 'panning' and 'zooming in' by literally walking the drawings around in front of the camera with an audience while telling a story.
  • The video projected onto the printmaking plate- is it important that there's an image on the plate? It doesn't really look worked. Maybe ink up the plate partway to show that.
  • All the passages are a quick and even tempo in your video. Still looks like a 'how-to' film. You need to really slow some of them down, make them more pensive.
  • Putting any object in a gallery makes it precious. You're still being nostalgic. Why do you use these objects? I like them because I can see how they function. They're more tactile/materially present and I can understand them. That's not true- I don't know how that phone or electricity works any more than my cell phone. It is still about magic and electricity- telegraphs, spirit photography and communicating with the dead. A way to reach the other side. So what does that mean to use them now? Trying to connect with an earlier history, the past, but it's futile.
  • Maybe the stories on the phone are enough. Maybe that's it right there. I'm trying to figure out what is the process and the byproducts in the background of the work, and what I want to have as the finished product. Is it the drawings? The actions? The retelling of the stories? Which part stands in for all of it?
  • You realize you're under the cloud of Kentridge. That's a pretty huge cloud. I know.
So that's where I'm left. I played in the gallery most of the day today, taking the show apart piece by piece to let each object stand on its own.

First I took down the curtains:

Next, the drawings came down:

There's something I still like about having just one drawing up there, how it interacts with the small moving image. I also paused the video in order to take clearer photographs. In doing this, I realized that I like a simply projected still image. Perhaps that is an answer. Or at least maybe something so slow that the movement is barely perceptible.

I also isolated the phone playing stories by itself:

Then, the typewriters on pedestals with the paper of repeating images draped between:

I lastly placed the drawing behind, just in moving things around, and was curious about that interaction as well:

Afterwards I played a little with 'lo-tech' animation and more on that next time. In the meantime, still a lot to process, but glad to have some time to play and document. Focus focus- what's the most simple means to get what across??

Till then...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Last field trip and unoriginal mirrors

After my latest 'genius' move of hiding the projector with mirrors, I soon discovered that I was really just recreating innovations of early television sets in the 1930s and '40s. But first, we embarked on the first leg of the tour for our last field trip at a Barber museum in Canal Winchester, where we learned all about bloodletting and electrical stimulation. I of course got more candid shots of antique mirrors.

Second, we went to the doll museum nearby, and I had the privilege of seeing one of the first talking dolls that incorporated an Edison cylinder. Too bad I couldn't hear it work. This was one of the closest things I've seen to strange automata portrayed in Czech surrealist films.

The last trip was to the TV museum in Hilliard, a treasure trove of strange, obsolete electronics. I was fascinated by early optical devices using Nipkow discs. One could quickly tune the radio in order to get the television frequency and attempt to make out a blurry image as the announcer described it across the airwaves.

Lastly are the other TV sets, as said, mostly '30s and 40's units that were coming into homes. Apparently the TV tube was so large for a screen bigger than a few inches, that it made the unit terribly bulky. So the solution was instead to mount the tube vertically and project the image onto a mirror fitted into an upper lid, making the best viewing position the floor, I suppose. The image was flipped backwards and supposedly reversed in the signal to compensate for that distortion. My oh my. Funny how I thought about all those things last week. I think I'll leave my video backwards though, as after all, it is projected onto a printmaking plate. Till next time-- more on a big review and installation later this week...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Curtains up, more visitations

More discussions in the studio- this time about the book format as well. I'm applying for a book residency and would like to attempt to put together a sort of concertina-style book, white lettering on black and semi-transparent with map inserts. This way it will resemble intertitles and film stills, and one will have to view the book while open in order to let light through and see the text separated, each page not layered on top of each other.

This was interesting to place in front of the rest of the installation, some reflected in the mirror. Of course this dummy needs to get shipped off for the residency proposal, so today I sat down to string together a whole series of images, accordion-style. Some interesting possibilities were suggested, such as folding in the middle of images, so that text and landscape would continue to wrap around the bend, and other fold-outs could happen overtop. At first I thought I would have to spend a lot of time with the copy machine, but then realized that I already have a whole stack of prints from all my source imagery- plus other photographs and negatives.

More images next time....

For now, I will post the latest of the film with curtains around and mirror in front so that the projector is completely hidden in the accordion box. I also added some transitions in the video instead of each segment fading to completely black.

Here goes-

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Studio visit with Art Historian

It's wonderful to get some art historical perspective on one's work. Surprisingly, after getting curtains together for the video projection, most of the focus of the studio visit was on the charcoal drawings. (But there were great ideas for the video, including using a mirror, which I promptly put in place- more on that next time).

There was a nice confirmation that art is not required to be self-reflexive, and not all about me. She was baffled about prior questions of 'what this all has to do with me', which is not necessary. In fact, if "it's about me, then ugh, I'm bored, lemme outta here!"
Luckily that was understood, but then came the usual perplexed question- "Well why this era? Why does everything seem to be a few generations before you? (As another said, all the 1930s.) That's not your childhood. It's all out of time, unless you grew up in a really weird house."

"I did." I am able to respond. Well, not weird so much, but the ole growin' up in a log cabin off the Appalachian mountains tale always resurfaces. Yes, a log home surrounded by old objects and frequent trips to look at antiques when I was a child, which, quite frankly, usually freaked me out a bit. And now I must return to face them. That's my answer for now (besides the aspect of analog technology being much more physically present and tactile).

Back to the drawings- I had questions about them all being pieces of a narrative. They look like film stills. Cindy Sherman must be dealt with. And it's good that they are fragments. It would be boring if you knew the whole tale (so she also thought that picking up the phone to just hear excerpts from the stories was a good idea).

William Kentridge also a mention of course, his "Five Themes" at MoMA- always getting close to just a shtick, but them comes around and really amazes you.

The last reference was a bit of a surprise: Robert Longo. I mostly know his "Men in the Cities" series and didn't pick up a connection right away. Yes, they're photographic drawings... oh! I get it.

Men In the Cities

The main reason to look at his work is to find the connection between charcoal drawing and photography- what is the reason for re-drawing a photograph rather than just printing it out? What does that mean?

I found some good references in Joyce Korotkin's article, ROBERT LONGO'S DRAWINGS OF DISASTERS, originally published by Galeria Soledad Lorenzo, Orfila, 5. 28010 Madrid, in a catalogue for Robert Longo's exhibition at the gallery in 2003.

Joyce says, "For Longo, the rush is in the drawing of each layer of the work, rather than in the finished, sedimentary image. Being in his studio and seeing his process is like watching sedimentation in action. Charcoal is applied, wiped off, applied again, finessed with more wiping and subtle touches, then sprayed with fixative. This layer is then worked and reworked again and again, until the build-up of successive layers achieves a pictorially complex velvety depth, one that would be impossible to achieve in a single pass."

Longo says, "Drawing from photos is a way of reclaiming the images that haunt us. By drawing them, I make them become not just something I am looking at but something that becomes part of me, every molecule of my being… Art is not so much about emotions but more about experience… It's like when a photograph develops. I'm so fascinated with the image that I find myself orchestrating elements within the picture, amplifying them or decreasing them, customizing them, like in the tradition of Caravaggio. I'm not concerned with keeping true to the original. The original gives me the ground to work with. Take the shaft of the column of the bomb, for instance, that's not the way it is, really."

More interesting examples of charcoal renderings of photography are seen in the "Magellan" series of pop culture imagery and the "Disaster Drawings", many images gleaned from newspapers, ads and historical archives.

Magellan Series

So much to think about- although I am not going the pop culture and national disaster route, there is certainly a common cinematic and apocalyptic theme, as well as using charcoal to reclaim the imagery as one's own.

I will last post the latest drawing, tentatively titled "Child Bed" (self-explanatory) in which I just couldn't get myself to resolve the figure. It has to remain unfinished for some reason, perhaps because it is such an unformed age, and not a full memory.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mirrors and the Cellar

Another Field trip today- this was the second last of four big outings for our class this quarter. It was complete with Indian museums, junk and scrap yards, as well as ice cream, pottery and dolls. Of course throughout the entire trip I was much more conscious of photography through mirrors and themes of dolls/mannequins, and memento mori, especially after last night reading a book on Czech photographer Jindřich Štyrský. He often photographed objects from amusement parks and fairs, storefront windows, and funerary objects. Karel Sro goes on to describe how "Štyrský's view becomes the shop window in which the world is taking place and he carries the shop window inside himself. The object at which he aims his camera is also the eye observing the observer".
That certainly made more sense to me now- how we view ourselves through multiple mirrors and lenses and fragments, reminders of human presence and death, stopped yet fleeting time. Always, it seems I latch on to certain things to discover they've already been done, of course, but it is also comforting and helps to figure oneself out, as this is just the way that others have explored their own psyche, almost 100 years ago. So much and yet not much has changed. The only difficulty is working with these images even though I now have this extra knowledge about their why and how. It is a little stifling to not simply work intuitively. Sometimes knowledge is a curse.

I had also spent the night before watching Jan Svankmajer's "Down to the Cellar" featuring a young girl who goes down to fetch potatoes- a seemingly impossible task, encountering all of her anxieties of the adult world- all seeming strange, threatening, and incomprehensible. And of course, featuring the menace of coal being shoveled down in the depths- a man sleeping in piles of it and a woman making coal cakes in a flaming oven. The girl shakes her head and never accepts their offers. Also, the black cat and mysterious rolling and disappearing potatoes sabotoge her attempts to get back upstairs. I certainly relate to the dank basement full of groaning furnace bellies, mysterious machines, and an avalanche of coal.

Jan Svankmajer, Down to the Cellar, 1983

So I leave you here with some images from the trip- mirrors, an intriguing bridge in Zanesville, and photographs in pottery-making and a Charlie Chaplin exhibit (another one who highly impressed the Dadaists). Till then...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Video Projection Box

I finally did it! After much fretting and late-night research, last evening I caved and bought myself a pico projector. I went with the Samsung SP-H03 pocket projector, as it is smaller than my hand... (really, I swear!), LED-powered, and one can just plug in a flash drive to show a movie. Very exciting, as I wanted something to easily hide and disguise inside the accordion box.

So I am very happy to say that it fits right in- I can perch it on the ledge of the box, and the movie shows up very well in regular fluorescent room lighting. I plan to have it in a fairly dark area, possibly cloaked by some old velvet drapery (if I can get my hands on that). The projection is actually on top of a partially etched zinc plate, on which I hoped would give a strange luminous and reflective quality. It certainly does, although at some angles one just gets the bright spot of the LED light reflecting straight back in the face, so I will have to mess with positioning, although somehow I do really like it all just resting right on the ground. I think it goes along with the viewer having to huddle down toward the chair to pick up the phone receiver.

Perhaps I should explain the video a bit. When I was trying to edit it into this sort of narrative montage, it just wasn't working. So I thought about what it really was that I wished to capture, and it was simply a series of actions of making, pulling out, and creating- all sort of magical ways of bringing forth an image and looking, and processing- all mostly with traditional, analog reproduction equipment, such as typewriters, copy cameras, and etching presses. They have a sort of magical draw for me- as if always opening this strange, musty old velvet-lined box and waiting to see what appears inside.

What I decided to do instead was put black space, fade-in's and out's as pauses between each action so that they were separate- almost like a moving slideshow. I added a soundtrack of the trains and the crickets- that sort of strange white noise one hears in the woods, kind of mournful, and longing for a place to return to. I felt that tied it all together somehow.

So without much more adieu, I present some photographs of the setup.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Accordion Drawings

In the studio... Now to put all this research and inspiration to the test.

First, I thought I would try the idea of assembling the original drawings accordion-style. I purchased stiff board to mount them on as sorts of joints between each one, then taped together and stood up, voila!

The only problem is that they are so darn flimsy. If you walk by, they simply keel over. I kind of like that, though, but for any sort of show, that would drive everyone nuts. And, of course, in the process I keep damaging and ruining the drawings. It's sort of interesting to have them worn, but not beyond recognition and just plain looking bad.
The thing I did like was how sunlight came in from behind and made the paper sort of translucent. That was an interesting effect. If there was some way I could keep that, I would be interested. Perhaps I just need to print them all out on paper, and maybe xerox transfer them to something else. Tracing paper would be nice, but not quite stiff enough. Perhaps vellum?
And if that doesn't quite do the trick, then next quarter I can experiment with film in the copy camera again.

After that process, I set upon the task of making it possible to listen to sounds out of the old telephone. I had torn apart several little earbuds, only to discover it was better to just take out the guts of the phone speaker and insert the earbuds intact. Surprisingly, with a little amplification from the horn-shape, one is able to hear quite well. All I did was plug the jack into my iPod and hang it underneath the chair, and voila, we have stories on demand. I can even put them all on shuffle on a continuous loop so that it is ongoing and completely random whichever tale happens to play when the listener picks up the receiver. I enjoy this, as I cannot decide upon any sort of order for the stories. They all coexist at once in one's memory.

So here are shots of the mini installation in my studio:

There's a strange filmic, repeating image between the two typewriters, drawings behind on the old peeling board, "The End" film still will certainly be somewhere, there are black-and-white photo scraps that I pulled out of the trash upstairs, and I plan to project my videos onto the shiny etching plate inside of the accordion box. So the next big task is research on mini projectors.


Friday, October 22, 2010

More Studio Visit News

Yes, well, it's certainly been a little while here. Today was a day of more pondering between running around all week with barely any choice studio time. But somehow I feel a lot was figured out.

I keep thinking about a Tarkovsky documentary that I just finished, in which he staged the burning of an entire house as the pivotal scene in The Sacrifice. Apparently the first shot was a failure- explosions weren't set off, the camera jammed, and to top it off, he had an uncooperative ambulance driver. So what do you do? You set up for an entire house to burn down and the take doesn't go so well? There's not exactly a take two. Apparently Tarkovsky never compromised a single inch on any shot he wanted, so the solution was for an exact replica of the entire house to be built within a few days, and the entire scene re-done. Luckily, the second try was a spectacular success.

Wow, is all I have to say. Now that's clear, uncompromising vision.

Somehow in the middle of viewing that, I finally got an idea for what to do with my stories. I think that in this hopeful upcoming installation with obsolete objects, drawing, and projection, I was hoping to have these stories playing. I don't want for them to interfere too much, though, and would like the viewer to 'tune in' to these tales however they please. So the sudden epiphany was to install a little speaker into my candlestick telephone and make it clear that is is to be picked up and listened to. (Unless, of course, I figure out how to refurbish an entire antique telephone set, but I kind of doubt that's happening any time in the near future.)
Now, just to take apart some mini speakers...

The other thought came during my studio visit. I am still interested in serial images in that in-between stage, somewhere betwixt the moving image and video. It was lovely to hear Art Spiegelman discuss such things while introducing beautiful Art Nouveau comics- "Little Nemo"- up on screen, where the height of the cell gradually increased to accommodate growing brass bed legs, then shrank down to the same-sized cell at the bottom. I also purchased Lynd Ward's novel of woodcuts with his introduction- a beautiful example of WPA-era wood engraving as a tale told in pictures, not words.

Woodcut Novel

So how does one arrange all of these drawings and stories in no particular order? For me, it's not a cut-and-dry tale with 'once upon a time' and 'the end'. They are all just flashes of memory: strange little recollections that exude a certain feeling, but don't necessarily make much sense. I began to think of the many forms of book structure and way that one can navigate through a page. At a talk in the rare books library last week, we discussed the difficulties of navigating scrolls- how hard it would be to go back and find something previously read, with so much rolling, unrolling, and putting back together involved. The codex, and then small, portable book structures were a huge advancement in the ability to navigate quickly, stop abruptly, and continue where one left off.
But what about other structures that aren't so clear? The only way to have an ambiguous beginning and end, I think would be to have something cyclical. There is, of course, the accordion book structure that continues endlessly:

Megan Berner Book

If the front and back were glued together, this would form and endless circle with no beginning and no end.

Someone else seems to have done this inside an actual accordion:

Peter and Donna's accordion book

And while we're at it, why not take a look at this amazing player piano version of an accordion?

Hohner Magic Accordion

This seems important with the recent video (I swear I will post it at some point) of pulling prints out of a red velvet accordion box, as well as playing with the accordion-like bellows of the copy camera. I hope to project the images inside of here as well. So what if I connect all of the drawings in a gigantic, circular fashion, running them around a main installation? And perhaps other texts and/or images run through a roll that endlessly connects between two typewriters? Who knows! But these are the latest thoughts. Now to just get down and do it.

Signing off...