Saturday, October 2, 2010

First class trip

Amazing! This was the first time I actually went on an organized AND legal trip to strange local paraphernalia and factories- and they were working factories nonetheless! I now have even more imagery to work from (as if I needed more- I just need to finally get my behind in the studio, as it's been just plain impossible this first week-and-a-half).
We stopped first at Superior Clay, where they still make a few decorative ovens, fireplaces, pipes and miscellany. There was a beautiful sky with lovely terra cotta colored clay abounding, broken down and fragmented brick ovens, beehive style. It was slightly surreal.

The ovens reminded me of the country where my mother's family is from, where nothing much is in operation any more. We also stopped at a lovely kitschy button museum and bee museum with a Civil War cemetery lunch stop.

I tried to consciously think about what I gravitate towards imagery-wise. Why do am I always drawn to fogged, dusty factory windows? Piles of endless equipment? The light at the end of the tunnel shot through an abandoned warehouse? Scales, adding machines and typewriters and especially the industrial office chairs from the 20s sitting in front of rows of file cabinets or switches? What is that all about?

Of course there is something here that connects to all the mines and factories and abandoned amusement parks. And there is something that also connects to storytelling and where you are from, although these are not my stories; it is as if I am snooping around in someone else's tales, and yet only being partly interested in the actual history. Don't get me wrong, I always am interested in the real background story, but often while I'm listening to all the details I tune out and focus on the imagery around me. I sort of want to make up my own story, my own history and piece it together in a sort of sideways way that doesn't quite make sense. I want it to remain mysterious, and if the original tale is mysterious enough (like the bee museum buff telling us they don't give tours to the top-secret wick room), then that is worthy of passing on. But otherwise, I would prefer to let the imagination wander; let it be a mysterious throw-away or artifact.

The talks by visiting artist Suzanne Bocanegra this past week keep me thinking as well. I need more time to digest, but so far it seems that something will happen in this lovely ag sciences hall with a dirt floor.

It will be a possible battle reenactment scene, and there is something of history, something of that smell, the age of the building, the darkness, the old lighting. All of those things I would wish to keep and use in my own work. We also saw a talk right after the tour by Dr Johanna Drucker who spoke on the layout of the book as navigation of a story. She then showed a lovely diagram of very similar arena-like seating to explain the navigation of a table of contents, the index, and book layout. There was something very lovely about that image and idea. I am thinking about performing these stories out of order, in a certain space, with certain lighting and sound and smell. An empty stage and arena.

And that is partly what "it" is about.

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