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!