Sunday, December 30, 2012

Phase 4 - acknowledge limits, conclusion

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is always a kind of sad week for me as I sort and organize as a way of letting go of one year and preparing for the year ahead. One of my missions this week was coming up with and implementing a system for Tempus Fugit photos (I ended up creating a project folder with folders for each phase with all the photos placed in subfolders by date posted. In a separate folder within the project folder is a place for the artwork only, divided into subfolders by month.) I think the system will help keep the photos organized moving forward (and during Phase 2 (be prepared for good things) I invested in a back up system – thinking it’s hard to be prepared for grant applications, etc. without documentation, right?) So the photos are now all safe and organized, and I updated the artist site with a new section for Tempus Fugit. Going through every photo for the project starting in July 2012 helped me acknowledge limits in a few ways.

One thing that stood out about the work is that, though I work quickly, my process is consistently inefficient. To illustrate - I carried out the idea of a gift edition of tiny prints (pictured last week). The prints are each hand printed because with the cuts in the surface re-fuse under pressure. Each block only yields a small edition (the latest was 25). Then, they’re collaged (adding an “unnecessary” element), and because they’re circles, each one gets cut out by hand (no paper cutter.) Then I like to use a dark border in the image, but I don’t like the white on the edge of the paper to show, (so I tone the edge with color pencil.) Then I mounted these to a 4 x 6 inch paper so they could be framed, (adding an additional layer of paper rather than printing them directly onto a 4 x 6 page.) Since I arrived at this process after months of refinement, the inefficiency isn't accidental. I think it relates to the premise of Tempus Fugit – that the dedication of time/space is a ways of showing devotion. That by making the process time consuming, I increase the time I spend with each work as a way of investing it with my devotion (which can’t be directly measured).

I’ve been continuing to work on the larger work with the tracery and repeating figures, and while it looks different than the tiny prints, I think the idea is similar in that I’m covering the areas of tracery with color in a very time consuming way – with tiny parallel lines in ink instead of paint. Not only is this a way of investing myself in the work, but it creates a contrast with the figurative part of the image in terms of touch vs. something that can't really be touched directly (or all those little lines smear). Each is a way of investing the self, one through direct contact and the other through investment of time. The iconography of the tracery is Gothic, and the idea of investment of time as a form of devotions is also, I feel, Gothic, because in Gothic art, the devotion of the maker seems more important than whether or not there are “mistakes” (for example, the famous “crazy vault” of Lincoln Cathedral, where the ribs on the ceiling are askew). The imperfection could be read as a sign of­­­­­­ the humanity of the maker. 
But even if that’s true – reading Lyotard’s Inhuman and having seen the show Wade Guyton OS at the Whitney a few weeks ago (a very interesting show – recommend, wrote about it for work here, and it’s still on view for about 2 more weeks), I guess makes me question whether that element of humanity is of value in an image, and does it matter that it’s produced by a human in this way instead of some other way? hmmmmmm.

Organizing the photos was a great way to see the artwork on its own without house projects, baking creations, or even cute kitty photos, but it reminded me that this project really wouldn’t be very interesting if it were all talk and no doing/making things. In terms of a practical application - I’ve been considering a big change to the tracery piece and it’s taking me a while to work up to it even though, once started, it will have to be done quickly. Thinking about it for days isn’t a way of deciding, I think it’s more of a process of letting go of one phase and accepting that once changed, the current state will be lost forever.  So, on that note, I think that’s a perfect place to stop for 2012 and start 2013 with Phase 5 – be brave, every decision involves loss.
Going through the photos, I also realized that, with the 
exception of matching colors already there, I've only
been painting the house with shades of white and grey,
so I decided to get myself a little present.
 (those are tiny prints in process in the background)

Happy New Year and Best wishes for an art&happiness-ful 2013!