Monday, January 27, 2014

phase 2 redux - observe the laws of equivalent exchange

collages, 8.5 x 11 each (frame included)
This past week I set out to make small works that could be read as different points in a sequence, using the relief blocks I carved two weeks ago for the hummingbird animation. At least, that's what I thought I was trying to do (haha/doh!) I cut out all the arched frames and selected  the segments of the map (a road map of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, that's "well-loved" from my trips to Virginia.) I printed the blocks. But... then I started playing with the pieces, and I decided I needed more/different parts. I reprinted the pegasus block from September and another hummingbird that was mini #5, and dug into my archives for the plane and the blue birds from Forest of And, And, And. The series didn't end up being Muybridge-like - to me, it seems more like the view of person standing in a field and turning in a circle.

Even though I'm taking a time out from working on life-sized allegorical figures, they're still on my mind. I decided that I'm not ready to take down Spes/Hope and cleared a different wall for a new piece. I've been thinking of trying again on Amantes sunt Amentes (Those who Love are Insane), or maybe a new version of Amo/Love to accompany Spes/Hope (...followed by a Faith?)

Thinking about the allegories must have reminded me of Plato's allegory of the charioteer (nerd alert! - one of my favorite extended metaphors from Plato's Phaedrus.) Plato's Socrates describes the soul as a charioteer pulled by two winged horses - a shining horse that represents all the intellectual aspects of love and a dark horse that is all the sensory aspects of love (isn't there a Katy Perry song in here somewhere?)

The horses pull in different directions. Socrates describes the different outcomes in reaching enlightenment as depending on the charioteer's skill marshalling the dark horse to follow the lead of the light horse. (This metaphor pre-supposes that the charioteer wants to be reincarnated as a philosopher. If he follows the dark horse more than the light horse, he might end up reincarnated as an artist instead (O the horror! Hahaha)). On a side note, as a child, I liked the mischievous little black pegasus in Fantasia  so much that I had a stuffed toy version. (Focusing!) this relates back to Amo because Plato/Socrates concludes the metaphor by deciding that love is a form of inspired madness. 

The theme for phase 2 redux - observe the law of equivalent exchange has been on my mind too. I've been wondering whether there are stages of art-process that I can refine/exchange. For example - the leaves are printed on a white paper, and then I drew in the map around them and in all the intertices so that the collage elements flip back and forth between becoming part of the map/sitting on top of the map. (Also, I find drawing in the map very fun). But it takes time, and the result is subtle to the point that I question whether it's detectible to most people at a normal viewing distance/ within normal viewing time? (and does that matter?) I came up with an alternative - I could print the blocks directly onto the map - but that would make them part of the map, eliminating the spacial ambiguity and not allowing me to move the parts around on the surface anymore (so that's a no ;)). Maybe part of thinking about exchange is identify "those things for which an exchange is unacceptable (no equivalent)" Another way to look at this in terms of exchange is that the series as a whole is a trade of what I thought I was trying to make for what I actually did make. Hmmmmmm

Thinking of sequential art and playing with prints I tried mounting some of the tiny prints to cards. Lately, I've been having the inklings of a big art idea. Before committing to it, I've been testing some of the elements out in miniature and turning it into a game so that it will either become less scary as I work out the possible pitfalls/ identify and practice the technical requirements, (or I'll decide it was a terrible idea, and no harm done ;)...   

I got a better print of the hummingbird!
The key was using extender in the ink
more hummingbird/ playing card fun

In other para-art news - I painted/refinished the ceiling (oy!)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

phase 2 redux - observe the law of equivalent exchange
January is more than half over, and I'm still thinking about the change of year. I was saying last week how I'm not that good at imagining backwards, but after thinking about it some more, I realized that I'm not that good at imagining forwards either. A year ago, I couldn't have foreseen this art-present - the people who have come into my life over the past year, Feline Assistant Jr., giant sized collages, new places.

It seems like Alexander Pope might be talking about the tension between hope and the present in Essay on Man: "Hope springs eternal in the human breast; Man never is, but always to be blessed: The soul, uneasy and confined from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come." It seems sad in some ways because, if hope is a willing exchange of reality for fantasy, what happens to the present? (??)

I stopped working on Spes (Hope) this week while I think about it. I may just be dragging my feet because I'm not quite ready to move on yet (Hope shows me beautiful things everyday - who would want to give up on Hope?) On the other hand, it's close to finished, and I only have the one almost-unbroken-up wall in the studio. I've been moving things around, trying to free up as much other wall space as possible, but I'll need to dis-assemble/erase it to use that wall pretty soon.  :(

I'm feeling a bit of time/space pressure because last week and the week before lots of work returned home at the closing of shows, and I've been scrambling to find homes for everything. And, because I can't help myself, I keep making new stuff too. I end up feeling like a goldfish in a baggie that's springing leaks, whose only fishy response is to swim faster and more energetically (which probably sloshes more water out...eep!)

So, I stuck with something small, repetitious, and consuming - I made another animation :). I think the black ink unifies the different elements in stills, but it was too dark on film; so first, I reprinted all the blocks (oy!)
Then, I decided it needed ants so the continuous motion of the ants could be in contrast with the more spastic motion of the hummingbird. It took me a whole day to carve the block for the ants, print them and cut them out, which was frustrating because I could have drawn something similar in about 10 minutes (er.)  But because I wanted to stay consistent with the idea of "repetition with variation," I stuck with printmaking. (I'm irritating to myself, but on the upside, now that I have a block, maybe there will be lots of printed ants in my future? ;)).
Then I shot the stills. This animation has 20X as many frames as Everybody (heart)'s Owls. Photographing this was not my cheeriest moment (drowning goldfish ;)), and I was envying the Quay Brothers their twin-ness as I struggled to work the camera and move the objects (I ended up duct-taping the camera to a chair.) Then, each frame was cropped, resized, edited (good thing I have a high tolerance for repetition ;)). There were some frustrating moments, but I enjoy seeing it move (magic!) Still haven't made it to NYC to see the Kentridge show, but my computer and I - we're "like this" [fingers crossed]).
During this time, I listened to Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow - and finally finished it! I started it in March, but it's 19 discs, and I ran out of renewals from the library, so I had to bring it back. I re-checked it out, and this time - success!
I found it informative in identifying common cognitive illusions (like M.C. Escher drawings for the mind :)). One troubling quote: "one recipe for a dissatisfied adulthood is setting goals that are especially difficult to attain. Measured by life satisfaction 20 years later, the least promising goal that a young person could have was "becoming accomplished in a performing art." (Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, 402)
:o (Does Tempus Fugit count as "performance art"?!?) I kid (sort of) - but it did get me thinking - maybe the "art" isn't what/where I think it is? I like incredibly impractical stop-animated ants. When it comes to my work, I'm not unlike my feline assistants, (as soon as I'm sure it's stopped moving, I lose interest). But because there are lots of steps involved, I've been wondering if I couldn't expand some aspect(s) of the process? 

I made this from the same blocks I used for the animation. The idea is that it could be the first in a set of individual but sequential pieces (like a Muybridge, but with each frame being a collage.) They could be seen together, but each one can also stand alone. Making one might not be that interesting for me, but if I make them as a "set" (they aren't really an edition, since each one is different), they might hold my attention better (ah, repetition with variation - my heart goes pitter patter.)
I plan to paint the beams
"Hope blue" 
In para-art news, I made polka dot brownies! I hadn't made brownies since the summer when the last batch ended up in the trash ( sadness); but, it's a new year, so I gave it another shot (key - more dark chocolate and just a tiny pinch of ginger - thumbs up).

I also took out a drop ceiling and dismantled the metal grid by myself (mighty!) and read a textbook for work (necessary!)

Monday, January 13, 2014

phase 2 redux - observe the law of equivalent exchange

I had quite the "art-adventure" this week making this collage. It isn't permanently attached together yet (an animation-yet-to-be?), but it involved cutting 4 relief blocks (flower, small flower and buds, hummingbird, leaves); then printing them. Let's just say each block required its own "special" technique. A rolling pin and a wooden spoon were involved, and this is a true sign of how much I love art-making - I was willing to sacrifice my baking implements to the printing process. Also, it took a few tries for me to find the right ink and paper for each element (oy!). Lots of ugly birds and flowers later :) I think I found the right combination of method, ink, and paper for each component (or at least got closer...).

drawing on the block - pre-cutting 
leaves before collage

a bird for later - resulting from a very sophisticated technique - rubbing the back of the paper with a wooden spoon
 I also continued working on the landscape for Hope - adding flora and fauna.
one of my favorite plants so far
sewing the petals together with golden thread

Sunday, January 5, 2014

phase 2 redux - observe the law of equivalent exchange

This week, in addition to making the owl animation (about which I was so excited, it got a post of its very own on Friday :)), I kept working on Spes (Hope.)

It's a good first piece of a new year. New Year's is always kind of sad to me because I think of all the things I didn't do. I don't usually dwell on the past much, (if I try to ask myself, "what if" I very quickly hit a mental wall of "but that's not what happened (?confused?)" - I'm like a unicorn in this respect.) On New Year's though, I always feel a sense of a loss, as if the present is somehow shrinking. 

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world
 but then I thought there are so many people in the world,
 there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed
in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine
that she must be out there thinking of me too.
Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this
and know that, yes, it's true I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you.” 

― Frida Kahlo

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed:
The soul, uneasy and confined from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
I kept working on the wings

I find the feet poking out of the non-existent drapery funny
more sewing to make the flowers
(pink and gold pattern wild roses)
after looking at the photographs, I decided the yellow and green plant was wrong...
Now I think it needs more plants and creatures (put a bird in it ;))
Life imitating Art imitating Life?
These are the flowers I picked out
for New Years - pink and sparkly

I've joked before about how my clothes always
seem to match my art. I really don't do it on purpose,
and yet...I must subconsciously be thinking about
my work when I get dressed in the morning
 (or maybe I make work to match what's in my closet?)
Or maybe it's a little of both?

I remembered that this was the cover
of maybe my first "real" sketchbook
as a kid. When I looked it up, I was surprised
to learn that it's a 1947 collage by Matisse, "Icarus."
 My question - But where are the wings?!
a detail of the floor in the Siena cathedral The openness of the line drawing in the dress was inspired by the Mantegna tarot deck I was studying last week and also by the  in the floor of the Siena cathedral
one of my pictures of Olana

Odilon Redon, "Ophelia," 1904
more research - another favorite
This week included a visit from my lovely and smart friends Tammy and David. We made a visit to Olana, the artist Frederic Edwin Church's house. Even though it's in Hudson, (shamefully) I had never been. There was so much patterning, I got the "nauseous/ borderline-hyperventilating" feeling that I sometimes get when I'm very "art-happy" - Fun times!

Mini "helping" me organize receipts
A friend helped me try out a new recipe
-polka dot chocolate chip cookies

new year - new haircolor

Friday, January 3, 2014

owl animation!

I did it - I made an animation (!does a happy dance!) I turned the owl prints from December into digital photos, played with some of the photos to smooth out the transitions, then converted the photos into a video.

Check it out a small version:

2014 - getting off to an owl-ful start - I think it's going to be a great year :)