Tag Archives: evaluation

Semester Summary – Spring, 2014



Ren Adams
Lynne Cooke – Advisor
Semester 2 Summary – Spring, 2014


My digital hybrid investigation, The Cascade, marked an important pivot point in my work—significantly changing my method and methodology. It grew from a sideline experiment into my core thesis, which examines the transient nature of virtual, social geography and the time-stripped environment of digital elastic-space. My work this semester was therefore centered on a deeper investigation of this breakthrough, including the hard logistics of its final, physical (or immaterial) form(s).

Studio Work

My studio production was prolific, forward-looking and experimental (with a focused core), spanning digital manipulation, video, animation, painting and mixed media. I made tremendous headway in serialization, image accumulation and conceptual investigation, resolving a firm, intellectual standpoint for the Cascade project.

After much cross-analysis and discussion, I also determined the Cascade will be interdisciplinary, with some aspects cast as digital projections and others providing counterpoint as stills on paper, paintings or as LED displays. Previously, I had been working to resolve a single point of output for the project—limiting its potential.




Feedback from the residency encouraged me to try different output methods for the digital work, and I was able to investigate most of the recommendations this semester. These included:

  • Physical output on paper (smaller/larger formats than previous)
  • Digital video animations and projection of video sequences on wall
  • Projection of non-animated stills on wall.
  • Computer screen animations and video sequences (intimate format)
  • Output on transparency sheets – not a good option. Performs the same as digital imaging, with no particular reason for output.
  • Output on photo papers, rice papers
  • Additional surface manipulations – minimal and subtle were best.

Working with a tight budget this semester initially presented a problem, as I could not afford most of the physical output I originally envisioned. My mentor and I talked about this limitation as a positive curatorial situation. With an unlimited budget, I may have printed everything, then weeded through reams for a final selection, never considering which pieces worked best as light-cast digital forms.

Leslie suggested that I look at my financial restriction as a point of refinement, a pivot for concept. With a tiny budget, I had to use an extra-sharp curatorial eye to choose exactly which stills were allowed to “live” in the physical world and which performed better, ultimately, as projections or on-screen images. I turned a problem of logistics into a conceptual filter—in line with several articles I read this semester, including works by Annette Weintraub, where the breakdown between traditional art forms, new media and the white-box museum space presents a challenge to artists whose work can’t easily be pegged, hung, or pedestal-ed.

Is it even necessary to output digital work on paper, or do artists often feel institutionally compelled (or required?) to make physical versions of virtual pieces? Asking these questions led to a breakthrough in analyzing individual stills and how their form best served the delivery of intent.

Digital Work

My studio work centered on digital production and hybrid mixed media.

I examined qualities inherent to digital media and their relationship to my thesis. The malleable nature of digital art allowed me to emphasize the moment where the literal and conceptual landscape of Southern California is remixed and reframed as part of a narrative-resistant, unfinished sequence. I constructed moments of deep, digital space—a kind of virtual elastic-space loaded with ambiguous gravity and uncertain time. The collision of geography, culture, personal recollection and historicity opened entirely new sequences of imagery.

I worked closely with the following considerations:

  • Macro and micro storied detail –the image surface invites multiple levels of connection, as well as literal changes in visual information when viewed near and far.
  • Re-contextualization and meta-cycles, where works reference themselves (and larger conditions), across the span of individual pieces.
  • Color palette mutation! I combined my former, earth-toned/lotus color palette with the new intrusion of video blue. Resulting works were the most successful of the bunch; a marked improvement over the video-only palette.
  • Scale shifts / increase in the variety of visual elements.
  • Shifting, breaking and disrupting perspective, reliable space and environment—tying this instability to the concept.
  • Exploring the contingency of time, perspective and distance in digital geography.
  • Allowing “television” to remain, without being literal or sarcastic.
  • Allowing figures, vehicles and buildings to “live” in the elastic-space, a turn from my original intent to excise them in favor of a neutral desert landscape. The figures became characters in a non-linear universe.
  • Finding new ways to emphasize elasticity, uniting physical and virtual.
  •  Investigating the function of constructed landscape as a conceptual engagement of space-place.
  • Working with the loaded term “landscape” (capable of describing everything from panoramas to political divisions). The digital methods allowed me to grapple with the complexity of landscape’s many states of being, articulating intricacies in time and spatial relationships through the compositing of digital material.
  • Breaking out of TV-screen dimensions, into wide horizons and micro zooms.
  • Sorting the Cascade into typologies—vritual gallery-constellations that reveal congruences and tangents.
  • Working on micro zooms that hone in on specific moments.
  • Producing paintings which speak to digitality, without serving as a painted copy. Large-scale, real-time combination of digital stills done as a reactive work.


Areas of Research

  • Digital art and new media (art historical, aesthetic, theoretical and social/cultural concerns).
  • Contemporary and recent digital and new media artists and their impact on contemporary art.
  • Cubism, Dada and Futurism and their relation to digitality.
  • Appropriation, remix, and sampling (artists, ethics, concepts, evolution).
  • Postmodernism, Post-Postmodernism.
  • Methods of digital output, video development, software and other logistics for the physical creation of digital work and Processing (programming language).
  • Space/place and concepts of location, social and physical geography.
  • Issues of showing digital and new media work in the “white box” museum model.
  • Immateriality
  • Constructed digital space and its context, physicality, politics, artifacts and artifice.
  • Space/place – personal, social, geographical associations with both physical and conceptual geography
  • Memory, recollection (personal and cultural).

Digital Research

I also gathered material via Pinterest. The resulting smorgasbord allowed me to spot rhythmic relationships and was helpful in generating new ideas for formal investigation: Research Board 2: http://www.pinterest.com/renadamsart/research-board-residency-2/


My mentor, Leslie Ann Holland, and I had an incredibly inspirational, productive and dynamic relationship this semester. She provided expert guidance, while allowing me to break new ground on my own. Last semester I felt compelled to make work to please my mentor’s sensibilities and expectation of workload. This semester, my mentor was absolutely pivotal—providing the perfect, open-minded framework for discovery and refinement.


  • Pieces allow for micro and macro readings (detail and concept)—which is important.
  • Push a few pieces until they break—know (and explore) the limits.
  • It’s entirely plausible to have output 2D works (static) shown congruently with video projection (active)–more than one output method can be used simultaneously to complete the project.
  • Scale is incredibly important and pieces with scale variation within the virtual space behaved most effectively.
  • Radically edit, trash, destroy, rebuild and reorient work—especially since digital gives me license to destroy and hit “reset.”
  • Make lots of drafts of the same image, push and pull the resulting meta-sequence.
  • Pieces deal heavily with environment, space and place. Emphasized when people are present.
  • Work reads as an intersection of editing—therefore transition is important.
  • Work also deals with memory, geography, mystery.
  • There is play between the known and unknown, near and far, stable and unstable, movement and stillness, high fi and low fi.
  • Some elements are polished, others loose and rough. There is a sense of hovering vs. a strong sense of line, slick vs. organic, line work vs. boxy-ness., deep vs. shallow, angular vs. curvy. These dichotomies are interesting and form important paradoxes.
  • Experiment with the “objectness” of the digital and learn which pieces need physical bodies and which perform their best when they remain projections of light.
  • Color palette is key and my semester-long investigation (and integration) of my dominant palette and the new video blue is important, successful and necessary.
  • Play with pattern, repetition, scale, texture and transition.
  • The work has an elusive, or denied, narrative, which heightens viewer reception and keeps the work fresh.
  • A few of the surface manipulations were not as successful as the video versions because they pushed the project in the wrong direction. Stills became focused on the hand, and not enough remained of the core concept. In this case, stills with subtle or minimal manipulation were most successful.
  • Zoom in and extract individual moments. Investigate.
  • The painting marks a major breakthrough. It speaks to digitality, without simply performing as a copy of a digital still. I am no longer diving in to simply fulfill an expressive objective. Instead, it functions as a process of reactive discovery–an archaeological dig of moments that reveal themselves, shift, change, and reveal new encounters. It is behaving like a digital or printmaking process, allowing me to adapt and respond, analyze and uncover.

Two side exercises Leslie suggested had a tremendous impact on the work:

1.)    Archive experiment – Group all of the existing stills into typologies. Figure out what the types are (more painterly, more literal, etc.), then build them into gallery-archives to see images in new ways. What emerges when things are grouped? What is different? Which aspects need to get left behind for progress?

This was congruent with a mini project I conceptualized in my Critical Theory II class during the residency and it led to a completely new manner of viewing my own work. Thanks to this suggestion, I sorted the hundreds of Cascade stills into a cross-referenced, revealing archive. It narrows down specific branches of visual language and  several distinct image constellations emerged, which form a larger whole. These constellations also led to specific video animations.
2.)    Micro Zooms – Do some detail zoom-ins of selected moments from existing stills. Are they able to convey the same feeling as the whole, without the rest of the image? Do they become something new? Do they help me think about constructing new wholes?

They did all of the above. They became a new mini-body of work, they might get blown back up, large scale, and they allowed me to consider ways of constructing new images that convey the same kind of impact as the little moments. In some cases, they did tell the same story as their larger source. In other cases, they were appendices.
Leslie feels I’m on the right track–and that I naturally unravel troubling situations as I work through them. The sheer volume of work I produce allows me to explore side-tracks, then return to the center with a resolution, combining spontaneity with calculation. She is excited about my progress, my range of experimentation–and the work I’ve done sorting through the massive Cascade archive.


Future Work

I’m interested in gauging response to the outputs and various conceptual and material changes. I’m especially interested in feedback on the video animations and painting—and I suspect I will develop (or abandon) responses accordingly.

I am now focused on the development of thesis work: producing, manipulating and outputting digital hybrid stills, creating new video projections and potentially developing a series of 50” paintings in response to the digital elastic-space. I feel my core thesis is established and future studio work will be geared toward a tighter form of investigation, rather than bust-out experimentation across wild medium changes.

Large-format image outputs are still on the to-do list (50+ inches), as are room-sized projections. I’ll also experiment with a smaller, intimate viewing experience (think View Master), as well as digital LED/LCD screen frames with moving images.


Exhibitions Attended

Urban/Suburban – Etchings by Nicholas Hudak
New Grounds Print Workshop and Gallery
Feb. 7, 2014

Etchings by Takahiko Hayashi, Japanese printmaker
The Matrix Gallery
Feb. 7, 2014

Etchings by Ando Shinji, Japanese Printmaker
The Matrix Gallery
Feb. 7, 2014

Print, Printed, Printing III – Printmaking Exhibition
New Mexico Highlands University Gallery
February 21, 2014

Chroma – Etchings by Pamela Wesolek
New Grounds Print Workshop and Gallery
March, 2014

400 Years of Remembering and Forgetting: The Graphic Art of Floyd Solomon
UNM Art Museum
May, 2014

Melanie Yazzie: Geographies of Memory
UNM Art Museum – Main Gallery
May, 2014

The Blinding Light of History – Genia Chef, Ilya Kabokov, and Oleg Vassiliev
Russian Paintings and Drawings from the Collection of Wayne F. Yakes, MD.
Clinton Adams Gallery – UNM Art Museum
Mat, 2014



Artist Talks Attended

February 21, 2014  (Artist Talk Series)
Tod Christensen, Jacob Meders, Abigail Felber, Kristen Martincic, Mark Ritchie, Cerese Vaden, Frol Boundin, Sam Cikauskas, Katie Killian-Stokes, Chris Blume, Matthew Rangel, Tim Van Ginkel.


Studio Visits / Critiques (outside of Mentor Critiques)

Josie Lopez, PhD Candidate in Art History- 2/8/14 and 5/31/14.
Conor Peterson, MFA – 5/15/14


Conferences / Conventions Attended

Print, Printed, Printing III – Highlands University Printmaking Conference
Feb. 21 – 22, 2014


Artist Talks, Guest Lectures, Demos Given 

Introduction to Printmaking (Making a Mark) – Guest lecture presentation for the Rio Rancho Art Association, Feb. 12, 2014.
Watercolor Monotype Demo at RRAA, Feb. 12, 2014.
Lithography: Fine Line Etching  Demo, Print, Printed, Printing III Printmaking Conference, Feb. 21, 2014.
Artist Talk – NM Highlands University, Feb. 21, 2014.
Intro to Serigraphy, New Grounds Print Workshop, February, 2014.
Serigraphy II, New Grounds Print Workshop, April, 2014.



Classes and Demos Attended

Alternative Methods for Making Book Cloth – Feb. 21
Alternative Methods in Subtractive Stone Lithography – Feb. 21
Research Mapping: Digital to Analog – Feb. 21
Smart Plate Lithography by Hand – Feb. 21
Harnessing the Wild: Bringing the Immediate Mark to the Lithography Stone – Feb. 22
Quick Book (Bookmaking with Serigraphy) – Feb. 22
Magic Black: An Etching Recipe for the Dark Side (Pseudo-Mezzotint) – Feb. 22
Penny Pinching Rubylith Alternative and Serigraph Toner Washes – Feb. 22
Multiple Woodblock and Stencil – Feb. 22
Digital Collagraph Demo  – Feb. 22


Exhibitions and Events Featuring my Work

Exposed – Contemporary Gravure (Upcoming) – New Grounds Print Workshop and Gallery, Albuquerque, NM. July.

Emerge Boston – MAC (Menino Arts Center). Hyde Park, MA. May.

Marked: 1st Drawing Annual Group Show. Unframed Gallery, Las Cruces, NM. March.

Printmaking Exhibition, Esther Bone Memorial Library. Rio Rancho, NM. Nov. 8, 2013 – Jan. 8, 2014.