Tag Archives: lesley university mfa

Seeing in Stereo

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Geekery: my new View-Master is a Model C, manufactured from 1950-1955. Though it pre-dates both myself and the shows I’m working with, it directly references the original geographic-vacation-slide role of the stereoscopic viewer as method of accessing site and memory.

The third component of my interdisciplinary thesis is shaping up to be an interesting (albeit challenging) angle on televisual concept.

In an earlier post, I mentioned I had narrowed the digital-interactive component down to a stereoscopic investigation of screen caps/digital stills. The photo above? My new View-Master! I’m working with a View-Master for the Cascade’s mysterious third angle (related to Lev Manovich’s three-screen theory from The Language of New Media) and Minkowski’s diagram of space-time.

I’m building View-Master reels using my digitally manipulated screencaps, referencing the common commercial practice of translating television narrative to View-Master products, and to similiar ‘vacation’ slides that were circulated for stereoscopic viewing. Proud View-Master owners could watch dimensionalized, condensed versions of their favorite fictive, TV heroes (like The A-Team, Adam-12…), popping reels in and out, in any order, to flick through brief, tentatively connected vignettes. The same plastic, human-powered analog device was also designed for viewing photo reels one could pick up as ready-made vacation albums from gift shops at popular landmarks (I remember buying a packet from Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA in the early 80s). A quick eBay search will reveal equal parts Hollywood-reality and vacation-fiction. The perfect conflation of place, semi-narrative and image.

This angle suggests an entanglement of the televisual, the geographically located ‘vacation’ slide, digital imaging, digital screen caps and good ol’ fashioned human-powered manipulation.

I discussed the idea with my mentor during our last meeting (detailed post on that forthcoming). Though I was concerned the analog device might lean too kitschy, Kevin liked the idea (and wasn’t averse to the potential kitsch, inherent in the View-Master itself, anyway). He encouraged me to make the image reels truly stereoscopic (3D) and to sort potential reel topics by typologies.

View-Master reels, in general practice, are sorted and commodified archives. For commercially-aligned subjects, like television programs, cartoons and movies, a broader subject is usually defined: e.g. The Monkees, then broken out as a sub-category (often excerpts from a single television episode, like “Hillbilly Honeymoon”), or as micro-zooms of a favorite character, like scenes from multiple Superman cartoon episodes, collapsed into one viewing. For site-specific, vacation-suggestive reels, images are usually organized by locations: Joshua Tree National Monument, Disneyland, Yosemite National Park, Las Vegas. Still other kinds of reels are further divided by typologies, like Dogs of Soviet Space, Wild Animals of the World or Yellowstone Geysers (for example).

This leaves my own application pretty open. I like Kevin’s idea of sorting by type. Perhaps, gunfights, car chases, rescues… But I also think the original View-Master macro-micro approach (television program > moments in semi-context) makes sense as well.

In order to work through these possibilities, I am currently sorting (and building) digital stills into potential categories for reels. I’d like to have at least one reel completed for the January residency, even if it is not true 3D. Working with stereoscopy proper is challenging and may end up detracting from the actual concept.

A gun-fight reel, perhaps?

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Cars in the desert? Highways? Secret air bases?

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Car crashes?

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Digital Outputs, Third Mentor Critique

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I had my third in-person mentor critique on April 25, which went very well.

Les is excited about my progress, my range of experimentation–and the work I’ve done sorting through the massive Cascade archive , to narrow down specific branches of visual language. There are several distinct image constellations emerging, which form a larger whole. We went over these constellations in detail, viewing them in their original, digital format. Leslie noticed that some of the pieces resonate better when they’re viewed in their native digital environment–with a backlit LCD or LED computer screen, which is interesting. Others take on new life on paper.

The last leg of the semester is all about outward production–getting some of the works down on paper, some worked into final videos ready to project and coalescing forms of digital representation (digital-virtual output), which don’t require works to be printed on paper.

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I also showed Les several of the on-paper outputs I did (center), comparing them to the earlier laser documents. She was especially pleased with the output third from the left (blue station wagon). With some of my matte paper experiments with surface manipulation, the digitality got lost, submitting to the mark of the hand almost too completely. For these two, I did very light manipulation, so that the digital aesthetic remained. This approach was well received.

The one Leslie felt was a good blend of the hand and digital was this:

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One of the things Leslie talked about in depth this time was how the work invites a combination fast/slow read. You can scan it quickly and get a sense of it, then you get drawn in to wander through a slower read, noticing individual moments and transitions.

Leslie feels I’m on the right track–and that I naturally unravel troubling situations as I work my way through them. The sheer volume of work I produce allows me to explore most side-tracks, then return to the center with a resolution. It combines spontaneity with rigid calculation.

My budget is really tight this semester and I’ve been unable to afford most of the physical output I originally intended. Leslie and I talked about this as a positive curatorial situation. If I had a huge budget (or any budget!) I’d probably print most everything, then weed through it. She suggested that I look at my financial restrictions as a point of refinement. With a tiny budget to print, I’ll have to use an extra-sharp curatorial eye to choose exactly which stills are allowed to “live” in the physical world.

My selection process would include whether or not the stills work better as digital images, projections, or works on paper. This makes perfect sense, and in a way, helps me focus. It also makes me think of 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 at all to output most of this on paper, or is that me, tied to more conventional training?

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Above – one of the mylar transparencies I’m working with. People at the last residency suggested i try printing some complete, or incomplete stills on mylar, then layer them, manipulate them, hang them, etc. I’ve done a couple now and I’m not sure what to think. Leslie really liked the way the pieces hung as individuals (not layered with other mylars)–casting both light and shadow through their ephemerality onto the wall. The piece above is too purple for my liking, but I agreed that there’s something worth pushing here–at least as far as single sheets floating off the wall are concerned.

When I layered only two mylars with complete images, the images turned to mud. I would probably have to print out the individual Photoshop layers, then re-create the digital layering with hanging mylar–but I’m not sure there’s a point to that. The digital images already do this. There would have to be a conceptual reason for separating the digital layers and hanging them as single, transparent sheet layers–something beyond just a group suggestion to make it physical for the sake of old museum models.

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Comparing a few Phase II drawings with surface-manipulated stills.

 

 

 

 

Seeds for Spring – In Progress Art Works

There is a pile of unfinished work that will be a jumping off point in January. There are many pieces, but I’m sharing a few here, so you can see where they begin (and later how they get resolved).

Descriptions are below each image.

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I’m excited about these guys. They are cut collage shapes, ready for mounting and manipulation, created using a combination of printmaking techniques, including monotype, serigraphy and lithography.

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This is a rabbit skin glue collage of pieces cut from lithographs and woodcuts. This is a technique my mentor taught me, which creates a secure, high-bonded collage capable of being sanded, painted and physically manipulate without tearing off. It’s mounted on a birch panel.

I’ll be trying more of this technique, while also using a digital fresco technique that I worked heavily with another artist.

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A new screen I made to do more rock-shape “stamping.” I thought I’d show how I sometimes develop more than one shape on the same screen, though they don’t necessarily form a complete image on their own. I’m always considering the relational conversation of layered moments.
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A pile of works that show underlayers. They look so bare!

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More underlayers awaiting new elements. I was trying an almost gaudy decorative paper, just for the hell of it.

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More of the cut collage shapes, ready for mounting and manipulation, created using a combination of printmaking techniques, including monotype, serigraphy and lithography.