Tag Archives: lucad

Last Days and the Situated Hour

 

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Still from Chase (Calling Palmdale), 2015.

The “situated hour” referred to in my “Last Days” excerpt references Proust:

“We may, indeed, say that the hour of death is uncertain, but when we say so we represent that hour to ourselves as situated in a vague and remote expanse of time, it never occurs to us that it can have any connection with the day that has already dawned, or may signify that death — or its first assault and partial possession of us, after which it will never leave hold of us again — may occur this very afternoon, so far from uncertain, this afternoon every hour of which has already been allotted to some occupation. You make a point of taking your drive every day so that in a month’s time you will have had the full benefit of the fresh air; you have hesitated over which cloak you will take, which cabman to call, you are in the cab, the whole day lies before you, short because you have to be at home early, as a friend is coming to see you; you hope that it will be as fine again to-morrow; and you have no suspicion that death, which has been making its way towards you along another plane, shrouded in an impenetrable darkness, has chosen precisely this day of all days to make its appearance, in a few minutes’ time, more or less, at the moment when the carriage has reached the Champs-Elysées.”
Marcel Proust, The Guermantes Way

And what is death, but change? 

And what is change, but the process of process itself? The sublimation of the ordinary and extraordinary. Scary as it moves from the incomplete to the possible. Curious, lonely, lively…

My Last Days poetry manuscript deals with the space between beginning and ending, a field of stasis (perhaps, the plane in which everything actually takes place), suspended between our understanding of movement and cessation.

The space between is literally the process of existence itself. We spend nearly every moment there.

It also speaks to the indeterminate state between loss and gain, manifestation and dissolution; a mystical, shifting moment subject to physics, forensics and fantasy.

What does it mean to have, lose, gain, enjoy–to vanish or be erased? That such a weird, in-between moment can be extended and investigated also speaks to my recent visual artwork, as well as personal experiences that seem lodged in an eternal space of processing and incompleteness.

There are points between time, location, knowing and mystery… Do we ever really know how others feel about us? Do we ever really see anything whole?

Snippets from Last Days have found their way into (and helped shape and inform) the Desert (Loss) series I completed this September and October.

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Blog Futures

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This blog’s original purpose was to document my progress through the Lesley University College of Art and Design MFA program, serving as a storehouse of information and a log of my research and production. That phase is complete.

I’m adopting a David Hockney stance and I’m planning to continue using this blog as I move forward. I don’t mind leaving a trail of where I’ve been, as it is all relevant, useful, maybe interesting/boring/wild/necessary.

You may notice, however, that I will be making organizational adjustments to the blog, to suit its new role. If you’re looking for the links that used to fill the right hand side, check out Links and Resources.

And from here, we embark.

The wild freedom, the gamble, the beginning of the road, that terrifying, mysterious visual-desert sublime…

Here’s a Gary Snyder poem for this new departure, (from Regarding Wave, 1970), which I’ve read and re-read over the years (like my copy of Catch-22).

It’s not just what you should know to be a poet (artist), it’s what you need to know.

What You Should Know to be a Poet

all you can know about animals as persons.
the names of trees and flowers and weeds.
the names of stars and the movements of planets
and the moon.
your own six senses, with a watchful elegant mind.
at least one kind of traditional magic:
divination, astrology, the book of changes, the tarot;

dreams.
the illusory demons and the illusory shining gods.
kiss the ass of the devil and eat shit;
fuck his horny barbed cock,
fuck the hag,
and all the celestial angels
and maidens perfum’d and golden-

& then love the human: wives husbands and friends
children’s games, comic books, bubble-gum,
the weirdness of television and advertising.

work long, dry hours of dull work swallowed and accepted
and lived with and finally lovd. exhaustion,
hunger, rest.

the wild freedom of the dance, extasy
silent solitary illumination, entasy

real danger. gambles and the edge of death.

– Gary Snyder

Finding a Way Out of Here…

Doing a lot of audio and sound work with Ableton and Encore. I’m also ripping audio from my videos, tweaking them (subtly and/or completely) and allowing them to take on new form as disembodied episodes.

This is a rip (with subtle changes) from Elevator. Expect a lot of remixing, warping.

Last-ish Mentor Meeting

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Still from Rental (Requesting Backup), 2015.

 

Oliver and I had a meeting this week. Highlights included: a bee attack and a tuxedo cat.

I refer to it as our ‘last-ish’ meeting because we’re keeping communication flexible for the remainder of the semester. If we decide to have a formal meeting before the final report is due, we’ll do it, otherwise we’ll just have ongoing Q&A. Oliver feels I’m in a good place, with a solid body of work (he has no outstanding concerns or worries). Now it’s just a matter of getting there and finalizing the installation on site.

Things we discussed:

  • Oliver felt the Margaret Atwood poem I posted to the blog is relevant and intriguing–the tone even references the layering of the voiceovers in the newest edit of Rental (Requesting Backup). He also found it interesting that the poem was written around the same time as the beginning of the end of the Hollywood western, and at the height of pre-cable TV culture. Atwood’s characterization of the landscape is coexistent with the works I’ve sampled…
  • In fact, Adam 12 itself is a ‘western.’ Most of the programs I’m using are conceptually and territorially ‘western.’ The wild west is Hollywood.
  • The new edit of Rental (Requesting Backup) maintains the same sense of panic, incoherence and anxiety, but flows much better and the voiceovers are more consistent now.
  • It might be interesting to consider presenting the paintings with a glass or plexi surface, using L-clips. The slicker ‘screen’ could perform well in the installation.
  • He said I should anticipate a few questions about nostalgia, during the defense or the talk. Consider what I like about the works I’ve appropriated, what 70s nostalgia means, why is it so easy and seductive in the 21st century. What are the personal memories and is nostalgia intended?
  • We discussed Sigmar Polke, David Salle and James Rosenquist, all artists I’ve looked at, but which did not get covered in my thesis or talk. I lamented our inability to address all of our major influences with the respect and coverage they deserve.
  • He suggested I can finish the newest painting(s) and video(s) or not. If they happen, they happen. If not, I have enough material already.
  • The thing that keeps returning to Oliver as the most interesting aspect of the work is the different ways this TV landscape is viewed and received. He said he’d especially like to see me hone in on the way TV landscape was foreign to viewers like him (or Matthew Meyer and others I’ve talked to), but that it was a real place to me. This is ripe for more exploration, maybe even with more autobiographical meat. Since our program downplays the biographical, I am more free to dig deeply into this in future iterations of the project. He also sees the project as ongoing, taking new forms over time. Where the personal or biographical intersects with landscape is interesting. There is a distance between the way viewers like Oliver saw this landscape and the way I saw it… He has said several times that I need to return to these places myself, in the future, and do more work with images and landscapes born from these encounters. Specifically autobiographical could be okay.
Still from Rental, Requesting Backup, 2015.

Still from Rental, Requesting Backup, 2015.

The most current Google Street View of the fire station. From 2014. The one I cited in my thesis has now been displaced to our cultural archive...

The most current Google Street View of the fire station. From 2014. The one I cited in my thesis has now been displaced to our cultural archive…

 

 

MFA Thesis – Televisual Memory and the Telescoping Fire Station: Landscape as Media-Memory Site

From "Foothill Incident,"part of The Cascade - Moments in the Televisual Desert

From “Foothill Incident,”part of The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert

MFA thesis – Televisual Memory and the Telescoping Fire Station: Landscape as Media-Memory Site.

Adams Thesis 4.3 PDF 1 – standard PDF

Adams Thesis 4.3 PDF 2 Adobe – Fancier PDF with hyperlinked footnotes

Adams Works Consulted 3.3 – selected bibliography of works consulted, but not directly cited in the final thesis.

Thesis abstract:

‘Landscape’ is an active site of occurrence—a platform of media-influenced exchange. Reflected through televisual language, it offers a relative experience, tied to our sense of geography, time and shifting notions of history. The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert engages TV-inflected landscape as a permeating condition. In this telescoping space, landscape conflates time and memory, location and topography, television and reality.

Rooted in a personal connection to Southern California, which permeates American television from the 1960s-80s, I hunt, excavate and deploy conceptual instances of the Mojave Desert and its entanglement with the real, the vividly scripted and the iconic. Mediated by television, Los Angeles County becomes mercurial, behaving as stage and script, environment and blueprint—a mythic, cultural hunting ground. This transitory televisual landscape informs our understanding of place and event, blurring fiction and fact. The Cascade arrests this instability as an interdisciplinary investigation: a hot-and-cool mosaic that asks viewers to seek, receive and connect.

Derived from a body of moments excavated from television, The Cascade suspends semi-narrative traces as elements removed from their physical location by the original filming and further removed by capturing and mutating temporal instants. The environments thus inhabit the actual, the imagined and the transient place of recollection—a collapsed space conflating personal history, geologic reality and cultural production. Using layers as an economical mode of storytelling (focused on suspension in the moment), I compress events and location into a system of surface-screens: layers provide non-linear depth and conversations between media offer different modes of viewing and consuming.

 

Introduction:

Through my multimedia work, The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert, I offer a meta-narrative of the television mosaic and the act of watching and remembering. Populated by a vulnerable recast of heroes engaged in a kind of primal forensics, an endless hunt plays out across time-compressed paintings, through active, audio-infused videos, and via digital montage.  Viewers (and characters) investigate this unstable environment, traveling between media, events and their realizations. There is a pervading sense of déjà vu—such that television becomes its own self-haunting specter.

Television is part of our working memory-experience, blended with the ‘actual’ to form a ‘hyper-actuality,’ linked to experience and place.[1] TV itself enables an image of culture and history as an “assemblage of dissembled distances from the instantaneous present,” but the present is always rebuilding itself, revitalizing the once-old (Dienst 78), just as television cannibalizes its own history in a continuous present.[2] The space between the original filming, its presentation as cultural object, its excavation and manipulation, and its relation to past-present-future are part of this telescoping space. My installation is a way of enabling the elusive hunt, of sculpting the media-inflected landscape itself—taking it and its cast of characters out of the living room and into an elastic convergence-space. Theorists Byron Reeves and Clifford Nass claim “media equals real life…” that familiar, deflated distance between broadcast and reality:   “knowing that fiction is fiction doesn’t stop the emotional brain from processing it as real…” (Gottschall 775).
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[1] Philosopher Gilles Deleuze proposes that “when a film returns us to the scene of a room and we recall simultaneously another scene that took place there, there is an overlay of present and recalled, real and virtual, as if facets of a single image” (Deleuze qted. in Farr 23). Though Deleuze saw this in cinema, I suggest it also occurs in television and in our individual relationship to real and fictional spaces represented through image (moving and still).

[2] Archived and older television still exists with a strange vitality that eludes even classic cinema. The televisual past is renewed via the abundance and proliferation of specialized viewing (with growing veracity thanks to genre channels, Netflix and on-demand delivery). Television is a medium that contains its own history and frequently resurrects and cannibalizes it (Buonanno 21), thus televisual history is constantly mediated by viewing it in an endless present.

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Rental (Requesting Backup), Version 1.4

Rental (Requesting Backup), 1.4 (2015) from Ren Adams on Vimeo.

The new version of Rental (Requesting Backup). I made a number of changes and improvements to the late-middle and ending of version 1.3. Rental is intentionally chaotic, the least narrative of the video series, but I did make a few adjustments for clarity, including both audio and video manipulations.

 

Catalog Photos

HowJohnnyDiscovered

How Johnny Discovered the Secret Air Base, 2014. Acrylic and watercolor on Lenox 100. Photo: Pat Berrett.

Stills from Elevator (Finding a Way out of Here, I Hope) and So I Asked…

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Mojave Superchase, 2014. Digital View-Master reel. 3 1/2″ diameter.

RoyAndMojaveSubsequence

Roy and the Mojave Subsequence, 2014. Acrylic and watercolor on Lenox 100 paper. Photo: Pat Berrett.

Finding a Way Out of Here…

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In my previous post, I mentioned I’ve been working on images for the exhibition catalog, which involved over a thousand screen captures sampled from my video works. In collecting the high resolution set, I nabbed a number of compelling moments from my semi-narrative worlds. Here are just a few!

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Second Mentor Meeting, More Mock-ups

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Above: two shots of the third painting, in progress. The lower image is the most current state.

I had my second mentor meeting on Thursday. We focused on the installation mock-ups and discussed the nature (and viewer reception) of different arrangements.

Oliver suggested that since each medium intentionally behaves differently, it might have greater conceptual impact to group like media together, rather than dispersing them through a symmetrical arrangement (see my previous mock-ups). Progressing through the space, one speeds up or slows down in response to the unique nature of a given work. If the media are interspersed, it has a different (though not necessarily undesirable) effect on viewer reception.

Oliver articulated this well by saying, in essence, the different distances involved in the experience of space is what makes the installation work–space becomes compounded with memory. The way media are installed, therefore, can contribute to, or disrupt this connectivity. Symmetry might disrupt the flow too much. In response to this, I produced a few more install variations (below).

Other highlights:

  • Make sure they don’t give me a freestanding wall. It won’t work well for this installation.
  • A corner set-up, on the other hand, might be advantageous. Paintings on one wall, video on the other, View-Masters in between or flanking outside the shape. This would encourage bouncing, without dispersing the like media too much. It would need to be a fairly open corner.
  • Two paintings are absolutely necessary (I agree). They speak to each other as part of my process of making this stuff my own. They slow down the overall speed. The single painting mock-ups miss out on a certain amount of dialogue.
  • One video screen is fine (I agree). Given the limitations of the space, only one video screen would have audio anyway, which means the others would be silent and would therefore take on different, possibly unintended, roles.
  • A slightly larger video screen might be good.
  • Differences are what make this piece work. It’s okay to separate the installation  by medium. The different works relate.
  • The time-based work is sensorial and benefits from focused intensity (like a single screen or a corner).
  • 1 or 2 View-Masters are fine.
  • Be ready to adapt the final mock-ups to the space.
  • The street views and screen caps might actually belong to a different, or future, version of the project after all.

Flat wall arrangements:

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Corner arrangements:

 

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Installation Mock-ups

Three paintings, two video screens, two View-Masters, 1 audio.

Three paintings, two video screens, two View-Masters, 1 audio.

The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert is really designed to adapt to just about any kind of space.

As a solo exhibition, all of the paintings would be included, plus one television screen (with audio) for each of the unique videos and one View-Master unit for each reel, on separate pedestals. As this is a group exhibition and our smaller space in Cambridge requires more creative arrangements, I am adapting the project to work in a contained manner. This requires a lot of planning and mock-ups that must be ready to adapt again once I’m there.

There are several possible configurations that I will discuss with Oliver in the next week. These progress largest footprint to smallest:

Three and Two

Three of the paintings, two video screens / televisions (one with audio), two pedestals with View-Masters and audience-interchangeable reels.

Note: the third painting (on the right) is only a placeholder to show totality. The third piece is not complete as of this posting.

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Three paintings, two video screens, two View-Masters, 1 audio.

Three paintings, two video screens, two View-Masters, 1 audio.

The three and two WITH inclusion of the site-specific screen cap and street view images (flanking left and right).

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Two and Two

Two paintings, two video screens (one with audio), two View-Masters on two pedestals, with audience-interchangeable reels.2and2

The Two and Two with possible inclusion of the screen caps and street views, flanking left and right:

2and2_withstills

 

Two and One

This is my preferred arrangement for Cambridge, as I suspect we will have more space than previous graduating classes, but not enough to do the Three and Two.

Two of the paintings, one video screen with audio, two View-Masters on pedestals with audience-interchangeable reels.

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The Two and One with screen cap and street view stills, flanking left and right.

 

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One and One

The most compact of the options, based on earlier arrangements I’ve seen at LUCAD’s smaller gallery spaces. I suspect we’ll have more room to do something like the Twos, but I’ve included this just to visualize it.

One painting, one video screen with audio, one View-Master on pedestal with audience-interchangeable reels. Also shows the possible inclusion of the screen caps and street views, on the left.

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