Tag Archives: mfa program

First Mentor Meeting



Above: two views of Soledad Canyon. Though they do not share precise coordinates, they do suggest the almost interchangeable nature of both canyon and project topography; one mediated through a contemporary site-logging image practice, the other recorded as an (inadvertent) site-log via television. Together they facet two points of access into an elastic-space.

I had my first mentor meeting with Oliver Wasow last week.

Oliver has been pivotal to my developing thesis since the first residency (The Cascade grew out of a curatorial exercise from his Digital Visual Culture in the Age of Social Media seminar, combined with a daily media exercise suggested by John Kramer) and we wasted no time jumping into discussion of the installation. He had viewed the recent installation in person and had seen all previous versions, he just needed to catch up on the videos. We discussed the installation as it was presented in Cambridge and we analyzed various optimal, or variable setups.

In a larger space, I would ideally display all of the paintings, each video on its own monitor, View-Masters on pedestals or tables and (possibly) additional digital images in a room-like formation. The condensed installation he viewed in Cambridge was worked via discussion with my advisor, and it suggested a living room space. Oliver said the installation, even abbreviated, does not necessarily need to stay in that form. In fact, the domestic space won’t really work and is not particularly necessary. He is easily able to relate all of the parts, without the physical superimposition and felt the average viewer would not sit and engage a ‘living room’ with any guarantee.

We also discussed the ongoing nature of the project and its output. All this time, I had been expecting The Cascade to reach a finite, finalized, ‘evolved’  form (how Hegellian of me!). In writing my zero draft, I also came to realize The Cascade is a fluid, ongoing archive–capable of developing new ‘databases’ and being expressed in a number of ways. Ultimately, I will adjust it, and its components, to suit the space at hand, knowing I can always present it in other ways in the future (and I can discuss optimal or alternate installations in my thesis).

Oliver suggested I can work with this variability over the semester  (and the future), and it can be adapted to communicate with the final exhibition space, to suit the project’s deployment at each location and in each localized moment.


labrea ave

Street Views

One angle Oliver felt could be addressed more directly is the original site-as-platform, landscape-as-cornerstone found more readily in earlier versions of the project. He felt this was still very important, and might possibly have become subordinate to some of the newer developments (like the hunt, the semi-narrative, televisual space, etc.). Since the landscape itself is still vital, it can be pulled back into the project with a stronger presence that can, in turn, strengthen the other elements.

He asked me to revisit landscape as landscape itself by including additional media–digital or photographic street view images. These unmediated, unlayered images provide a different kind of time engagement, perhaps even functioning as ‘breathing room’ within the tension of the painting-video-reel dynamic. He asked me to consider the Google Street Views and in-program, still landscape screen captures I had dealt with last semester, with my mentor Kevin McCoy. Kevin found the street view/TV cap pairings compelling in much the same way as Oliver, so it’s worth revisiting if it contributes to the whole.

Since the painting provides important physical and temporal layers, suggesting initial jumping, and the video works offer a complementary fragmentation of the suggestion of the ‘real,’ including single-layer landscapes might offer the critical distance of comparison Peter Rostovsky suggested was left out of the installation. Of course, without the safety of critical distance, the viewer is thrown into the action–my intention all along–and a point which Oliver and Peter suggested is fine. However, including a moment of pause may be beneficial.  The straight landscape images may provide the critical distance that is denied in the panicked, fragmented videos, reels and paintings.

Oliver likes the idea that the landscape itself, as a physical site, and as a media backdrop, is really interchangeable with itself, in its own sphere. I’m fascinated by this as well; the original impetus behind the curatorial project. The sunny, arid locations are almost modular (like the two shots at the top of this post). In fact, rather like the entire thesis project itself. When I compound forms in my thesis, they behave like jump-cuts, creating a density of space, place and nostalgia itself that can obliterate this quiet, weird, modular simplicity. Allowing the land back in reinforces the importance of site and gives the density a place to happen.

Though other aspects of the project grew in weight (the re-cast characters, the pervading tension between fiction and reality, the dissection of story), the original anchor was this landscape, or site, itself. All of it remains important. And, there’s no reason I must stop at only three media. It’s interdisciplinary. I can use as many as I like.

Other notes on this:

  • Memory is similar to old TV shows.
  • We reconnect with a filter, passing through, experiencing things in different ways.
  • The street view, as in the TV  show, is an experience.
  • The street views, if used in the installation, should always be visible as a reference point–not stuck as oscillating slide shows between videos. Try them printed out and framed, or if they are digital, they need their own permanent monitor.
  • Some concern that the videos may dominate the installation. Will they? If they do, is that okay?
  • Do not stick the street views on View-master reels.
Johnny, Roy and the blank canvas--just waiting for me to begin.

Johnny, Roy and the blank canvas–just waiting for me to begin.

The Relevance of the Painting

The paintings are important and necessary to the project. They provide another model of representation, interaction and consumption.

Key points:

  • The paintings become a slower, meditative (subjective meditation) on the immediacy of the video
  • They are warm vs. the cool of television and the View-Masters (which fits into my three-screen and cool vs. warm research/theory). The painting warms the installation up, invites a different form of reflection.
  • Time unfolds differently in the paintings than in the other media, which is important
  • The paintings, for Oliver, are actually the most effective at making use of layers. Layers behave differently in the video, but offer a counterpoint.

Interdisciplinary Installation

Oliver’s thoughts:

  • The project is concerned with different forms of representation and consumption, different modes of mediation and memory.
  • It is also not specifically tied to that time period, even as large parts root it in the 1970s
  • There’s no need to be limited to three media
  • The paintings are important. It’s okay to combine new and old media.


  • An overly theoretical approach can kill the subjectivity of personal memory; be careful to preserve it
  • The digital manipulated/layered stills should not be included on paper in this version of the install, because they become redundant with the painting and video present. In the View-masters they play a different role, so it’s okay. But no photo print outs. The digital layered stills suggest time-based temporality that the videos handle better.


The sound is incredibly important. Oliver and I agreed that it should be openly audible. It is designed to be heard both while intently watching the videos, and while observing the painting and View-masters in an indirect manner, rather like overhearing a television set they may suck you into the drama if you hear something compelling. Forcing viewers to don headphones limits the concept of the work (and most people won’t do that, anyway).

If the final setup prevents full, audible sound, he suggested I at least go with an ambient volume that can still be heard, without disturbing other installations. Worst case would be headphones.

Oliver identified the importance of the multi-layered sound as another function of time.


At this point in the program, my studio practice is focused on resolving the installation, completing the third painting and doing some output work with the street views and single-layer stills.

I have plans for additional videos, paintings and digital reels, but these will be reserved until the thesis is complete. If there is time to do more, I will. If not, I have enough digital material to work with already. I am focusing on arrangement and painting.

I am aware that the integrated whole and its modular parts do not have to settle into a single, final form,  but can exist in a remix-heavy system of permutations, which gives the project the possibility to be worked an re-worked as part of its very nature.

With that said, I still need to resolve the final installation for June. I will meet with Oliver again in about 2 weeks and we’ll experiment with installation formats.



luckar plaza




Time-Based Screenings


If you’re attending the Spring, 2015 residency (or if you will be near Lesley University) this January, please do stop by the screening for our program’s video art and film folks. I will be showing So I Asked…, Elevator (Finding a Way Out of Here, I Hope), Rental (Requesting Backup) and Encounter.

Monday, January 12, from 4-6 pm.

Snacks. There will indeed be snacks.

The Cascade(s)


Los Angeles Aqueduct Cascades, Sylmar, CA. Near Foothill Freeway.

“Connecting images to images, playing with series of them, repeating them, reproducing them, distorting them slightly, has been common practice in art even before the infamous ‘age of mechanical reproduction.’ ‘Intertextuality’ is one of the ways in which the cascading of images is discernible in the artistic domain – the thick entangled connection that each image has with all the others that have been produced…”

–Bruno Latour, What is Iconoclash?

My third semester is now folding into my fourth, or thesis, semester at LUCAD/AIB and I’m in the process of wrapping up for the January residency. I will be shipping Roy and the Mojave Subsequence in late December and the video pieces, View-Masters and reels will accompany me in person.

My semester bibliography, thesis outline, and artist list are available under Papers.

The Los Angeles Cascades (Sylmar, CA)

The Los Angeles Cascades (Sylmar, CA)

“As we encounter the data cascade, each of us constructs our own personal mythology from bits and fragments of information extracted from the media flow… transformed into resources through which we make sense of our everyday lives.”

Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture

This semester, The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert (my interdisciplinary thesis) made tremendous headway and I have a clear direction for resolving the final moments of …Moments. 🙂 The residency will give me the opportunity to gauge ideas about installation and continued relevancy of its interrelated parts.

“…the crucial distinction we wish to draw … is not between a world of image and a world of no-image– as the image warriors would have us believe – but between the interrupted flow of pictures and a cascade of them.”

–Bruno Latour, What is Iconoclash?

I also met with Les Ann Holland, my second semester mentor, during November and brought her up to speed on the project’s progress since we last met. I’d like to work with her during my final semester and I’ll be proposing that to my final adviser in January.

Between the (technical) end of the semester and the beginning of the residency, I’ll be continuing work on the next video piece, Ambush, producing more digital stills, and practicing stereoscopic imaging. I’m also doing a lot of reading for the upcoming critical theory course and fleshing out side sections of research that were identified while writing my thesis outline.


The Cascade(s) in Situ, Emergency!

The Cascade(s) in Situ, Emergency!

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.

Johnny’s Search Continues…

More stills from: Horizons in the Digital Desert, or how Johnny Discovered The Secret Air Base

experiment20experiment25experiment26experiment27Some of the cleaner, emptier stills are designed to work as part of the early video sequencing. They may also get output and physically modified.

One of the reasons I refer to these pieces as “stills” is because I view them as a pause in action, a moment snapped from within a whirl of constant coalescence and dissolution. Whether they’re linked together in a video animation or printed on paper, they are only a temporary recess from the undulation of form and fluid.


The Cascade – Integrating Color Palettes (Digital and Natural Collision)

Color is integral to the formal and conceptual production of my work.

My central palette, a specific, warm range of earth tones,  has parallel roots in the sacred lotus and the ubiquitous desert landscape that permeates my relationship to geographical space.

In developing color, I start with a root value (usually a warm, light yellow with a touch of pink) and modify continuously and fluidly through the printing or painting session. The same core color takes on new character and form as it is manipulated spontaneously (within an understood framework), much like the “atomic” or “informational” units I see in the pieces themselves. The atoms coalesce to form new expressions, then fall back away into components laden with possibility.

The Cascade brought a new angle to my palette:


The nature of video (and the unique time period in which my core material was filmed, with its own  technology-influenced, regional colors) brought more blue to the mix.

During the residency, a number of viewers found this addition to my desert palette an engaging evolution. The blue related to both the vastness of sky in the west and the buzz-blue of digital-video aesthetics.

That the iterations of blue I emphasize in the Cascade speaks of both physical geography and deep, digital space is exciting and incredibly relevant to the concept. It emphasizes the strange reality of life mediated through TV, while suggesting watercolor and interdisciplinary process.


The still above is one of the pieces that fully integrates the digital and desert palettes, emerging as an entirely new association of color.

I’d like to investigate the palette in this pivotal moment with great care this semester. Oliver Wasow suggested that I closely examine the point where electronic color goes up against natural color, and how this tension (and potential harmony) communicates and interacts with the viewer.


The blue-dominant still above and the orange-brown dominant piece below contrasts the two palettes dramatically, yet the presence of the desert palette still exists in the Cascade piece, however subdued. A touch of crossover blue also occupies Data Pulse (below).

"Data Pulse." Layered serigraphy, woodcut, acrylic monotype, collage, direct ink.  About 20" x 20".

“Data Pulse.” Layered serigraphy, woodcut, acrylic monotype, collage, direct ink. About 20″ x 20″.

More Finished Pieces

I’m in the process of documenting all of the work I completed this semester. Here are a few more shots. Titles are still forthcoming on some.


Title forthcoming. Ink on Kazuko rice paper.


Working Title: Transmissions / Data Transmission – Serigraphy, Intaglio, Ink, Collage. I think I’ll try to get a cleaner version of this one, with some detailed shots.


Matter (Serigraphy, Drypoint).

"Hypertext." Acrylic monotype, watercolor monotype, direct ink.

“Hypertext.” Acrylic monotype, watercolor monotype, direct ink.

Hypertext. Acrylic monotype, watercolor monotype, direct ink.


Working title: Parallels – Serigraphy and Ink with Beeswax

 Currently untitled - Serigraphy, monotype, intaglio.

Currently untitled – Serigraphy, monotype, intaglio.

Title  Forthcoming – Serigraphy, monotype, intaglio.


Working Title: Partial Information. Serigraphy with beeswax.


A better shot of Ancient Mechanisms. Ink and acrylic on paper.


A better shot of untitled (working title: Architectural Memory). Ink and acrylic on paper.


Title Forthcoming. Woodcut, serigraphy, trace monotype, intaglio.

"The Point of Ignition." Layered serigraphy, watercolor monotype, chine colle.

“The Point of Ignition.” Layered serigraphy, watercolor monotype, chine colle.

The Point of Ignition. Layered serigraphy, watercolor monotype, chine colle.

Semester Summary – Fall, 2013

Ren Adams
John Kramer – Adviser
Semester Summary – Fall, 2013

Visualization Map of the Internet, at a Given Moment

Visualization Map of the Internet, at a Given Moment


My Bibliography for Fall, 2013 can be downloaded here.

I began the program with a body of work which was primarily concerned with exploring the nature of emergence—depicting the way being materializes from non-being, matter from the void of non-matter. It synthesized ideas found in Eastern philosophy, archaeology, physics and art history and united them with formal practice, generating a time-neutral space; a seemingly non-contextual moment.

I entered the Fall, 2013 residency at a transition point, knowing future work would build on this foundation, but that it was turning toward a conversation with the “information age” itself.  Energized by the June residency, I dove headlong into research that expanded my concepts across 21st century concerns.

I conducted critical research into:

  • Information theory
  • Postmodernism, Post-Postmodernism
  • Visualization as method of information delivery –escaping “flatland”
  • Hypertext, hypertextuality
  • The vitality of digital creation, interactivity and the fluid nature of digital inquiry
  • Appropriation, remix, recombination, montage, pastiche, hypermedia, mixed media, transmedia, convergence
  • Network dynamics
  • Connective relationships between data, image and the image cascade
  • Micro and macro readings
  • Relationships between biological, information and even star systems / galaxy superclusters – connectivity in web-like patterns
  • Digital culture
  • Space/Place, virtual geography

I also made use of the virtual archive, gathering source material using Pinterest. The resulting smorgasbord allowed me to spot rhythmic relationships and was helpful in generating new ideas for research and formal investigation.

Example pin boards:

Research Board, Residency 1 –

Glyphs, Language, Linguistic Moments – http://www.pinterest.com/renadamsart/glyphs-language-and-linguistic-moments/

Pop Influence – http://www.pinterest.com/renadamsart/that-pop-influence-all-me/

"Generative Forms." Layers of serigraphy, watercolor and acrylic monotype, trace monotype, woodcut on Thai Kozo rice paper.

“Generative Forms.” Layers of serigraphy, watercolor and acrylic monotype, trace monotype, woodcut on Thai Kozo rice paper.

Studio Work

My studio work this semester encompassed printmaking, mixed media and digital output, at times seemingly divergent.

The works on paper carried on my existing practice, initially relying on familiar methods to investigate expanded concept, later shaken up with the inclusion of collage and heavy media mixing. The digital work started out as a daily ritual, a side project called The Cascade, which evolved into a full-blown series over the course of the semester, using less familiar territory and embracing interdisciplinary thinking.

Prior to the residency, I had been examining ways to evolve my work so that it addressed contemporary considerations. I was already interested in digital culture, visual media and the information cascade, finding relationships between the flow of data and its counterparts in physics and philosophy (as Fritjof Capra did in The Web of Life—information systems uncannily reflect biological and atomic patterns).

Drawing on conversations from the residency and independent research, I investigated ways of using my visual vocabulary to address information as matter, the interconnectivity of networks (biological, social, spatial) and the deep virtual space where it all takes shape.

I stirred the creative pot, whirling all manner of language, rocks, artifacts, layers and levels, shaking the virtual snow globe to reveal and create new relationships and connections—both in the literal picture plane, as well as in concept. I worked through these ideas by layering printmaking techniques with drawing and painting, breaking away from the rigid purity of the print-only mindset.


I gave myself permission to work with more mixed media than ever before, combining everything from charcoal and Prismacolor to watercolor, oil, acrylic and glue. Since the very idea of mixed media is a metaphor for interdisciplinary thinking, it made sense to push materials to the breaking point. Woodcut, intaglio, photogravure, monotype and collagraph intermingled with direct marks and collage, like archaeological layers. Sometimes I pushed too far and pieces became convoluted. Encountering the breaking point was exciting and necessary—a walk through dangerous territory.


There was more to my exploration than just continued dialogue with paper, however. The Cascade project marks an important breakthrough. Developed from a curatorial exercise, it started out as an experiment in found landscape; an investigation of the transient nature of virtual, social geography and the deep, time-stripped, transient space of digital data. It was another kind of dangerous territory—one involving photography, digital manipulation, appropriation, recombination and a denial of object-hood.

The project was sparked by a personal connection to the Southern California landscape that permeates American television from the 1960s-80s. I broke self-imposed boundaries and used a cell phone camera to capture the panoramic space found in fleeting backdrops.  This transitory landscape punctuates many TV adventures, knitted into production, reception and even shared, macro-level cultural understanding. I took a screen cap each day, dividing them into phases for processing. Phase I is an archive of distorted footage in an almost-raw state.  Phase II translates each photograph through a “traditional” art medium. Phase III is about endless layering—a combination of digital analog components creating virtual paintings and imagined environments.

As a result, I developed an archive that plays with space, information and time relativity. The Cascade freezes geographic (and linear) traces in an instant, as stills once removed from their physical location by the original filming and again removed by the act of capturing a temporary instance. The environments inhabit the very real, the imagined and the transient place of recollection, iconographic of a collapsing space between personal history, geologic reality and cultural production. When capped for The Cascade, these spaces take on an additional role in the non-linear, relational nature of the deep digital world.[1] The Cascade became my way of investigating this hypertextuality of time, space, matter and information. The result is an alchemy of image that integrates micro and macro layers, networking and ideas of constructed personal mythology. Over time, the landscape itself loosened and figures and vehicles were allowed to enter the conversation, potentially changing its reliance on geography.


Future Work

The Cascade has grown beyond its original lifespan. I became obsessed with the process of collecting screen caps and employing digital alchemy. What started as a series of distorted captures and digital experiments became a series, a force. I can see The Cascade developing into a significant body of work, uniting with the visual vocabulary I have previously deployed on paper.

I will allow the physical mixed media work and digital output to unite in new ways this coming semester, experimenting with creating and de-centering the object itself. Pieces will be output onto paper, where they will be directly manipulated with paint, printmaking, collage and additional digital overlays. This will allow me to experiment with the offline physicality of the digital aesthetic, while at the same time investigating virtual methods of display. I am also interested in pursuing a truly interactive author-viewer inversion for the project: the creation of a delightfully virtual, hypertext choose your own adventure (virtual galleries, non-linear displays).

My interest in The Cascade does not abandon the works on paper. It absorbs them.

Richard Diebenkorn - From the Albuquerque Series

Richard Diebenkorn – From the Albuquerque Series


I researched a variety of artists based on residency, mentor and adviser recommendations, but the following frequently re-surfaced and became pivotal to my investigations:

  • Richard Diebenkorn
  • Julie Mehretu
  • Cai Guo Qiang
  • Joanne Greenbaum

Mentors and Visiting Artists

My mentor, Karsten Creightney, and I have met more than a dozen times, combining formal critiques with casual in-studio discussions. I’ve been visiting his studio weekly. Though we did not always agree, Karsten provided useful insight, including the following suggestions:

  • Consider ways of creating negative space, without relying on blank paper
  • Be willing to sacrifice even the most “precious” part of the image for the good of the whole
  • Provide a variety of marks (mix tight with loose, rough with refined) to prevent homogenous surfaces
  • Consider the way presentation affects viewer reception
  • Experiment with literal and implied collage techniques to help communicate concept

I also arranged two visiting artist critiques—one with a potential mentor, Leslie Ayres, and another (upcoming) with art historian Stephanie Morimoto. Leslie and I had a productive critique which lasted nearly three hours (resulting in pages of workable notes and fresh excitement about current and future work!).

Future Readings

The following texts are on my 2014 must-read list:

  • Burnley, David. “Scribes and Hypertext.” The Yearbook of English Studies. 25 (1995) 41-62.
  • Capra, Fritjof. The Turning Point: Science, Society and the Rising Culture.
  • Kaku, Michio. Parallel Worlds: A Journey through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos. 2006.
  • Kirby, Alan. Digimodernism: How New Technologies Dismantle the Postmodern and Reconfigure Our Culture. 2009.
  • Patterson, Nancy. “Hypertext and the Changing Role of Readers.” The English Journal. 90 (2000) 74-80.
  • Potter, Garry and Jose Lopez. After Postmodernism: An Introduction to Critical Realism. 2001.
  • Riffaterre, Michael. “Intertextuality vs. Hypertextuality.” New Literary History. 25 (1994) 779-788.
  • Snyder, Ilana. Hypertext: The Electronic Labyrinth. New York: New York University Press, 1996.
  • Strogratz, Steven H. How Order Emerges from Chaos in the Universe, Nature, and Daily Life.
  • Vaidhyanathan, Siva. The Googlization of Everything: (And Why We Should Worry). 2011.
  • Vermeulen, Timotheus and Robin Van der Akker. “Notes on Metamodernism.” Journal of Aesthetics & Culture 2 (2010): 1-14.

[1] In this digital space, I feel time exhibits a new kind of relativity. It also opens dialogue about the nature of the “visual remix” itself, relating ideas of art, commodity, information and social interaction to the unstoppable cascade of data married to daily life. The inherently mutative character of information as it exists in the digital flow—how our memory of a cultural element like a television program is modified, adapted or remixed by users into new material, recalls oral storytelling. Activity itself becomes vaporous, dematerialized and rematerialized in an instant, in that collapsed space—just like the thin layers used in digital art.