Tag Archives: mfa thesis work

Desert Simulacrum

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Backdrop addresses cowboy

BY MARGARET ATWOOD

Starspangled cowboy
sauntering out of the almost-
silly West, on your face
a porcelain grin,
tugging a papier-mâché cactus
on wheels behind you with a string,
.
.
you are innocent as a bathtub
full of bullets.
.
.
Your righteous eyes, your laconic
trigger-fingers
people the streets with villains:
as you move, the air in front of you
blossoms with targets
.
.
and you leave behind you a heroic
trail of desolation:
beer bottles
slaughtered by the side
of the road, bird-
skulls bleaching in the sunset.
.
.
I ought to be watching
from behind a cliff or a cardboard storefront
when the shooting starts, hands clasped
in admiration,
but I am elsewhere.
.
.
Then what about me
.
.
what about the I
confronting you on that border,
you are always trying to cross?
.
.
I am the horizon
you ride towards, the thing you can never lasso
.
.
I am also what surrounds you:
my brain
scattered with your
tincans, bones, empty shells,
the litter of your invasions.
.
.
I am the space you desecrate
as you pass through.
.
.

Margaret Atwood, “Backdrop addresses cowboy” from Selected Poems 1965-1975. Copyright © 1974, 1976.

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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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1418090163012_Mojave-Superchase

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.

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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Resolved – Digital Desert Painting

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It’s finished! The photo above leaves something to be desired, so I’ll shoot some better versions when I’m able. It’s already packed and ready to head to Boston.

A few detail shots:

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I’ll gauge whether or not additional pieces should be developed after critiques at the June residency–but this investigatory painting seems to have broken new ground that I am dying to excavate in tandem with the digital video projections and digital hybrid imaging.

It’s resolved enough to bring along for discussion, but paintings often invite revisitation, so I hesitate to call it truly “finished.” 😉

Here it was a few days before completion. The upper and lower left corners are not as resolved here:

 

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