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Often, I’ve wondered if my skittishness with regard to staying with specific projects implies of level of dilettantism that I’d rather not have to attribute to myself. I mean, between pastel and other 2D drawing media, Second Life, art installations, and – now – photography, I seem to be just cycling through whatever catches my interest.But then, I read my own artist’s statement and remember why I wrote it.
I’m not interested in “working in pastel”. Nor does the live digital art playground hold my particular interest for its own sake.
Rather, as my artist statement indicates, Im interested in the fabric of life itself and the myriad of ways it can both manifest itself and be explored. And by “fabric of life”, I mean specifically “people”: Who they are, what the word “self” means in an age where day to day reality itself has become functionally abstract, and the difference between automation and soul in terms of what it means to be alive.
Lest my unusually flowery and overly descriptive language put you off, you should be aware of two things. First, I’m sitting in Reagan National airport for the next two hours and really have nothing better to do. Secondly, and probably more pertinently, this entry had a distinct, concrete moment of birth in my head.
Last week (let’s call it Tuesday for the sake of detail), I was looking at my recent flood of photographs and noticed that the ones I – and others on flickr – seemed to consider the most interesting and mature were of people. Portraits, specifically, were what comes to mind when looking at them.
Funny – I hadn’t consciously intended to do that. I don’t look around and try to grab “people”; I photograph whatever seems to be an interesting or off perspective of wherever I am at the time. And I do get the rest of the world – objects, landscapes, flora, fauna, etc. But (at least to me) they lack that special something that makes them live. I try and look for the times when the body, environment, and mind are in sync – the moments when the soul is looking out of the eyes instead of inside. For most people, those moments are only brief and I like to capture them when I think I see them.
More interesting, still, is that that is (as Ive said elsewhere) where my 2D drawing focus is most of the time. It’s what Im drawn to. Ive even tried to trick myself out of drawing people – and it doesn’t work. The other material is passable, but only just so
Well, you might ask (if youve made it this far) – what about Second Life? That’s about as soulless as you can get! Maybe so, but virtual words force us to take apart and examine, piece by piece, what “existing” as a human consists of and means. We’ve always assumed, in a secular sense, that location and presence and appearance are all properties of existence. We cant be “here” unless “here” is “somewhere”. So what of ourselves when we’re not “here”, but somewhere without physical properties? With the phone, the web, and even online text chat we’ve managed to avoid that question by virtue of not having a replacement “there” from which to reference ourselves. In those cases, we’re very much on either side of the line.
On the other hand, in virtual worlds, we’re dead smack in the middle and it fascinates me. What I think it will force us to do is to rethink some of the core concepts which have ruled our philosophies and ways of life since time began. I don’t think of this in terms of high level abstractions, but core one – almost at the meta linguistic level of human thought. We, as a species, may begin to think (at a root level) in terms more formally (from an engineering perspective) in harmony with the reality of the world around us and not be limited to those abstractions we’ve evolved by way of input from our 5 senses.
In all cases, though, it’s about people, life, and their contribution to “real” – regardless of medium
Ok, it’s getting late and I’ve been working on Ofrenda stuff all night and the real job all day, but I just wanted to let you all know that DCist has chosen these two photos of mine from their Flickr pool to use in the past three days! That’s outstanding :) I’m really psyched about that. I am, though, still curious how they make those kinds of decisions. Do they pour through them all looking for the “best” (on it’s own merits) photo to fit their purposes, or just the first “good” one that will do?
Come party Day of the Dead style, with art, workshops, altars, music, spoken word, dancing, marigolds and the souls of the departed when the Art Outlet presents “Ofrenda: Art for the Dead” from 3 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, October 13.
Bring an offering to our two artist-designed altars. Come dressed Day of the Dead style, design a sugar skull, and enjoy the art and music.
Zulma Aguiar, Michael Auger, Joshua Barlow, Jennifer Beinhacker, Alison Christ, Andrea Collins, Rosemary Feit Covey, Jared Davis, Roni Freeman, Jenny Freestone, Vickie Fruehauf, Susan Gardiner, Angela Kleis, Gabriel Kulka, Emily Liddle, Rob Lindsay, Bono Mitchell, Thomas Paradis, Marina Reiter, Paivi Salonen, Marina Starkova, Henrik Sundqvist, Jack Whitsitt
Day of the Dead Workshop: Sugar Skulls 3 – 5 p.m.
Mariachi Band 5 – 6 p.m.
Film Screening by Zulma Aguiar 6:15 – 6:30 p.m.
(Humanitarian Water – a short film about US/Mexican border issues.)
Mud Pie 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Flo Anito 8 – 9 p.m.
Special Guest Appearance by Inspyra 10:30 pm
(Founder of Capital Fire Arts)
Yoko K. 10 p.m. – Midnight
2925 Wilson Blvd
Arlington, VA 22201
(Right next Mexicali Blues Restaurant & Bar)
By Metro: Take the orange line and exit at the Clarendon Metro stop. Walk down 1 1/2
blocks on Wilson Boulevard. “Ofrenda – Art for the Dead” will be on your left.
By Car: Park in the garage at the corner of Highland Street and Wilson Boulevard. It’s free on weekends.
Originally uploaded by sintixerr
This image is a shot I took of Angela standing next to our Ofrenda installation project for the Day of the Dead / Dia De Los Muertos show in Clarendon / Arlington this Saturday (10/13) at Mexicali Blues. Tonight was the first night people had to install their art and it almost turned into a mini show opening! So many people walking by on the street stopped to look, come in, talk, and take postcards out with them. If this traffic is any indication, the show is going to be a wild success.
There is some other outstanding art already there – stuff that moves, stuff that glows, wood cuts, altars, stuff that lights up. There will be music, workshops, and fun. Everyone should stop by – even if you plan on hitting the artdc.org show as well, there’s time to do both!
Art Outlet will be putting on a show Saturday, October 13 in Arlington, VA celebrating Day of the Dead (Dia De Los Muertos) through art, music, and other events. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enter, but since Angela Kleis, my wife Paivi, and myself have been spending so much time together talking about and engaging in photography (and since Im on Art Outlet’s board of directors), we decided to do a collaborative piece together.How to do that, though? We didnt really have enough space to show related pieces from each of us – and that really wouldn’t be interesting as a collaboration.
Luckily, a lightbulb went off as I was looking through an unrelated series of photos I had taken of the Washington Monument in DC. The three of us has been sitting in relatively the same place for a couple of hours and I had at least 30 shots of the monument taken from the same perspective – only the people and lighting really changed. I threw them together into the Pinnacle video editing suite and ended up with a pretty neat looking movie/animation of those 30 pictures. There wasn’t a plot or time progression involved, but rather a jumpy twitchy averaged version of a place. Neat. What if the three of us take pictures of the same themed scene and weave them together in a video later to similar effect?
All we needed was a subject and theme. For this, I pulled from 2 80’s songs (Concrete Blonde’s Mexican Moon and Sisters of Mercy’s Nine While Nine) and a scene I’d shot for an english project illustrating Camus’ The Stranger” in High School. We basically gathered a bunch of friends together to create a “Wake” scene in black and white. A body (Jelena, a friend of mine from Journalism class) was laid out on a table in Rock Creek Park. and covered with fabric. Under the table, we put lights to give the table more of a floating-altar feel. Around the table we sat 4 friends (although we’d hoped for more) in identical white seats in a semi-circle. We left 1 darker sear empty to highlight the missing individual. Just before dusk, the three of us went to town shooting as many interesting shots as we could in the course of an hour. I used a Digital Rebel XT with a 50mm lens and another Wide Angle. Paivi used her Cannon 40D with a 28-70 L series sense. Angela used a Minolta and a Cannon with various filters – including a silky filter and a lens baby.
We ended up with a ton of shots and Sunday we’ll be sequencing these together into an animation.
At Ofrenda, we’ll be projecting this animation onto a custom frame Im having built. Basically, there will be framed glass with a layer of white tissue paper behind it. The tissue paper will be mounted on spacers to keep it against the glass while leaving about 1/4″ of space between it and the backing.
By projecting the animation into this frame, any excess light from the projector will pass through the tissue paper, hit the backing, and radiate back outward into the room. This will give the imagery an actual diffuse “glow” that will add to the surreal, dreamy feeling of the piece.
We will be hiding the projector in a sculpture of box and will be adding actual ofrendas in, on, and around the piece. We want the photo animation to be the centerpiece, but the ofrenda’s should provide some place, context, and grounding that the images might lack by themselves.
More information about the show can be found about the show HERE. Hope everyone can make it!
More sample images that we took can be found in THIS thread on ArtDC