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