It’s been a lazy, kind of busy holiday… But I’m back and better than ever. Fired up to finally pop out this thesis and the accompanying arts. An update on that another time. Today I just quickly want to share with you all the press release for the Live Amateurs exhibition I’m participating in, which opens this Saturday! Feel free to share it around. 🙂 See ya kids soon.
I have studiously been working on a post about my on going shoe piece, applying to shows, reading/researching, teaching kids about art, and cooking, but while doing all of that, SO MANY THINGS HAVE HAPPENED THAT I JUST FREAKING CAN’T KEEP UP!
The next blog post I was going to write (once I finally posted the one about the shoes) was going to be about performance art and popular culture smashing into one another and making weird offspring. I was thinking about this specific topic because, A) I make performance art, B) I’m not entirely sure people understand what performance art is, and C) my Sister the Psychologist posted this about Amanda Bynes potentially being the greatest performance artist ever. That all got me thinking about Lady Gaga (never thought I’d be talking about her on my blog…), and the interpretations of her as a performance artist that were rife about 2 years ago, and then about the more recent Tilda Swinton and James Franco performance art… But before I had even had a chance to sit down and sift through my thoughts on this matter, much less properly research it (ie not just Google “Lady Gaga Performance Art” or “Tilda Swinton Sleeping” or “James Franco Performance Artist”, and copy and past the most recent link I could find… Like I might have just done….), I get an email from Hyperallergic telling me THIS HAPPENED.
If you’re like me, and didn’t have the damn Vine app (but unlike me refuse to download it, even for this epic something) here are some images of JAY-Z RAPPING AT MARINA ABRAMOVIC AT PACE GALLERY IN NYC. (I whole heartedly admit that these are not mine, I found them doing a Google image search. The first is from blouinartinfo.com, and the second from vogue.com):
Yeah, in case you missed that:
That one’s from hipinion.com…
I haven’t even had time to process this. I feel like I need an adult or something. I’m not even sure what to say… I can’t keep up with all this arting! Hennessy Youngman help me out here! Give me sometime to think about this and do some reading and I will totally get back to you on this topic. Until then just… Um, I guess make some performance art?!
Another thing that has kept me from posting recently was a visiting artist event in which I was involved. Although this one I didn’t know I was participating in until nearly the last minute…
FSU brought in Stuart Horodner as part of our visiting artist lecture series. He’s the boss man in charge at Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, and just recently published The Art Life: On Creativity and Career (Which was a really good book by the way), and one of the faculty arranged for public critiques to happen. Four grads were selected to have their work reviewed by Stuart, but we didn’t get told about it until a week before it was supposed to happen…
As I’m sure you can imagine, that was a little stressful. I was less worried about the actual critique then I was about figuring out how to install my work in the gallery. It was chaos for a little while… I had to go buy TVs and export videos several times, battle difficult projectors, paint things, oh and I had to read the book… But it turned out just peachy keen in the end. I showed an updated version of my Bending the Break/Breaking to Bend video, with a new audio component, and Fairy Tale Logic. Bending the Break/Breaking to Bend was pretty much installed as I had it installed at Working Method back in January, but I finally got to install Fairy Tale Logic the way I’ve always wanted to… On two monitors!
As a really awesome bonus, Craig Drennen, who is currently a studio artist at Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, an instructor at Georgia State, aaaaaand the dean at Skowhegan, came down with Stuart to participate in the critiques. While my peers may or may not agree with me, I had a really great experience. The main thing that I wanted to get out of the crit was that someone, outside the hermetically sealed environment I have here at school (yes, that may be a little bit of a dramatic way to describe it), related to or understood the things I was addressing in my work. Between all the doubt and frustration I had been experiencing lately, this was really the best thing I could hope for. And I feel like I got that, as well as just positive feed back in general. For what ever reason, I found this process much less anxiety provoking than our usual reviews… Which I told to my committee head. The way that Stuart ran the reviews was critical, but constructively so. I sometimes feel that our committee reviews are not so constructive… But again, that’s my opinion.
For some more pics and info you should click HERE!
In any event, this was one of the best experiences I’ve had so far in grad school. It came pretty close to the Guerra de la Paz collaboration last spring…but not quite as awesome! Speaking of which, I’ve been meaning to show you how the battle scar I acquired during that installation looks now:
Why can’t grad school just be awesome experiences like these?!
I’m going to give a disclaimer right here, right now: This post might very well go to the dark side of incoherent ramble and there’s a possibility that no one will follow my train of thought. But that’s OK, what’s important here is that I follow my train of thought. Toot toot!
A few weeks ago, the grad photo seminar I’m taking was required to read Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida. I wasn’t so concerned with this, as the book is super short, and I had read bits and pieces of it as an undergrad. I was looking forward to revisiting it actually because I remembered loving what Barthes discussed when I read it at UT… This idea that photography is a reminder of our own mortality, and his concepts of the studium and the punctum. For realz. It was a very… romantic… discussion of photography, and when I was first exposed (Ha! Unintentional photo pun) to Barthes it just made so much sense. But upon reading it again, I found myself increasingly irritated by what he wrote and by the way he presents (presented? since he’s dead?) photography. Now granted the book was written in 1980 before digital gained it’s foothold, and before photography became so completely accessible to everyone, but I just wanted to throw up all over the book. Or punch Mr. Roland Barthes in the face. Something. I know, totally inappropriate reaction, but I was disappointed and frustrated. It no longer made any sense, and instead of rediscovering something I thought I loved, I realized I hated something that I thought I loved.
I don’t know why I was so surprised and taken aback by this. I have been struggling for the last two years with photography (before I even started grad school!), trying to figure out why it wasn’t working for me anymore, trying to understand why I love it but am so flummoxed by it. Coming into this current semester, one of my goals had been to re-introduce photography into my practice on some level, beyond documentation of my performances, because I really missed it, and because it seemed stupid to me that something I had once loved so much, and was such an integral part of my practice, was something from which I had completely walked away. And this goal was part of the reason I enrolled myself in the grad photo seminar. I thought it would give me some space to address this goal. In certain ways, it has allowed that, and has given me a lot of food for thought on the relationship between photography and performance art. So that’s good…
But then we read Camera Lucida.
And then we discussed it in class.
And I had an all encompassing anxiety attack during that class discussion….
I’m not even sure how to plot the trajectory of this attack in order to explain it, suffice to say I came to class prepared to discuss this, and see how others had interpreted Barthes romantic vomit. But then, as we began the discussion, I started to wonder about my own reaction and interpretation of this text. I mean, somewhere, down underneath all the crazy, behind the performance art, I’m supposed to be a photographer, or a tiny part of me was at one point, right? Shouldn’t that mean that while I may not agree with what the author had to say, I should on some level appreciate it? That I could at least see it from a different perspective than my own. But I couldn’t. I just straight up hated it. And that got me thinking about a) wether or not I really loved photography the way that I thought I did, or even at all, and b) if I should even be an artist if I hated a theory so much. I mean, I felt like a fraud in so many ways. I keep talking about why I love photo, I made a point to teach photography here, I’m going to the SPE conference in March… But I wanted to run screaming from one of the books on photo theory. It was a big, hot mess. I worked myself up to the point where I could barely follow the conversation, let alone participate in it.
Voila, anxiety attack.
I’m so good at that.
Anyway. I was really upset over this. And I actually cried on my way home. I was that impacted. So, I’ve been thinking this over a lot in the two weeks or so since it happened, without much progress.
In the intervening time, I had reviews, and several studio visits. Each of those caused me more and more frustration and anguish, because not only was I questioning the entire foundation for my artistic career (photography), I was seeing this widening disconnect between my ideas and my actual work. I had developed all of this work that visually and emotionally had no connection to the ideas and stories that were supposedly their basis. “Cool” art as one of my professors dubbed it. A clean, slick, pretty aesthetic, and yet nothing I am trying to address is anything but hot and messy. The two are most certainly not jiving, if you’re picking up what I’m laying down.
I wanted to leave school. I wanted to stop being an artist. To be clear though, it wasn’t the faculty’s fault I was in this mind set. The studio visits and reviews I had were actually very helpful to me in terms of clarifying and understanding the disconnect that I intuitively understood to be there, but could not quite grasp in reason or put into words. It was me, feeling very much inadequate to the task I had set myself. In short I was feeling like a failure to myself. Ah… my old friend, we meet again. Hold this thought because it’s important…
Well, so that’s how everything was sitting for the last few weeks of my life. I was pretty much at loose ends. I didn’t really touch anything in my studio, instead I just sat and stared at it a lot. I dragged my feet on teaching related things. I avoided people in general. It sucked. I’m sure I was a peach to be around. And yet I kept having these strange moments of serendipity and deja vu. Which had to mean I was somehow on the right path…
I’m sure if anyone ever reads this blog more than one time, they’ll figure out I’ve got a few psychological and emotional problems. No, I’m not just “crazy” because artists are supposed to be crazy. I actually hate that I’m “crazy” and that I’m an artist, what bad luck to be a stereotype! I actually hate the word crazy, it’s a far to unsubtle and general a descriptor. But that’s my issue… What I’m trying to say here is that clearly I have a lot of things that need working on, and work on them I do. I do both individual and group counseling, and it’s really helpful for me. For instance, in my individual sessions, we talk a lot about how my psychological and emotional behaviors often play out in my art work, often times with out my realizing it. I point this out, because I had this huge, amazing moment of understanding (which is where the subtitle for this post comes into play) that relates to my art work.
In my session yesterday, my counselor pointed out to me that people who struggle with expectations tend to deal with them in one of two ways; either become a perfectionist (which in some ways I fall into this category), or they develop avoidance issues (which I had never considered in relation to my own behavior before). She suggested that I might want to think about how I avoid things when I feel that I can’t achieve my own expectations or goals. I agreed and then went on about my day.
Several hours later, I was sitting in a lecture hall, listening to one of the many job candidates that FSU has been bringing in recently (FSU has something like 4 job searches going on in the art department), and I found my mind wandering. I started thinking about situations in which I don’t deal with things, and I was trying to determine the reasons why I may not have dealt with whatever it was. In most cases it’s because I feel like I can’t succeed in my aim, or that I assume the worst case scenario in terms of outcome and I just gave up…if that makes any sense. Then suddenly it hit me. THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I DID WITH PHOTOGRAPHY. I started a series about a year before I went back to school, around the same time that my work started to shift toward more interior, psychological and emotional issues, and I got frustrated with it because it wasn’t conveying my intent. I was failing in my aim. And then when this failure (in my perception) continued when I came to FSU, I completely walked away from photography.
Giant. Fucking. Exclamation Point.
So right in the middle of this job talk, I have this moment of clarity. And of course I’m freaking out, and can barely sit still, which I have to do for another 45 minutes. Terrible. I felt like I was going to explode or something, because once my mind started racing along about this, there was no stopping it. Almost right away I realized how this idea impacted the rest of my work too. This “cool” art I had started making. I was avoiding the emotional content because I had been unable to incorporate the visual and emotional in previous experiments. This was why I had stopped halfway through so many projects… My mind was blown. This is what my notebook page looked like:
So this is a good thing I think. I went into my studio and cleaned it, took everything off the walls, and put all of my stuff away. Time to recalibrate and reconsider. It’s a good point in the semester for me to do that too, because I’m headed to Chicago in a week for SPE, but I’m staying a week so I can go to museums and galleries and just look at some flipping art that isn’t my own. I feel much more focused now for some reason, it’s strange.
So now I’m culling through my ideas and the projects I started this semester in order to get some perspective on them. Writing notes to myself and deciding which I will continue in the wake of this epiphany and which I can discard as a means of avoidance….
This is a link to a panel discussion on the relationship of photography and performance art, featuring RoseLee Goldberg, Babette Mangolte, Vanessa Beecroft, and of course, Marina Abramovic. I think that this is a really great discussion of the topic, despite the fact that some of the the concerns don’t get fully addressed. It focuses (photo pun!) mostly on the larger more central concerns of photography as documentation, such as the idea that photo compresses something that is time based and ephemeral into a single static moment, the fact that the photographer should at all times be a representative of the truth, and of course the question of when and how documentation becomes a work of art in it’s own right. It’s difficult to clearly delineate these issues as they all become muddled together, one tying into the next, and feeding back out of another, however.
Personally, I think I struggle the most with the first concept, the fact that photography can never capture the entire scope of the performance. The best that it can hope to do, is to give a good sense of how the performance looked, an impression of what happened where and in relation to whom. It can never capture the “vibe” of the experience, or the dynamic between viewers/participants and the artist. And yet, at the same time, the photographs exist as a type of proof that the event happened for galleries, press, or of course in our current situation, act as evidence for our next studio visit. But, aside from proof, why must these images be created? I go back and forth on this hourly…
Very early in the video, RoseLee Goldberg makes the point that often times people are told that “You have to be there (at the performance), to understand.” Her response is that, well, she wasn’t at the Battle of Waterloo, or any other number of historical events, but she can still appreciate their significance. In her view, experiencing performance via photography is legitimate. I however, am not so convinced on this logic (Isn’t the saying that history is written by the victors?). These “documentary” images of a performance are not the objective records we believe them to be. Photographs can easily be misleading or even misused after the fact, leading to interpretation or opinions that may not be in line with what the artist intended. In fact, you can have a terrible performance, or even one that never actually took place, evidenced beautifully in a still photograph. Then, even if the images captured reflect, at least, the essence of what the artist was going through, they are very carefully edited and circulated by the artist themselves, there by controlling the interpretation of the work. Chris Burden always had his performances documented, but culled the documentation down into one or two photographs that were then used to represent that piece of work for perpetuity. Babette Mangolte also points out that art historians tend to follow a similar behavior pattern in their realm of research. Instead of looking for many images from the same performance, the habit of art historians is to viewing only published documentation, thus narrowing the field through which the work is encountered.
All of this leads me to wonder exactly how right it is to “experience” a performance via photography. Photography lies. It always has, and will continue to, be it through the medium itself, or those who make use of/study it. I think our society is more in love with the idea of a beautiful image than we are with the truth. Marina Abramovic makes a wonderful point when she says that art historians typically only concern themselves with the still photo because it aestheticizes the performance in to one single thing. In essence, it that image becomes one single, easily digestible tidbit, which can easily come to stand in for the piece in it’s entirety. Which is where we cross into the territory of the documentation become a work in it’s own right…
This is another aspect of this discussion for which I don’t have a really good answer. While most of the art we look at is viewed through documentation, performance art is almost exclusively viewed this way. Because of the fact works are often only performed once, or done for a specific place, or the artist has passed, the only way we can access those pieces is through their documentation. So when galleries or museums wish to show a piece of work which no longer actually exists, what is there to do but use the documentation, making it an art work in it’s own right? Finally, there is the need to take into consideration the idea of photography itself as a performance. In this respect, Cindy Sherman could be creating a performance every single time she creates one of her images. Think also of the Yves Kline image, Leap into the Void, a composited image of an event that never truly took place.
Some things I had never considered, that this panel brought up, was the concept of the importance of sound to a performance and it’s documentation, and the idea of “collaboration” with a photographer. The idea of sound I think is a truly crucial one that photography has no hopes of addressing. All performances have some type of sound associated with them, even if it is only the ambient sound of movement, or of the space itself. That has an impact on the way a performance is perceived, and that is not captured in a photography. When we look at photographic documentation of a performance, we cannot get even a sense of what the space sounded like, and so we lose that important information for our interpretation. Lastly, in the panel, the question is raised as to how the artist relates to and works with the photographer. Oddly enough, this thought had never crossed my mind. But it makes sense, if you’re attempting to capture your performance, the relationship to the person documenting it becomes something of a collaboration. You have to understand them, and they you… There’s a necessity for being on the same page. However, this then raises the question of creative rights. Does the work belong to the photographer, do the images belong to the artist?
Words are failing me lately. So I haven’t been posting. I’ve slowly been working on this one for about a week.
I’m still struggling with exactly what I mean when I say I don’t want to make things. And I’m still a little unclear on the specifics of some of the pieces I’m working on. I know I should just sit down and write until my hand falls off just to get it out of my head and onto paper, but honestly I just haven’t had the time. I rarely get more than an hour to work on any one thing at a time right now. This semester is just hectic in the sense that I’m bouncing back and forth between VAST and campus a lot, I either teach or have class every day Monday through Friday, and I have a lot of home work and prep work to do in general. The weekends are my only uninterrupted studio time, but those are also the only days I get to see the husband because we are running on completely opposite schedules this semester. Yuck. I’m hoping though now that the first set of reviews are nearly over, and I’ve settled into the rhythm of this semester things will calm down and I will find some uninterrupted time to sit down and write out the art thoughtz. It’s about time for me to start the thesis anyway…
As always, I have several things in the works, and I’m considering adding a few more. I had a studio visit for one of my classes last night and my professor suggested that I do some more quick, sketchbook type things using the video camera, just so that I don’t focus so much on some of the other things I’m working on, but frustrated with. I think that’s probably a pretty good idea right now because I’m finding myself just repeating the same thing over and over like the outcome is going to drastically change…
So I have two video pieces I’m working on. They might become one, who knows. One is an extension of the Bleed videos I was working on in the fall. For me its about destroying something and that destruction creating something beautiful. I’ve had a pretty fitful start with this so far. First I was shooting tests with my iPhone, then I had to build a table to shoot with, then once I started shooting again, I had to stop and troubleshoot the water that was leaking on my camera, I’m trying to master (or at the very least be adequate at) shooting video with a DSLR… It’s like this crazy new ball game to me… and so I’ve been having problems with focusing and depth of field, and then of course just to make it a little harder on myself, I’m learning a new video editing program, Adobe Premier (not that I really knew Final Cut that well…). Oh and I’m shooting something that can’t be reshot. Sometimes I can hear my mind laughing hysterically at me, saying: “Figure your way out of this one!” I’m thinking that once I do win this battle, the video will become one component of a large installation, but we’ll see.
The second video I’m working on revolves around the idea of communication and self-defeat. I’m really not certain where it’s going or what form it will take in the end, but the idea popped into my head last week and I ran with it. And that’s that…
I have a couple of performances planned revolving around the idea of saying no and setting oneself up for failure. I’m kind of keeping the details of those under wraps until I actually do them because I don’t really want people to know I’m doing a performance until after the fact. I’m concerned that if they do know, they are going to react or behave differently, and I want genuine participation, which means I may not be able to document them… I also am still really unsure of how I’m going to actually do these performances.
Speaking of documenting performances, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on that subject since the fall. I really go back and forth on it for various reason. I have a blog post I wrote for one of my classes all about it… I’ll post it on here for your edification. But basically I don’t know how I feel about documenting my performances anymore. In fact I kind of don’t like the idea, because no documentation can ever fully express the experience of that performance/happening/action/installation/event…
I don’t know. My brain is working overtime. Both on ideas and school work. Again it gets back to the idea that I need some uninterrupted time to sit down and write/think/enjoy silence. But right now I need to go update my artist statement, and maybe eat something. Why don’t you look at these pictures while I do that?
I’m sorry for any typos or nonsense in here today… I’m tired and in a rush, but wanted to finally post something. Please don’t grammar Nazi me right now!
While it’s been some time since I’ve posted on here, rest assured it was an intentional silence. I needed some serious time to decompress and recover from Fountain, and to process all the millions of arts I saw while I was in Miami for Art Basel. Also I’ve been experiencing what I am going to call an existential art breakdown, so the last couple of weeks haven’t exactly been the best for me to be writing about my work, or really any art in general. I was doing a lot of thinking about it, but my thoughts have been all over the place. Also I need to put my blogging pants back on because I have to contribute to blogs for two of my classes this semester.
Now if you can stretch your minds back to the beginning of December/end of November-ish, I am sure that you will recall (or at least I’m going to pretend that you recall) that I was going back and forth about my video works (specifically Bleed), and the artifacts created therein. I was also struggling the same way with my waterlogged notebooks and the images I had created of them. Well right around the time I left for Fountain, I realized that while I really enjoyed making things, like those photographs and prints, I just didn’t give a crap about them once I was through the process of creating them. So then the entire time I was down in Miami for Fountain and Art Basel I had this thought kicking around in my head as I looked at art, trying to find some inspiration to move forward in my work. After two days or so of this, I had another realization. I hated walking through these huge fairs and seeing painting after painting, sculpture after sculpture. I was profoundly disturbed to see video art presented as paintings, in frames, hanging on walls. Photography was boring me… People, PHOTOGRAPHY was boring me. I felt no connection to, and very little interest in these objects. The work I saw that I was most compelled by were live performances or all encompassing installations. Environments and situations where I could have a reaction to the art that was happening in real time. In short, I think I hate art objects. Which would explain SO much about why I’m not satisfied by the photographic prints I create anymore, and even why much of my video work isn’t sitting particularly well with me right now. This also really goes a long way in clarifying why I liked the random detritus that comes out of my performances and videos so much more than any intentionally created objects.
So after spending a week in Miami, I came home, finished my semester, and started to freak out. I see this realization as a rather powerful indication that I need to focus, and focus hard, on my performance and installation work, however I feel extremely uncomfortable about this. It is my process to work in a very organized manner, going from point A to point B in a methodical, intentional manner… And I don’t think that approach is very appropriate for creating performances especially. When it comes to performances, it seems like no matter how hard I try, I cannot control nor plan for every aspect of what willor even might happen. And as we all know, out of control is not a place I like to be… So I find myself in this completely self-created predicament… Completely confused and flipping terrified to move forward.
Stupid art objects, ruining my groove.
Well… OK, it’s not the object’s fault. Let’s be honest here, my work has been headed in this direction for some time, and I think I’ve been fighting it with out even knowing I was doing so. But it makes me feel less like an idiot if I can blame the inanimate object. Because I spend a good portion of my time feeling like an idiot lately.
I’m coming to believe that the experience that is created via performance or installation is so much more meaningful than one created by a passive viewing of an object. Performances and installations are often interactive, requiring a much more active experience, one that won’t likely slip out of your mind so quickly as a painting on a wall. To my mind this is a much more meaningful exchange. Call me crazy (and I most like am the spitting image of the crazy artist stereo type right now) but I think an art should stick with people… Kind of bug them, or pop up in their minds every now and then as they go through their daily lives, giving them something to think about or process for a long time to come.
The only piece I’ve done since I last posted was for January First Friday at Working Method. I had the entire front gallery to myself, and after having forgotten about the fact I had the January First Friday show until a week before, had to figure out a way to use the space. Several anxiety saturated hours followed my recollection. I didn’t want to just show old work because that would be silly. But I didn’t really have any new work. So what did I do? I did a performance. I set up a “fake show” of some large photographic prints from my High Tide performance and projected the video from Breaking to Bend/Bending the Break BUT my “real” show was to act as a survey taker, asking gallery patrons to fill out a survey about the gallery and art in general.
Why did I do this? Probably because I’m insane. But the answer I’m sure my committee would prefer to hear is as follows: I was thinking about how it would be so easy to just have a show of old work… Prints, or videos I could project… and how most people would know. But I would know. That got me thinking, of course about failure. If I took the easy way out and threw some crap up on the wall that I didn’t care about, or that was not my best, or was kind of old, I would be being lazy, and subsequently my show would be a failure in my view. That in turn got me thinking about how shows can be categorized as successful or failures etc which led to the re-contextualizing failure thing and blah blah blah. To give credit where credit is due though, it was my husband’s suggestion to use the survey and we fleshed it out from there.
Now what I’m doing, is taking all of the responses and quantifying them so that I can use the numbers to skew the perception of success or failure for the show/ gallery itself. I must say I’m preeeetty proud of myself, I’ve made a database and have figured out how to use that database to calculate results and create charts/graphs from. I feel very business like while I’m doing this. Too bad I can’t do this for my taxes…
Here are a few images from the show, but I’m waiting to get the rest from a friend who helped document. I’ll post some more later.
I think, regardless of how much this actually fits into success/failure, it’s a project that still has some potential. For instance I could base an entire show around what type of art was highest rated, or what a specific age demographic found appealing. I could also continue to create surveys to gather data about more specific aspects of a show or a work of art… It can also become this hugely collaborative on going performance. Making art with strangers! However I’m not sure how many of my participants got it… Thats ok though! There’s also a certain amount of absurdity in this whole thing, which is only increased by the people who don’t understand it to be a performance or art…
Now I need to go do some work! More images and new things soon, I swear!
I haven’t actually posted anything about my art recently. I lot of random pictures…and frustration, but no art. If you actually follow this and like to hear about my art, sorry about that. But rest assured, I have been CRAZY busy with a million things… Here’s a list of some of them:
*I shot A TON of video
*I did a performance
*Turned that performance in to a video piece
*Worked on some of the photos I posted up here awhile back
*I applied for a scholarship to attend the SPE conference in Chicago in March
*I submitted my work to 3 shows
*Helped to write a proposal to get Working Method Contemporary into FOUNTAIN ART FAIR/Started planning for WMC’s trip to Fountain
*Managed to fill up my entire 750 GB laptop hard drive with video files and had to panickedly run to the store to buy a 3 TB external hard drive to get the files OFF of my computer so I could use it.
*I flooded the MFA warehouse (during my panicked run to the store)
*Read books about Failure and Control and Perfection
*I nervously watched the election results
*I DIDN’T clean my house
*I cooked AMAZING butternut squash mac and cheese
*I got to be a unicorn
*Cleaned my studio
I’m sure that there was more than that, because that doesn’t seem like very much. But rest assured I did stuff, I’ve just forgotten most of it. Which reminds me… I need to send a link to this crazy shindig of a blog to my committee. HI GUYS!
My other excuse for not posting the stuff I’ve been working on recently is that it takes FOREVER to export them from Final Cut to a QuickTime file (anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 or 5 hours), and then another FOREVER to upload them from the hard drive to youtube. 4,834 minutes (according to youtube) to upload a 4 minute QuickTime?! Come on now The Internet, you can do better than that. So I’m trying a different upload method this time, but the videos may not have as good of quality, sooo… Don’t judge me for that imaginary viewers. Thank the academic gods that I get to take a video editing class in the spring. I’ve never taken one before, so I will finally learn how to do things the right way, rather than the “Courtney Seat of Your Pants Special” that I’ve relied on for the past 4 or 5 years… Shhhh, don’t tell anyone I don’t know what I’m doing.
Anyway, back to making art. I’ve been trying to explore much more subtle areas in the concepts of failure and control. I think I’m starting to make progress in that direction, but it’s coming slowly. One of the things that I’ve realized about myself is that I am an incredibly literal, straightforward person. I also gravitate toward extreme opposites, hence my tendency to create work which is black and white in terms of interpretation or content (I feel like there is a photography joke in there somewhere too…). I want a clear, concise direction or outcome in which to head. I don’t operate well with uncertainty. It’s hard to reel that part of my personality in, and to embrace those uncertainties. I’m trying though… So here is a list of some of the videos I’ve been working on (They will all eventually be links to youtube, but since it is still taking FOREVER to upload my videos and I would like to publish this post some time before the end of the world…)
High Tide was a performance I did a few weeks ago on St. George Island, a state park about 2 1/2 hours west of here. What you see in the clip is about 4 minutes of an hour long performance where I laid perpendicular to the tide as it came in (at high tide). It was sort of a last minute kind of thing. I just got this idea of laying in the tide as it came up, and I went and did it. I’m not 100% sure what my intent was for the performance, certainly something about control, but I couldn’t say specifically. For me, there is something there about the necessity to accept the fact that there are some things that you cannot control. Going into it, I really had no notion of what would happen, except that I might get covered in the sand that the tide carried in over me. I had NO idea that the tide would eventually take me, swing me around, and push me down the shore. I had no control, except to roll myself back over after the water flipped me. I wasn’t smart enough to think of wearing ear or nose plugs so there are the involuntary jerks of my body trying to resist the water, and I’m kind of torn as to wether I like these or not. I think I may have to sit with this piece for a while longer before I can make that call..
Bending the Break/Breaking to Bend, was an extension of High Tide in some ways. The same day I did High Tide, I also shot some footage of me trying to fight, or stand up to the waves which would frequently knock me down. Pairing those two shots together seemed to get closer to some of the ideas I’m trying to work on in terms of control and quite, subtle failure. Again, I’m not sure I’m completely happy with it… I feel like it might need something else, or just some closer shots. Everything seems so far off right now. I’ve also had it suggested that I need to rethink what I’m wearing. Which, me being me, I never even considered wearing anything but a bathing suit. My thought process went something like this: “I’m going to the beach. I am going to the beach to shoot a performance. I am shooting a performance in which I will be in the sand and water. I will wear a bathing suit, because that is what you wear at the beach.” End of story, no further consideration. See what I mean about being painfully literal and straightforward?
Clearly the Bleed videos are influenced by my experience with the ruined notebooks. I’m playing around with the water and how many pages and stuff like that, but ehhhhh… I don’t know… I think I’m much more attracted to the artifacts created in the process of shooting the video than the video itself. I think this might be the case too with the photographs of my ruined notebooks I’ve been playing around with. Here are some quick snaps of the objects themselves…
See! They are so much more appealing. I don’t know what to do. I think it would be a little extreme to continue flooding things just so that I could take pictures of the things that were water damaged. Also, living in Florida, I feel like that could be misconstrued or some what insensitive, what with all the hurricanes and flooding that happen down here routinely. On a semi related note, is there a water equivalent to pyromania? Because I think I might have that…
Fairy Tale Logic is my rework of …lies expectations…the performance I did back in September. What you’re watching is sort of a mash up of how I envision it being displayed. Ideally, I’d like it as two separate projections or screens, each playing one side of the “conversation.” Obviously I don’t have this luxury on youtube, so you get a bastardized version of it.
The entire time I was working on this, I went back and forth on how I feel about it. I spent the better part of two weeks reshooting this and another week editing, so I’ve spent a lot of good old quality time with this video. I’m concerned that it feels to forced and stiff, where as the performance itself was much more organic and unscripted. I do like it better that it’s just me in a room by myself, but in doing that I feel like I lost some thing… It also seems some how more insincere. Maybe I just need to not look at it for a few weeks and then re-watch it, because at this point I know the damn thing back and forth.
That’s pretty much the wrap up. I have some other things I’ve been working on, like those photographs of the ruined notebooks and the liquid light tests. Buuuut, neither of those are in any state to be documented or shared… I’m a little lost with those two. I would like to say “We’ll, you can’t win them all” to myself, but that feels like a cop out and that makes me feel lazy. SO instead, I will just say that I will win them all, it just might take me awhile… Just remember…
More another day… And check back, I’ll have links up to all of the videos as soon as I can finish getting them uploaded.
OK, maybe not really Diane Rehm style, as I don’t have an amazing radio show to which I can invite intelligent experts to discuss things in a civilized manner, but I can do my week in review!
Awe, who am I kidding, there’s no comparison. Diane wins. But that doesn’t mean you can leave!
(I’ve always wanted to say that!)
So what did go on this week?…
I started my week off bright at early with a 9:30 am committee review Monday. That meant I had to be up by 6:30 (I am not a morning person…even with coffee) and out the door by 8. Ugh. In any event, if you remember in my last post I said I had committee reviews right then and there, but that only 1/3 of my committee would be present. Yeah. I wasn’t lying. 2 of my 3 members didn’t show up, so I had to reschedule a meeting with the 2 lazy bums who didn’t show. (Just kidding! No one on my committee are lazy bums, they just had other obligations! Don’t hit me! I love my committee!!!!) So I had that. And I feel like it went pretty well. They gave me some good feedback, and it was actually a good energizer for the week as an entirety. It also helped give some directions to a few things I’ve been floundering on a little bit.
As a result of my reviews, I had A LOT of things to think about and work through. The first of which was something I’d already been pondering, which was how I define failure, success, perfection and expectations. These are things that have been running through my mind since my studio visit with James Elkins, but my committee gave me a few more insights and ways to approach the problem. I started by going back to the dictionary and thesaurus to see what the actual definitions to these words are, and now I’m trying to trace the meanings these words back to my own interpretations to see how the line up, and perhaps find out where my versions originated. Then maybe I can understand what these words mean to me. If that makes any sense to you. I also had a professor suggest that I look at the way my family defines these terms and see how that impacts my understandings. I plan on sitting down to do that soon.
I also fried my brain reading song lyrics and poetry trying to find something to replace the excerpt from Art & Fear I used in …expectations lie… I’m looking for something that is subtle, but much more relatable (Huh. WordPress doesn’t think that’s a word. Interesting), about expectations and/or failure. The excerpt I used was, while technically appropriate, refers to a very particular, closed system, and I want something more widely applicable. My committee whole heartedly agrees. There were some crazy suggestions flying, like finding a country song, because those are all about failure…. Um, yeah. I don’t know so much about that. (I can’t stand country music). Anyone have any suggestions? I need to find something soon, because I have plans to re-shoot that video with in the next week. I want to have the new version edited and finished for my November 9th reviews. I have considered using Ben Folds Five’s song Brick, because it has always made me think of failure and expectations, but I’m not so sure. I did a couple of test shots, and it just doesn’t seem to flow well. Perhaps because it’s written to be sung, or perhaps because I think I sound weird. Who knows for sure? No, I do know… it’s less about me hearing my own voice, and more about the sound of the words as spoken units. It’s also awkward that it’s from a male point of view, and it is being recited by a female. Oh the troubles of my life…
Moving on, as Ms. Rehm would say.
I did something I love this week… Going to the library! I do absolutely love going to the library. I am a nerd like that. Libraries are totally awesome. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for pleasure. It was all business. I went to look for books on failure (which are surprisingly few) and perfection (there seem to be many). This is my current reading list:
While I love to read, and these books are really interesting… It takes FOREVER for me to get through books anymore. I barely have time to read most days. BUT I must read all of these by my next set of reviews. That is my goal. I want to glean what I can from these books and see if I can apply anything to my work.
It hit me this week how much I love making things. I realize that sounds odd coming from an artist, but I don’t often get to make things anymore. One of the things I find hardest about doing performance work, is that when I am finished, I have nothing to show for it, except maybe some photos or a video. There is no concrete, physical object. Now, I’m not saying that you must make objects to be an artist, but (for me) there is something satisfying about having a final product to show for all of the (occasional) blood, (profuse, literal and metaphorical) sweat, and (inevitably for me) tears. It also makes me fee like I did something besides think a lot and then do something that perhaps in another context would simply be a normal, every day action. Besides, it’s cool to make it look like my studio is a buzzing hub of activity. I’m trying to find a balance in my work, to where I can do performance, but there is still a object generation component as well. It’s tricky…
Needless to say, I don’t often need to make things in my studio, which is slightly troublesome, since working elsewhere is distracting. BUT when I do get to, I get all giddy and intense (like camping). I also love going to the hardware store for these projects and pretending like I know what I’m looking for/doing. And that my friends, is exactly what I did today so that I could build this:
What is it you ask? Well… It’s for a video I’m working on. What can I say, Kate Gilmore inspired me. I kid you not, I spent hours watching her videos on Tuesday. I’ll have more pictures and hopefully some video up here soon. I’ve been trying to shoot this video for awhile now but keep hitting road blocks, like reflections, EVERYWHERE. No joke y’all. I had to spray paint my tripod matte black because of all the reflections I’m getting. I literally had to leave my studio yesterday because I was getting so frustrated with it. I will be attempting it again tomorrow.
I’m working on some liquid light tests for my old friends, the Flawless prints… It’s going.. slowly, but surely…I feel like I could spend the next five years trying to make these work. I had it suggested that I should do them as cyanotypes instead of using liquid light… Damnit. Why didn’t I think of that?! Oh, that’s right, because I have next to no familiarity with alternative processes… FAIL. We’ll see what happens. I had a little brain flash in relation to these the other day, so it might work out after all.
Speaking of photo processes… Remember how I waxed poetic about how I love photography? Well… I still do, no worries there. In fact, I (finally) get to start teaching photo in the spring here at FSU. Awesome. I found out, not through an official announcement, but via an email from a non-art major student who wants to take my class. I feel like there is a metaphor for my life in there somewhere…
So that was the weekly round up. Not nearly as cool as the Friday Diane Rehm show, but I can always pretend right? Like when I pretend I am Julia Child or Jacques Pepin while I’m cooking. Everything tastes better that way.
Sorry I’ve been MIA for so long now… I’m not joking when I say I barely had time to sleep the last few weeks.
So where did I leave off? Ah yes. The performance I am temporarily titling “…expectations lie…”. You can view a 10 minute video clip of the performance here. The over all performance was about 45 minutes, and I’ve edited the video to reflect that time lapse a little bit. I’m not totally happy with the documentation, but that’s OK. I plan on recreating this as a video piece in it’s own right.
Anyway, as I discussed before it was my intent for this piece to center around the idea of expectations versus reality and some what self destructive behaviors. Now that I think back about it, the reason the 500 Days of Summer sequence was sticking in my mind was because it was an example of an internal or mental set up of expectations. Many of my pieces thus far have focused on externalphysical actions, that didn’t necessarily portray the psychological aspect of what I was attempting to address. And subconsciously I must have realized this because as I brainstormed, I began trying to find ways to impede or damage myself mentally. Well, I came up with the idea to attempt to recite something, flawlessly of course, and for each mistake that I made, I would be forced to take a shot (of vodka). For me, it was the perfect representation of frustration in action. Trying to do something, over and over again, but failing each time, and chastising yourself each time, makes it harder and harder to live up to you own expectations. So I ran with it…even though it seemed like a really bad idea for my liver. But then again, I didn’t really expect to drink as much as I wound up drinking…
I won’t bore you with the exact details, but it took me almost a week to come up with something appropriate for the recitation…I finally settled on an excerpt from a book entitled Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland.
It’s the tiny bit at the bottom of page 34 through to the second full paragraph on page 35. To be completely honest, I’m still not 100% happy with what I chose, as it’s a bit too theoretical and screams “Art!” I am still looking for something more subtle and applicable to all types of expectations, not just the ones that relate to art making. But it served it’s purpose well.
I also developed this idea about having an on going internal monologue calling out my mistakes and generally telling me how worthless I am. It worked pretty well… You can see/hear the results for yourself on the video. Here’s a few stills if your too lazy to watch or you’re like me and your internet is too slow.
Over all, I’m really pleased with the way the performance turned out. My anxiety level was pretty high as I planned this, and it reached extreme levels as I started the performance (You can totally tell at the beginning of the video…It’s pretty funny actually).
The fantastic thing for me however, was that a few days before the performance occurred, and I was lucky enough to have a studio visit with an amazing artist named Monica Cook. In much of her work she has this play between chaos and control going on, so I was looking forward to talking with her about that. My visit with her was completely beyond my wildest dreams! She was really supportive of the ideas I was using, and liked the performance I had planned. Her encouragement really helped me get over some of that anxiety and just do the darn thing. It was fan-tastic. I wish I would have remembered to record it… I totally forgot to turn on the audio record app thingy on my phone. 😦
I also had this really great conversation with her about serendipity and deja vu. Just the day prior, all my notebooks that I keep my research, brainstorming, and notes for teaching in got soaking wet somehow and the pens I use are most decidedly not water safe…
I really kind of freaked out. To say that I was distraught would be an understatement, and I had actually gotten so upset I threw away my notebooks. I didn’t even know what to do. But then as the night progressed and I thought about it, there was something to these notebooks. Even Eric thought I should do something with them. So I went the next morning and rescued the notebooks from the trash can in the photo lab. I showed them to Monica during my studio visit and she agreed that I needed to use them to create. We discussed how water keeps popping up in my work, and this so called destruction was actually serendipity pointing me on my way. We both look at serendipity and deja vu the same way… that it means you are on the right track and things are good. Its funny to me though, that water is somehow finding it’s way into my work. It may sound odd, but I’ve always felt a very definite connection to water, even as a child. I loved hearing it rain, and being on beaches, things like that. To go all astrological on you, I’m sure it’s somehow related to the fact that I am a Sagittarius, which is a fire sign.
In any event, I’ve been playing around with these pages for a few weeks now. But I’m still not sure what they will become. I’ve shot some photos, and I’m also working on a related video. Both are still in an awkward, undefined stage, but I’ll share the photos, as the video is completely incoherent right now.
I don’t know what I’m going to do with these, as just photographing these objects seems too easy… I also think I just like the original object more. But that might be my own biases.
I’ll talk more about this later maybe, but the other happening that kept me from writing, was that James Elkins came as a visiting scholar to FSU. I was on the planning committee for that and so spent a day driving him around, which was pretty cool. I also got a studio visit with him, which again was a great experience. I DID remember to record that one. 🙂
One of the things Elkins said to me about my work was that I needed to find more of a grey area… Where the topics of success and failure are not so clearly defined. I think this is really great feedback, but I’m not sure how to do this. He also got me thinking about how I define perfection, or the opposite of failure. Elkins pointed out that to understand the failure, I should try to understand what perfection is. I don’t have an answer for that right now, but it’s something that is rolling around in my head currently.
So… Busy times here in the studio. Lots of studio visits, lots of thinking, and lots of experimenting with stuff… Right now, I’m waiting for my committee to come in and do reviews once again. Although, apparently only one of my committee members is going to be present. And I even showered, put on nice clothes AND make-up. Yeesh. Its OK, I get to do it again in a month. Wish me luck!
Art & Fear belongs to the aforementioned authors. All of the photos in this post are mine, but the images from my performance were taken by Samantha Burns.
Analysis paralysis, grass is greener syndrome, longing for the road not traveled: How the success of the women’s movement has left us stumped in the face of limitless options -- and how to get over it.