Show Time!

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Yes… That’s a safety harness. It’s all part of the performance.

While I may or may not have been avoiding blogging here recently, I have been up to many other things, including (what I hope to be) a really rocking collaboration with my friend Craig (you can find him over at Craig Ryan Studio). I’ve been sworn to secrecy on exactly what we’re doing because he’s terrified it will turn out terribly (maybe that anxiety is why we get along so well? lol) so I can’t go into specifics, but I’m going to share some generalities and pictures with you.

It’s really been a trip to work on this installation/performance with Craig because in a lot of ways we are total opposites. He’s a bit of a sociopath (I mean that in the nicest way possible), and likes to pretend he’s mean and too good for everyone, but really, if you take the time to get to know him, he’s an amazing person. I, on the other hand, and too damn nice for my own good and secretly hate most people. When it comes to our practices and the work we make, we are like day and night though. Craig is completely materials focused and has astounding technical fabrication skills. He wants to make beautiful things that people want to touch. Clearly worlds away from my own conceptual, relational approach, but in reality these two approaches met and made beautiful art babies. His technical/materials focus has augmented and supported my conceptual intents, and my insistence on having a theme have focused his sometimes erratic material investigations. It worked somehow. I’ve learned a lot about the way that I think and the ways that I share my ideas, simply through the contrast between our approaches and communication styles. It’s been fun and exciting and I think we managed to transcend our differing approaches to find a wonderful balance in what we hope to present on Friday. We’re both excited about what we’ve got planned. And that never happens.

 

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A piece of the installation. There will be about 8 of these in the end.
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A general schematic of the performance. Make sense of it if you can!

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While Craig and I each have drastically differing takes on what this piece will be or mean in the end, for me, this collaboration grew out of some things I had been contemplating a researching this summer, including ideas about the relationship between performance art and it’s photographic documentation, and the trustworthiness of photography in general. It was also driven in part by my desire to move into more relational works. I think that I’ve hit that intent on the head with what we have planned. But I also think that it’s starting to address some other really interesting issues, like mediation of experience, trust, balance, self-preservation, control and a certain amount of playfulness. I’d really like to look back at this and be able to say “Yep. That’s where my thesis work really started.” It’s going to be epic.

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I’m Cereal Guys…

Wow.  How the time flies when you are busy having insane hair days and watching Hennessy Youngman videos….

Photo on 4-3-13 at 2.15 PM
The humidity does crazy things to my hair… I don’t have an excuse for my face.

My apologies…

 

But on a serious note, I’ve been struggling through a great deal in the studio lately, and haven’t been able to achieve a whole lot, thus have avoided posting.  My main battle currently, is that I’ve forgotten how to relax and play, both in the studio and in my life…  This sounds absolutely ridiculous, but it’s completely true.  I’ve been taking everything so painfully serious that I was essentially paralyzing myself and my work.  I couldn’t even watch a movie or cook with out feeling guilty that I wasn’t making art.  I feel kind of dumb that at nearly 30 years old, I have to reteach myself how to play, and that I have to learn how to have fun.  What has happened to me!?!  I sincerely hope that this is not a mid-life crisis because I am clearly not old enough for that…

In discussing this with faculty, the nearly unanimous advice was to attempt to work more intuitively, or at least a little less conceptually.  This is a challenge I have embraced, but it’s freaking hard.  Like really, super, PAINFULLY hard (at least for me).  I’m sure if you’ve read this blog more than once, you’ll have picked up that I have some anxiety and control issues.  My anxiety often comes out in situations where I feel out of control or sense that I am losing control, so to embark on any endeavor in which I do not have a plan mapped out is absolutely terrifying to me.  My process, simply, is this:  I have an idea, I plan it out to exactitudes in my mind, and I execute it.  A to B to C to… You get the point.  So I’ve been fighting that in the past few weeks, trying to accept that  sometimes playing is OK, and that I don’t always need to have an explanation right away.  Along with that, understanding that my practice cannot always be actively making things… That reading, watching movies, writing, and thinking are all part of the process, and I need to do those things just as much as I need to actively make things.

So, in answer to the call for action I’ve been given by faculty, I’ve started playing around with a bunch of stuff, and I have no idea where ANY of it is going…  But here are some pictures!

This first bunch of images comes out of my trip north to Chicago for SPE.  While the conference was OK, the best part for me was going to the museums and galleries to look.  This series came out of a bunch of photos I took at the Art Institute, which I intended to act as visual notes for myself to share with my students and to possibly incorporate into future lectures.  But…  Once I uploaded them to my laptop, I was kind of frustrated by the fact that my reflection or shadow was in many of them.  I was irritated because I wouldn’t be able to use them as slides in a lecture… But then, there was also something about them that, creatively, I was intrigued by.  Many of these photographs or objects that I was documenting were part of my art historical and photographic education, and I was fascinated by the fact that, as they had become part of me, I had become part of them, but I had also, in a way appropriated them for my own use.  It was also weirdly fitting that these “happened” while I was in Chicago, because I spent a good deal of time thinking about how I felt completely out of place at the SPE conference, and feeling a bit like a fraud.  Anyway, I’m trying to continue playing with this idea, and have created the following images…

Again, playing with historical sources.  I don’t know where these will go, but that’s OK.  I just have to keep telling myself that.  It’s OK if I don’t have the answer right away…

I’ve also delved into some material experiments…

I’m really quite skeptical about these in particular.  As with most things, I find myself asking “why” I would or should do this… But people tell me that the reason will come and I should just see it through. So we’ll see if they go anywhere.  I think the main thing for me is that I have these little things on the side to play with in the studio in between working on other projects.  I figure that I can work on them until I start to over think them, or get frustrated, or start to ask “why”, and then put them away for a little while, until I forget that I was frustrated, and the work on them again.  Slowly… Slowly I will make progress away from my obsessive compulsive control issues…

You’ll notice that all of this experimenting is centered around photography.  For better or for worse I thought that if I was going to do something that I had no plan for, I might as well use things that I was familiar with on some level.  The husband doesn’t necessarily agree with this logic.  He sees it as me reverting to photography when I could be doing other things, but I think it’s good for me to have at least some variable to which I am accustomed.  As for other people, well, the feed back is mixed.  We’ll see how it plays out in my reviews two weeks from now.

So, what else is up at the old studio?  Hmmm…

Remember this?

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How could you?  I mean, it’s the banner for this blog…  In any event, it’s turned into this:

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It’s become this insane visual representation of my thoughts and plans.  I’m kind of considering making it a piece in and of itself…  Mainly it’s been incredibly helpful as a way to remove myself from my thoughts, and see connections between the ways I’m thinking about the things I’m working on that I may not have put together otherwise.  Its nice because as I’m working in the studio, regardless of what I’m focused on, if I have a thought, I can jot it down on a post-it and slap it up on the wall, then continue with what I was doing before.  I can then go back later and consider these pieces at my leisure.  I’m thinking that images may find their way in there soon.  I love this because it’s so completely nerdy and me… Also I get a strange enjoyment out of using office supplies.

Finally, while it’s been awhile since I’ve done a performance, I’m planning on doing one next week at the 621 Gallery Art for Dinner benefit.  I still have NO idea exactly what I’ll be doing, but I want to somehow play on the audiences expectations of what will happen, either by priming them with specific information (like a very leading title) or setting them up somehow to encourage very specific expectations of what my performance will be, and then having the performance somehow go against those expectations.  My hope is that this will then put the audience in the awkward or uncomfortable position of having to confront disappointment or even anger that in a way they themselves created.  I have no clue how to do this, but I know that it must be done.   Suggestions?  I could really do with some, because this is how I feel about it right now:

Photo on 4-4-13 at 4.40 PM

“I don’t want an art that points at a thing, I want an art that is the thing.”

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.

Here it is:

Final Questionnaire

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.

 

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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!

 

PS The quote in the title is from artist Tania Bruguera.

Take a Look…It’s in a Book!

I’m feeling a bit…disheartened recently.

I’m in flux, which is a place I hate to be.  I’m frustrated because I see things I like in my work, but I don’t like the way in which they are appearing, and I haven’t the slightest idea how to make it “right.”  It’s also not helping that the MFA studios are moving to a new facility and so I won’t have access to my things or my studio until January, and that I’ve been focused on planning Working Method’s trip/exhibition at Fountain Art Fair… I feel so discombobulated, disoriented, and distracted!  It took me two weeks to write this post…

To sum up though…Basically, I don’t know the next step I need to take…

So, as always, when in doubt, I’m reading books and looking at art. (Art Basel Miami is this week!)  Remember that list of books I posted awhile back?  The one I said I wanted to have read by reviews over two weeks go?  That’s OK if you don’t, because I almost forgot about them too!  Yeah.  I only got through half of those books.  F in the research category for me. But those are what I’m reading now, so that counts for something right?  The two I’ve found most interesting thus far areComplete and Utter Failure by Neil Steinburg and The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar.  (Here’s a link to a TED Talk that pretty well summarizes a good portion of the book…Watch it, it’s really good!)  They both bring up some really compelling issues that seem to dovetail quite well with the direction I’m headed.  They also re-contextualize the concept of failure, pointing out that what we view as failure may not actually be failure depending on the circumstances.

In Complete and Utter Failure, Steinburg proposes that most of what we consider failure is self-assigned and therefore an interpretation open to debate.  He goes on to say that failure is mostly a function of time, framework, and perspective.  This is something I think is very valid, particularly in relation to looking at the quiet, personal failures in which I am most interested.  These perceived failures (say ceasing your climb up the 50 foot rock wall half way, even though you set out to climb to the top) do not carry the consequences of true failures (your harness snapping halfway up the rock wall).  And yet those perceived failures are perhaps more emotionally devastating, carrying added weight in our perceptions.

Something else out of Steinburg’s rather entertaining book that stuck with me, is a discussion of failure to match your past performance in your most recent endeavor.  He framed this conversation around a mathematical principal known as regression to the mean.  Basically, as I understand this, if there is an average level of performance, then a person who exceeds that average is more likely to perform closer to the average in their next attempt in order to help preserve that average.  The example Steinburg uses is Michael Jackson and his phenomenal success with Thriller, and then his subsequent (still successful) records that did not sell as well as Thriller.  I would really like to use this concept in a performance somehow.  I think its very relevant, especially seeing as our culture seems to be laboring under the impression that each outstanding achievement must be succeeded by yet a greater one, and so on, ad infinitum.  I feel like I’m on the verge of making an artistic break through with this idea…. But who knows.

Now, in Iyengar’s book, she talks about the psychological idea cognitive dissonance, which essentially means having thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes which are inconsistent with your own actions.  She writes:

“For most of us, though, it’s not so easy to reconcile the multitudes with in us.  In particular, problems arise when we experience contradictions between different aspects of our selves, or between our beliefs and our actions… Admitting either alternative will threaten some of he most central elements of her sense of identity as a reasonable and authentic person…. [I]t can lead to anxiety, guilt, and embarrassment.”

Again, I feel like there is something there to be used in my work.  When we strive for our extreme expectations and fall short, the emotional disturbance felt is that of cognitive dissonance.  It then becomes a matter of how we justify this disconnect to ourselves… What story we use to explain away the difference.

So close to something, so far from something.  I’m finally going to post this now…

I MAKE AAAAARRRRTTTTT!

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 Performance

Breaking the Bend/Bending to Break

Bleed 2

Bleed 3

Bleed 4

Fairy Tale Logic

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.

I Found Transcendence. At a Sticky, Chipped Formica Table.

No, seriously.  I did.

I was at the point where I was going to break this morning.  I was feeling as though I had completely lost control and focus, and that I was never going to accomplish anything. I was so tense it was insane.  And then I decided I wanted a doughnut.  But not just any doughnut, I decided to have one from Donut Kingdom.  So after my slog at the gym this morning, I scooted on over to the tiny joint.  Oh god.  It was the most amazing thing ever.  I had a doughnut and coffee, and suddenly everything was OK again.  Somehow that doughnut magically granted me the mental fortitude and emotional strength to get through my day.  In fact I had a smile on my face the rest of the day.  All because I sat down to eat that sugary, diet destroying breakfast treat at an icky Formica table.  I don’t know why, but for those few, quiet moments, I experienced transcendence.
Maybe this means I should start eating my feelings again?
Then again, maybe not…
I don’t think it’s been a secret that I’ve been a little on the edge lately.  I have been working incredibly hard on a number of things to prepare myself for reviews next week.  Namely the videos that I worked on trying to shoot last week…  *Sigh* Additionally, I’ve been putting together a scholarship application and several show submissions to  hopefully get my new work exhibited some where other than Working Method.
All of this has been for the single reason that I intend to exceed my committee’s expectations completely.  And no, this isn’t a joke about my crazy expectations/anxieties/failures.  I’m for realz yo.  At the risk of sounding paranoid and semi crazy, I feel as though there is a great deal riding on this review.  I want to prove to them at the outset, during this first “official” review, that I want to be here, I deserve to be here, and that I have what it takes to achieve the goals they set for me and that I set for myself.  Needless to say, I’ve been driving myself up the wall trying to do all of this.

I’ve accomplished the majority of what I planned to do.  I have finished shooting and editing 2 of the three videos I planned, I did a second performance, I applied for a scholarship to attend a conference in the spring, and had have submitted works into three shows.  But I haven’t finished the project they wanted me to finish, and two other things I started early in the semester have fallen by the wayside and no progress has been made on them since my last committee meeting.

In any event, new images of the performance I did last week, as well as the other things I’m tinkering about with soon.  Hopefully some video too.

Expectations, Monica Cook, Serendipity, & James Elkins…

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 external physical 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.

This Will Have to Tide You All Over for Now…

Hey imaginary followers!

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write a post, but many things have taken place in the last few weeks that have gotten in my way.  Like WordPress crashing and my half written blog post disappearing into the digital ether…  But the bottom line is that I still don’t have a blog post ready for you, and unfortunately I don’t have the time to write a good one…  So in the mean time I present to you a pictoral version of my last two weeks.  Feel free to write your own captions or stories to go along.  It might be funnier/more interesting this way!

monica cook

Ellen Mueller

I swear I’ll get a real post out about what’s going on in the studio pictures as well as my most recent performance… It just won’t happen til the beginning of next week.  There is SO much going on right now!

Most of the images are mine, or are borrowed from the web.  Paintings from Monica Cook, performance stills from Ellen Mueller (except the ones of me…those are mine, fair and square).  Books from respective authors/publishing companies.  Fountain logo property of Fountain Art Fair, Working Method Contemporary logo property of Working Method Contemporary Gallery.  Did I miss anything?  I hope not.  If I did I’m sorry, and IT DOES NOT BELONG TO ME, IT BELONGS TO YOU.

Overflow/Overwhelm/Overcome

Since I spent an aggregate two weeks on this show (not including the actual time it took to create the work), I’d thought I’d share with you all the fruits of my labor.  I meant to post this a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to upload the video projection component of one of my installations onto youtube first.  That, sad to say, did not pan out.  Apparently it’s too long.  So, what I do have to offer you is A TON of pictures, and a shaky cell phone video of the installation itself…

I am actually incredibly pleased with the way this show pulled together and the response I got from the audience.  I really can’t believe how well it turned out.  It was, by far, the smoothest installation and opening I have ever had.  Everything went as planned, no sudden, dramatic obstacles reared their ugly heads, I never once freaked out.  That is a MAJOR accomplishment for this control freak.
So how about some pictures before I blather on more?  OK!

So, as I mentioned in a previous post, the first room at WMC was dedicated to a re-installation of Flawless…We shall hence refer to it as Flawless II.  Originally, I had thought that I would need two pieces to properly fill the space in that front gallery, but after I started installing and saw how Flawless II was taking shape, I quickly revised that decision.  I’m glad that I did, because the room would have been way to cramped and the pieces would not have had any breathing space.  I think the resultant installation came out beautifully.  Much more like the crashing wave I originally envisioned.  I installed it sans video component this time, and I loved it all the more for that.  But I think I might still add a different video…I had the suggestion of actual waves.  What do you all think about that?  We’ll see what happens… For the meantime I’m putting this piece to sleep.  Maybe I’ll recycle the prints into something else…

The back room at Working Method housed a video installation which I suppose I am calling Overflow.  The video component was an approximately 20 minute loop of a kitchen sink filling with water and, get this, overflowing!  The video was projected onto a plastic sheet with water running down it at various times.  The water collected in puddles and pools on the floor (at one point even leaking under the wall into another gallery space…whoops) which viewers had to walk through.  The resultant foot prints actually wound up making a fantastic trail through the front gallery space.  Additionally, some of the water seeped under the plastic sheeting and through the bottom of the wall between the front and back galleries, making some excellent effects on the Flawless II installation.  The final bit of the Overflow installation was that there were cans hanging from a frame on the ceiling, dripping water down onto the viewer periodically.  It made for some awesome audience reactions.

If you would like to see the video documentation, it will magically appear if you click this link.

Overall, I am incredibly proud of the way my show turned out.  I really got some great feedback, and the audience really seemed to enjoy the work over all, particularly the older (say over 30) crowed.  They truly appeared to make a connection to the work in the way the younger visitors to the gallery did, with a few exceptions.  One of them being a freaking adorable little girl (about 6 or so) who came in with her mother.  This little girl asked me some really good questions, and really seemed to understand what I was trying to get at by “making it rain” in the gallery.

So until the next time…Joseph Gordon-Levitt and make some art!  😉

Yank My Chain/Push My Button

I’m a little belated in posting this piece, it was completed back in October, and I wasn’t going to post it at all actually.  But I’ve been thinking a lot about this piece lately, and it has sort of taken on a second life in my mind.  I plan on reworking several aspects of it in order to do another performance in the up coming months.  So be on the look out for that!  The banner on my page will now also make sense…

Yank My Chain/Push My Button

This work was, in fact, the first thing I completed after coming back to school, and honestly, I think it might have been the most successful thing I made all year.  (Shhh…don’t tell my faculty!)  This piece was a first for me in a number of other ways too.

Yank My Chain/Push My Button marks the beginning of my attempts to focus on my own anxieties and fight with control.  Prior to this work, I mainly focused on topics of identity and how we constructed it.  I think in some ways my work still touches on those ideas, but in a much more specific manner, exploring the ways in which anxiety and control can define the individual.  Additionally, looking back at this piece, I see the beginnings of the related ideas of failure and futility showing.  Though I didn’t realized it, I was doomed to failure from the beginning, thus rendering all my attempts at control futile.

The first vision I had of this piece was in reaction to frustrations over my inability to control or predict my own body’s physical behaviors.  Somewhere along the line, an image of an uncontrollable water source creeped into my mind.  That initial imagery evolved into the idea for a fountain over which I did not have control.  The idea for the frames on the wall grew out of a concern for how I would not only utilize, but fill the space I was to be using.

Another first for me here, was that I was suddenly the performer.  I had done a few performance pieces in the past, but I was always the puppet master, so to speak.  I created and dictated, others did the actual work of performing.  In this instance however, since the work was very much about me and my reactions to a situation over which I ultimately did not have control, the performer had to be me.  This is something I was not comfortable with, and still am not entirely so.  I struggle with this, as I know my work is progressing in the direction of performance art.

A final first for me in Yank My Chain/Push My Button, is that this is the first  installation that was not based on photography or video.  Yes, there were photographs on the wall, but they were not the focus, and essentially anything could have been in those frames.  The images on the wall were simply another thing for me to attempt to exert control over.

When all was said and done, this piece was more successful than I could have ever planned or hoped.  I ran out of material with which to dry up the water, and could never quite keep up with the pushing of the button.  Additionally, the system I had rigged to allow the audience to tip the frames was not as sturdy as I assumed, and it backfired on me.  After a few too many unnecessarily hard yanks, frames started coming off their hangers, or crashing to the ground, resulting in seriously damaged frames.  This had never been part of the plan, and I was actually a little upset about it, since the frames were not just cheap things bought at the craft store.  However, this really helped the piece in the end.
 
Starting Out…

The Aftermath

The before and after shots are my own, the action shots were taken by Terri Lindbloom, and the video was taken by Naghmeh Farzaneh.