What primary ideas, questions, or challenges do you feel your work has revealed to you as you have been working?
One primary theme that my work has been surfacing is the question of how and why the audience interacts with the work. This is mostly in relation to their interaction with the kinetic, but also in the frequent mental return to the idea of a pop-up sculpture. Another question that is arising for me is the role of tools and process. For a long time, using accessible and simple tools has been an important part of my process for me. Now that I am using more tools that are less accessible, I feel the work changes. Processing that change feels challenging.
What have you been most proud of in this process as this Body of Work for your Adventure and developed?
I am still most proud of the fact that I've been able to actually make a sculpture move. I feel like I needed to prove that to myself in order to even consider how I will take advantage of movement in my art.
Are you aware of any changes you wish you could go back and adjust in your process thus far?
The things I'm learning right now haven't solidified into a solid "process." I perhaps somewhat wish I had been able to be more consistent in what I wanted at the beginning, but I am still currently enjoying and being motivated by every variable path that the semester has included, so I don't think I made a real mistake.
Have any research artists or new techniques added to your investigation in the past 2 weeks. If so, who/what and how has this contributed, altered, and/or influenced your progress.
New technique investigation include the plasma torch and the beginnings of what I need to do for the laser cutter. I must confess that I feel an intimidation about the laser cutter that has caused a delay somewhat. I have been doing a lot of thought about the implications of automated cuts (laser cutter, ironworker) versus manual cuts (x-acto knife, plasma torch).
Post at least 2 images documenting your present stage of creating
I have to confess I don't have a visual update for where I am creation-wise. The last week has been primarily reading my new mechanical book, preparing the vector file for the laser cutter, and feeling a little intimidated overall.
isAfterlife of a T-Shirt
My primary thoughts around this podcast while and directly after listening was not related to my personal work, but around the idea of excess and responsibility. Why do we feel the need to create such an excess of items that just a fraction of the leftovers of that industry can fuel an entire other business? While I'm glad that the "leftovers" mostly get put to use, I also wonder about economies and countries that rely on the used and rejected objects from other cultures. I don't feel educated enough to form an opinion, good or bad, either way, but it does seem like first-world countries create more than we actually want and then it becomes someone else's problem.
After that, and in the class discussion, I started to think about this in my work, and I can make connections in two ways.
The first is simply the use of scrap and leftovers. I almost never through paper away. Even when I cut out detailed textures, I keep all the tiny little slivers I cut out and keep them stored by color. I will find a use for them one day. Larger pieces of scrap get organized by size. These scraps either get used when I do color tests or when I create smaller pieces. To the viewer, these probably don't look like I'm using "leftovers," but I find that when I'm going through scraps and assembling a piece from scrap, it always adds a tiny layer of meaning to the piece for me.
This habit of keeping all my paper (and to be honest, lots of other forms of "trash" that I'm sure my husband would prefer I stop collecting) has started to become the concept for a someday-series I'd like to do (or not, as perhaps the time has passed for it). After the 2016 election, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote an open letter to the world called "I will not throw you away," which basically called for forgiveness, compassion, and a respect for the sacred human spark inside all humans. This letter and my compulsive belief in the usefulness of a million pieces of garbage I keep in my studio has been fermenting a long time into thoughts about who decide is "garbage" and why. However, this is not directly impacting my work right now, and it perhaps will not, as I'm not sure I'm quite as good as Elizabeth Gilbert.
Fascinating. I have to say, most of this episode made me pretty angry, for reasons I feel are obvious. The only thing that made me upset that I don't think probably upset most people was Dapper's Dan getting the job offer at the end. I think most individuals saw that as a victory, and perhaps that would be the correct way to view it. I can't help but see it as the overpowering forces in industries consuming the smaller. While I'm happy Dan doesn't have to sell clothes out of his car anymore, I would prefer a world where it's viably possible for him to have started his own brand that countered the existing powerhouses.
That being said, I struggled to connect this listening to my work as much as I could connect Afterlife. If I were to make a stretch (and it's a big heckin' stretch), it might make me think of the way that I translate photos into blocked 2-dimensional images. I don't think this is particularly relevant right now because I take all my own photos, but when I started papercutting, I used stock images as reference much of the time, and I always worried I was not doing it in the "correct" way. Even though I was using images I knew I was allowed to use, i still felt like I was stealing. The closest I come to that now is when I find a photograph with a pose or color scheme I want to use. This is particularly stressful if I like the colors used with the pose and want to use both. I never do, although honestly, when I'm taking photos, the pose almost always changes dramatically on account of how my body rarely can achieve the pose in most photos. Even poses that are easy look drastically different on long-necked, long-limited models, so I usually end up re-inventing and altering the pose over and over again until it's so different that any concern I might have had is eliminated.
Progress is minimal. I have done a dozen little sketches of a movement I want to create that I am beginning to believe is technically impossible, or at least not within the scope of my skills/time. I am still waiting on a mechanics book to come in.
In the mean time, I need to learn to use the laser cutter (le gasp) so that I can make gears... but also so that maybe I can try making figures in another way. ;) Shocker. I'm working on a design that I can put into a vector file. So far it's very rough and not vectorized yet. I haven't decided if I want it to be kind of angular and indistinct or detailed and refined. I also am not sure how complex I want to make it (1 layer for the figure? 2? 3? I am leaning towards 3, but this may be too ambitious.)
Below, please note that these colors are not indicative of my goal for the piece, it is only to help me keep track of layers and shapes as I design.
This one took a long time to get going smoothly, and even now it is not flawless. Even though it is designed to be able to move either direction, I can only turn it one way in order for the paper not to catch on itself and jam the motion.
Other roadblocks were cutting the circles an appropriate size and keeping the circles on the wire where they needed to rest instead of moving along it.
This movement doesn't seem more advanced than my first trial, but it has a few small refinements. First, I stabilized the red with a wire guide instead of making the base box larger. Second, the "gear" that turns it does not allow the mechanism to move backwards, and its shape creates a swift downward motion instead of an even one. Third, while it's not attractive, I used a more secure way of attaching the paper by creating a small sleeve on the back that fits over the rod.
This uses a mechanic similar to Trial 3 to get get an effect akin to that of Trial 1. The rods/feet are kept stable by a hollow post that keeps the rod more or less straight. The biggest challenge for this one was simply that I constructed it in an awkward order and created work for myself.
I gave the the moving objects a kind of stage or frame. Giving them a context somehow turns them into little characters in my head. I am not sure if they are dancing or arguing.
This trial has an issue that the handle is in an awkward location compared to where the movement is best viewed. Additionally, there is a slight issue with the rod wanting to shift along the wire shaft that holds it. Despite this, I really enjoy this circular motion!
Please pardon the cat.
This was an oddly complicated way to get an up-and-down motion, but there is something about the swaying movement of the rod and the use of the little channel that keeps the motion vertical that I find charming. The handle is in an awkward position in relation to the visual, but this can be adjusted.
I had trouble with nearly every part of this one, but am so pleased with it.
I have ordered a couple of motion/mechanical books that can hopefully explain to me better ways of assembling these and of taking advantage of the movements. I would like to make 3-4 more single-motion trials and then create something that has several movements reliant on a single crank.
Fewer, Better Things
I believe that the idea of “material intelligence” that Glenn Adamson writes about in this introduction speaks to the heart of one of the things I want to achieve this semester: Simply, an understanding of and comfort with tools and materials. I believe that my motivation is slightly different from the benefits he outlines. I am mostly motivated by the desire to remove limitations from my artwork. However, I am hopeful that a happy side effect could be in the “shared sense of humanity” he writes about, the opportunity for human empathy within objects.
I certainly experience the “shared sense of humanity” he speaks about from things themselves. In the way discussed on Radiolab, I often imagine a person in the history of an object sharing an action or a space with myself. I can only imagine that I will experience similar kindred with different kinds of makers as my skills and understanding of a medium increase. However, I don’t necessarily agree with his assertion that the more items you have, the less those items are able to be special. Perhaps this is true for certain personalities. I know that I form deep, unreasonably emotional connections to my belongings. I can tell you when, from who, and why I received almost everything I own. I would liken it to hoarding, but it’s more a hoarding of memories than of trash (though some of the memories are manifest in trash).
I was particularly struck by the section of the reading about the picture of Pepper. I do believe the intention of an object is meaningful to the desire to possess it. Sometimes the intention of an object is overruled by the meaning of the object; for example, a book you may know you will never read, but you keep it because it was your grandfather’s, etc. In this instance, the intention of the book is to tell a story, but your intention in owning the book is in retaining a connection to your family.
I have never thrown away an item that could enrich or broaden any connection that I was cognizant of. In this way, I suppose I am an advocate for “more better things.”
Artist Research: Casey Curran
Curran grew up surrounded by two notable circumstances that seem to be directly tied to his work: Wild and stray animals were ever-present on his family’s property and the home his family lived in was a perpetual work-in-progress. He seems to have become acquainted with the biological truths at a young age by way of becoming familiar with so many animals. He has attributed his “fascination with structure, order and motion” to his “changing and exposed but stable” home life.
I was looking for artists who created kinetic artwork when I found Casey’s work. While watching a video of it, I had a visceral reaction. My eyes actually began watering, I was so overwhelmed. The first experience of viewing his work (secondhand!) was honestly magical. This is ironic, since he has said that part of what he seeks to do by leaving the mechanical workings of his pieces exposed is to remove the magic from the work. I decided to continue researching him because of the combination of the visual impact his pieces had on me combined with his use of a method I am interested in.
Thematically, Casey’s work is very different from what I am interested in. The only thematic similarity I can find is that we both have an interest in cycles, however, he is interested in biological cycles while I am invested in psychological cycles. I believe our similarities are more to be found in execution—his tedious wire formations and repetitive cube structures speak to the part of me that creates the tiny cut textures in my pieces. More importantly to me, as it is a quality I only recently became conscious of placing value in for my work, there is an accessibility in his pieces that I very much admire. First, mental accessibility in exposing the functional parts of his pieces and exposing the “magic.” Second, a physical accessibility in inviting the audience to be a part of the work. The mental accessibility is something I believe my work has begun to possess by the way the paper interacts with viewing distance—from far away, it could be a painting or a print, but once you get up close, you realize it is only cut paper glued together, a very straight-forward method that anyone can image or relate to. However, I lack a physical accessibility, and that’s something I am going to seek to work with.
Response to THINGS listening and reading
Things are very important to me. I form attachments quickly, and hold a deep appreciation for the history of the items I have. The older and more used a thing is, the more affection I have for it.
One way that I see the influence of my relationship with things influencing my making is my need to have a personal hand in the history of the piece I create, versus machine-made. Working with my hands adds a humanity to the piece—the straight cuts are more impressive, the mistakes a part of a story of the piece’s making. The piece and share a piece of history, at different times meditative, transformative, or turbulent.
If Doris Salcedo is a secondary witness, then her artwork is a testimony and her objects are evidence. In Radiolab’s first story, the egg also served as proof of something. When I make pieces, I think I am often trying to make my own kind of document, but not of a physical event. I believe I am trying to manifest evidence or documentation of internal or intangible phenomena.
As Jaki said, nothing is built from scratch, though sometimes we like to pretend they are. My paper artwork is almost always made from new paper. I do this so that the medium does not bring its own history into the piece. I often feel that the material’s individual, tangible history would misrepresent the intangible phenomenon I am after. Even the history-less-ness of the paper holds meaning in my work.
Can I use material with no history or with irrelevant history to document or testify to events that have no physical evidence or documentation? Is work that tries to represent the intangible rooted in fiction, or can it still possess truthfulness? Is there a formula for making work that isn’t rational make sense?
MFA Documentation - Continued Artist Research
Focusing on my goal of experimenting with kinetic sculpture, I revisited two artists whose work initiated this desire for me.
With the idea of kinetic sculpture in the realm of possibility, I expanded my artist research to look for other kinetic artists that resonated with me. The number of kinetic sculptures in existence is overwhelming, but it was helpful to be able to identify distinctly which pieces felt like a path I'd like to go down and which pieces felt alien to me. Several artists and works appealed to me, but a few stand out as potential influences.
Proposal of Sorts
For MFA Sculpture, I would like to develop a small body of kinetic, mechanical works that have the potential to benefit from learning new wood and metal skills. These pieces will employ movement as a means to either imbue liveliness or, hopefully, create a narrative. Figures may be represented or implied. Paper may be employed.
The first step for theses works would be a short study of mechanical movement, not unlike Wolf Cat's, working to quickly employ various mechanisms on a small scale. These would be documented mechanically, but would also lead to sketchbooking the potential uses and movements the mechanisms could be applied to. This step would be done alongside learning new tools.
After the study, I begin the first piece, still small in scale, based on a design that emerges from the study. The primary goal would be to create a finished, mechanical piece, but also to work on how I plan a mechanical element and to see what additional skills I need to create it. For example, a more precise way to bend wire or to learn to create functional gears.
From there, I would like to make an additional 3-8 works, depending on scale and complexity, that can grow technically and conceptually.
1. Figure Sculpture vs MFA Sculpture
While I feel it is very important for me to learn to sculpt the figure by shadowing this class, I feel its impact on the work I'd like to do may be limited.
2. More than I can chew
It's possible that this is too ambitious.
3. Conceptual relevance
I have an interest in storytelling and cycles, which I feel like these sculptures may lend themselves to, but I want to do this in a way that is refined and not elementary.
Describe at least 3 goals for the term.
What other 3D courses have you taken? (Design II, Sculpture, Ceramics….)
Sculpture and Basic Design
What sculpture tools/techniques do you already know?
I have some experience with woodworking power tools (circular saw, jig saw, miter saw, table saw, planer, electric sander, belt sander, electric drill), but not to an extent of great comfort. Considerably more comfort with tape measures, levels, and screwdrivers. (Ha, ha.) A small amount of experience with chiseling plaster, although not significant knowledge. Moderate knowledge and experience with sewing, particularly clothing.
What sculpture tools/techniques do you want to learn?
I would love to become familiar with cutting and welding metal, creating molds and pouring casts, and working with clay.