Week 12 – Final Class

All work for the weeks 7-12 are due in our final class: Tuesday April 7, 2021.

Note: I will begin grading all works on our blog Monday morning April 12th – and NO LATE WORK will be accepted after that day.

Thank you for your hard work, your imagination and your courage. Congratulations on completing the term and stretching yourselves together to figure out how to be artists now, in this new and challenging time.

Diane

Breaking Bread, 2021

CHOCOLATE BREAD RECIPE

Mix:

2 ½  cups all-purpose flour

2 TBSP strong cocoa

½ cup chopped bittersweet chocolate

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 ½ tsp instant yeast

Add:

2 – 2 ½ cups warm water (stir and watch until you make a wet dough)

Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for 1 ½ hours

Generously butter a loaf pan.

Gently scoop the risen dough into buttered loaf pan.

Do not cover, and let rest to rise again for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425 F.

Turn the heat down to 375 F, and bake for another 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and pop the bread out of the pan to cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into it!

This is wonderful bread with cream cheese, butter, drizzled with honey, jam, etc.

Week 2

This week I really enjoyed looking into a few of the handful of suggested artists, namely Hiba Abdallah and Barbara Kruger

Starting with Kruger, it’s clear right off the bat, even before reading the text, that her message is immediate. That colour pallet of black white and red – the dark and light contrast combined with danger associated with blood red – screams urgency. Her messages are extremely politically charged and visually, the composition of her images resemble propaganda almost. The use of bold text, bold simple shapes, and urgent colour pallet remind me a little of Russian constructivist propaganda. Sometimes the messages aren’t all that far off, in the sense of calling for a mass group of people to organize, like in “Your Body is a Battleground” which was promoting a rally in support of abortion and women’s rights.

I love the “I Shop therefore I Am” as a comment on modern consumer capitalist society. The hand looks so ominous and mindless, reaching out towards us as if we the viewer are about to be consumed. I feel a hint of irony with Kruger’s work, or style I should say, as it relates to the Supreme skate and streetwear clothing brand. Supreme basically copied her white text on red shape design and claimed it as their own, suing other companies who remotely copy it, like streetwear brand Married to the Mob did in 2013. Kruger commented on this in an interview calling Supreme “uncool jokers.” The irony is definitely real comparing “I shop therefore I am” to Supreme, since the billion-dollar streetwear enterprise is entirely based off of fast fashion. Owning the latest product signifies some form of street credit, fitting into the consumers mantra of being what you shop, where the less you buy the lesser you are.

The other artist who’s work I loved looking through and who was not featured on the week 2 blog was Hiba Abdallah. She’s a UofG alumni who specializes in text based work and has done a lot of collaborative work with communities in Toronto to re-imagine public agency. One work of hers that I really love is her “Something written in the Arabic language” logo, which is placed on cards as a print, as well as on t-shirts. Here she uses corporate branding strategies to sell an Arabic logo that literally says: “something written in the Arabic language.” While the message is apolitical, the script and logo design is highly charged and can challenge people who carry so much as a hint of anti-Arab sentiment. To me, wearing one of the shirts feels like a really cool opportunity for some prejudice checks!

Week #1

Week #1 Notes:

Nina Katchadourian’s Book Stacks projects:

  • Started in 93’
  • Stacks of books, that are ordered  based on their titles to create a sentence
  • The goal was to symbolize what was held in the libraries
  • The project had multiple locations and re-creations, using libraries, private collections, and home libraries
  • The works were often presented where they were found

Video:

  • How books can tell a story
  • How books can represent a person
  • Think about the books in all terms (physical aspects, titles, author, style)
  • Does your library represent you?

Dave Dyment One Billion Years (Past and Future), 2012:

  • This collection represents the past, present and future by using the information inside the books
  • The Books selected by Dyment use the inner contents of the book to represent a timeline of one million years
  • Bright coloured books create a visually stimulating image, with lots of areas to focus on
  • The use a prominent dark background suggests similarities to the work of Katchadourian

Ryan Park, Untitled, 2009:

  • This work differs from the others as it offers an open book style of stacking, rather than the traditional stacking used in the previous works.
  • The use of colour is very apparent in this work, as the books transition from cool to warm coolers, then back to cool
  • The background is again a solid colour, but this example uses a white background which brings more openness to the work

Write:

  • Some strategies used by the artists would be choosing specific books based on specific characteristics, for example; Katchadourian stated that she was trying to create sequences with her books, so the titles would be the deciding characteristic in that case. She also mentioned representing the owner of the books, this can be done by using the titles, or it can be done with symbolism by using physical aspects of the book such as colour of the outside, size, shape, condition and many more.
  • Colour was used heavily by Park in the selection of his books, as can be seen the ascending then descending colouration of his work. A strategy used by Dave Dyment; he used the information written inside the books to create a timeline. Using the contents of the books can be a great way to represent someone or something because it gives you a well-rounded appreciation for whatever it may be.

My Process:

Unfortunately, my lack of interest in reading resulted in me owning only four books… at first I was stumped on what to do, my roommates only had textbooks and I didn’t want to use material that has no connection to me, while I still had the four other options. As I decided to use my books, I noticed how figuratively they represented me quite well.

The titles of my books are the following:

  • Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnecut
  • The Art of Racing In the Rain, Garth Stein
  • Die Rich and Tax Free, Barry Kaye
  • Gucci Mane, Autobiography with, Neil Martinez-Belkin

I am a huge fan of rap/hip-hop (Gucci Mane), I love cars, especially fast ones. The book also heavily features a dog, which resonates with me because I’ve owned dogs all my life (The Art of Racing In the Rain). Die Rich and Tax Free, connects to one thing that I am known for which is my spending habit, the book was given to me by my former employer (a financial advisor) who constantly criticized my spending, till the point he found a book that has helped to reduce my spending. The last book, Breakfast of Champions, I have almost no ties to, besides the irony of me not typically eating breakfast, and the honest not knowing of where I got the book from.

For my “stacks” I wanted to make my library to seem more diverse than four books, so i tried several angles and positions till I arrived at three that i liked, I liked these three because of how different they are, I think in some ways it symbolizes how vast my own interests are.

For my stacks I wanted to make my library seem large and vast, so I tried to work with different shapes in order to accomplish that. I also wanted to incorporate some of Ryan Park’s ideas because I liked the look of the books being open, as I feel the back cover can offer a little more insight into the library. I also wanted to incorporate Katchadourian’s location selection, of stacking the works in the location they come from, so I decided to photograph my images inside my bedroom.

Isabella

WEEK 1

RESPONSE

The first work I looked at is “ A Day at the Beach” by Nina Katchadourian. Her strategy to select and order books is to write down every title within a library onto separate cards, and select a few that jump out at her. She relentlessly organizes and reorganizes thee title cards until she arrives at an order with which she is satisfied. Her decisions are based on how the books talk to one another, and in this specific piece, that manifests quite humorously.  The final compositions expand the meaning of each individual book by telling a new story, one of a shark attack at a beach. This might tell us something about the book’s owner, such as an affinity to the ocean, or even simply living  in a coastal place.

The Second work I am discussing is “ One Billion Years [Past and Future]” by Dave Dyment. He selected these books by finding titles that related to the passage of time, by mentioning years somehow. He composes them in chronological order, from “One Billion years ago” to “The Next Billion Years,” with others such as “Only 50 Years Ago” and others with similar titles. Together, these books tell a sort of loose history, and predict the future. Having an imaginable timeline laid out in book titles is a very fascinating concept. I suspect these books did not come from a singular library, so rather than revealing something about the owner, perhaps it is revealing of Dyment’s own interests in time as a concept. 

PROCESS

I have an EXTREMELY limited supply of books. Any of the books I have are all with my mom, in boxes who knows where, since we are in the process of moving. All that I have with me in Guelph are the textbooks I’ve collected over the years. With a total of eleven books, it might sound sufficient, but truth be told I struggled. There was little interest or deviance between the appearances of the books, and almost all of them fell within one of two sizes. So, I decided to use word play to have the titles of individual books interact with another. My problem was that almost none of the titles worked well together (I changed my focus of study once or twice before settling on a studio major). How could I convey an idea with the title of one book? I looked towards Ryan Park’s, and a few of Nina Katchadourian’s, work and realized that the titles of every book did not have to be shown to convey an idea. I could use the books I had with less interesting titles as a sculptural building block to interact with the more engaging titles. 

FINAL IMAGES

The Edge

The first arrangement seemed obvious to me, since I had two copies of “Image on the Edge.” Initially I was going to stack books neatly with these particular books simply on the edge of the others while backwards, but I decided to take the meaning of “edge” one step further and nearly topple these end pieces off of the shelf. With the only indicator of an image being on the edge of both the stack and the shelf, I am happy with how this turned out considering my challenges.

Leadership

After using the books faced the opposite way, the other arrangements came slightly easier to me. I had a Leadership textbooks which I wanted to arrange to become the leader of other following books. The titles of the following books were unimportant to the concept, and would have in fact muddied this idea had I presented them. I would have ideally liked to have books of descending order to make the leadership book look the biggest (therefore older and wiser in appearance) but unfortunately, it was one of my smaller stature books. I solved this problem by creating a gap between the leader and the following books. I lined them up in an orderly row, with the leadership book a few “steps” ahead so it would appear as if it were leading the way. 

The Power of Critical Thinking

In my next stack, I wanted to play on the word “power.” I figured what better display of power than to seemingly defy physics? I carefully (with plenty of failure) balanced  a few books on top of my vertical copy of “The Power of Critical Thinking.” I’m sad to report his flimsy paperback textbook did NOT stay upright on its own. But with some balancing, (and admittedly a hidden support system) I was able to capture this shot of this “powerful” book. I like this one since critical thinking seems to be in short supply these days,  and I think the world would literally be a lot stronger if everyone brushed up on their critical thinking skills. 

The Throne

Last, I wanted to use my singular non-textbook-book somehow. I pondered this a lot, and since using other books as a building block when the titles did not compliment each other had worked previously, I easily settled on a similar arrangement method. I think I took books as a sculptural unit to the next level with this stack, building a throne of books for my “A Game of Thrones” book. The word “game” also came into play when my huge, seldom read, chemistry textbook which provided the foundation of the throne came crashing shut just milliseconds after this shot was captured. This was surprisingly hard to balance, due to my untouched, tight-spined books.

WEEK 2

Notes for Week 2

Belief+Doubt by Barbara Kruger uses immersive installation as the method to express her message. Every inch of interior space is covered with massively sized words, overwhelming the viewer with text. 

Here on Future Earth  by Joi T. Arcand uses photography to express her message. This photo series evokes great feelings of a familiar world, only something seems slightly off. The text we are used to seeing in a small town – such as store fronts and road signs–has been fully replaced by Cree syllabics. 

Both works use text displayed in an environment in unexpected ways. Where Kruger places text on multiple surfaces, unrestricted by where text is most typically observed, Arcand uses text in predictable places, but uses a an unknown (to the majority of viewers) language with an unknown alphabet. The sense of space is important to both works, in that Kruger’s piece deals with experiencing the space as an installation work, and Arcand’s – though photographs – evoke a sense of familiarity that can transport the viewers into feeling like they have navigated that kind of space many times previously. It would also be fair to say that existentialism would be at play in both of these artworks. For Barbara Kruger, the text itself asks questions and makes statements such as “PLENTY IS ENOUGH,” and “WHO IS FREE TO CHOOSE?” which address societal structures and begs viewers to reconsider what they think they know. The sheer scale of these words also puts emphasis on how the message is meant to be received. For Joi T. Arcand, the viewer is left to feel as if they are disoriented and foreign in an all too familiar place. For viewers that can understand the Cree syllabics, perhaps they are led to reflect on what the modern environment would look like had colonization not occurred (still probably not quite like Arcand depicted).

WEEK 3

Notes Week 3

“Aesthetic of Powerlessness”

I lifted many phrases from the article, but became most interested in “aesthetic of powerlessness.” I thought it was interesting since most times, powerlessness is hidden away from the world, and instead wanted to put it on display, and show the “aesthetic.” I also wanted to capture multiple layers of powerlessness in a single image, with themes of poor mental health, total dependance on technology, the unavoidable lifestyle adjustments of a pandemic, and anything else that might lead to the monotony of an everyday life of powerlessness.

I used many uplifting colours in the banner to act as an oxymoron of sorts. I enjoyed the idea as a banner used for celebrations (such as “happy birthday”), and thought it would be interesting in conjunction with a condition that causes most people great shame. I also lowered the saturation of the photo to make the life and aesthetic more dull, and to come across even more powerless than the content of the image suggests. At first I began to remove the shadows cast by the banners, but then ultimately decided to leave them in because my original intention was to cast a spotlight on this hidden human condition, and though the shadows make for unideal composition, it further showcases a raw, and un-orchestrated aesthetic. Therefore, I made the spotlight both figurative and literal.

WEEK 4

Week 4 Notes

VIDEO PROPOSAL: “DORMANT”

I struggled a bit in thinking of how to relate to nature in the winter months. Most everything is dormant. If it were any other season, I would love nothing more than to convene with nature and all of its magnificent beauty. But I greatly dislike winter, and what nature brings with the season. But, I realized I do not need to “do” anything for this video other than lean into my instinctual reaction to nature during this time of the year. My feelings toward nature during this time should provide the content for how I communicate with what is around me.

I want my video to be calm and meditative. Perhaps a bit melancholy, but ideally it will capture a submission to nature. An exercise that enforces learning from the natural wildlife that pauses its vivaciousness during the winter time. I also wish to reflect on the natural condition of seasonal depression.

Similar to Rebecca Belmore’s Speaking to Their Mother, I wish to convey the communication between the earth and people. Only instead of speaking to the earth, I want to show the earth speaking to us, and the powerful commands of nature. 

Similar to Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay’s “Trees are Fags”, I wish to look towards trees (among other natural life) to learn their wisdoms, and become aware of my mind and body. 

I have prepared a monologue. Every statement comes at a 30 second interval on voiceover, in between the statements,  simple visual actions will be taken to allow resonation. 

Script is in bold– Instructions for actions in regular text.

  • Approach from off camera, poorly dressed for the winter.
  • It seems that as the seasons pass and change, so do I.
  • I put on outerwear (prepare for the conditions).
  • It’s cold, very cold. 
  • Stay still. Breath long, hot, visible breaths.
  • What must I do to feel warmth?
  • Turn to face the tree (right side of the shot).
  • I’ve noticed the sunlight doesn’t last very long these days. 
  • Kneel.
  • My energy is quite low.
  • Sit on the ground.
  • I think I’ll go to sleep for a little while. 
  • Lay down on side facing camera.
  • As the earth is blanketed in snow, so am I tucked in to slumber.
  • Close my eyes.
  • Let’s dream of something nicer for a while. 
  • Shift in slumber, change positions.
  • I can’t wait to wake up to lovelier conditions.
  • Be still.
  • Until then.

The Setting:

WEEK 5

Week 5 Notes

When prompted to commune with nature, I felt puzzled as to what I could possibly do. I do not exactly feel inspired by nature during this time of year. No “exciting” ideas came to mind. With art, I struggle with simplicity, and rarely ever feel comfortable with the concept “less is more.” But with this project, I was able to lean into my lack of enthusiasm, and just react and commune with nature the way I automatically do, even if that reaction is to just “be.”

I took inspiration from the artists Rebecca Belmore and Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay and their works. Belmore’s Talking to Their Mother inspired the idea to listen, respond and converse with nature. Nemerofsky Ramsay’s Trees are Fags reminded me of the connection to trees and other life forces found in nature. Together, both of these works guided me to the connective self awareness of one’s own mind and body, and what the acceptance of what nature insists of us looks and feels like outdoors.

The technical aspect of this video was challenging. I had no filming equipment, and I shot the footage after the winter storm, away from my house. Even a make-shift tripod was not a plausible option for me. Instead I employed my brother and roommate as my camera crew. Even with instruction, a couple of the shots did not come out as I envisioned, but I did with what I had, and made formal decisions based on what I managed to collect. Audio was even trickier, as many of my video clips had traffic noises in the background, due to one of my locations being nearby a major intersection, during peak time. I managed to cut out this traffic noise, as it had no place, and no significance to my concept. Though the professional quality is questionable, I made sure to set my intentions with the other formal aspects, and stick to them.

Dormant

Dormant

This video is a response to winter. The response is to shorter days and longer nights, the lack of light and warmth, and the way the earth shuts down and is at rest for quite some time. I often find myself following nature’s lead in the winter months, having not much energy to spare. Here I situate myself among nature, and insert my own personal experience with in the natural world. I discovered my own instincts are not unlike the way that wildlife reacts to the changing season. The experience was validating, in that slowing down, or needing to rest is a universal experience; life cannot be measured by productivity. It is my intention that this video may serve as a reminder of this sentiment. While watching this video, take the opportunity to meditate, and be aware of your breathing, heartbeat, and reconnect with your core life force.

WEEK 6

Week 6 Notes

ZOOM VIDEO Proposal

I wish to play with different camera angles on zoom. This idea was inspired from joining a zoom meeting with my roommate where I could be seen within her frame, as well as my own. I thought the phenomenon was silly, entertaining, and quite fascinating. 

The most interesting thing about zoom, in my opinion, is simply the use of multiple live videos on a single screen. Usually, zoom reduces us to 2D figures, where we only ever see each other from straight on, head and shoulders. My plan is to set up multiple cameras around me, take advantage of the multiple screens, and observe myself from every angle. In a pandemic, we are missing out on the presence of others, so I intend to stimulate my presence more holistically, rather than just a face in a tiny square. 

I am unsure how many cameras I have access to for this task, but I know I have at least four. At minimum, I plan to set up cameras in front, behind, and at both of my side profiles. Hopefully, If I can manage to acquire more cameras (at the permission of my roommates), I might position more cameras to capture myself from even more angles than one would typically see in real life. 

This video is not just about recontextualizing the body in our modified world, but for me to also observe myself. It seems difficult for someone to truly observe themselves in an objective manner, so this will be an additional goal of mine. 

I will look to Pipilotti Rist as inspiration, where her work “Flatten” shows her from an unexpected angle.

Week 7

Week 7 Notes & written responses

When prompted to make zoom art, I immediately thought of our limited perception of each other during the pandemic. We no longer see each other as we are, it is either a straight on shot of someone’s head and shoulders, or a blank screen without a name, no more than that. Our perception of our peers and colleagues have shifted, it is hard to imagine them out of their primary zoom backdrop, doing anything other than staring at their screens. 

I am definitely the person on a zoom call to hide with my cameras off unless I am displaying proper zoom etiquette.  Though, the latter scenario is quite rare, as I am a neurodiverse person who struggles to sit still or focus. When the camera is on, I am hyper aware of my every action, but when they are off as they usually are, I exist without worry and pay no attention to my actions. So, naturally, I decided to turn on a bunch of cameras, and just forget about zoom etiquette.

Following the video proposal, I received encouragement to become more experimental when put on camera, and it was suggested that I perform an action that requires looking, or even self-perception, such as braiding my hair. When reflecting on this feedback, I knew I simply had to put myself on display and see what manifested naturally without any premeditated thought.  I accepted the challenge to act more experimentally, but knew I wanted to explore perception in a way where I was captured beyond a single action. 

Therefore, my intention with this video is to perceive myself, and be perceived by others beyond the stagnant head and shoulders framing, moving around in my own space.  Taking inspiration from Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay’s video art, which resembles surveillance footage, I set up 9 cameras all around my room at many different angles, and started a zoom conference. 

With my unguided task, I am both the experimenter and the participant; I had no idea how I would respond to the conditions of my own creation. But, despite any insecurities, fears, and opportunities for embarrassment, I still performed in front of the many cameras. This task was not completed with ease or comfort, where I shared glances with myself on the monitors, and saw myself in the grid during the filming process. I kept busy with action as to simultaneously not focus on the appearance of my body, and to look even more intently after the fact.

When reviewing the footage that I gathered, I made quite a few observations:

  1. I looked at the cameras quite a bit. 
  2. Many of the actions were nervous ticks (playing with my hair, checking the time, etc) that I frequently do when I am uncomfortable/bored.
  3. I attempted to use my space to its full potential (running, dancing etc), which is an uncommon behaviour.
  4. In the moment I was less concerned with the appearance of my body, but was very judgmental of myself watching it back.

This experiment proved to me just how much perception and expectations change a behaviour. Though I relieved myself of the expectations and etiquette of a video conference (being still, focused), the fact that I knew I was being recorded still dictated much of my behaviour. Other than the nervous ticks, though they hinted at my discomfort, my inhibited behaviour is very telling towards  how my concern of perception is far stronger than my concern for etiquette and politeness.

A formal decision that I made was what I wore: all black to make my body stand out among a busier background, which also helped to convey a  sense of continuity between frames so the space could be easier understood by the viewer. Another formal decision I made was to use raw, unedited footage. I know that if I decided to edit, I would alter the results of my experiment to look a certain way, defeating the purpose of observing and perceiving natural action. Last, the specific positioning of the cameras was a result of where I could place each device safely, while obtaining the maximum amount of varied angles.

Zoom: Uncut

Zoom: Uncut

This video came to be due to my longing to look at other people, as well as being perceived by others naturally in real life, and the intimacy involved with simply existing and being each other’s presences. Online, this simple occurrence has been taken away due to “Zoom Etiquette”, so I wanted to artificially create a sense of three dimensional perception, so my peers could view me beyond my head and shoulders in a little box. So, I attempted to emulate this perception on zoom, only to figure out this experience is impossible digitally. Though the three dimensionality of my body was achieved, my behaviour itself is not natural, preventing true perception. What this video resulted in was a discovery that zoom etiquette might not be the true culprit of this personal and social disconnect, but the fear and insecurity associated with perception itself. Different from the fleeting moments of real time, cameras and screens immortalize our actions and allow for further review and the possibility of judgement. This piece depicts the strange phenomenon of knowing that I am being watched and recorded, while pretending that am okay with that. This is an invitation for you to perceive me to the best of your ability, despite obstacles of health, safety and technology, and despite my mental discomfort, until we can once again perceive each other face to face.

Week 8

Week 8 Notes

To me, bread is a symbol of love. Every day that I lived in my mother’s care, she would make me  a sandwich for lunch. Well into my adulthood, and even when I return home to her, she without fail will make me the most gorgeous and delicious sandwich. Long before she had me, she learned exactly how to craft an amazing sandwich through her teenage job in a reputable deli. As I grew and my palette matured, her selection of ingredients broadened and became more refined. I would sit down for my lunch break, and unpack a new creation each day, and without fail a different type of bread would greet me; ciabatta, tortilla, sliced, flat, baguette, bagels, pitas, Calabrese, and rolls.

Beyond my daily lunch,  bread is constantly offered to me by my Italian grandmother. Paired with prosciutto and cheese, or to soak up sauce or oil left in my plate, it is a staple on my Nonna’s table. Having had lived with her twice in my life —the more recent time being this past summer— her offers of bread are both well-meaning and never ending. Sweet breads such as panettone and easter bread are cultural holiday staples, and help celebrations feel complete. 

The pandemic has provided everyone with the chance to take some time at home and discover new ways to occupy themselves. For many, this opportunity meant the rekindling of old hobbies, or the discovery of new ones. All of the displaced social energy had to be rechanneled at home, so in the closing of everyone’s favourite bakeries, many people took up the hobby of baking bread to provide them with comfort, as well as a sense of purpose and achievement. For more vulnerable groups, this action may have been taken up out of necessity of avoiding public spaces such as the grocery store. 

In regards to the podcast, I found it shocked how they credited bread with the formation of civilization itself. I initially thought this was an outrageous claim, but upon further discussion, this observation revealed itself to be not only plausible, but correct. Grains and agriculture allowed for nomads to settle, and civilization evolved from there. It is central to our survival as a species, and quickly became the most sought after commodity.

Cooking and art intersect in that they both involve creation. They revolve around subjectivity, personal preference, and the delight of the senses. Food and art both facilitate a variety of opinionated responses based on the interaction with the respective creations. Beautiful colours and textures present themselves in both forms, as well as a sense of appreciation for the constituent parts. Both avenues involve technique, as well as diverse levels of skill and commitment, where each practise can be dabbled in or passionately mastered. The main way cooking and art are distinct is that interacting with food is a necessity for survival. While food and art both allow for the enhancement of life, food is an absolute requirement none can go without. Art is sustenance for the mind and soul, but food involves bodily sustenance as well, and we all must make deliberate interactions with food. 

WEEK 9

My dough rose so much! I got two loaves somehow. Things like this usually do not work out for me, but today they did. I am not going to complain about extra bread, especially since it tastes so good 🙂

Proposal!

I have so many ideas it’s kind of overwhelming:

  • Food as part of culture
  • Seasonal foods
  • Items posed to look like food
  • Inventory of my house (between roommates with 4 drastically different diets)
  • Gross recipes
  • Food scraps/using waste
  • Dismembered food
  • Tiny food pieces/crumbs
  • Close up texture shots
  • Weekly diet
  • Social aspect of eating
  • Decomposing food
  • Food Fight
  • Eating food I hate!
  • Surprise luncheon!
  • Trying to catch food being thrown at me!

I want to do a project where I photograph my grandmothers fruit bowl once a week for a year to show how seasonal crops influences what she buys. I like this idea because she always goes through the effort to place and arrange them all nicely in her bowl. Not sure how this would work for a week long assignment, might just have to make it a personal project. But, I do love the idea of using fruit for the project, in relation to my grandparents, who have more than one fruit-based “ritual.”

Unlike anyone else I have ever observed, my grandparents eat as much of a fruit as it has to offer… seriously. Through both observance and instruction, I have taken up this tendency to minimize waste of the fruit. I never considered it interesting because I grew up thinking it was relatively normal. But, I started to observe other peoples fruit eating habits, and also began to receive commentary on how it is “interesting” how I eat fruit. Apparently it is evident that I do not want to waste any of the fruit, and it is something that other people have never considered doing. Who knew?

I propose that I will eat fruit with my roommate to compare how our upbringing and worldview affects how we eat fruit. I will photograph the uneaten fruit, how she eats the fruit, and then how I eat the fruit. This will be interesting because I minimize food waste as much as possible because of how my grandparents taught me how to eat fruit. I think it will be interesting to juxtapose my fruit eating habits with someone who does not eat as much as the fruit could possibly have to offer.

My intention is to compile a photo series, but I am unsure how to present this series. I will have to play around. The work “Rod, Bernie, Peggy, Aislinn” is informing this piece, due to the relation of family, and sentiment surrounding food and food consumption.

These are some fruits I plan to incorporate:

  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Strawberry
  • Peach/nectarine/plum (stone fruit)
  • Watermelon/cantaloupe (melon)

WEEK 10

Week 10 notes + additional project planning
The Labour of My Fruit

My grandparents used to be very poor, but they always made sure they had food. This meant sacrificing and saving on other necessities, and getting creative in obtaining food. They maintained a massive garden in the warmer months, and froze and preserved the produce for the colder months. They befriended farmers, butchered their own meats and ate as much as they could salvage, even the organs. Even now that they can afford to buy food, some of these habits have stuck, and food is still at the center of their worlds. The garden is still maintained, and certain purchased luxuries are savoured and revered. Food is everything to them, and I was definitely raised with the mentality that food is one of the most important things. 

Fruit is definitely a clear favourite, and a staple for my grandparents. So much so that fruit is eaten as its own course during mealtimes – after the main meal and before dessert. They definitely view fruit as the pinnacle of luxury, and when we all eat fruit together it feels almost ritualistic to me. I have never seen anyone eat fruit like my grandparents. As a child I was often critiqued that I left too much flesh on the rind of a water melon, or that I did not eat enough of my apple. They would ask me, “Are you rich?” and then promptly take what I did not finish and finish it themselves. Their question was lighthearted and playful, but at the same time, they could not let the fruit go unfinished. Especially since I have lived with them for a period of time, their habits have worn off on me where I will eat a fruit down to the very seeds, stems, and rinds until there is nothing left. I find eating this way to be extremely mindful, and connects me with the process of eating, and knowing why I eat the way I do. Sometimes, eating this way feels laborious, but still, I enjoy it.

Others will observe me eat fruit, and comment on how it is strange and amusing, and then I will explain how these habits are a result of my grandparents. So, I have compared my inherited fruit eating habits with someone who did not have the same cultural influence that I had. Neither way of fruit consumption is incorrect, but I find it absolutely fascinating how much that how we eat a piece of fruit can say about our family experience. My intention with this piece is to simply appreciate the fruit, as well as give it a new function- as art. Though I am not sure my grandparents would understand this use of fruit, I know that I am using it to its full potential, which is ultimately what my grandparents strive to do each time they indulge.

WEEK 11

I finished my food art in week 10, so not much from me this week. Baking and following instructions makes me anxious, so luckily for me, my roommates like to bake as a hobby, so we had everything on hand! Making my own recipe up would positively make me crazy! We thankfully had cake mix (funfetti of course) and I added in melted butter(the box called for oil but I had none), almond milk (did not want to use water), and three eggs! We also had frosting on hand, but that alone was not enough for me, so I naturally had to decorate the cake with whatever I had in the pantry… that happened to be Froot Loops, and I think they make the cake super cute, and added a bit of crunch. Monday night I made the cake, frosted on Tuesday morning! Thank you everyone for a great semester 🙂

Week 1 Book Stacks

Rough Work

Investigating the artists work:

I’ve been sort of chuckling to myself all week when doing this assignment thinking about its connection to my current studies in ARTH 3320 Lives: Aspects of Western Art. In it so far we’ve briefly gone over our disagreements with Roland Barthes theory from his essay “Death to the Author”. He essentially argues that as soon as the a book is finished and shared, the author and their biography add nothing to the context of the book in the eyes of the reader. Of course there are many valid arguments for and against Barthes theory, but what I find interesting in relation to this course is that while one might use a book they own as a window into the life of its author, Nina Katchadourian goes a step deeper and uses someone else books as a window into their owners life. To sum up her process, Katchadourian will take a group of books owned by someone else and rearrange their order so that the titles on the spine can be read in sequence. The sequence includes books that she sees as illustrative to their owner(s) life, almost like a portrait of them as well as a glimpse into their library taking into account how they organize their books, which ones they love, or don’t care for, etc. Compositionally, Katchadourian will also take aesthetic elements into account such as fonts used in the titles and other physical qualities such as the books “heft”. Her method of arranging stacks was the one during practice that I was most drawn to. 

In his project One Billion Years [Past and Future], 2012, Dave Dyment aimed to create his stack using chronology as his organizational tool. When arranging, the source of where the books came from, their authors, previous owners, or titles, did not take precedence over the time (past, present, future) that each books contents pertained to. He found books that wrote about thousands of years in the past and thousands of years into the future and arranged them accordingly. 

Ryan Park on the other hand, in his 2009 Untitled project, took on a more playful approach and arranged books focusing on their colour and aesthetic. Of the three artists in question he is the only one to stack the books opened as opposed to closed. Ironically each books contents have nothing to do with the meaning of the whole sculpture. 

Process

As I mentioned earlier, when it came time for me to compose my own stacks I was most drawn to Katchadourian’s method of book selection and arrangement. I wanted the books to say something about me and my literary interests. I’ll say this, it’s quite difficult when you’re someone that doesn’t ever read, which is why the first stack idea I had was one composed of various sketchbooks and notebooks I own. I also pulled select books from my roomate’s collection, using ones that I felt reflected shared interests we have in music, poetry, society, culture, and nature. The primary goal was to arrange the books so that their titles would read a little interesting phrase that reached for, if not encapsulated a common theme shared amongst them. I tried to compose each phrase like a poem, though forgive me for I wouldn’t call myself a poet by any means. Similarly to Katchadouran and Park I paid attention to the shape of the full sculpture that each book acted as a single unit of. I wanted the sculptures form to support the flow of the poem – spacing the books to emphasizing certain words when needed, and aligning or skewing titles position in relation to one another to form groups or stanzas. 

Stack 1Wood, Ink, & Paper

Stack 2Wandering the Blasted Pine

Stack 3Embers

Claire

Week 1: Book Stacks

Notes

Investigating Artists’ Works

Investigating the works of Katchadourian, Dyment, and Park allowed me to understand how diverse the physical form of a book can be as a conduit of meaning. Each artist intercepts the original intention of the novel as an individual container of writings and knowledge and draws meaning from external aesthetic qualities, titles, and ideas of ownership. Nina Katchadourian focuses on the personal context of book collections and how they reflect upon their owners and the spaces in which they exist. They are archival in nature, utilizing an accumulated vault of knowledge to construct a new meaning in the present. She begins by documenting each book in the library through a series of lists from which she begins to sort and curate books that connect to one another. Rather than being taken in their original context, the books are physically  rearranged in stacks and reinterpreted by drawing connections between titles and their owners. Her piece Dyslexia from her Reference series exemplifies these strategies, using the titles printed on the book spines to speak to dyslexia as an experience of reading, perceiving, and rearrangement. The owner of the collection from which this piece was created is a former eye surgeon and photographer, someone who is clearly deeply familiar with experiences of looking.

Nina Katchadourian, Dyslexia (1996)

Dave Dyment takes a slightly different approach, drawing inspiration from popular culture, multiples, artists books, and editions. His work with books involves a sense of chronology and time, using titles and linear arrangement to signal an unfolding or evolution. Ryan Park’s approach on the other hand, plays more with aesthetic quality over text driven meaning. He stacks books open and face up, allowing only slivers of the book cover colours to peek through and create a gradient. His works elicit a playful and joyful experimentation that is concerned with visual pleasure. The decision to open the book to create a new curving form reflects Katchadourians idea of treating the book as a sculptural item or readymade. 

Ryan Park, Untitled (2009)

Process

Going into this project I had no doubt in my mind that I would be able to put together meaningful compositions that reflect the connection between myself and my roommates. I am fortunate enough to have a roommate who works at the Bookshelf, and consequently, a stream of books is constantly being welcomed into our home. We each have an individual collection as well as a shared collection, however, even those that are in personal libraries end up circulating between us. Very quickly I noticed a pattern of categorization: self help, philosophy, poetry, fiction and spirituality. I think this speaks to the intersection of our experiences and interests as friends (though I feel that word downplays the connection we share) and how we are presently navigating our lives. 

The process of creating my stacks very closely replicated the process of Nina Katchadourian in that I developed a list of all the titles which were then transferred individually onto cue cards. From the spread I was able to freely arrange as many times as necessary, snapping photos of arrangements that had potential (pictured are some that I did not choose for my final composition and one that made the cut).

This is a technique that I had previously used in an exercise that involved creating haikus by using comic books as source material. It was extremely effective and extremely enjoyable. It opens up endless possibilities and interactions with the material. In the end, three compositions resonated the most, in that they unconsciously arose from feelings that I, and many others are experiencing at this time of great change for our world. These are feelings of loneliness, laziness, and a deep craving for human touch. I also chose to decisively break up lines to indicate pauses in the flow of reading, as well as support clarity and emphasis on the titles themselves. This also served as a symbol for the elapse of time in the third piece “Human Touch“, as a long stack of blank pages were placed after the words “flash forward”. I found that in some of the more lengthy stacks of the artists I explored, the closeness of the titles and the varying colors and fonts sometimes affected the readability. I find the spacing provides a sense of calm and an even greater impact on how the works are experienced.

Final Stacks

A Mind Spread out on the Ground
Fellow Creatures
The Human Touch

Week 2: Text as Art

Notes

In our week 2 exploration of text within art, I found the works of Shelley Niro and Joi T. Arcand to be particularly striking and connective. Shelley Niro’s The Shirt offers bold commentary that interrupts colonial imagery and historical narratives relating to the experience of Indigeneity in the Western world. An Indigenous woman stands at the fore of the image, dressed in clothing that is reminiscent of biker styles and backed by a pastoral “American” landscape. The text on her T-shirt acutely targets the violent history of settler colonialism, one that is often hidden under the myth of national tolerance and inclusivity. Actually embodying these words provides an extremely personal communication of these ideas, and expresses visibility to those who presently carry the intergenerational trauma of their ancestral history. 

Shelley Niro, The Shirt (2003)

Joi T. Arcand’s works Northern Pawn, South Vietnam and Amber Motors provide a similar infiltration of Indigenous presence into the visual landscape. Her text/photography works involve the manipulation of storefront and advert sings by replacing the text with Cree syllabics. To her, this is a statement of hopeful potentialities- a world where her language can be seen and experienced in the everyday external world. It creates an environment of intrigue and unfamiliarity to those who have not encountered the Cree language, and perhaps one of celebration and freedom to those who deeply understand the oppressive history of practicing their own language. 

Joi T. Arcand, Northern Pawn, South Vietnam
Joi T. Arcand, Amber Motors

Each of these works involve a kind of confrontation with the viewer, perhaps even eliciting a necessary discomfort in order to highlight how colonialism has threatened the prevalence of authentic Indigenous presence in relation to the land, commercial spaces, and art institutions/discourses. They were also created in relation to the commerciality of Canadian capitalist culture and visual consumption, a practice that is often exclusionary of Indigenous people. The viewer is invited to reflect on their own identity in relation to the land, as well as their own ancestral ties and relationship to language. 

Week 3: Banner

Notes

Potential Phrases Explored

-vague, meaningless, value

-disinterested engagement

-emotional labor

-symbolic nexus

-appearance, disappearance

After researching the artists introduced this week, I was interested in the ways text can be used to create a connectivity and relatability within individual experience. For example in the “Self Portrait” text work by Micah Lexier, confrontation with his own mortality is one that can be felt by all that view the work, as they are invited to place themselves within the time scale he creates through the measurement of text and space. Similarly, Hiba Abdullah’s work “we remain profoundly and infinitely connected” is both an acknowledgment of ones individuality as the viewer, and one’s place within a collective, unified species.

For my banner I chose the words “emotional labor”. They were the first words that popped out of the page, and I think that fact alone speaks to my recent experiences as well as the experiences of many of us right now. Personally, mental and emotional stress and alchemy occurs most often in the comfort of my bed, a space where vulnerability is welcomed and I have the quiet comfort of myself to rely on. Solitude is extremely important to me and to my personal healing and self care. The words themselves, “emotional labor” can allude to one of two experiences with heavy or turbulent emotional states: the seemingly unending suffering that accompanies mental illness and the toll it takes on the body and mind, as well as the potentiality for something incredible to be birthed out of the labor that is taken on.

Week 4: Commune With Nature Planning

Notes

For my commune with nature I intend to have a shared musical experience with a tree. Deeper than that, I wish to extend an offering through song-a serenade infused with words of thanks and inquiry and a desire for connection with this powerful living being. To do this I have set out to write a song that with be performed by me alone on guitar and vocals.

I’ve been sitting on a chord progression for the past few weeks, but was at a loss for what I wanted the song itself to be about. This project opened up the possibility of writing about the unexpected subject of a tree, then actually performing for them (them seems more fitting than “it”). With this seed now planted (haha) I have come up with a melody and have been workshopping lyrics, playing the song over and over while making revisions.

In the performance, I will situate myself in relation to the tree in a way that makes sense, likely sitting on the ground across from them with some space in between. I’ll set up the camera on a tripod and shoot a one-shot frame throughout the whole song. Audio will be filmed on a zoom recording device and lined up with the video in editing. I’m thinking of possibly adding some overlapped shots of the tree close up, me touching and physically interacting with it as well, but I’m not sure if that would be integral to the piece (and I’m also not very savvy when it comes to video editing).

Lyrics (so far)

Getting to Know My Tree Friend

Since I live close to Exhibition park and regularly walk in that area, I’ve taken a few visits to find a connection. I spent time observing many trees, up close and from afar, and there were a few that drew my particular interest. The exact reason I favor some trees over others isn’t particularity clear to me. Maybe it’s the way they relate to the framing I have in mind for the video shot, or the intricate patterns on their bark. Maybe it’s the subconsciously engrained relations I’ve made between size and power or girth and wisdom. Or maybe the energetic field of certain trees merge more seamlessly with mine. It’s hard to say.

Week 5: Commune With Nature Video

Finalized Lyrics

The creation of this piece was heavily inspired by both Machine Project’s Houseplant Vacation and Benny Nemerofsky’s Trees are Fags audio walk. In Houseplant Vacation I was particularly interested in the usage of sound, and the idea that plants can “hear” the music being played for them through the vibrational frequencies passing through the space. It reminded me of cymatics, which is both an art form and a science that makes sound visible. Essentially the process is using the instrument called a CymaScope to imprint certain sounds onto the surface of water, producing incredible mandala-like patterns. I love visualizing the water particles within the plants reacting to these auditory resonances with beautifully unique harmonized imprints.

What struck me in the Trees are Fags walk, was the choice of using the bassoon to soundtrack and guide the experience. It called to mind the materiality of the bassoon as a woodwind, whose body was only able to exist because of the sacrifice of a tree. The guitar has a similar history, and I wanted to give back through song to the trees as a thank you for their sacrifice.

The process of creating this video was a little tricky, as I had no assistance with the setup/recording. The cold and the snow made me very wary of the technology and my guitar itself, and I had to take precautionary measures in order to keep everything dry and safe. I had set up a tarp as well as a blanket so that I could comfortably sit on the ground without having the snow soak through, and I wrapped delicate tech in rags (I ended up snapping a guitar string due to the cold but was lucky enough to get the take before that happened). I set up my DSLR on a tripod, and used a zoom recording device for the audio which I later synched up in the editing process. It was a one take, due to the numbing of my fingers while playing, and I was very satisfied that everything went smoothly the first time around. However, in order to do it in a one take I had to sacrifice the quality of my video for longevity. My camera only records up to 5 mins at a time at full HQ resolution, so I had to bump it down in order to have 20 mins recording time as a cushion. In hindsight, I wish I had been able to record it with my phone, however had no way of mounting it to a tripod in order to get the shot I wanted. So, I did the best I could with cropping and creating interest through color correcting in the editing stages. I also gave some extra TLC to the audio with some light mixing.

The title I landed on is Cycles. I hope you enjoy!

Week 6: Zoom Video Planning

Lecture Notes

For this project I’ve teamed up with Justin and Emil in order to maximize brain power and efficiency. In our first meeting we hopped on zoom to brainstorm ideas and talk about themes that immediately come to mind when considering zoom as a medium for creating video work. Themes that arose immediately were those of identity, technological effect on perception, distortion, communication, connection, and authentic versus inauthentic presence. In this discussion, Emil referenced Jason Salavon’s video work, which integrates technology with the idea of distortion and overlapping through the manipulation and reconfiguration of preexisting media and data. His work All the Ways (The Simpsons) sparked an idea for us, and we began to think about how the overlapping of multiple videos (particularly the shot of the face which is a common theme in video art) ties into ideas of individuality and loss of presence.

All of us knew that we wanted this project to invite many participants into the process of creation, and we thought that we could prompt people with a question to talk about over zoom. We would then layer both the audio and video on top of one another to consequently dissolve each person into a pixelated mess. In order to connect the thematic dots, we knew the question had to involve the idea of technology’s effect on individuality, presence, and distortion, so that was something we took into consideration in our brainstorming.

Although this was an exciting idea, the conversation took a turn when I suggested a different route we could take. I am currently in Drawing IV, and our professor Paul has dedicated a few classes to shared reading sessions. He would choose a selection of reading that related to our class themes and discussions, and each week different readers were assigned chunks that were then read in turn. The reading was also shared on the screen, so those of us who were not narrators were able to read along as well. I found this exercise to be extremely engaging, and it created a wholesome space of connectivity where my classmates and I settled into a story-time-like scenario. It was interesting to hear the difference intonations, pronunciations and approaches to the text that each reader took, and I loved the sense of vulnerability that arises from reading in front of others.

With this experience in mind, I suggested we do a sort of group story-time recorded zoom call with a bunch of volunteers. We bounced ideas off of each other and eventually decided that instead of having people read off a selection of our choosing, it might be interesting to have each person write a sentence or two of poetry (or any writing of their own), then read it out. We would ask for participants to sign up and send in their submissions, then randomly generate the order that they will read in. We’ll then type up a master document of the lines, and distribute it to each person to follow along with during the reading.

Meeting Notes

Week 7: Exploring Video Art

Notes

Reflecting on these pieces:

In viewing Rashaad Newsome’s Suck Teeth Compositions and Basil AlZeri’s The Mobile Kitchen Lab, there were a few parallels I found between the two works, within both the subject matter and the resulting effects of their presentation. Each film respectively touches upon themes of deep cultural connection, and acts as a sort of homage to ancestral practices and the passing down of intergenerational knowledge. This connection is made through gesture and emphasizes linguistic/aural tradition as a way of relating to ones ancestral lineage. The way that the technology is used in Suck Teeth Compositions allows the viewer to experience a personal moment with this gesture of sucking air between the teeth. Using portrait shots above the shoulders from many angles allows for a greater understanding into the nuance of the action, as well as the micro-expressions of the face that accompany the sound. We are able to compare the similarities and differences between individuals in the way they perform the sound in order to better understand the overarching meaning behind it. If these actions were being performed live, however, they would definitely have a different effect. For one, we would be able to see involvement of the whole body and how those messages in gesture contribute further to the sound. There would also be context surrounding, and likely it would be more orchestrated by incorporating things that happen before/after the individual makes the sound.

In Mobile Kitchen Lab, there are a few layers of technology that AlZeri utilizes, the first being the fact that his performance of cooking is recorded, and the second being the video call that he engages in with his mother during the piece in which she relays instructions to him. These technologies create a sort of separation of the action that would otherwise be mended in a live performance. It would be more sensory, particularly in the triggering of the olfactory sense, and would appear to be a lot more personal had his mother been in the space with him, as if the viewer was invited into the kitchen of a mother and son.

Final Zoom Video Piece:

For the Zoom video piece, as I mentioned in a pervious post, I paired up with Emil and Justin. We initially had many ideas that we were mulling over, and were super excited about a few. However, the longer we sat on ideas the more ideas came, and the initial ideas fell into the background. We went back and fourth quite a few times between a few main ideas, trying to imagine how each would play out in actuality. We knew we wanted many people to be involved and use the grid layout of Zoom to our advantage. Finally, we landed on and executed the YesNo idea. Essentially, the piece operates using a system of yes or no questions that we asked each individual we interviewed. The fun part, however, is that the list of 30 questions that we established aren’t available to the viewer, only the reactions to the questions. In order to avoid conflicting audio, we typed each question live into the chat and had the interviewee give a yes or no answer. Then we complied all of the responses into a singular video, seeing if we could align certain answers and have others popcorn around. What resulted was a sort of strange ambiguous string of yes’ and no’s, tied into some interesting responses and facial expressions to the bizarre list of questions we asked. Candace Beritz’s Legend (A Portrait of Bob Marley) was a huge source of inspiration for this work, particularly the joy that arises from the space in between each person singing, and the desire to circulate the gaze around the screen to see the expressions of each individual.

Week 8: BREAD

What does bread mean to me???

After listening to the podcast which reflected upon bread as a connector between childhood memories, comfort, family and sustenance, I felt a bit of a lack of resonance due to my own personal experiences and relationships to bread. I can understand these deeply felt connections that people hold to bread, and have recently been building a connection through my own through experimenting with baking. But growing up, fresh baked bread was not a staple in my home. Whole wheat Wonderbread was pretty much the norm in my household, as well as grocery store tortilla’s that we’d store in the freezer and the occasional dozen of Tim Hortons bagels. Most of the bread I ate was limp and soft, pretty bland tasting, but made for an insanely delicious grilled cheese with Kraft singles (which was my personal after school staple). With all that being said, my golden memories of bread lie in the social rarity of a fresh baguette, which my family would invest in when guests came over for dinner. I swear, 12 year old me had no problem downing half a baguette with butter (& leaving room for the rest of the meal AND desert…how did I do that?!). White, crusty, flakey, chewy bread. Absolutely divine.

Hearing about the rise in baking over the pandemic makes a lot of sense, and for many reasons. I myself took to baking at the beginning of lockdown so I can relate to this desire. I think the idea of comfort is a central motivator for people picking up this skill. The reliability and stability of bread, the smell, the warmth, and the ability to share all serve as tools of comfort and soothing during a time that is extremely confusing and anxiety inducing. Time is also a factor, which was also touched upon in the podcast. Many of us now have copious amounts of spare time and are searching for places to channel our energy. One baker was speaking of the process of creating bread, and how each time it is an exciting and joy-filled event, to know that the bread is alive and growing alongside us. It takes care, practice, and patience, things which many people are able to give at this time that they otherwise may not have been able to do.

Cooking is an art. It involves systems, color, texture, aesthetics, patience, time, care, and passion. Both cooking and art typically involve the senses of looking, hearing, and feeling, and it is in this space that they intersect. However, what is unique to cooking that is often not found in traditional art practices, is engagement with the senses of taste and smell. These are similarly sensitive and subjective forms of consuming. I think that the many ways artists engage in their work is similar to that of chefs and bakers and cooks alike. There is a sense of connection to materials, an understanding of the medium through which you are communicating. It takes a certain level of awareness and ability, if not skill, to manipulate your medium in a way that is effective for you or your audience. One just deals thoroughly with flavor, while the other is often more concerned with engagement with space (a statement that I make as someone who is not a chef. Maybe some find space plays a role in their work?)

Here are some photos of the bread I made in class with everyone- forgot to take a pic of the whole loaf but my roommates and I were too excited to slap some jam on a warm slice.

Week 9: Food Art

Notes

Approaching this project was a difficult feat for me. I’m not exactly sure why this was, whether it be end of year burnout, creative block, or simply too many possibilities that my brain shut all of them out. Or maybe its because I have a difficult history with food. Regardless, it took some time to land where I did. I started thinking about my favorite foods growing up (and currently) and spaghetti stood out as a staple of my sustenance. The gesture of eating spaghetti as a messy, slurpy ordeal was something I wanted to explore, which is where Infinity Noodle was born. I wanted to see how long I could continue this action of slurping a noodle, one after the other with little to no pause. It became a slightly arduous task as my lips became sore from remaining pursed for 8 mins straight. I also became a little frustrated as I was hungry and this clearly was a counterintuitive way to feed yourself. One big slurp of an endless noodle supply. I made the decision to not wipe the sauce off my chin as it dripped down as to not disturb the action.

Infinity Noodle (2021)

After shooting Infinity Noodle, I still had a substantial amount of pasta left. Of course, I didn’t want it to go to waste, and it seemed like it would be a missed opportunity had I turned off the camera and ate it like a normal lunch. I decided to continue eating it with my hands and film another piece of careless, messy eating, allowing sauce to splatter and drip wherever it wanted to. I found it showcased the nature of the food itself and how it behaves when we take away our learned customs of manners and “proper” approaches to eating (i.e., twist the forkful of spaghetti with a fork and spoon to create a perfectly clean bite). It was uncomfortable at first but I quickly sunk into the action and started enjoying myself.

I ended up absolutely hating the video that came from this exercise and was actually repulsed watching it. I literally could not bear to upload it. I was going to scrap it completely, before noticing the interest that came from certain stills, moments where the gesture and feeling of eating in this way were captured without having all the information available. This was much more effective for me and I actually enjoy looking at this viscerally unflattering photo set. I titled it Finger Food.

Week 12: Pandemic Cake

Look at how pretty they are!!!!! And they tasted pretty freakin good too. I’ll attach the recipe below, but the only two places ways I took some liberties was by adding chopped up walnuts and the icing which I bought premade from the store.

https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/super-moist-chocolate-cupcakes/

Emil

Week 1: Book Stacks

Investigating the artists work:

I’ve been sort of chuckling to myself all week when doing this assignment thinking about its connection to my current studies in ARTH 3320 Lives: Aspects of Western Art. In it so far we’ve briefly gone over our disagreements with Roland Barthes theory from his essay “Death to the Author”. He essentially argues that as soon as the a book is finished and shared, the author and their biography add nothing to the context of the book in the eyes of the reader. Of course there are many valid arguments for and against Barthes theory, but what I find interesting in relation to this course is that while one might use a book they own as a window into the life of its author, Nina Katchadourian goes a step deeper and uses someone else books as a window into their owners life. To sum up her process, Katchadourian will take a group of books owned by someone else and rearrange their order so that the titles on the spine can be read in sequence. The sequence includes books that she sees as illustrative to their owner(s) life, almost like a portrait of them as well as a glimpse into their library taking into account how they organize their books, which ones they love, or don’t care for, etc. Compositionally, Katchadourian will also take aesthetic elements into account such as fonts used in the titles and other physical qualities such as the books “heft”. Her method of arranging stacks was the one during practice that I was most drawn to. 

In his project One Billion Years [Past and Future], 2012, Dave Dyment aimed to create his stack using chronology as his organizational tool. When arranging, the source of where the books came from, their authors, previous owners, or titles, did not take precedence over the time (past, present, future) that each books contents pertained to. He found books that wrote about thousands of years in the past and thousands of years into the future and arranged them accordingly. 

Ryan Park on the other hand, in his 2009 Untitled project, took on a more playful approach and arranged books focusing on their colour and aesthetic. Of the three artists in question he is the only one to stack the books opened as opposed to closed. Ironically each books contents have nothing to do with the meaning of the whole sculpture. 

Process

As I mentioned earlier, when it came time for me to compose my own stacks I was most drawn to Katchadourian’s method of book selection and arrangement. I wanted the books to say something about me and my literary interests. I’ll say this, it’s quite difficult when you’re someone that doesn’t ever read, which is why the first stack idea I had was one composed of various sketchbooks and notebooks I own. I also pulled select books from my roomate’s collection, using ones that I felt reflected shared interests we have in music, poetry, society, culture, and nature. The primary goal was to arrange the books so that their titles would read a little interesting phrase that reached for, if not encapsulated a common theme shared amongst them. I tried to compose each phrase like a poem, though forgive me for I wouldn’t call myself a poet by any means. Similarly to Katchadouran and Park I paid attention to the shape of the full sculpture that each book acted as a single unit of. I wanted the sculptures form to support the flow of the poem – spacing the books to emphasizing certain words when needed, and aligning or skewing titles position in relation to one another to form groups or stanzas. 

Stack 1Wood, Ink, & Paper

Stack 2Wandering the Blasted Pine

Stack 3Embers

Week 2: Notes

This week I really enjoyed looking into a few of the handful of suggested artists, namely Hiba Abdallah and Barbara Kruger

Starting with Kruger, it’s clear right off the bat, even before reading the text, that her message is immediate. That colour pallet of black white and red – the dark and light contrast combined with danger associated with blood red – screams urgency. Her messages are extremely politically charged and visually, the composition of her images resemble propaganda almost. The use of bold text, bold simple shapes, and urgent colour pallet remind me a little of Russian constructivist propaganda. Sometimes the messages aren’t all that far off, in the sense of calling for a mass group of people to organize, like in “Your Body is a Battleground” which was promoting a rally in support of abortion and women’s rights.

I love the “I Shop therefore I Am” as a comment on modern consumer capitalist society. The hand looks so ominous and mindless, reaching out towards us as if we the viewer are about to be consumed. I feel a hint of irony with Kruger’s work, or style I should say, as it relates to the Supreme skate and streetwear clothing brand. Supreme basically copied her white text on red shape design and claimed it as their own, suing other companies who remotely copy it, like streetwear brand Married to the Mob did in 2013. Kruger commented on this in an interview calling Supreme “uncool jokers.” The irony is definitely real comparing “I shop therefore I am” to Supreme, since the billion-dollar streetwear enterprise is entirely based off of fast fashion. Owning the latest product signifies some form of street credit, fitting into the consumers mantra of being what you shop, where the less you buy the lesser you are.

The other artist who’s work I loved looking through and who was not featured on the week 2 blog was Hiba Abdallah. She’s a UofG alumni who specializes in text based work and has done a lot of collaborative work with communities in Toronto to re-imagine public agency. One work of hers that I really love is her “Something written in the Arabic language” logo, which is placed on cards as a print, as well as on t-shirts. Here she uses corporate branding strategies to sell an Arabic logo that literally says: “something written in the Arabic language.” While the message is apolitical, the script and logo design is highly charged and can challenge people who carry so much as a hint of anti-Arab sentiment. To me, wearing one of the shirts feels like a really cool opportunity for some prejudice checks!

Week 3: Text Banner

For this assignment I contemplated a couple phrases; “Don’t be Shy” (written in Cree) and “Seek to Challenge” were some close contenders.

I ended up choosing the phrase “in between these moments” as to me it spoke to mindfulness and a call to presence. It didn’t take long to realize that the stairwell would be the ideal place to hang it. The stairwell is an area of the house where I (mindlessly transition) from the upstairs to the downstairs – carrying with me mindsets and thoughts from the upstairs space that may not serve me in the downstairs space. I wanted to use this phrase as a little bit of a reset as I transition between areas of the house. Another thing is that because the stairwell is such a neutral and brief space, it doesn’t manifest new thoughts within me or affect old ones. So, a call to presence in a space that is removed from the context of my busy thoughts kind of allows me to check in with myself from a more neutral perspective. I can re-evaluate what is serving me and what isn’t. It can be simpler than that too, where it just gives me a brief moment to catch my breath.

I decided to divide the phrase into two sections so that, one, the letters and words could occupy more space, and two, to draw attention to the infinite divisibility of all moments. Without getting further into the crazy physics of time, the division of this sentence just points towards the moments between each step, let alone the moments of different spaces.

Below are my notes and then images of the setup. Enjoy!

Week 4: Notes & Commune w/ Nature Planning

This week Wolfgang Laib and Benny Nemerofsky Ramsays work really stood out to me – I think I mainly liked how tactile and physical their works were. I think we interact with nature more than we think, though if we’re not being mindful and drawing our attention to the moment, the interaction is not a true commune per se. When I think of times that I’ve felt extremely present in nature it’s usually been due to a combination of mindfulness and physical interaction. I think tactility and physicality are important to me when it comes to being present because as long as you’re being mindful of what you’re touching, how you’re moving, what you’re feeling, the physical interaction grounds you in that moment. What’s more than that is it makes it a shared experience with whatever it is you’re interacting with. I believe that for my commune it will be crucial to exercise mindfulness to recognize myself and nature as being two equal parts of a shared experience.

A physical interaction with nature I’ve always interested in is climbing trees. Since we were small, both my brother and I gravitated towards climbing any tree that looked accessible. So even today, as a young adult, on a nature walk with some friends I’ll get those urges from my childhood to clamber up a tree as quickly as I can. With that, I want this commune to have an underlying sense of play.

That said I want to integrate the practice of mindfulness to the activity of climbing. While climbing is fun, it also feels reminiscent of the fact that we’re often led to believe we as humans are above nature – that we can dominate it and control it. This sentiment is not as prevalent today as it may have been, say a century ago, yet I can’t help but draw a parallel between that and tree climbing.

This video assignment will aim to portray the moment of pause and reflection before engaging in something impulsive and exciting – taking a moment to be truly present with the tree; understand the possible risks to both yourself, as the climber, and the tree; and in a weird way asking the tree for permission to climb its branches. Of course, the tree cannot offer any direct “yes” or “no” answer to that question. The way I like to see it is that its reply is measured by the amount of genuine and attentive love you feel for that tree. If you’re able to genuinely connect with the tree the feel free to begin safely climbing – maintaining that air of love and mindfulness. If you’re not feeling the connection, either from your own lack of love for the tree, or a negative vibe you get from the tree, do not proceed to climb.

The exercise I will be demonstrating in my video will be me approaching a tree that I have selected based on its climb-ability, then proceeding to sit by the base of its trunk for a short while as I reflect. Finally, based on mindful reflection I’ll decide to either climb the tree or walk away from it.

Below are some more notes that detail my ideas leading up to the video.

Week 5: Commune w/ Nature Video

How to Climb a Tree:

This is an informative video on how to climb a tree. As I mentioned in my Week 4 post, I approach a tree I’d like to climb, examine it, then proceed to sit by it and in a sense gain its permission to climb. The process of asking for permission from something that cannot directly communicate with you is a tricky thing that I myself am not even entirely certain about. I liken it quite a bit to eating meat. Although I tend to avoid it, the times that I do eat meat I try to mindfully recognize the animal that unwillingly gave its life at some factory farm. Climbing trees is definitely more tame than consuming meat (no trees or me’s were harmed in the production of this video), but I believe its still very important to approach the activity with that same mentality of thanks, love, and recognition of a shared experience. The title “how to climb a tree” is instructional because if I could I’d show this video to my younger self – have him pause before mindlessly engaging in an activity that involves more than just himself.

Week 6: Zoom video project prep

This week I was happy to partner up and work with with Claire and Justin. I was very excited by the idea of making video art – the examples we went over in class were really interesting and inspiring, especially Candice Breitz’s Legend (A Portrait of Bob Marley) and Queen (A Portrait of Madonna). As we discussed in class, the energy from those pieces was so easily felt by all who watched it. The video brought together multiple individual energies that wouldn’t normally overlap. Normally, people listening and singing to a song together will have the music track playing in the background. Here, Breitz eliminated the background reference track, making a new song out of each persons vocalizations of the original track. Voices would join together to sing Bob Marleys lyrics, and each line of the song was bridged together not by original instrumentation but by improvised vocal ad-libs and percussive snaps and claps. In the end, our final piece for week 7 would be heavily inspired by those works.

At first I pointed the group’s attention to Jason Salavon’s video piece All the Ways (the Simpsons), which used AI technology to analyze every episode of the Simpsons and produce a new video based on all previous episodes. Please refer to Claire’s week 6 blog post to view the video. The result is a fever dream resemblance of a Simpsons episodes with distorted audio and visuals. It inspired the idea of overlapping sound and video to create a similarly distorted effect. We imagined applying that technique to various zoom video tiles of people in a similar position looking at their cameras – as one would in any class or meeting. The idea was to create a distorted video of overlapped heads and faces that would create the vague shape of someone sitting at their computer attending a meeting. However before we experimented with that idea we considered the potential cons of the technique not producing what we imagined in our heads. After all, the original inspiration from Jason Salavon did not use any overlapping but original AI generated images.

We took a step back from the Salavon inspired idea when Claire suggested a piece that involved each individual in a zoom meeting writing a line of poetry. We then expanded on that idea thinking we could make a video where everyone’s prepared with a unique line of original poetry and, in a random order, read that line aloud forming. We hoped to create a poem that was loose and unpredictable, and thought it’d be interesting to see if any cool moments rise out of that collaboration. During the critique, however, we did discuss some reasons why that may not be a very compelling or effective piece.

We then moved on to the idea of the interview as a way to unite multiple people into one zoom video under one similar and controlled activity. The ideas we had around the concept of the interview were definitely informed by Factum Tremblay (2009). From the surface, I really liked in that piece how both individuals were talking about the same events and being asked roughly the same questions – that’s something I was interested in carrying forward in our work. Eventually we settled on the idea of asking a bunch of our friends random, nonsense, yes-or-no questions and only recording their response. We spent a good session together coming up with these questions and planning the execution. Please refer to Claire’s page for meeting notes.

Week 7: Zoom video art

The below piece is entitled “Yes or No” and it’s a collaborative work that was conceived and organized by Justin, Claire and myself. Each video tile is an interview with a participant who is asked the same questions in the exact same order as every other participant. The questions themselves aren’t tied to one another under a common theme. They are random, silly, and most importantly, remain anonymous during the video. Beneath its playful appearance, this project highlights the similarities and differences between us that appear when undergoing the same task. Playing each interview simultaneously (and largely uncut) allows these similarities and differences to interact, communicate, and form relationships with one another.

Originally I intended to line up the yeses and no’s to happen at the same time; the thought of everyone chanting the responses (as similar or varied as they may be) seemed really interesting at the time. However, hearing things play out naturally without trimming and re-arranging sounded so nice (it also saved me a ton of time in edits). The three of us agreed immediately upon hearing it that that was the way to go.

Week 8: Lets talk about bread.

What bread means to me? It’s so many things. On the surface I see it as something soft and warm (preferably). It’s nice on it’s own but I usually treat it like a vessel for hummus, butter, honey, peanut butter and jam. Freshly baked bread is something I’ve learned to not be interested in because it sits outside my price range when I’m going shopping.

Bread was made around the house by my mother but it wasn’t anything crazy, just a loaf she’d make from the bread maker machine. So, I’ve never associated bread with my immediate family or our kitchen. I do associate it with my Greek Orthodox upbringing however; bread was a key element in the weekly ceremony of communion. The cube-cut piece was usually rather dry and a trip to the water fountain would be in order. But there were some Sunday mornings when the bread was so moist and soft, retaining the slightest bits of warmth from the oven. My friends and I would congregate afterwards and remark on how “they really nailed the andithero this week.”

I see bread as something sensitive that pertains to my health. It was the food that called frequently to my dad late at night when he shouldn’t be eating. I’ve often found myself mindlessly eating it, slice after slice, far past the time I should be eating. We didn’t need it but we needed it. Especially when orthodox easter comes around – the tsureki (sweet egg-bread) is irresistible to a fault. When I learned that my aunt was unhealthily binging, it was bread that she couldn’t stop herself from eating. And while I’ve never had a food disorder of my own, eating bread is something that I’ve done easily and without control.

I think that cooking and art are integrated when you share and express stories like these. When the making, presenting, and eating (respectively or collectively) intentionally speak to these stories and carry their weight, that’s when it becomes art.

I forgot to take a picture of the bread I made that week. I became preoccupied trying to save the sinking ship that was my failing hard drive 🙁

Week 9: Food project

I think I initially missed week 9’s class, but going back to see the material I really loved Christian Jankowski’s 1997 video piece The Hunt. A really funny, bizarre, and bold performance – I feel like it’d be hard to pull something like that off today without a considerable amount of trouble. The commentary on the contrast between the hunter-gatherer lifestyle and our current method of obtaining food was definitely apparent.

One thing I can’t shake from that video is the slightly triggered feeling I get seeing him prep a potentially harmful or lethal weapon and walk into a public building in broad day. The influx in mass shootings in recent years has made me sensitive to that kind of scenario. That’s not to take away from the piece at all, only another thing that would potentially affect its recreation today.

For my project I decided to focus on waste: either organic food scraps or food packaging. Whenever I go grocery shopping I can’t help but feel stressed by the overwhelming amount of waste that we as a collective group of people will produce from this week’s haul. The stress worsens as I remember how the store that I’m in is only one of hundreds of thousands of stores that people are currently shopping at. Visually representing overwhelming thoughts like that through digital photographic and video media is something I’ve done before and I feel like it’s a one that people can easily resonate with. I’m inspired by motion graphic pieces of work where hundreds of images are taken of a similar object or shape that stays in the same position of the frame the whole time. Click here to go to an instagram post that serves as an example. I’ve always thought about doing a project similar to something like that, taking pictures of the compost or barcodes or something. As I write about this after the fact, I decided on photographing my compost bin from a birds-eye-view to record its composition throughout the week. There are 5 members in my house, so naturally, something is being added to the bin every couple of hours – especially in the mornings and evenings. The goal was to take as many images as possible and present them in a fast paced video where each image takes up a single frame per second of screen time (usually, videos run at 30 frames per second).

Week 10: Final food piece

This is the final piece. Each image takes up a couple of frames per second. In total there are about 50 images. This is definitely a project that I am excited to take further, not only with compost but with repeating symbols on food packaging like recycling symbols, barcodes, CMYK dot/labels, etc.

Week 12: LET THEM EAT CAKE

While the act of making this particular cake (or there lack of) didn’t meet the mark of the assignment, the effect was all the same. Here you’re looking at evidence of a happy household that got to eat cake at 3:30 in the afternoon.

Thomas

Week 11:

Results:

I found the result zoomed in looked like an abstract painting! Lots of texture.

Im not a huge cake fan personally, so it was no surprise my house here at school lacked the basic ingredients. However, like the task says, make a cake with what you have. With warm weather around the corner and school nearing an end, all I can think about are summer campfires and s’mores! So by using stuff from home and kit from a summer ago, I’m going to try and make a s’mores cake-ish…..

Week 10:

Food art final~

For my final food project I wanted to include a video element that also reminded me of home I went very literal for this because the foods that I selected didn’t represent German cuisine. The foods I chose are all things I grew u p eating that bring me some sort of comfort or sense of home.

PSA: Cookies, dry cereal, uncooked KD and All Dressed chips are a terrible combination if eaten directly after. (In case anyone thought it look otherwise)

Week: 9

Food Art:

Pancake Stack- Aislinn Thomas

This piece was pretty out there for me so to say, to cook something purely for the use of not eating was something I had not previously consider.  I would usually look for more traditional mediums to work with (food, art, or building supplies) However, this being Experimental Studio, I have a much more open mind to non-traditional ways to do things. To get back on topic, Pancake Stack is a great example of using something in a different way, and already I know I want to use this idea behind my project.

I also liked the work “The Hunt” by Christian Jandowski. This piece also connected to our video art as it followed the subject while he “hunted” for his food at grocery stores. I found the filming extremely effective as it created the feeling of being in the store, and witnessing the hunt first hand. I also liked the irony in this piece, and how much easier it is now to source food, rather than in the past when maximum effort were required. The proximity of the camera to the subject also created a more personal impactful experience.

For my food-art project I have a couple of ideas;

  • Photo series using the same plating equipment/background to create a series of steps for a dish (for example: preparing and placing the ingredients on the dish at. Each stage of the process, and eventually completing it with a fully garnished meal).
  • Instead of using  food in a non-traditional way, use other things to cook in a non-traditional way. ( Using objects that do not belong in the kitchen to prepare/cook a meal) noting any mentionable failures/successes.
  • Using the audio elements of a kitchen/food (chopping, stirring, whisking, boiling etc.) to see if they are known only from association, or if the sounds that come from food and the kitchen are specific to those things.
  • Tying back to AlZeri ~ using the sense of home/background in relation to food.

After writing down and thinking more deeply about my ideas, I now know I want focus on inspiration from either Aislinn Thomas, as I cannot get the idea of thinking in non-traditional ways out of my head. Or the work of Basil AlZeri from Week 7 because I really connected with the idea of bringing a sense of home/heritage to another place, as that is something I do often while living away from home during University. To incorporate this into my project I want to eat foods that bring me comfort or remind me of home. I also want to include a visual element like the skype call in AlZeri’s work. I decided against the photo series idea as I was not happy the way they turned out. It looked only like a photo of a meal, instead of a photo series like I had intended.   

The photos above are from the two series I wanted to try, one being the elements of the plate, being plated, the other was to have uniformed dishes and have the food be the actual art, however neither of my ideas panned out.

Week 8:

The Rise and Fall of Bread:

Bread is something that for me has a lot of meaning, but not for the traditional reasons per-say. The traditional form of bread being eaten, and me not eating a lot of bread has resulted in me forming a different relationship with bread. Bread for me is about the atmosphere created by fresh bread. On a number of occasions through my life, the aroma of freshly baked bread has been the perfect ending or addition to something already great. A. quick example is when I was on vacation in Costa Rica, there was a bakery near where I stayed and each morning I would wake up to the sun, sand and surf accompanied by the smell of freshly baked bread. Now, fresh bread is obviously something that I like the smell of, but to specifically remember the bread scent from a trip that happened years ago, got me really thinking of what it means to me, and what that is, is comfort and a feeling of home. This feeling also comes from me waking up at home to the smell of fresh bread on days that we were having family or guests over. My mom would often bake a loaf or two of bread for our guests to snack on, and so whenever I would look forward to family gatherings I also had the smell of bread to look forward to. Everyone in. my family eats more bread than I do, as I am not a fan of sandwiches. I also rarely eat breakfast (the meal  my family most often consumes bread with) so it is rarely the “centre” of my meals. Instead the centre and comfort revolve more around noodle/pasta dishes. Traditionally there isn’t a ton of bread in German cuisine, and because of this I haven’t gotten use to eating it as so.  I think popularity in bread making has gone up during the pandemic because so many more people are confined to their homes. This results in people starting hobbies or trying new things, bread is  also something that is prominent  in the majority of households, so it is something that is common to try and do yourself. Overall I found the podcast extremely interesting, this was because I had no idea the history behind bread and how important it is outside of something to eat. Something memorable for me from the podcast was how “bread” travelled around through Europe and to the Mediterranean because it was so important that when people left areas, they felt the need to continue/bring bread. Cooking and art making for me are tightly related  as I see a lot of artist characteristics in cooking, there are times when precision is everything, and having a steady hand and good touch can lead you to the perfect plate or painting, but then there are also times of pure creativity and madness. The gestures of stirring, cutting, folding, rolling etc. are all repurposed through the movements needed for art, brush strokes, sketching, shading, etc. I also think that a lot of food is art just based on the visual beauty of it, there is something about using vibrant fresh greens on top of a meal that for me represents the artist/chefs signature on the completion of their work.
Although I was absent during the class bake, I wanted to complete the exercise anyways, so I baked these with my Mom when I was home for a weekend. The smell of the fresh bread instantly transported me back to Costa Rica.

Zoom Video Art:

Like I stated earlier in my draft/proposal, I wanted to focus on distortion and the lack of communication caused by technology. So for my project I filmed three videos of my reactions to words being announced (just to trigger different emotions) and wanted to see the difference in effect depending on how close the camera is, but also on which part of the face. The first video was my whole face, and portrayed the most emotion, in the other two videos, I focus on the corner of my eyebrow and the point directly between my eyes. I wanted to try different locations and zooms because I was curious about what information could be pulled from the littlest amount of detail. I also purposely left out my body and the audio because it further forces the audience to try and attain information from expression only. (The videos can be found at the bottom of the page, not sure why they got sent there, just another example of the technical difficulties we face in our everyday lives) I wanted to do something similar to Thomas’ work with the focus being on the face itself and what that can say or what it can hide by being disfigured or dis-formed by movement, or technical aspects. I also wanted to tie in my favourite part from Newsome’s work ‘Suck Teeth’, that part being the very simple background, I think i was able to achieve this, and I believe it was successful in directing all of the focus to the expressions and movement in my face.

Week 7:

Suck Teeth Compositions:

This video was really interesting to me, as it had equally a visual element as it did an audio element. The thing I found most striking in this video was how I felt present when I heard the sound of teeth sucking. By having more than one subject in frame, and by having overlapping sounds, Rashaad Newsome was able to transport the audience to a front row in person experience. I also really liked the contrast of a plain light background because it allowed for all the focus to land on the subjects and the audio. The video is very well shot, all the shots are symmetrical and level, this gave the piece a very put together appearance. If the strategies used by Newsome had not been used I think the experience would have been very different, I think that if the background was different it would distract from the subjects and I think if the sound was only made once, it would have felt like more of a performance rather than an experience. What I mean by that is, the sound/gesture is a natural thing to do, so do make it only once it would stand out more as something that is being performed for the camera. I think the subjects were told to make the noise, and little else, because they each have their own expression/reasons/characteristics that make them/teeth sucking unique.

The Mobile Kitchen Lab :

This work by Palestinian artist Basil AlZeri, is amazing! It was really interesting to see how he was able to create the sense of home, even when he is so far away from his. I also found this particularly special as in the past I have facetimed my Mom while trying to cook dishes from her German background. I also find the connection between his home and his food very interesting, because that is something that is common among my Mom and her parents as well. They constantly discuss how different things are prepared in different ways based on where/when/how they are grown or picked.  The technology in this is also important, because it allows for AlZeri to visually show his mom what is being done, if this were to be done over the phone using only auditory communication the outcome and the whole experience would be much less impactful. I don’t think much was said to the participants because the goal was relatively straight forward, and did not involve anything that out of the ordinary.

I found both works very powerful as they both dealt with years and years of struggle based on race, religion, geographic region and violence. This information made the positive areas in the pieces really come to the forefront and highlight the importance of history behind the reasoning. I also think that it offers amazing contrast of coming from a historically “bad” place and presenting the good in that place.  

Week 6:  Zoom Art Proposal

For my Zoom art project I wanted to focus on the Vivian Castro article and the information/subject matter she covered. I found there was a ton of information on the importance of the face, and facial expression while communicating. Castro mentions the difference or change from going to seeing people in person and being able to read their body language to solely interacting with the face. I find this change interesting because many studies show that upwards of 90% of communication is non-verbal, so to take away the body, is to almost take away all of the social cues and ways to detect meaning/intention. The only thing we are  left with is the actual verbal details and other information we can extract from the facial expressions. Now, the verbal details are theoretically where the actual information is, but there are many things that can affect this as well, things that Castro mentions like; zoom fatigue,  noise distraction, family or pet distractions. Another factor that can impede incoming information would be technical problems.

Historically, video art has been very experimental, and is constantly changing due to technological advancements. A time in video art history I find particularly interesting, and what I want to focus on for my project is the human body/face. Pipilotti Rist has been a hugely popular name in video art, and she constantly is using it to expand her art. Her piece “Be Nice To Me (Flatten 04)” is particularly interesting to me because I am fascinated by what can be done by sampling zooming to distort something. In my project I want to focus on distortion and on non-verbal communication, to represent the distance and confusion caused by technology. In the images above, Rist’s face is barely recognizable because of the zoom, this takes us a step even further from communication and being able to read signs, which is what I want to achieve in my video~ Up close and personal, but not able to attain information due to technology, and communication style.

Week #4

When deciding what to do as an intimate action, I immediately thought of the act of eating.  Eating is something that is very personal and in most scenarios involves only the one participant, but I wanted to stretch that into something that pushed the number of “participants” to a multiple. I also found on the guided audio walk that it reminded me of audio tours, unsurprisingly. However, I found myself thinking about being on those and how much of a group activity they are, it made me think about doing this. audio tour through tress or the forest, and how different of an experience the crowd or other participants can give to an activity. My decision completely changed from my initial idea of doing a tour of my house with one plant, as I felt no intimacy in the action, and this ultimately landed me on the act of eating being intimate and my video being the way I wanted it shown.

From the audio walk I focused mainly on the idea of being immersed within the “trees” or being inside of your minds jungle. I stuck with the Jungle theme while doing my project, I tried to position my camera as to submerse it in the jungle, so to speak. I also think the movement of the plants when brushed with my hand or chopstick, added to the feeling of being surrounded or immersed. I also wanted the background noise of my house to represent the noises present in the jungle.

Week #3

For the Banner project I wanted to focus on a more simple, minimalist approach. From the “Dirty Words” article I found myself glued to the phrase “interesting also flirts with boredom”. I wanted to create a banner that was very plain and simple, to represent the connection between boredom and interest. The piece “Two Equal Texts” inspired me with the idea to use black and white lettering versus an opposite background contrast. Seeing how vibrant the letters were set against the opposite background really swayed me to work with the the two tones to create heavy contrast. I also like his very ordinary text and this reminded me of interesting also entailing boredom.

I am pretty happy with how my project came out. I wanted a pronounced contrast between the black letters and the white paper/background.

Week #2 Assignment

For this week’s assignment, we were asked to compare and contrast two works that incorporated text into them, and touch on the core elements of these art works. It was hard to choose which two to compare because there were so many amazing works! However, I have narrowed down my selection to Shelley Niro’s “The Shirt” and Jon Rubin’s “The Last Billboard”. I chose these two because I find them very different, but both very impactful. Obviously there is a major difference in the presentation of these two projects, Niro uses a simple white t-shirt with text on it, while Rubin uses an entire billboard to convey his message, I think both are successful, Rubin’s work will access mass people with its location and size while Niro uses irony to transform a known phrase into something with a much deeper meaning. I think Niro using a t-shirt is effective because it is a common vacation purchase for many people, and it is a very blunt way to explain the atrocities committed against the indigenous. Rubin’s work “The Last Billboard” uses a similar bluntness as Niro in his work, stating there will be black people in the future, which is also somewhat ironic. Viewers can relate to Niro’s work by being aware of the phrase and seeing the twisted ironic side. This can also be said for Rubin’s work, where viewers are faced with a blunt truth.

Week #1 Notes:

Nina Katchadourian’s Book Stacks projects:

  • Started in 93’
  • Stacks of books, that are ordered  based on their titles to create a sentence
  • The goal was to symbolize what was held in the libraries
  • The project had multiple locations and re-creations, using libraries, private collections, and home libraries
  • The works were often presented where they were found

Video:

  • How books can tell a story
  • How books can represent a person
  • Think about the books in all terms (physical aspects, titles, author, style)
  • Does your library represent you?

Dave Dyment One Billion Years (Past and Future), 2012:

  • This collection represents the past, present and future by using the information inside the books
  • The Books selected by Dyment use the inner contents of the book to represent a timeline of one million years
  • Bright coloured books create a visually stimulating image, with lots of areas to focus on
  • The use a prominent dark background suggests similarities to the work of Katchadourian

Ryan Park, Untitled, 2009:

  • This work differs from the others as it offers an open book style of stacking, rather than the traditional stacking used in the previous works.
  • The use of colour is very apparent in this work, as the books transition from cool to warm coolers, then back to cool
  • The background is again a solid colour, but this example uses a white background which brings more openness to the work

Write:

  • Some strategies used by the artists would be choosing specific books based on specific characteristics, for example; Katchadourian stated that she was trying to create sequences with her books, so the titles would be the deciding characteristic in that case. She also mentioned representing the owner of the books, this can be done by using the titles, or it can be done with symbolism by using physical aspects of the book such as colour of the outside, size, shape, condition and many more.
  • Colour was used heavily by Park in the selection of his books, as can be seen the ascending then descending colouration of his work. A strategy used by Dave Dyment; he used the information written inside the books to create a timeline. Using the contents of the books can be a great way to represent someone or something because it gives you a well-rounded appreciation for whatever it may be.

My Process:

Unfortunately, my lack of interest in reading resulted in me owning only four books… at first I was stumped on what to do, my roommates only had textbooks and I didn’t want to use material that has no connection to me, while I still had the four other options. As I decided to use my books, I noticed how figuratively they represented me quite well.

The titles of my books are the following:

  • Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnecut
  • The Art of Racing In the Rain, Garth Stein
  • Die Rich and Tax Free, Barry Kaye
  • Gucci Mane, Autobiography with, Neil Martinez-Belkin

I am a huge fan of rap/hip-hop (Gucci Mane), I love cars, especially fast ones. The book also heavily features a dog, which resonates with me because I’ve owned dogs all my life (The Art of Racing In the Rain). Die Rich and Tax Free, connects to one thing that I am known for which is my spending habit, the book was given to me by my former employer (a financial advisor) who constantly criticized my spending, till the point he found a book that has helped to reduce my spending. The last book, Breakfast of Champions, I have almost no ties to, besides the irony of me not typically eating breakfast, and the honest not knowing of where I got the book from.

For my “stacks” I wanted to make my library to seem more diverse than four books, so i tried several angles and positions till I arrived at three that i liked, I liked these three because of how different they are, I think in some ways it symbolizes how vast my own interests are.

https://experimentalstudio.ca/extendedpracticeslevel2/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2021/01/IMG_4220-768x1024.jpg

For my stacks I wanted to make my library seem large and vast, so I tried to work with different shapes in order to accomplish that. I also wanted to incorporate some of Ryan Park’s ideas because I liked the look of the books being open, as I feel the back cover can offer a little more insight into the library. I also wanted to incorporate Katchadourian’s location selection, of stacking the works in the location they come from, so I decided to photograph my images inside my bedroom.