Week 2

MONDAY:

Discuss proposals posted on the blog for Text multiples

Demo on design and publishing with Nathan (30 minutes)

Yoko Ono WAR IS OVER!, 2008-2009 IMAGINE PEACE in 24 languages Holiday Billboards Times Square, New York, NY Photo by: Karla Merrifield © Yoko Ono

WEDNESDAY:

Look at work in progress, designs together

Troubleshoot technical stuff with Nathan

Finished designs must be sent to print professionally by this weekend, or to Nathan by Sunday night!

Week 1

  • SUMMARY OF WEEK ONE WORK:
  • Participate in introductions and course information, demo of WordPress in class
  • Listen to short lecture on artist multiples.
  • TO DO: A short post on one artist from the list will be due for a 3 minute presentation on WEDNESDAY of this week.
  • A new work of text-based multiple will be assigned, due for final critique in Week 4. Details to be provided.

MONDAY

Welcome back to school everyone, I’m very happy to have a way to come together to learn about contemporary experimental art practices. During the pandemic, we will engage in weekly exercises, demos, readings and videos to learn some of the historic, theoretical, and technical aspects of working in experimental media forms.

Our virtual course will emphasize ideas, research, regular exercises and practices, and we will work on developing resolved artworks.

Students will perform and create studio exercises at home and in the world – within strict adherence to public health guidelines at all times – using materials and situations at hand. Together we will practice being resourceful and creative within the limits of any given situation. We will explore how to be an artist now – using aspects of performance, snapshot photography, video, audio, and artist multiples – in this unique and challenging historical moment.

Every week we will have Monday and Wednesday class meetings – and then you will do the week’s homework (things to read, write and create) posted under Weekly Assignments.

Due dates are shared on the Weekly assignment pages, and on the tentative schedule found here:

You will need approximately 4-6 hours to complete your work for this course every week in addition to class meeting time.

Schedule your work and you will be able to keep up with your assignments!

All your notes, images and videos must be on the class BLOG – under your name. 

ONLY edit your own page – do not edit anything else on the blog.

I will periodically read and evaluate your work on the BLOG and we will look at examples of works by students together in our class ZOOM.

See course information, and evaluation for details.

Lecture:

Instructions for the world:

Text based prompts, interventions, and multiples

Jon Sasaki

Napkins (Materials Safety Data Sheet)

2011, Multiple, paper serviettes printed with one of three colours of ink. 5″ x 5″

43_napkin-blue
43_napkin-yellow
43_napkin-red

A Clock Set to 24 Hours Into The Future

2014-2015, public artwork for Sheridan College’s Temporary Contemporary, Trafalgar Campus, Oakville Ontario.

“Unlike most campus clocks, this one has been set 24 hours fast, always displaying “tomorrow’s time.” Of course, on a four-numeral digital clock, tomorrow’s time appears indistinguishable from “today’s time,” and therein lies a small bit of levity that is intended to open up a range of poetic interpretations.”

“A clock tower running 24 hours fast is in fact practical and functional in the present, but serves also as an aspirational signpost pointing towards the idea of tomorrow.” From his site Jon Sasaki

63_clock2
63_clock5

(the accompanying didactic panel)

An Obsolete Calendar Towel Embroidered with an Identical, Future Calendar Year,
1970/2065, 1982/2049, 1976/2032 and 1969/2042

2012, ongoing, embroidered found vintage textiles, each approx. 17″ x 28″.

In an ongoing series, obsolete calendar towels have been embroidered with the date of an identical, future calendar year. Beyond giving the discarded object a renewed relevance, it proposes a disturbingly banal vision of the future… that decades from now we will still be pining for some vague 19th century inspired nostalgia… covered bridges, copper kettles, cast iron stoves and millponds… images that were anachronistic wishful fictions even at the time the calendars were first printed.From his site Jon Sasaki

Please Don’t Take This 1000 Yen

2013, intervention in the neighbourhood of Konohana, Osaka Japan.

Upon arriving in Osaka, I observed hundreds of bicycles that had either flimsy locks, or no locks at all to secure them. I surmised there was some sort of honor system in play, and decided to test it a little. The results were surprising to me.

Four signs were placed around the neighbourhood early one morning, asking residents to please not take the 1000 Yen bill attached to it.

Two of the signs remained untouched until I retrieved them late that night. One sign disappeared mid-afternoon, although it probably had something to do with it being posted on the city’s bulletin board without permission. The fourth sign disappeared late in the day, which still impressed me. It turns out it was taken by a random, concerned neighbour who wanted to safeguard it. She did some sleuthing, somehow correctly guessed the restaurant I would be visiting later that night, and returned it (along with the 1000 Yen of course) a few hours before I arrived.

Lee Walton

Momentary Performances

On his website, Lee Walton writes: “For Momentary Performances (2008-2010), I used vinyl text on city walls to announce ordinary moments that will take place. These texts are installed throughout the city weeks prior to each performance. Nearly 20 of these public works took place in Minnesota and Atlanta.

After acting out the script exactly on schedule, actors casually disappear into the city as if completely unaware of the descriptive text. Unexpected public is left to wonder about the reality of the serendipitous occurrence.”

Experiential Project:

The Experiential Project

Art in General, Project Space, 2005

These postcards became the access points for experiential interactions with shop owners, bars, barber shops, sandwich cafes, boxing clubs, and hidden city spaces. When a participant located the hidden starting point, an orchestrated experience unfolded. Participants become performers as more instructions and prompts are discovered embedded  throughout each journey.

CLUSTERFUCK ESTHETICS
“Lee Walton’s “Experimental Project” at Art in General is a sort of walking cacophony. It consists of a packet of cards, each with brief instructions that set you off on a situationist drift or do-it-yourself performance. A few weeks ago, one card sent you to a marvelous Asian store on Lafayette Street, where you were instructed to look “inside large music book on the top shelf.” A slip of paper then directed you to buy a lottery ticket and take it to a parking lot where you were sent to an OTB parlor and then led to a Chinese cardiologist and so on. This week’s instructions read, “Nancy Whiskey Pub. Lispenard at West Broadway. Inside pocket of red jacket.”

by Jerry Saltz

WRITE: Due in Wednesday’s class to present

Multiple by Maurizio Nanuci

You will be assigned one of the artists below. Post 2 examples (image and description) of great text based works – look for instructions, scores, prompts, advertised events, and multiples that use text in a conceptual way.

Describe the artist’s general approach in their broader practice, along with why you like the works selected – how do these objects work in the world? How is the artist’s use of language different from other forms of public text? How do they use materials, fonts, and other formal decisions to activate the text?

You will have 3-4 minutes MAX to present the two works to class.

Adrian Piper

Adam Chodzcho

Michael Drebert

George Brecht

Yoko Ono

David Horvitz

Jonathan Monk

Mendi and Kieth Obadike

Janice Kerbel

Erika Rothenberg

Scott King

Hiba Abdullah

Jenny Holzer

Miranda July

Fiona Banner

WEDNESDAY:

Give short presentations

Assign Text piece

ASSIGNMENT:

Instructions for the world:

Text based prompts, interventions, and multiples

DETAILS TBD in next class.

Make an artist multiple that centres text as a main element – the text should be employed conceptually – you may use it to:

-Give prompts, propose uncommon actions

-Provide instructions for absurd or unexpected things

-Trick the viewer in a pro-social way

-Make minor sentiments majorly declarative

-Document a banal, ephemeral thing in an important or permanent manner

-Play with an awareness of fonts, styles, and with text as a material, or an abstraction

– Subvert the intentions of found text

-Give voice in public to something not usually spoken in public

-Consider some of the strategies empoloyed by the artists discussed in class

etc…

You will be able to use 13×9″ high quality paper to make an edition or a series of postcards, a poster or other paper based ephemera. Nathan will complete the printing for you in studio – deadlines to be discussed in class.

Works must be properly finished to a professional level – and documented in an appropriate context to show the intended manner of circulation/presentation of the work.

You may also choose to make a T-shirt, hat, a magnet, a mug – or other printed ephemera that you will need to find and have printed on your own and in time – in order to document the work and present it in class for final critique.

NEXT WEEK MONDAY: Post a proposal drawing/ideas, we will discuss in class, along with a publishing/design demo

Deadline for finished files to be sent to Nathan (or elsewhere) to print: Week 3 Friday Jan. 28

Final critique: Week 4 Wed. Feb. 2

Melyssa’s Work

Artist Multiples

Janice Kerbel

Janice Kerbel | Turner Prize Nominee 2015 | TateShots - YouTube
Janice Kerbel

Janice Kerbel is a British Artist born in 1969. She works with a range of material that including print, type, audio recording as well as the recent playing of light . Her work includes existing languages from a wide range of disciplines and re-imaging them. Her practice tries to imagine and develop new forms, which can be seen through many of her art pieces that including on her silkscreen prints on paper.

Janice Kerbel, Score, ‘Fall’

Janice Kerbel, Score, ‘Fall’, 2015, 10 silkscreen prints on paper, composition: 108 x 66 in. (273 x 167 cm), each sheet: 22 x 33 in. (56 x 84 cm)  
Janice Kerbel, Score, ‘Fall’, 2015, 10 silkscreen prints on paper, 108 x 66 in. (273 x 167 cm)
Janice Kerbel, Score, ‘Fall’ (detail), 2015, 10 silkscreen prints on paper, composition: 108 x 66 in. (273 x 167 cm), each sheet: 22 x 33 in. (56 x 84 cm)  
close up

Janice Kerbel, Score, ‘Crash’ 

Janice Kerbel, Score, ‘Crash’, 2015, 3 silkscreen prints on paper, composition: 22 x 131 in. (56 x 334 cm), each sheet: 22 x 33 in. (56 x 84 cm)  
Janice Kerbel, Score, ‘Crash’ (detail), 2015, 3 silkscreen prints on paper, composition: 22 x 131 in
Janice Kerbel, Score, ‘Crash’ (detail), 2015, 3 silkscreen prints on paper, composition: 22 x 131 in. (56 x 334 cm), each sheet: 22 x 33 in. (56 x 84 cm)
Close up: 2
Janice Kerbel, Score, ‘Crash’ (detail), 2015, 3 silkscreen prints on paper, composition: 22 x 131 in. (56 x 334 cm), each sheet: 22 x 33 in. (56 x 84 cm)
Close up: 1

Why I choose these pieces …

I choose both silkscreen pieces that having Janice’s practice in developing new forms. The first peice I choose was “Score, ‘Fall’, 2015, 10 silkscreen prints on paper” where she split up her work into different pieces, but still continuing onto the next pages forming a motion or even showing a wave of words giving the piece movement implying a “fall” like its very name. The piece moves heavily from the top being more condensed then moves more openly when at the bottom where the words are more scattered. Having such words like “HEAD”, “PLUNGE”, MET”, “SHARP”, “snaps”, “BIRD” and other suffixes like “ing” almost adding to some words creating new ones like a scrabble game, such as “BIRD” and “ing” being close to one another making a new word, “Bing”. In a conceptual way, as the concept is more important than the execution, where Kerbel uses words and motion to convey this image of new form of a fall. The second piece I choose also shared the same concept of movement and also included letters, similar to the other piece I’ve chosen. Having the name “Crash” where her letters are formed into a visual image. The letters build up then crash by the end. This act of a crash shows her theme of “new forms” and the act of movement.

I choose these 2 pieces because It looks like inking or just printmaking that I thought was cool and the chaos of letters in an organized manner just jumped out to me as everything is so clean and well put together and that each individual letter can be a all put together as a multiple. These objects work in the world because we, as humans, are more advanced and now type more rather than hand write our work, so her piece just fits into today’s society era of technology. The artist use of language is different because she doesn’t form any sentences, rather she just makes it into a movement through words and letters like suffixes. The uses of font is vast by the different sized fonts in both pieces as well as the uses of caps where she makes some words in all caps. This usage of font activates the texts by creating a use of space in her piece that eventually lead to her meaning on movement and “new” form.

How the Art is made

janice kerbel’s works

https://catrionajeffries.com/artists/janice-kerbel/works

https://www.gold.ac.uk/art/staff/kerbel-janice/

Week 7


Pipillotti Rist

Pipilotti Rist (Swiss) talks about her first work of video art “I’m Not the Girl Who Misses Much” from 1986 – barely art – that they submitted to a festival just to get a free ticket to see the shows. Before MTV, before YouTube the artist – like Joan Jonas or Bruce Nauman or Nam June Paik and others – was performing simple gestures, improvised performances, and performing herself in footage that was rough, poor quality, chaotic and spontaneous.

Did artists invent music videos? You Tube?

Kelly Mark

Or cat videos? See Kelly Mark, Toronto based artist in 2002.

See the video here: http://kellymark.com/V_MusicVideoSeries1.html

Faced with the awe-inspiring popularity of web-monoliths like YouTube, contemporary art risks becoming nothing more than a quaint relic of the 20th century.

It’s probably not fair to compare contemporary art practice with YouTube; yet there is evidence to suggest that somewhere in the ulterior of its collective brain, the art world does just this, and finds itself lacking. How else to understand the ongoing assurances given in art exhibition press releases and catalogue essays about the important role the viewer plays in the construction of meaning – and the intention to facilitate it with this very exhibition?

If artists once played a leading – avant garde – role in providing a complex and forward-looking framework for reflection on the contemporary world, it now seems most comfortable bringing up the rear, providing explanations for developments already intuitively understood and widely enjoyed by the culture at large. “

Rosemary Heather, From Army of You Tube

Ryan Trencartin

“Ryan Trecartin’s videos depict a vertiginous world I’m barely stable enough to describe. Watching them, I face the identity-flux of Internet existence: surfing-as-dwelling. Images evaporate, bleed, spill, metamorphose, and explode. Through frenetic pacing, rapid cuts, and destabilizing overlaps between representational planes (3-D turns into 2-D and then into 5-D), Trecartin violently repositions our chakras. Digitally virtuoso, his work excites me but also causes stomach cramps. I’m somatizing. But I’m also trying to concentrate.” From Situation Hacker: The Art of Ryan Trencartin, Wayne Kaustenbaum

Maya Ben David

Biography

Maya Ben David (MBD) is a Toronto-based Jewish-Iranian Anthropomorphic Airplane. Working in video, installation and performance, she creates worlds and characters that aid her ongoing exploration of anthropomorphism, cosplay and performative personas. Ben David presents the origin stories of her characters in the form of video and performance, and expands on them via her online presence. They often inhabit alternate universes accompanied by nostalgia, such as the worlds of Pokémon and Spiderman. In addition, Ben David also plays a character called MBD who is known for having multiple feuds with her many alter egos as well as the art world. Most infamously, MBD has ignited online feuds with artists such as Jon Rafman and Ajay Kurian.   Bio from her site Maya Ben David

Arthur Jaffa:

Warning about video art below: Contains explicit/violent material, actual footage

From Arthur Jaffa, Love is the Message, the Message is Death

“Well my thing was like, first of all, there’s something to be said for just making explicit what is oftentimes implicit—which is black people being killed as if we’re not human beings. How do we introduce something in the space that can cut through the noise? There’s a real problematic around the appropriateness of having an image of a man getting murdered. But this footage is all over the place. It’s everywhere. It’s not like we’re talking about digging stuff out of some archive that’s never been seen before.

It’s literally everywhere so the question becomes: How do you situate it so that people actually see it, this phenomena, as opposed to just having it pass in front of them? How do you have people actually see it? And simultaneously, how do you induce people to apprehend both the beauty and the horror these circumstances? There’s something profound (and magical) to be said about the ability, the capacity to see beauty anywhere and everywhere. I think it’s a capacity black people have developed because not only are we are not authorized, we’re demonized—we are radically not affirmed, so we’ve actually learned not just how to imbue moments with joy but to see beauty in places where beauty, in any normative sense, doesn’t necessarily exist.”

From Love is the Message, The Plan is Death, Arthur Jafa and Tina M. Campt in coversation on e-flux

OPTIONAL READ: From Love is the Message, The Plan is Death, Arthur Jafa and Tina M. Campt in coversation on e-flux

Yuula Benivolski

aspacegallery.org

“Scrap Pieces is a collaborative meditation on the physical components of the surface of images. This 4 channel video project borrows materials from the studios of four Canadian photographers: Laurie Kang, Jeff Bierk, Nadia Belerique, and Celia Perrin Sidarous. Filmed in the intimate style of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), Benivolski soothes the viewer using debris and scrap materials such as small pieces of metal, silicone, plaster casts, test strips, seashells, glass, wires and transparencies.” Yuula Benivolski from her site

https://www.archivalaffections.com/yuula-benivolski.html

Traces
2021 / 4k video / colour / sound / single screen / 62’46

“Traces is an ASMR video tutorial that demonstrates the process of forensic fingerprint development on old currency that has been out of circulation for thirty years. With Bridget Moser.

I left Moscow at 10 years old when it was still part of the Communist USSR and made my first trip back home to the “Russian Federation” 28 years later. Curious about the disappeared ideology and citizens of the place I was born in, I purchased 300 Soviet banknotes which went out of circulation in 1993, with plans to lift fingerprints off them.

The fingerprints, once revealed through a chemical process taught to me by a forensic specialist, are photographed using an orange filter on a macro lens, and enlarged 80 times their size, in order to show the last natural traces of a place that has been made to vanish.” Yuula Benivolski

Assignment for next week:

Forage through the internet for the tropes of popular video culture you would like to explore more deeply. We’ll discuss possible options in class, so a pair of students can each present a video genre. The presentation should take up to 10 minutes MAX. including video time.

Prepare a presentation on your blog page – of one internet video. Include a detailed description of the video.

Consider these questions and others relevant to your selction:

  • How is it shot, and framed? Where does the material come from? What is the quality of the footage?
  • How is it edited, and does it flow from clip to clip?
  • What does it sound like? How are sound or image manipulated and transformed from original footage?
  • What are some of the key features that define this genre?What are some weird variations on it?
  • What are some of the reasons these kinds of videos are compelling or useful in this historical moment? Use quotes from published sources to back up your arguments and analysis.
  • How do you relate to it?

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.

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 🙂

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/