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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
I looked at the cameras quite a bit.
Many of the actions were nervous ticks (playing with my hair, checking the time, etc) that I frequently do when I am uncomfortable/bored.
I attempted to use my space to its full potential (running, dancing etc), which is an uncommon behaviour.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
I have so many ideas it’s kind of overwhelming:
Food as part of culture
Items posed to look like food
Inventory of my house (between roommates with 4 drastically different diets)
Food scraps/using waste
Tiny food pieces/crumbs
Close up texture shots
Social aspect of eating
Eating food I hate!
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:
Peach/nectarine/plum (stone 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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
Week 2: Text as Art
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.
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.
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
Potential Phrases Explored
-vague, meaningless, value
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
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
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
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, whichintegrates 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.
Week 7: Exploring Video Art
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
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.
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.
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…..
Food art final~
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Here are the cookies I made in class! here is the recipe if anyone wants some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies!
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips
bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes!!! very easy and very good!!!
Thankyou to you all for a wonderful semester! It was so wonderful to be taught by you, Diane and to see all of the great works you all created at home. I hope we will be able to work together in person ASAP!!! wishing you all a fantastic summer!
Pisanki is a very important part of my life. It is my favourite tradition and it allows me to connect with my family and my background. I wanted to document the long process of pisanki, dying each colour, spreading out the wax, drawing your design and eventually coming to a fully filled egg. I wanted to document every part of the process so that the brunt of the photos was the process and the last few being the cooking of the egg – how something that takes so long to create can be destroyed in a second. I don’t think using photos as a medium to show this was the most successful choice but I am very interested in furthering this idea in the future.
Notes and proposal
Creating this video, I wanted to create something that made the audience feel unsettled, the way I do on zoom. I associate zoom class with closed spaces, anxiety and feeling like I am constantly in my head. Whereas on campus school, brings me happiness and i feel much more at ease. I brainstormed places where I feel the most comfortable and happy, the majority of which were outdoors. I wished to use these outdoor spaces and distort them in some way to show the disconnect between on campus and online learning. I used different pieces of plastics, red black and nude nylon tights and bounce sheets over top of my lens as filters, to create and layer discomfort, unease and distortion. I choose to keep the videos almost completely still because I often panic about how I am perceived over zoom, I try to stay completely still. I though a lot about layering different audios and tried a few things but ended up liking the mash up of all the original audios instead. It reminded me of class when a prof asks a question and no one really answers online, leaving long bouts of silence. There is some static and noise that reminded me of when some people have their mics on accidentally. I choose to pan away from the scenes and have different videos leave at different times to mimic the end of a zoom call, students leaving at their own paces.
Notes and proposal
One who destroys the land destroys oneself. This mantra shows the importance of responsibility and intentional cohabitation. The act of placing my hand on the snow is intentional. If I press for too long or too hard the heat from my hand will melt the snow too much and the cold of the snow will harm me. But if I achieve a balance by understanding our limits, there is beauty in our cohabitation. My print will disappear, it is fleeting and it is not about me and my mark on the land, it is about intentionally understanding I am responsible for my actions regarding the land. I can make the land better or I can scar. If I scar the land I scar myself.
Week Four notes
Week three notes
When approaching this exercise, I took a similar route to Nina Katchadourian’s Book Stacks project. I read the article a few times, first picking out short phrases i enjoyed or that stuck out, then picking out words. I organized these all in a list and was able to pick my final selections from there. I was having so much fun with this exercise I couldn’t decide which phrase to use for my final, so I made a few banners.
While watching the interview with Hiba Abdallah, i was very intrigued by the way she viewed words as a material to make art. She stated “words can be so pointed yet so poetically vague”. This really resonates with me, as a big fan of text in art. I had this phrase in mind while creating my banners.
The first banner i created was the first phrase i connected using the article. It is a tad hard to read since my pea brain didn’t realize that banners should be readable both in photos and in person. If I were to explore banners as a mode of communication in the future I would definitely increase the size. It says “disinterested engagement, until our eyes bleed”. While creating this banner, I thought of the banner as a mode of communication itself. It is used for celebration in most forms. I wanted to create a phrase that you wouldn’t celebrate. First of all, you wouldn’t celebrate disinterested engagement, and never your eyes bleeding. This too is how i feel about online school in a way, I find it really difficult to fully engage and connect over the online format, and i feel like i am staring at screens until my eyes bleed. I laid out this banner just kind of sprawled out on the ground to show that the banner itself is disinterested in its only engagement, hanging in its traditional form.
This banner reads “Interpersonal Dissimulation”. This banner follows the theme of celebrating something that wouldn’t usually be celebrated. While putting these words together, i looked up both their definitions just to make sure i was understanding the words completely. Interpersonal refers to communication between people and dissimulation refers to concealment of ones thoughts, feelings or character. Together, i interpret the words as a poor form of communication. Communication with deceit, lies, hypocrisy and decay. I took this photo on a door that we keep in my backyard. the paint is chipping and the wood decaying so i saw it as a perfect location to enforce the idea of conversational decay.
The last banner I made reads “interrupted intellectual space”. When i think of intellectual space, I think of a peaceful environment where one can properly think or feel at ease. For me, my intellectual space is interrupted by technology and screens. I cut out my triangles from a magazine page that included some sort of technological motherboard to represent technology interrupting that space. I placed this banner on a tree to show that when my intellectual space is interrupted, i remedy that by going outside, taking a walk in the forest or just completely immersing myself with nature.
Week Two Notes
Week Two exercise
Week One Notes
While creating my own book stacks, I followed Katchadourians process. I am currently living at home so I have access to quite a few books. I started by going through my parents bookshelf and removing every title that seemed even a little bit interesting. I then compiled all those titles in a long list.
After making the list, I placed each book title on a post it note to be able to easily play around with the names and see what worked best.
My final step, just as Katchadourian’s was to finally place the books together. I first tried to place the books in bankers box’s. I filled the remaining area by upside down books. I found this to be an interesting way to display the books but U had a bit of trouble reading them. I remembered Katchadourian speaking about the importance of the physical qualities of the book and their readability. I decided to go a different route, similar to Katchadourian by stacking the books, and having a completely black background so the books have complete attention.
I really enjoyed this method of poetry of a sort, I am a big fan of making collages and creating these book stacks was like enacting a different way to collage. I am finding it tough to title these works since I naturally want to use one of the book titles, but I also want to allow the books to connect with the others and inform each other rather than focus on an individual book title.
I created this book stack in response to my experience in being dyslexic. Dictionaries are only a helpful tool if you know the first 3 letters and yet that was every adult solution for me growing up. I purposely tried to make the book titles hard to read by covering some of them with other books pages.
All Lined Up
Growing up I was very obsessive with these pink books and making the castle be perfectly lined up. So I thought it would interesting to create a new system and line up the titles. This new system distorts the nostalgic illusion of the castle.
One of Katchadourian’s book stack ‘What Is Art?’ got me thinking about how artists go about learning from these books and how our sketch books are the peer review process for the art community. So, I added one of my sketch books along side my ‘How to draw’ books. I think this choice draws you to think about whats on the inside of the books not just the titles.
W2 – Notes
W3 – Bannor
I’m intrigued by the concept of time lately so, this phrase ‘ongoing temporality’ jumped out of the article for me. I think it speaks to this global pause we are all experiencing due to the pandemic and how the end feels like it’s being dangled just out of reach. In terms of instillation, I looked at an older piece of mine ‘Everything is Fine’ where I wrapped a very dead plant in green thread to make it appear like it was still alive even though it is dead inside. The plant represents what physically and mentally happens when living in the state of ongoing temporality. The string used to hang the banner is right from the thread used to wrap the plant and the ending to the word ‘temporality’ is leaving the potted plant to add a sense of hope.
W4 – Video Proposal
Proposal – Ideas
How do I to prepare to go practice death? Why do I feel compelled to make myself feel ‘At home’ in this new environment? Maybe because death is uncomfortable for the living.
What dose practicing death from dead plants look like? Is it still in the pile of blankets and writing notes? or is practicing wilting?
W5 – Video Art with Nature
This is all the raw footage I shot. I had two ideas, the first was becoming apart of the garden by laying/burying myself in the garden along with the other plants. This footage has many clips of the community garden at different angles and different plants. My other idea was to learn a dead plants love language, and so I brought the plant a gift(a blanket to keep warm), act of service (soil), quality time (sharing water), touch, and words of affirmation. This idea was a lot of fun to film but, while editing I decided that I couldn’t pass up the beautiful shots of the garden.
Apart of the Garden
Screenshots from Dead Plants and Love Languages
W6 – Proposal for Video Art & Zoom
Proposal … Ideas
The pandemic has reconnected me to some old friends and since they can’t introduce themselves I will. First, we have Sprout, the only plant I have that has somehow survived me and is thriving. Next is Jimmy, a tiger I painted on my wall in high school, so I’d have someone to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race with. Then we have Sarah, an empty can of monster’s energy drink which is my only source of serotonin. (ME). Next is Trevor who was my whole support system in first year. Next is The Counsel, who all earned their spot. Thereafter is Monty, a mini deck of cards, who taught grade eight me how to count cards after ‘lights out’ so I could play at the adult table. Then we have Horton, who is very dedicated to his job of keeping the Boogeyman out while I sleep. Finally, there is Maxine who is the protector of my plants and grows whenever I have scrap wire.
I think a lot of people can relate to this crazy feeling you can get during a zoom meeting. Being alone in a room talking to a screen and half the time no-one answers and you just have to continue, is really exhausting. In my other work I’m very interested in the concept of mind palaces and I’ve unintentionally made a connection to this concept through this video in my object selection process. Everyone’s mind palace is unique and is filled with different things that represent their knowledge and memories. As silly as it is I’ve aways felt as if objects have their own emotions/energy/opinions and I would talk to them. I’ve always lived in my imagination, slightly disconnected from reality needing people to anchor me to the present and with the isolation from the pandemic I found myself sometimes talking to them trying to keep myself motivated even though they really are just extensions of myself.
W7 – Video Art
W8 – Bread!
As a picky eater and apart of a big family I could always rely on bread as something I could eat at our potlucks, holidays, camping, and travelling. Bread seeps into many different parts of my life like as a sobering and a hangover cure, the wheat fields at our family farm, bagels are a depressive episodes sustenance, and fuel for playing sports. One very specific memory I have with bread is when I was a kid and me and my family friend got are braces on and right after we where whisked away to our father’s baseball game and then to a cottage for a vacation. Our mouths hurt so much that we couldn’t eat any of the fun trip foods and his lovely Grandma Dora made us fresh bread everyday. It was definitely the best bread I’ve ever had because I was so hungry, mouth hurt, and the amount of care and comfort I felt from his grandma who went out of her way to make sure we had something to eat. I think this has everything to do with why people are making bread during the pandemic. We all are in search of comforting ourselves in this stressful time and everyone has a memory tie to bread. There definitely is an art in breaking bread with others, especially in these divided times, self care is important. When sharing a meal with others we tend to be nicer and listen to one another, even if it just the pause of swallowing. A new take on ‘breaking bread’ in the social media world is this YouTube channel called jubilee, that tries to start conversations and find the middle ground. Funnily enough, when ever there is a rise in tension/conflict they give the participants food and the discussion almost immediately calms down.
W9 – Food Art Proposal
W10 – Food Art
It’s Just Paint…
Growing up I was labelled as a picky eater. I would complain about most food’s smell, texture, and different food could not touch each other on my plate. When I would be given food I didn’t like, I automatically felt embarrassed because I was either going to fail at not making a face or I felt like a burden if I was given different food. As I got older this became less of an issue, like it dose for most children, but there is still some types of food that I have a lot of anxiety around where I can’t control my reactions completely. Way latter in life when doctor’s finally realized that women can have ADHD I learned that this sensitivity I have to food is a common trait. This piece is me trying to change my connection with these foods by pretending that they are paint; something I really love to do and have on occasion (not on purpose) eaten while hyper focusing on a painting. This piece also has a lot of self comforting elements to it that I didn’t foresee like my laboured breathing, turning away from the cameras, and talking/singing to myself. I choose to ‘paint’ an empty plate because I feel guilty that I feel as if a plate full of food I hate was worse then an empty plate.
This was my ‘Pallet’ which is comprised of celery, beans, broccoli, relish, cottage cheese, tomato guts, oatmeal, mustard, strawberry yogurt and, grape jam.
W11 – Pandemic Cake
I’m not really a sweet tooth kind of person but, on the rare occasion that I NEED something sweet to eat this is my go to. This recipe is great because you don’t really need much of any of the ingredients, it’s quick to make, and next to no clean up.
4tbsp – All Purpose Flour
1/2tbsp – Baking Powder
2tbsp – Sugar
4tbsp – Milk
1 1/2tbsp – Vegetable Oil
1/4tsp – Vanilla extract
1tbsp – Sprinkles
Mix dry ingredients and then mix in wet ingredients in a mug. Then Microwave for 45sec-1min
This stack narrates the struggle of moving to a new place, being an outsider, and the challenge of assimilating with a new language, culture etc. I was inspired by my time spent in Germany to create a stack that tells a story. This collection includes some books I read while studying abroad, language guides and ones with a significant geographical locations.
This might be a recipe on how to be prosperous. Clean Gut is a guide to rebuilding your gut biome. Strange Visitors is a collection of documents and testimonies of indigenous-settler relations in Canada. Alchemy & Mysticism is a picture book of all things magical, mysterious and historical. Finally, The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity is a book gifted to me by my grandmother as some passed down wisdom. These books together juxtapose a sort of portrait of myself.
What keeps art alive? This stack shows the play and power of art and time. Trees and Landscapes, Walden, The Greeks, The Art of Art History, The Lives of Artists. Revive, I Keep the Land Alive, When Then is Now
Week’s work can be reached by the numbered buttons at the bottom of the page.
Week 1: Tues. Jan. 12
What are some of the strategies Katchadourin, Dyment and Park used to select and order books in their final works?What were their decisions based on?How do the final compositions expand the meaning of each individual book, or come together to have a new and surprising meaning about the library, the family, about language and books, or about anything else?
Katchdourin’s work deals with personal archives and libraries.
decisions are based on what sounds good or what may be useful for representing the owner of the archive.
They use a clipboard to formulate an inventory of all the books, making note of book titles that stand out. the titles are then transcribes on to index cards that are moved around and rearranged in poem-like compositions. This stage is to decide what titles work together. A final stage of this process is using the the actually books to sculpt the poem.
Katchdourin’s work extends the meaning of the collection to be a portrait the owner.
Dyment’s work and decisions are based around isolated text, or questions, from an archive.
Their practice is centered around research.
He says that he is interested in culture, and how it’s made and changes over time. For instance, One Billon Years(Past and Future), reorganizing a collection of history books in a chronological order.
Park’s decision on Untitled are based on colour and the spine of books.
All books are stack on each others spine allowing the pages to be facing upward. This decision makes reading the titles and text harder, giving the impression that is not the focus of this project.
all books are hardcover
Larger, wider books are used to single out book’s colour which is close to pure, or represent a kind of local colour. This is exactly what expands the meaning of the collection, by focusing on the physical qualities of the books, their context is lost. They become more of a colourful sculpture. They might even represent a kind of spectrum of topics, or Queer texts (seeing that a rainbow can be linked to LGBTQ ).
Select two pieces to discuss.
I would like to focus primarily on the works of Dave Dyment’s 2012 project, One Billion Years [Past and Future] (Left) and Ryan Park‘s Untitled (2009; Right). At a glance, the two of them share a common material to work with, that being books, and the similarities end there.
Dyment’s work is based on isolating texts, or questions, from an archive. These “Pull quotes” help Dyment to create a representative of the cultures that he likes to explore. Park’s book stack does not do this, instead it leans more into the sculptural quality of books, neglecting text of each of them. Which makes me think that the spines are ignored but actually Park has found another use for them other than displaying. In Untitled, Park uses the spine of hardcover books to support the stack and their aesthetic quality spatial quality to organize them. Larger, wider books are used to single out book’s colour which is close to pure, or represent a kind of local colour. This is exactly what expands the meaning of the collection, by focusing on the physical qualities of the books, their context is lost. They become more of a colourful sculpture. They might even represent a kind of spectrum of topics, or Queer texts (seeing that a rainbow can be linked to LGBTQ ).
Three Sorted books:
Well Come Shit and Piss More Drawings The Man Without Talent Lose Things You Carry After Nothing Comes
For most of these I carried on with Katchdourin’s method of planning to the stack of books. This is one instance that came from writing down a couple lists of my library, at least, titles that seemed interesting. The titles in that make up this Stack-poem create this kind of self-deprecating humour about myself? I primary spend my spare time drawing, and I am mostly self taught, So I make a lot of rough and unfocused material.
New Comics Making and Breaking the Grid More Drawings Flight Landscapes The White Deer
This one goes continues this activity of drawing but brings in ideas of structure and subjects, actions and places. I want this to have a gestalt feeling too.
They are stack on the side to reinforce the poem aspect of the titles, but I don’t exactly go all the way by lining the titles. Instead, I line the book themselves, in which was my way of acknowledging the material -I did not want to lose the idea that they are books organized and creating a signal shape. more than likely, I didn’t want to lose the straight edge that the books make when they are flushed left, as if there’s a presence pushing against them.
More Drawings Landscapes House of Chains Three Dots & the Guilt Machine The Stone Bird Making and Breaking the Grid
For this final stack, I hadn’t the chance to make use of the title Three Dots & the Guilt Machine because of how it was designed ( No title on spine.) To me the title interesting for multiple meanings. For me, it is ironic because it’s title is specific and not at the same time. So, for me to allow this title to be part of the stack exercise I needed it to face forward. To do this, I thought of the books in a more sculptural sense then I would had with the previous two. It started with the base layer, making use of the design textbook about grids as a pun, then I would use these thick fantasy books as support, or columns, to make a second level that more stacked books could be added. Within this structure it allowed for that the Guilt Machine to enter the sculpture.
Again, I kept to the idea of drawing, revolving around places and things and structures.
These are all important books to me. More often than not, they reflect my interests and aspirations, which should not to be confused with what they display, but, I guess, what they accomplish and express. I think there is something admirable to these books that were chosen. It is ironic then that I would make stack-poems to poke fun at myself, and maybe because I hold the books to a high standard.