This is a continuation of testing of materials for the head shaped form that is part of the piece.
Tried variations for the papier-mache clay...these affect the texture. I want to have something that speaks skin texture, not clay texture. At this point the clay seems to have a lot of fiber. Probably due to the brand of TP I used (Kirkland courtesey of Costco). A little difficult to spread, but once covered and dry, I am sure I'll be able to sand it to desired smoothness. This is what I have so far:
The mixture of TP for paper, joint compound, white glue, and flour, is the basis for my Papier-mâché Clay. I got the recipe from an artist who formulated the recipe over 10 years ago. She has used it as the basis for nearly 300 works over that time.
I AM NOT...(continued)...
The concept of this piece was kind of eating at me. I could not wait to work on it..it was like a voice inside saying let me out...so I went ahead and simply set up some camera and lighting, and started shooting.
In an attempt to continue to develop a processes which will enable me to produce more work, and let that work also be more organic in its response to the medium, as well as other factors, I took some time to make a maquette of the head-shaped form.
The head form *wireframe* is a day from completion; laying on more tape, and filler for more detailed shape. The final form will not have lips, since the face will be projected on the final.
Upon completion of the wireframe, work left to do for the form will be application of the material that will likely be papier-mache clay, and then painting when dry. I will test the projection on white, and on a brown tint to see which I prefer, before painting.
I AM NOT!...
This is a video artwork that begins in full black screen.
I have written a short piece that is to be spoken, facelessly, on a black canvas (the screen), as a short passionate soliloquy examining my perception of the words "Black Lives Matter.",
Then, as my diatribe against the idea that there can be any invalidation of the meaning of those words ends, I begin to deny the many assumptions that one can hear being spoken in a simultaneously playing audible of hate speech, from many sources, directed at people of color.
In this black and white video, I envision myself, the subject, being backlit...the silhouette being barely visible at first, but the glow of light behind becomes brighter over time. Possibly ending with a faint light on my face...not sure yet. Hope to have a work-in-progress video available here by Friday.
Compose, Shoot, Edit...
Finish the poem first, then worry, if you have to, about being right or sane.
Seems to me that these words might be equally useful when thinking about making artworks that are not poems. Reading the book, The Triggering Town, I feel there is a lot about what was said that could be applied to making art.
I believe that pieces love the ridiculous areas of our minds...and that the poet artist not always get caught up in questioning his or her assumptions. Many of the guiding principles Hugo expressed resonated with what feels right to me, now that I've heard it, and I've only made it to chapter 4!
Working on Polizoms...
Yesterday was a great, and fun, day. Meeting up with 10 very supportive cohorts and friends, I was able to take this project a step further.
This morning we working on making some footage that will be used for the piece. There is already some learning going on in the making of this beta test shoot. There are a couple of filming angles that I'd like to make while shooting the main view. These additional angles might work in deepening the impact of the subjects performances, and thereby better express the thought behind the piece.
Got a bit more experience directing a larger group of subjects, learned more about my equipment and, more about how characteristics such as time of day will affect the piece. Here are a couple of clips from the shoot.
Learning My Process...
Clearly I am not lacking in inspiration...but, to keep from being spread too thin or being off on a tangent, I do spend time talking with cohorts, and my very small circle of people I entrust to care for my small flames as I examine them openly.
But I found that with my instructors, whom I trust a great deal, they really only want to discuss the inspirations when I have something to show them...that is a new twist on my process. Make something then discuss it...It does make sense, but...well...
I have worked as a software developer, and it was a gift of mine to be able to analyze the problem and draw it out right before my clients. They were usually amazed at how I could visualize the problem and chart/graph/flowchart it out so quickly. And now, I work in a very creative environment, in pre-production, and production, and we spend a lot of time planning and working toward the plan. We usually have to visualize all aspects of the process and the challenges. But then we do have a lot of experience doing what we do. I've been a part of it for 7+ years now, and the people that I work with have been doing it for 15-20 years or more.
In any case, this is great new experience. I am doing what I can to take the lesson to heart. I appreciate this new twist to the process for me...make maquettes, demonstration videos, etc...
I have been doing sketches for life, something that I enjoy when imagining a project (not saying they are good sketches however :), but in 2019, Professor Joseph Daun's had the design class make maquettes of cardboard chairs we would design and build. This seemed like a useful process. So, in keeping with that experience, I can and will apply this approach more often.
This piece continues to evolve. Core description can be read HERE.
The core concept remains, a crowd of subjects walking through the video frame, left to right and right to left. All are using their cell phone, and though initially interacting with other people they pass, they each become less concerned with their surroundings, eventually completely under the spell of the blue or red glow emanating from their respective phones. The world around them also becomes increasingly lifeless.
I am adding an audio track that is my reading of a quote from Pierre-Joseph Proudhon...
“To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.”
Formerly known as Societal Influence, this piece is a three dimensional form, with projection video, and a set of small screen devices (iPhones, android phones, etc).
The form is constructed of poultry-wire, duct-tape, and papier-mâché clay, and will essentially be made to resemble my head-shape, and colored to resemble my skin-tone. A slight shape where the lips and the eyes would be expected, however, the face will be my face projected onto the form. Inside the head, will be mounted as many iphones as I can fit, that will all be playing various video clips looping.
The largest challenge so far has been forming the wireframe shape. I am using wire and duct-tape to hold the form in place, and with then cover the shape with the clay. If the clay is a light gray I'll leave it and test projecting on that color.
I've made a post earlier about this book, however, having read a bit further, I have found it to be an exciting book, although it is also a bit intimidating, with no knowledge of teaching. I am glad it’s our book for this class as, on the other hand, it is my belief that studying in order to teach a subject also can be a means for building a stronger practical foundation.
This text is 300+ pages, which includes short bio's on each of the 50 contributors. The authors, Gregory Sholette, Chloe Bass, and Social Practice Queens, appear to have set out on a mission to promote the concepts and idea of using art as a pedagogical pathway for social development.
Dr. Gregory Sholette is a notable artist, writer, and social activist producing politically engaged art, and among a prolific number of other things, he documents and reflects upon decades of activist art that, for its ephemerality, politics, and market resistance, might otherwise remain invisible.
Chloe Bass is a Master of Fine Arts graduate of Brooklyn College CUNY, now teaching as an Assistant Professor of Art at the Queens College CUNY. She is a conceptual artist and works in performance, situation, conversation, publication, and installation. She produces work that examines intimacy, and investigates where patterns hold or break as group sizes expand in daily life.
Jointly, they run Social Practice Queens (SPQ) which is a partnership between Queens College of CUNY and Queens Museum. Together they are facilitating a unique and new MFA in social practice, integrating studio work with social tactical interventionalist and cooperative forms. SPQ is essentially the heart of the book Art as Social Action.
As part of the Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research for the MFA concentration, SPQ faculty coleader Dr. Sholette, and artist Chloe Bass, have written the book Art as Social Action, a textbook on socially engaged art practices.
Kicking off the journey through this textbook, the authors establish the readers understanding of their mindset with a couple of short essays on the subject of art and its pedagogical impact on social development. However, from that point forward, the book is largely a collection of lesson plans. It is chock full of cases where art was an intrinsic component of the social or cultural learning experience.. The first group of plans is eleven chapters with the core learning experience being about Art as Social Research, Listening, and Self-Care.
Each easy to follow lesson plan is introduced, explaining its source. The introduction is followed by a description of the assignment, a couple of paragraphs of the steps taken by teacher and students, a succinct description of what actually happened and the results, and then closed with an overview and suggested bibliography. The plans are clearly experimental and a change from the status quo.
Despite being focused upon a narrow subject within social development, this first group of plans were a great example of the breadth of ideas one could draw from. Each contributor's academic approach could be studied and perhaps one could follow up by reaching out to the lesson plan author in order to explore their additional work as it pertains to the subject of the section.
The purpose of all this content is, of course, the development of a social practice pedagogy and the authors do not leave that intention unclear. The book includes prescribed steps and methods supporting the goal. The Pedagogy Group, one of the contributors, give insights on teaching principles that educators with commitments similar to their own might find useful. As well, there are additional essays, there are interviews, and the sections continue with a wide variety of social action lesson plans.
Rob J Phillips