SHED - Installation Performance

I worked with my friend XiaoChuan Xie to write and apply for the Queens Council on the Arts inaugural, $10,000 artist commissioning grant which we received under Chuan's name.  We are premiering the project, entitled SHED, at the Queens Botanical Garden July 20th...

The performance takes place under the awning outside of the botanical garden's main building.

The performance takes place under the awning outside of the botanical garden's main building.

Three dancers move inside of tetrahedron sculptures that I am making with Kyle Dietrich.  The tetrahedrons are constructed out of plaster-coated canvases.  The outer layers are black and the inner layers are all UV-sensitive florescent colors.  As the dancers move inside they crack the outer layer and black lights in the performance area cause them to increasingly grow.  This method of dancers "finishing" or putting the works to their final form is something that excites us and will be the driving force behind our future collaborations.  Check out these images, one of the practice sculpture in normal light and then the same sculpture after one of the dancers (Lauren Shoemaker) has moved inside of it for 30 minutes, in UV light:

Sculpture under normal light, uncracked.

Sculpture under normal light, uncracked.

Plaster under UV-light, cracked and glowing.  The outer layers SHED, revealing a glowing interior and throwing multi-colored debris onto the floor.

Plaster under UV-light, cracked and glowing.  The outer layers SHED, revealing a glowing interior and throwing multi-colored debris onto the floor.

Each canvas is hand constructed, stretched and plastered.  It is a very labor intensive process as we are building 1 practice sculpture and then 6 finished pieces, 3 for tech rehearsal and 3 for the performance.  Here are some images of the studio.  We are very excited about this project and staging future iterations with the concepts we've developed in the process. 

Experiments in p5.js & two eye color experience

For my final class, programming for artists, I made a series of p5.js sketches that project different optical experiences onto the left and right eye.  As my classmates noted, these are probably best viewed on a cellphone as it makes it easier to hold the screen directly up to the eye.  I am trying to find free webhosting to display the entire project, which consists of 10 sketches and a custom designed html/css website.  Here are a few images to give an idea. 

In the sketch with the red and green squares, viewers put their eyes to the screen and stare into the squares.  After thirty seconds, the squares change to white and the viewer experiences a different after image effect on each eye, the green now seeing red and the red now seeing green.  This is the first time I've taken the after image effect in a unique direction. 

MFA Thesis Show Prep

My thesis show fast approaches.  I am very excited that artists Yves Scherer and Grear Patterson are presenting my work in my first solo show at their exhibition space, The Sheridan.  The website will contain the information for the show in the next week: sheridan.nyc. I really appreciate the ultra-simple layout of their site.  It is a reminder that successful design can be achieved without resorting to fancy layouts (such as the Squarespace site I use, ha!).

My show moves the dense, cryptic work that covers my studio walls into their exhibition space.  The name of the show, "Total Noise", is from a David Foster Wallace essay (Introduction to Best American Essays 2007) where he uses this concept to describe the difficulty of making an informed choice when the amount of information to parse is nearly infinite.  In 2007 he articulated this feeling prior to the tidal wave of smart phones.  I can't imagine what he would say now, but I think his description of "Total Noise" still hits the nail on the head: "the seething static of every particular thing and experience, and one’s total freedom of infinite choice about what to choose to attend to and represent and connect, and how, and why, etc.” I came across this essay when I was well into working on my studio as the site for my work, but it was one of those wonderful moments where something comes along that really resonates with a path you're already on.

The first wall in my show.  9' x 6' pen, pencil, marker, watercolor, acrylic, oil stick, post it notes, LEDs and wire on paper.

The first wall in my show.  9' x 6' pen, pencil, marker, watercolor, acrylic, oil stick, post it notes, LEDs and wire on paper.

So, back to the work.  I took as my starting point our posture as we bend down into our devices.  As we bend more and more, we eventually turn all the way back into ourselves and we're left with a closed off circle with a directionless line representing our devices.  This rather cheeky image became a meaningful symbol to represent many of the concepts within the work:

"Total Noise" logo.  The human form reduces to a circle, the line represents the device.

"Total Noise" logo.  The human form reduces to a circle, the line represents the device.

This bending down or turning in became the aesthetic impetus for the studio wall paintings.  All the while I was asking myself about what it means to respond, react, and be a part of this noisy culture as a studio artist.  If at first I thought of the studio as a retreat it quickly became a response, a pause and a being-in the climate of "Total Noise".  And the artist within the walls is me but also this other, this type of shut in who tries to make sense of the noise.  He collects TVs and other objects from the street and puts them in his studio.  He repeats forms and morphs them. 

Part of the show places old, found televisions that I paint over and scratch into to make an image that shines through because the "snow screen" (or "white noise" screen) of the television.  The random signal of the snow screen neatly intuits the concept of "Total Noise."

Part of the show places old, found televisions that I paint over and scratch into to make an image that shines through because the "snow screen" (or "white noise" screen) of the television.  The random signal of the snow screen neatly intuits the concept of "Total Noise."

But to make sense of "Total Noise" is impossible.  So the show as a whole gives off this sense that there's a code or cipher within the work but we can't ever grasp its meaning.  The code eludes us.  The artist's meaning comes close but remains outside of our grasp. 

A detail from Wall 01 of my show.  The mind-mapping/diagrammatic style spreads throughout the wall works, but a code or ultimate meaning eludes the viewer (I think). 

A detail from Wall 01 of my show.  The mind-mapping/diagrammatic style spreads throughout the wall works, but a code or ultimate meaning eludes the viewer (I think). 

Update: Dance and Projection Drawing in Residency

Lauren and I went to Joya: AiR (Artist in Residence) in Southern Spain to continue working on our projection and dance collaboration.  It went well.  We spent the first day talking about what we should do for the week, which led us to build a simple grid for me and her to follow - the thought being that it would allow us an easy entryway to line up the line with movement.  So much as a stage is a grid of nine points (front stage right, center, left, middle right etc...), my canvas mirrors those points. 

A sample of the simple drawings I used as loose direction for the dancer.

A sample of the simple drawings I used as loose direction for the dancer.

My drawing would be used as a source of interpretation for Lauren to make a movement sequence.  Similarly, Lauren filmed herself doing movement sequences which I interpreted.  We worked with six counts. 

This got us working but what it doesn't get us to where we want to be: working at the same time and reacting to one another's medium: Lauren dancing, Brick drawing and doing those two things in response to one another.  So after we did our due diligence with this practice exercise, we get into the studio with a projector and started to use these drawing patterns as a starting point for the collaborative process. 

We stuck to the drawing and dance sequences at least loosely but towards the end we realized that a more improvisational approach is the next step in this process.  Overall, the week at the residency allowed for a lot of beginning stage work to be done.  Having that amount of  quiet time to think about this uncharted territory and develop a path to follow was invaluable.  We plan to look for more residency opportunities after I graduate from DIAP.

3D Printing (Cinema 4D)

I wanted to work in Cinema 4D in a way that contributed to my thesis project without needing a screen to display.  So I went the route of abstracting and simplifying the form of a figure looking down into a held device.  Eventually I want to improve the shapes by learning how to sculpt while retaining their simplicity.  Here are the samples...

parthenon.jpg

Updated Video for Lauren Collaboration

I think the video sums up what we did.  More filming, better editing and a clear indication of the way in which we're starting to experiment.  Very step-by-step, one-to-one actions.  A movement of her body, a line from me and so on.  This felt like a natural way to begin building up the movement and the visual for us.  We hope our week away at a residency will allow for us to greatly expand on this start. 

 

Collaboration with Lauren: Projection Drawing & Dance

We're making progress with our live drawing/dance collaboration.  Right now we are both learning sequences of the same number (ex. Lauren moves 5 times while I draw 5 straight lines).  This is a good way to limit the scope and get us "talking" to each other in a visually meaningful way.  Here is a sample:

Staying Paranoid

A lot of reading and writing this summer brought me to a conclusion I've always known: paranoia of technology runs in my family!  Mostly as a joke, but it underlines a general distrust of the loss of privacy and the autonomy of the individual.  This type of humor is embodied in the video I made of my dad's voicemails:

https://youtu.be/q6Mju79tiYs

What does this mean for my second year of graduate school?  That I am going to let this skepticism of technology into my artwork.  As of now, it's taking a "writing on the wall" feeling.  I am covering the walls of my studio with painting and drawing, I'll add some lights and wires later.  Here's an image:

IMG_0639.JPG

As of now I'm just letting myself go free.  The overarching aesthetic is the image of man bent, increasingly more and more, looking into a device which shines into his face. 

Getting to the Black Box and Next Steps

I finished up this projection drawing series this week.  Ultimately, I am not going to pursue this direct line of work for a couple of reasons.  1) It only produces a truly visual final product in the form of a video which doesn't hold appeal to me because I want to create actual objects and 2) the amount of space required to create these the way I want to would require me to work outside of my studio space and that's not an ideal situation for the summer.

That being said, however, this work has lead me to clarification about my thesis year.  This idea of multiple representations (in this work it is of the self working in the studio) of some thing can take on many forms.  I want to pursue the idea in a broader and more immersive way.  An intuitive sense of our own perceptive limitations emerges when we start to see the same object represented in many forms.  So instead of just multiplying through a projection, I am going to represent in many forms: digital, physical, painted, shadow, light...

The best way I see to do this for now is to follow my own instincts as to the form of this project.  The tension between "natural"/"technological" and "analog"/"digital" are guiding my thought process on the many representations an object can take on.  The form for now is the tree, which itself is a metaphor for growth and emergence.  Much as knowledge and its many branches are represented by the tree, the tree itself is represented in its many forms, the logic of the project following the form it explores. 

Drawing Lessons: Picasso and Kentridge

Two brilliant answers to the question of "what is it that I do" without resorting to language. 

"The irony of asking the artist to communicate his meaning through words, after the painting is complete, is that it was the inability of language to get at the thing which led him to paint it in the first place. "

I'm comparing the lessons found in these two images, along with text from Kentridge's "Drawing Lessons" as the topic for my first year paper at DIAP.

Mouth, Eyes, Hands

Three sample videos working with different elements of the body.  I'm working towards a more complete animation/self-collaboration.  These are stepping stones but good documentation.  I played with reversing the tracks, which I will implement when I get a clearer end goal for some of these videos. 

Studio Visit: Olaf Breuning

Artist Olaf Breuning  offered me some advice in response to my work during a studio visit today.  I was telling him about my inability to get my foot in the door somewhere, to translate all of these creative projects I have going on in my head and in the studio, to a "sustainable" (for lack of a better word) artistic practice.  He said to dial in on the stream, to some of my favorite images and moments within the work and blow them up and paint them.  To get back to my strength through the work I've been doing.  I am adding my owns words, his were more succinct and sound: reduce the noise, zero in on some of the images, paint. 

Specifically, he liked the @infinite_canvas but was asking, "what do you do with it?".  What happens if someone shows interest?  How do you translate that into something you can show.  And sure it can all be printed out as one long thing, but there are a lot of strong images in there that could be taken out and painted.  And then the infinite_canvas acts as a research project for my painting and vice versa.  The individual 1080x1080px grids, the individual Instagram posts can act as the framing device.  Here are a few I pulled out...

 

 

Infinite Canvas No. 3 - Troubleshooting

I recorded the first two stages of what I was hoping to be a four-stage drawing process.  After two stages, however, I realized a problem Hajoe (head of my MFA program) mentioned: how are you going to know where to connect/not overlap with the other projections that are drawing before they make the marks?  The answer is either a very well planned out, choreographed performance or some sort of extremely light drawing to mark some cues for myself.  I'm leaning towards the latter, as I don't want this to be a staged occurrence but a truly generative drawing process.  I'm hoping to get feedback on this:

Testing out asymmetrical drawing.  What's the best way to get a third "Brick" in there?

Collaboration: Lauren Shoemaker

Lauren Shoemaker (my wife) and I are planning on going to BANFF Centre this summer to work on a collaboration involving dance and live drawing with projectors.  We are starting to experiment with this new type of collaborative language.  This is one such experiment, where Lauren moves to a simple set of instructions within 4 quadrants (like the game twister).  The thought process behind this being that if I am able to dictate her movement to such simple quadrants, I can easily draw approximately to such "zones" of my digital canvas.  We plan to work out other games that reverse the roles and play with other elements of the collaboration.  Here is the video...

And here is a summary of our collaboration:
Lauren and Broderick are working on a new collaboration that fuses drawing and movement.  Using a projector, a drawing app and an iPad, Broderick draws in real-time as Lauren dances.  These short performance pieces are their first attempt to fuse the visual and dance mediums into a working language.  Starting with a series of still images created by projection drawing onto the dancer, they hope to expand the work into full-fledged movement pieces.  The summer intensive program at Banff is their first opportunity for a fully-focused attempt to achieve this new type of collaborative language. 

The Magical Moment v5 - Professional Reading

My step-father, Glenn Wilson, used to be a professional voice-over actor.  I went home over spring break and he did a few readings of the Magical Moment for me.   I was amazed at the dynamism in the transitions from one word to the next.  After having read the script myself so much, it felt very strange to listen to someone else reading it.  You relinquish many notions of 'how this should be done' when listening to someone else read.  I'm very pleased with his reading and between my last version and this, I'm going to move on to the next installment in this audio/visual series.

Painting with My Dad: Natural Collaboration

When I came home after college to take painting lessons from my dad, one of the ways he taught me was by painting on the same canvas at the same time.  There are tremendous benefits to this.  You see how someone mixes colors, applies their brush,  makes their lines, on and on.   In recent years, the lessons have stopped but our collaborations continue.  This process of painting on the same canvas at the same time naturally transitioned over to our collaborations.  

I just recorded one of these sessions on April 13th, 2017.  We didn't even talk about what we were going to paint or the form of the painting beforehand.  We just play off of each other as we paint together. At first I thought I could bring this into the Infinite Canvas No. 3 series, but unfortunately the canvas was too small.  Instead, here is a very intimate look into my painting process with my best teacher, my father.

We used very watered down mars black acrylic paint on canvas.  The work is done in his basement (you can see some of his framed paintings behind the canvas).  Check out some of his professional gallery work: bradleyshoemaker.com

 

 

Magical Moment - Split Projection

I'm testing projecting straight on to a viewer's face with their eyes closed.  It occurred to me to try to split the projection in half so that each eye receives a different image.  The simplest test is to have one half start white, the other black and to completely invert this over a period of time.  I found the experience to have a disorienting effect.