Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tilting the Horizon

Two of the proposed pieces for eventual installation in the airport take the form of digital kiosks, the kind normally used for commercial advertisements.  It’s been tricky to think about what sort of imagery I’ll use for those works due to their unconventional nature both in terms of how the work will be encountered as well as its format – that of a slim, vertical rectangle.  Yesterday, while out on a run through the hills, I started thinking about the earth’s horizon and the symmetry it helps produce when perceived in the form of the traditional, rectangular landscape we are accustomed to – running straight through the picture plane or perceptual field, left to right.  Yet this same type of balance can also be present in the form of an angular line (the tilt of hill against the sky, for instance) or even as a vertical slice, running up and down (gazing out toward the landscape while lying on your side, for instance). 

This line of thought really helped me conceptualize how I might interlace still and moving images together to run on a continuous loop on the monitors within the kiosks.  Initially, I planned to crop vertical segments from horizontal compositions (my preferred framing method for still images, and the default aspect ratio for video).  But I now realize I may be able to present scenes or spaces that were purposefully recorded horizontally as vertical images, playing on the balance and symmetry mentioned above while introducing elements of abstraction as well.

It will be interesting to see how this impacts my work in the field/studio.  For now, I’m going through the archived images to see whether any are particularly suited to this.  A few possibilities are below.

From the Field

This visit, I was especially interested in the seasonal changes and shifts in quality of light – and how that impacted the seeming sameness of the site.  There is something intriguing about the lack of seasons in south Florida.  Amidst the warm, muggy air still remaining in December, the space had a very different visual feel than it did under the same humid air in August, which was different still in May.  The heaviness of the intense blue sky seems to have a more desolate or flat quality in the fall/winter than in the spring/summer when that same blue feels much sharper.  The earth, fauna and machinery surrounding the site all take on a very different appearance depending upon these aspects as well as time of day and weather, of course.  Aware of this, I found myself paying attention to spaces that seemed most affected by these subtleties.  A few first edits are below.  (Click images for detail view).

Community Studio in the Airport, Part 2

Setting up a studio space of sorts in a public setting is a bit of a daunting task, mostly because it’s seen as a somewhat questionable endeavor – to both the community and the artist.  When we think of an artist’s studio, many images and ideas come to mind.  A light filled room with high ceilings and plenty of open space, a sanctuary of sorts full of varied materials at the ready, multiple works-in-progress scattered about, the artist dashing back and forth from one piece to another, making adjustments, standing back and pondering before making the next move, etc.  And, sometimes it does look/feel like this.  But sometimes, the studio might take the form of a modest or makeshift space out of necessity, convenience or desire, and sometimes, what goes on in the space is just plain boring.  A lot of what transpires in the studio is tedious and unremarkable.  But these small moments are essential to the work, and it’s within this space (both physically and mentally) that materials and ideas begin to come together. 

Because this project relies upon repeated visits to the airport construction site and its periphery, certain aspects of my studio practice have become somewhat transportable and it seemed feasible to set up an ad hoc space directly within the airport terminal.  I chose to work on things that didn’t require too much focus or concentration, so I would be free to quickly stop what I was doing to chat with visitors or move from one thing to another.  This primarily involved lightly editing digital files on a laptop computer, printing small work proofs on a desktop printer, sequencing and arranging prints on one of the tables and gathering new material in the form of still images and video recorded inside the airport studio.  This last aspect allowed me to begin responding to the materials of the construction site in a slightly more careful manner than is possible in the field.  I made trips to the site to gather bits of limestone, dirt and sand as well as samples of grasses and weeds.  I also found a pretty fantastic residual worker remnant in the form of a glove, caked with mud.  Using a clunky, still life method, I moved various arrangements from one place to another, responding to each iteration in their new and purposefully decontextualized field. 

Ultimately, my goal with this experiment was to see which aspects of my work would be feasible in such an environment, and to engage passersby with my process both in and out of the studio and also with larger questions of the role of art and the artist in community and public art projects.  This type of mobile, transitory studio is not an uncommon practice in contemporary art, and I was particularly inspired by Dawn Kaspar’s studio residency during the 2012 Whitney Biennial. 

Of course the response to this kind of experimental studio will certainly differ depending on whether the audience is primarily comprised of museumgoers or hurried travelers.  Certainly a studio within the context of the museum provokes a certain response, whereas the baggage claim area of the airport (particularly when situated near the Information Desk) prompts quite another.  Because of this, there were inevitably many confused responses to my presence and purpose within the space.  Though these interactions may not have seemed immediately relevant to either the traveler or myself, they too are part of the chain of small moments, experiences that may linger and inform a later action or response. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Community Studio in the Airport

Very brief little introductory post to the ongoing Community Studio experiment.  

Thus far in the studio, I've been running videos on a loop for display, printing out work proofs and making photographs and video in the ad-hoc space.  I'm interested in working a bit more directly with the materials (matter) around the construction site, so I gathered some limestone and mud as well as some grasses from the peripheral wetlands to photograph in the terminal.  A few iPhone images are below.  I'll process new images in the coming days and post them here as well.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Earth and Air – Rock, Sand, Rope and Cloud

Found myself thinking a lot about materials on this recent site visit.  All of the stuff, the matter that I was actually paying attention to and looking at, but also the way I was working with my own materials – camera, tracking slide and fluid head tripod.  Panning, tilting, sliding - watching everything transform through the camera’s viewfinder or LCD screen.  The wind was really whipping around, which was great.  Little weeds and grasses were flopping sideways and the plastic flags, tarps and ropes were all over the place.  Birds too and of course planes taking off one after another.  Always interesting to shift your gaze from ground level upward, the seemingly stable compacted dirt and concrete contrasting with the shimmering surfaces of water and sky just a glance above.

Several lightly edited proofs from the recent visit are below.  I haven’t had a chance to review the video yet.  Look for a few preview clips in the coming weeks, if you are interested.

Click images for larger view:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ground and Sky - On Top of the Bottom of the Desert Dust

This recent visit was a hot one.  Sweltering temperatures on those rocks with a sticky breeze whipping around, swirling stuff up and flapping the measure flags.  Something struck me this time in terms of how it felt to wander around the periphery of the ridge, looking down the slope of the incline from the highest point on the site (the sloped, fabricated half-mound that will be the top of the runway, with the highway below that bifurcates the space).  Well, it wasn’t so much looking down, but stopping and turning around.  You’re immediately transported to an arid, almost otherworldly landscape that seemingly extends as far as the eye can see.  White sand/rock/stone covers the ground with nothing but a series of cans, poles and flags coming between it and the blue of the sky.  It’s a strange feeling to be on top of such a flat expanse, feeling simultaneously grounded and suspended. 

As well, I found myself fixated upon a certain lighting fixture run by a generator alongside walls being built on the bottom, opposite side of the runway incline.  Something about the heat emanating from the lamps in the mid-morning sun, causing this sort of flickering shimmer on the metal where the two light sources came into contact.  Behind these bulbs a swaying slice of iron hovers in the breeze, seemingly light as a feather but knowingly heavy and precarious. 

Anyway, something nice about all of that.

Some first edits are below, as well as a wee little clip of video.