Saturday, September 13, 2014

Broward College Visiting Artist Lecture and Workshop

I had a really enjoyable experience getting to know some of the students at Broward College during my talk at their North Campus on Thursday evening, as well as during the workshop the following Friday afternoon at the airport.  I’ve set up my “community studio” again during this visit, and this time I’m encouraging visitors to join in the creative process by taking a stab at making a little something of their own on the fly, in the moment (no pun intended, necessarily, but such an approach seems appropriate, given the transient nature of airports and the ephemeral aspects of the construction project).

Any rate, this idea formed the basis of the workshop for the Broward College students on Friday.  After talking with them about my own process, and viewing my installation of 10, backlit photographs on view in the Lee Wagener gallery, I tasked them with coming up with their own creative response to the airport’s transformation in relation to their own experience and understanding.  I had a variety of basic art materials on hand – modeling clay, paper and pencils, charcoal, tissue paper, sculpting “sand”, carving tools, backdrop cloth, etc. – as well as a stack of about 300 photographic work proofs that could be used as inspiration and/or incorporated into new works.  The students also took a brief wander outside to gather natural materials and random debris, which they used to great effect! 

I have to say, it was a really fun afternoon and these students inspired me with their creative energy.  A few images of the students at work as well as their resulting artworks are below.

Click on any image to enter into slideshow view, which provides a larger image.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cloud Puffs and Blue Air

I was really taken with the sky on this last visit, more so than usual.  Having spent the last 15 months fixated on the ground, and the transformation of that same stretch of earth, I realized the sky above had changed just as much – in fact it never stopped.  Over the duration of this process (the construction itself, my wandering excursions, the dead time on the site between spurts of activity) at no two points in time would what was once above, directly correspond to what was below.  The constant movement of the clouds through the atmosphere, and the incessantly shifting hue of the blue above make sure of this.

Of course I couldn’t help but think of the relation between this on-ground experience to our in-air perception of the same – seemingly so similar, yet entirely distinct. 

Below are a few images from my recent visit to the site:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Piled Earth From Near to Far

I couldn’t help but be impacted by my recent research trip to Iceland (where I took part in an artist’s residency in the northern part of the island) upon my return to the Floridian, tropical landscape that surrounds the still-shifting site of the airport’s runway construction. The Icelandic landscape evoked many of the same responses I’ve had to the runway site over these last 15 months – albeit in a much more extreme manner.  With the runway site in the front of my mind, the otherworldly terrain I encountered while traveling resonated in a particular manner it may not have otherwise – I found myself questioning piles of dirt and various formations, and having difficulty discerning whether they were man-made or naturally occurring, in some instances.  The visual results of the modification of the land, impacted by either geology or technology can seem strangely in harmony and discord, simultaneously.

These thoughts were at the forefront of my mind as I captured new images of the site – returning to many of the spaces that have become so familiar, taking note of the variance in accumulation and coloration of earth and debris on my favorite little “mountains”, and looking again to the palms and mangroves that line the periphery.

A few rough composite images from my last visit are below.
Click on images for larger view, please.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Of a Dwelling Perspective

Dwelling, of course, belongs to the philosophical toolbox of Heidegger and expresses the most essential dimension of Dasein, that of Being-in-the-world. Indeed, writes Heidegger, “ the basic character of Being, in keeping with which mortals exist.”30  “To perceive the landscape,” wrote social anthropologist Tim Ingold in an influential essay published in 1993, “ carry out an act of remembrance, and remembering is not so much a matter of calling up an internal image stored in the mind as of engaging perceptually with an environment that is itself pregnant with the past.”31 Calling for the adoption of a “dwelling perspective” on landscape, Ingold develops metaphors of visuality and aurality that…bring together the qualitative aspects of lived space and time.i
Once again I find myself circling around the same set of ideas that have preoccupied me for a good while now – but with each new space I work in, the direction shifts a bit.  This notion of dwelling, of being, is a critical component.  When people ask me about my projects (although I hesitate to use that term much), and what exactly it is I’m doing, I generally tell them I’m responding.  Acknowledging and embracing this has led to the particular approach I seem to have developed beginning with Goldfield Studies that naturally carried into the Airfield Studies.  The working title for the Icelandic segment (chapter?) of these field studies is currently, Mountainfield Studies.
To be open to response can be tricky as, to a certain extent, it discourages advance preparation, at least of the sort one might engage with to prepare for the undertaking of a particular project, story or idea.  I absolutely admire my fellow artists (many of my closest friends work in this manner) that undertake ambitious bodies of work that are anchored in factual research and rely on extensive analysis of archival materials (I’m thinking right now specifically of Jessica Auer – currently trekking through the Yukon territory, making work related to the 19th century gold rushes in relation to the role photography played at this pivotal point in history – and also of Ann Shelton, whose project, in a forest, had her travel around the world making photographs of a heavily researched group of trees, given out by Hitler during the 1936 Olympic Games).
I think I just have a different way of dwelling, and of coming to know the content of a space.  Sometimes I worry I’m just coming at things in a half-assed manner, but it’s the only authentic route I’ve yet to find, for myself.  Any rate, all of this blather is really just to say that I’m excited to continue my post-response research through a new stack of readings, including the Tim Ingold book referenced in the Lefebvre essay above, The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill, as well as the various books dealing with mountains mentioned in an earlier post, and most likely a revisit to some old favorites (Schama, Bergson, Merleau-P…).
It’s been a bit difficult to get a sense of how the images I’m gathering here in Iceland will come together as I really need to print them and pin them on the wall, move them around, but there are a few things happening that I’m paying attention to already – the junctures between spaces, heavy visual fields of undulating matter – and the perceptual unease (for lack of a better term) evoked. 
Imagine a film of the landscape shot over years, centuries, even millennia. Slightly speeded up, plants appear to engage in very animal-like movements, trees flex their limbs without any prompting from the winds. Speeding up rather more, glaciers flow like rivers and even the earth begins to move. At greater speeds solid rock bends, buckles and flows like molten metal. The world itself begins to breathe. Thus the rhythmic pattern of human activities nests within a wider pattern of activity for all animal life, which in turn nests within the pattern of activity for all so-called living things, which nests within the life-process of the world.ii
i From Martin Lefebvre’s “On Landscape in Narrative Cinema”, see Lefebvre’s essay for his noted references, available HERE. 

ii Tim Ingold, as quoted in the Lefebvre essay.

A few more studies are below.  
Click on image for larger view.