Notes From Chang 10/25/2019
- We discussed how the project might expand next semester. One possible route could be to silkscreen the images. Over winter break I can try and play around with ideas for color, and present these ideas in January. Chang also suggested scanning and printing (or phone pic and printing) the images to explore different solutions for markmaking/patterning/etc.
- Assess art as a pattern. See what elements need more push/pull.
- Go back through with one more pass of refinements.
“Duck, Duck and Cover”
“play around with overlapping images.”
Here are two ideas I came up with. I prefer the first one, as i think the work lacks visual density and needs more dark areas. The patterning would be small and dense around the border, rather than large swoops as shown (but this was just a quick exploration. ) I’d like to collage some dahlias as well.
Xerox test 1
“Adam and Eve, once over”
“Fill the negative space with obsessive organic shapes.” (ie. dots as seen below)
Old drawings of hands
Old drawing of a delicious potsticker
This is the result:
The obsessive/malleable marks contrast with the formal elements (ie. the posing of the figures, the architectural composition). This process is incredibly time-consuming, but the texture is worth it. I’m not nearly done with it. With this piece, I can definitely see the the possibility of adding an additional tint (ink wash) to allow for the push/pull of value. Currently, everything blends together,.
3 boxes (untitled for now):
“Experiment with the push and pull of the pictoral plane. Try only dealing with pattern and the purely abstract. Experiment with markmaking/rhythm, and figure out the systems/rules for each type of mark. Differentiate each set of markmaking, create a sustained practice. create something that is purely abstract. For this piece, push the sense of composition and space. Do not support a narrative. Play with foreground/background. What is solid? Transparent? Translucent?”
I tried experimenting with having more representational images, but didn’t like the result. I don’t often make abstract art, so creating a purely abstract piece could be a fun challenge.
Holding off on this one for now though.
The current state of the art. I have inked borders.
Notes From Chang 11/1
“Apple > God”
Notes from Chang:
“Consider the background as a visual contrast to the other elements. Ie. try markmaking with a straightedge rather than having organic, fluid lines. The rigid lines would provide contrast and separate the visual planes.”
Below is the design implemented. The brown areas are cut out with darker paper pasted behind it. I’ve also gone through multiple times to refine the squiggle lines.
Cell Phone Mandala:
I will finish it (mostly) by next week.
“Sustain the integrity of the markmaking from the center, and pull the designs to the edges. Make the marks small and dense.”
I’ve worked on this all weekend, and it’s taking forever. The background is almost done. I still need to go back through to the figures in the center and refine them some more.
It is beginning to have a mind of it’s own.
“Be conscious of the push and pull of the different layers. Hold off on this one at the moment.”
Will have finished-ish for next week. Last week I inked in the background and cut out some areas to allow for the brown paper to show through.
“Hold off on this one.”
I did add some Asian carp to the background, as well as adding more squiggly lines. I’m not super convinced by this piece. The anatomy is weird. I might collage it. I might set it aside. I’m creating some distance before making a decision.
“Refine the drawing before going into the inking. All spaces should be defined by minimal tangential relationships Ie. solid black and white, with some representational drawings. Focus less on pattern though. Each shape is an object with DENSITY. What is the edge? What is the line? Make it graphic and minimalist.”
This is just a Xerox test image. The actual drawing hasn’t changed in the last week. Chang disliked like the idea of re-introducing characters from other drawings, and I agree. In this test it feels like a collage of unconnected characters and textures. The addition of too many patterns/textures makes it chaotic. While I think that creating a little visual chaos might add to the narrative, I don’t think this is the way to do it.
I’m also holding off on this one for now. I need to make more printouts and play with the composition before committing.
Feedback From Chang on 10/4/2019:
- Look at the artist “Swoon” for inspiration on collage/large scale pieces.
- Other artists: Chris Ware, Agnes Martin, Jess Johnson
- Keep making, and make sense of it all later on
- Maintain the Edge to edge routine–>both in style and markmaking
- refine technical aspects (ie. anatomy)
- Try working with a square blueprint and see what comes out
- Push the density, and the visual and physical weight.
Feedback from Lauren on 10/18/2019
Recommendations for reading/listening:
- “In our time” podcast with Melvin Bragg
- Edward Belamy, “looking backward”
- “Voices from Chernobyl,” by Svetlana Alexievich
- “Swamplandia,” and “Orange World,” by Karen Russel
- “Love in the Time of Cholera” and 100 Years of solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marques
She also noted that the mandala pieces I’m working on have a sort of spiritual language — They are not a narrative scene, but a distillation of what i am trying to communicate. The other pieces are narrative and contain an entire scene/story. Knowing that I am working in two different ways, is there a way to bring elements of one into the other?
Onward to the progress:
I’ve begun a new method of notetaking in research. All quotes from stories or articles go on note cards, which i can then use as reference to the specific piece I’m working on. This has bee really great for organizing notes, and generating ideas. Overall I feel really good about the project, but want to have at least 10 pieces by the time the semester is through.
In Philip K. Dicks story, “Dr. Bloodmoney,” a woman watches the first couple launching to Mars:
“She liked to thin of them as that, the first couple…like something out of a sentimental, old-time, science fiction story. Adam and Eve, once over again….”
Below is the result of that passage. Adam and Eve maintain their classical stances while suited up in spacegear. On Mars they eat the forbidden fruit, in essence bringing their sin with them to another planet, already littered with plastics and debris. Around them, there’s vignettes of the planets Earth and Mars. The large circle around their head shows an image of an atom bomb going off. Above them is a running skeleton, symbolizing how humans run from death, but ultimately succumb to it.
This piece revolves around the idea that reality is fragmented. It’s still in it’s beginning stages, but was inked in this weekend.
This piece addresses how Apple products are the new religion that we’ve gladly sold our souls to. It’s a strange sort of detached hell. I spent some time making the squiggle lines darker, as well as adding the images people taking photos along the bottom of the page: The bodies are submerged. The people are more concerned with capturing a photo than they are about their own safety.
In this piece I added some darker areas and refined some squiggles. I also removed the text that said, “DUCK,” because I thought it was too…Didactic? Simplistic? I don’t know the exact word I’m looking for. Not much else has changed.
This piece addresses the blurring lines between reality and fiction. Reality is littered with plastics, while mythological stories of Cerberus and and Odysseus remain pristine. The figure in the middle is the barrier between these two worlds, yet is slowly bleeding into the world of fantasy, lamenting their role in destroying the planet, yet doing nothing to stop it.
In Heather Davis’ article, “Life and Death in the Anthropocene: A brief history of plastic” she writes
This piece is about how alternate versions of ourselves live in different dimensions simultaneously, but if we perceive them, they are only shadows. I added some darker squiggle lines to the top right, and have been adding shading.
Having a cold all week (and multiple sick days off from work) gave me ample time to work on thesis. Also, because I am traveling this weekend, I had to made as much progress as possible during the week since the larger pieces could not come with me. I did manage to get my ink and pen nibs aboard the plane though, and plan to work on more smaller components while away from the city.
I’ve begun pasting the dahlias onto some of the pieces. Rather than pasting them over the squiggly lines i have made small incisions to allow the flowers to pass in and out of the existing design. I also made the decision not to alternate the flowers (ie. one white, one brown, etc) around the perimeter of the circular pieces. Instead, I wanted to paste them in an organic way that would add visual balance with size, tone, and value. This involved working slowly, adding one component at a time, and standing back to see what areas needed improvement.
The Mayan-esque monsters below may be added as motifs to to some of the works, but I haven’t figured out where exactly they go yet.
Chang suggested introducing a tonal color (possibly with Dr. Martins inks). This would show larger shapes withing the composition and add density to the page. Let the color bleed organically within a space (using frisket/masking liquid). All color choices are a response.
- Making is a clinical process
- Establish a composition to create a methodical/meditative sense of pacing. Find an equation or a visual calculation.
- Take the components to the edge of the work.
- The edge doesn’t have to be defined
Playing around with adding elements to the page.
Flowers spill to the edge of the page. The edge doesn’t have to be defined.
At this point in the project, I am still making components:
Dalias, divers, bunnies, etc.
One major development is the addition of the “psychadelic” lines. I wanted to build texture without overthinking the process. Creating “Breathing lines” on the work has been a meditative practice that allows me to let go of some of the perfectionist tendencies I have and allow for some spontaneity.
I’ve also been diving into science fiction novels, particularly those of Philip K. Dick. Ignoring the fact that his female characters are all venomous bitches, the overarching themes within his stories are extremely relevant to my thesis topic. In “Now wait for last year,” designer drugs are used as a weapon in war, allowing the user to travel through time during their hallucinations, wherein the boundaries between reality and illusion are called into question. Despite the dystopian fantastical elements, there are many distinctly human elements to the story: toxic relationships, the struggle for power, and fighting with authoritarian figures.
Cerberus, Depression, Snapshots of scenes.
Visiting oneself in alternate realities. Shadows are specters from another world.
Homage to Tech addiction. The world is hellish and dying, yet we are more concerned with getting Instagram likes and oblivious to everything outside of the screen.
Religion is disorienting and cult-like.
An old-timey diver.
The Printed Matter book fair was not something I would likely have gone to of my own accord. While I like books, and I like to support independent artists, I do not like loud and crowded places. For me, events like this exist within a special place of hell. I avoid them at all costs. This was pure New York though: too many people crammed in too small a place, people elbowing others to get a spot at a vendor table, and books (more precious than children) clutched to peoples chests while navigating the masses.
Some major takeaways from the event included: books with beautiful binding, experimental book layouts, and a room full of posters. I didn’t not enjoy myself, but the sensory overload made it difficult to fully appreciate the beauty that is a gathering of book enthusiasts.
I did end up buying two things: One small zine of BDSM illustrations and photos, and one art magazine called “Carrier Pigeon” which contains illustrations and short stories. My biggest takeaway in regards to thesis: draw more. I want to stand in a room of posters of my own work. And then i want to make a book.
First, the angst:
I feel frustrated with my project. The progress feels disjointed. This process of “cutting and pasting” unrelated images feels uncreative, tedious, and laborious. What is the connective tissue between the pieces? I’m having trouble finding subjects to draw. I’m having trouble finding reference photos. I’m sick of working from reference photos. I’m torn between forging forward and finding the connections later, or re-evaluating the premise of the project/focusing it more. I feel removed from my own creativity. I’m anxious and biting off my nails and now my finger nubs hurt. Is that too much information?
Now, the constructive part:
Lauren and I discussed some of these concerns. My creative process prior to thesis was to create these one-off “snapshots” of characters–no background, maybe with a decorative border or something. There was little experimentation with depth, background, or multiple characters engaging. Lauren suggested going back to this process of “doing what I like”, but diving deeper into the characters. How would they look from the front, back, side, sleeping, excited, sad, etc.? What is their backstory? How can that be expanded and mined for inspiration? What happens when the characters Interact? What happened before the image I created. What happened after? I can cut and paste them later.
Repetition of characters could be one way to create continuity and to build upon the pre-existing work for the project.
My process is to just keep making art. Eventually something will come out. Also, I really just want to draw animals. I’m going to draw 20ish happy bunnies now.
In the meantime, here are some progress photos. It’s nighttime and the lighting is terrible. I hope to replace these images with better ones soon.
Notes from Chang:
Look at the artists William Blake (re: apocalyptic imagery/image construction)
look up artist Le Courbusier (king of modular art/structures)
Explore fragmented narrative
Modular art doesn’t have to be 2Dimensionalt only.. Explore multi-dimensional planes. Imply a 3rd dimension, and have each plane of reality run onto one another.
Muti dimensional planes in a 2D work. Imply dimensions. Allow then to interact with one another.
Imply structure. Modular structure/ read organically
Using windows/modular architecture, crate fragmented narrative. Also explore Neo Ranch for his use in multi-layered scenarios in wh9ich one contact invades another.
Explore Tibetan mandalas. DO EDGE TO EDGE DRAWING. FILL THE PAGE
“Modular” art that I made years ago. Documentation of mental deterioration in a dreamy/art deco style.
Religious Art: modular and fragmented storytelling
Using the concept of Hauntology/Hontology/Ontology as a jumping off point, I will create a series of large pieces in pen and ink, and later compile these images into a book.
French Philosopher Jacques Derrida introduced this term: “Hauntology,” the study of being and non-being. It’s a merging of the two words:
Haunt: To appear in the form of a ghost
Ontology: the study of the nature of being
Hauntology is this idea that society is haunted by its lost futures, and because of this, we constantly look to the past to see how they imagined the future. As a result, we are caught in this cultural feedback loop. New Technology emerges, but there is cultural stagnation. This could be the reason that there is such a resurgence of 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s pop culture. Because we can’t imagine a positive future anymore, we look to nostalgia for comfort and context.
This topic is appealing because it has an inherent dichotomy: The study of being and non-being, the past and the future, the present and absent, positive and negative, old and new. I’m really interested in how the past viewed the future, and how our future sees the past. The 1700’s saw a future still with bustled skirts and powdered wigs, but with flying machines and trained seahorses to ride. The 1950’s saw the year 2000 as one with unchanging social constructs, but with technology inextricably linked to our lives: The woman is still a happy homemaker, but because of instant meals and disposable dishes, has more time to devote to homemaking/leisure. What is absent is also interesting: no sickness, no “blackness”, no poverty. The future as imagined by the past is a utopia for rich white people (at least from this U.S.-centric viewpoint). We have smart homes and convenience, but live in a state of social isolation. We have a healthy planet Earth, but a Mars vacation home to visit on the weekends.
In these futures, the family unit is self-contained. Because of the linkage of technological advances to daily life, there is little need for human interaction. Children are home schooled, mom does shopping online, dad works from home and occasionally phones in for a conference call. In some ways, I see parallels of past future visions and current life in NYC. In a city with 8 million people, there is little human interaction, and what little does happen is met with skepticism. People become a nuisance at best, and disposable at worst. Dating exists in the world of hookup culture, where people are a mere means to an end to the socially anxious and detached.
This disposable version of utopia fits into the current climate change emergency too (this thought needs elaboration). In the past, the future was imagined as an optimistic technological wonderland of knowledge and leisure. In reality, our world is dying: we’re in the midst of a mass extinction, the coral reefs are bleaching, the amazon burns, the weather becomes more extreme, the food and water supply become poisoned with plastics and chemicals. under these conditions, it’s hard to imagine any future. We are fragile beings, always teetering on the brink of annihilation. Yet, I want to be optimistic about the future. Humans are hardwired to do so. In a 2012 Scientific American article by Wray Herbert, he discusses peoples, “remembered futures.” He writes:
“The fact is that we all imagine the future, and from time to time we recall those imaginary scenarios. Recent research has shown that the same brain areas are active when we remember past events and when we think about the future. Indeed, some scientists believe that these “memories” are highly adaptive, allowing us to plan and better prepare ourselves for whatever lies in store.”
Looking ahead at the future is something that we are hardwired to do as humans. As conscious beings, we imagine the futures that never happened: the memories of life before, and the anticipation of the life after. It’s nostalgia for the future based on experiences from the past. The wedding ring that belongs to the widower of war becomes a symbol of a lost future with her late husband. The photographs from childhood can bring us back to our parents homes (for better or for worse). It’s a physical item that manifests memory. It’s the “what if’s” throughout history that haunt us as a species: What if Hitler won the war? What if we pursued electric cars instead of gasoline powered ones? What if life happened differently?
Hauntology manifest in music, not only retro sound, but in lyrics of longing and memory. I’ve always loved the band Pink Floyd because of this. Their lyrics address many societal disorders and mental illnesses. The members of Pink Floyd, haunted by the mental deterioration of original frontman Syd Barrett, devoted their 1975 album “Wish you were here” to him. In the title track, Roger Water sings:
“…Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?…
There is an longing in these words. The lyrics echo and ache as if trying to communicate through time and space. The album is a homage to the free spirits the members once were, and the record company cash cows they had become. The band traded one reality for another and became famous. Barrett traded one reality for another and disappeared.
Perhaps it’s human nature to want all possible versions of reality. I relate Hauntology to my own life as this sort of longing. I wonder what life would have been like had I stayed in Michigan in my own form of “cold comfort”. I wonder what life would have been like had my suicidal inclinations gotten the better of me. Reality means living as a ghost sometimes. When I visit home, I walk through the city as a ghost, same as I do in NYC.
I also think about the doomsday scenarios that my brother predicted, not once, not twice, but 3 times (he was positive that he has predicted correctly, and even sold off music equipment to purchase provisions). Maybe in an alternate reality one or more of these are true, rather than just possibilities.In thinking about the future, it’s hard to not think about the many predictions for the end of times. HP Lovecraft and HG Wells both wrote about their versions, the former being more steeped in occult, and the latter being more technologically dystopaian. Cults and organized religion alike use/have used doomsday predictions to gain/exploit followers. Heavens Gate, The peoples temple (Jonestown), and Televangelists (Pat Roberson), have all predicted the end of times (the first two predictions ending in mass suicides, and Pat Roberson predictions ending with lots of book sales–i assume). In the bible, the end of times is marked by the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse, the sinners being left on earth to suffer, and the righteous brought to heaven for eternal salvation.
Perhaps humanity’s obsession with the end of times is in part an obsession with our own mortality and fear of the great unknown—the life beyond death. My brief run-ins with religion have left me skeptical about any sort of biblical doomsday, let alone any sort of omniscient being in the sky. Doomsday was predicted as early as 300 CE by saint Martin of Tours. (will get better source)
As of now, the world still exists. Writers like Philip K Dick often questioned this concept though. His novels present future scenarios that blur the lines between reality and simulation. Adam Gopnick suggests that these versions of reality are more or less as mundane as life is now:
“…in the sense that, no matter how amazing or technologically advanced a society becomes, the basic human rhythm of petty malevolence, sordid moneygrubbing, and official violence, illuminated by occasional bursts of loyalty or desire or tenderness, will go on. [The] future worlds are rarely evil and oppressive, exactly; they are banal and a little sordid, run by a demoralized élite at the expense of a deluded population. No matter how mad life gets, it will first of all be life.”
I imagine the future as mostly the same as now, but with more anachronistic cultural trends, less empathy overall, and more environmental activism/awareness (likely out of necessity, as the planet will be in dire condition). I wonder if the children growing up now react against a childhood spent in front of a screen, and having their every moment broadcast online from birth. Will they reject the invasiveness of smartphones and social media? Or will they continue to go along with it, too subdued and unfocused to fight for change?
Using the dichotomy of present and absent, I want to utilize positive and negative space to illustrate lost futures, imagines pasts, and current realities. One aspect of Hauntology as it relates to music is sound of a needle scratching against a record. It’s meant to make the listener aware that they are listening to a recording, rather than the live music. Perhaps aspects of this can be translated visually: exaggerated flatness, accentuation of the paper rips and tears, or the randomness of ink splotches.
Another idea is to bring in elements of Art Deco. I have a long history of making art with Art Deco motifs and architectural elements. Art Deco is the perfect embodiment for this opulent and technological future imaginings. “During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress….Art Deco was a pastiche of many different styles, sometimes contradictory, united by a desire to be modern.”
I do wonder if there’s a way to bring in elements of Kids Book illustrations into this. Because i do want all possible realities, I also want the reality where I end thesis with a kids book to present to publishers, as well as large scale pieces to present to a gallery. I want both career paths, rather than having to choose one.
- Time: clock, hourglass, aging, shadows, movement, sequence,
- Past: ghost, shadow, echo
- Memory: brain, age, thought process, concentrations,
- Future: ghost of Christmas future, light, technology, utopian, shiny,
- Nostalgia: technicolor, retro, actor and director, memory is unreliable
- ghost: noise, translucent, erasure, scared, haunting,
- Feedback: short circuit, noise, static, crackle, abrupt stop, repeat,
- Haunt: run, hide, scare, paranoia, follow, stalk, looming large,
- utopia: happy, clean,. Rich, white, disposable, convenience, comfort, leisure, isolation,
- comfort: ignorance is bliss, blankets, easy, relax, maslow’s self-actualization
- Cancellation: red, stop, pause, erase, remove, wax off, forget, collective consciousness, memory
- Lost: wide-eyed, frantic, directionless, help me,
- convenience: gluttony, lazy, impatience, instant, easy
- TV: black and white, Technicolor, high def, 3D, babysitter,
- Music: record, 8 track, cassettes, CD’s, MP3, repeat, scratch, static, skipping tracks, feedback
- Fashion: trends repeat, 80’s and 90’s throwback, baggy jeans with vinyl, bell bottoms, recycled fashion (materiality and concept), fashion without context or reaction,
- Addiction: need, smoke, inject, snort, brain, high, withdrawl, equilibrium, overdose
Opposites to explore:
Black and White
Positive and negative
Present and absent
Dead and alive
Constant and fleeting
Bold and sketchy
Organic and synthetic
Idealism and dystopian
Known and unknown
Retro and modern
Optimism and pessimism
Action and inaction
Memory and oblivion
Famine and feast
Some Quotes to think about:
“the presence of the past is all around us”
“visionary nostalgia is paradoxically linked to a utopian future modeled after conservative values”
“… any attempt to locate the origin of identity or history must inevitably find itself dependent on an always-already existing set of linguistic rules or conditions.”
“Nostalgia for lost futures”
“ what the future might have been but is not”
“Recreating something new”
Other questions to ask. What will these look like in the future (as imagined by the present and the past?):
A.I. integration/A.I. self-awareness
Rigid Gender roles (or gender fluidity?
Access to water
Mental Health/Approach to treating
Income disparity (or equalization)
What does the future look like beyond what we have imagined?
I originally thought that creating collages to serve as reference for my ink drawings would be a great place to start. The reasoning being that Hauntology is a sort of pieced together form of thinking about the past and the future. What better way to represent this than clippings of images and articles from different decades? Lauren thought this would be a good route to go. My worry is that I would just be copying images without context, or not change the images enough to make them interesting/original.
Because I generally don’t work much in a large scale format, the process of drawing big has been really frustrating and anxiety inducing. My thought process now is to make small components to cut and collage into larger drawings. This will allow for different levels of flexibility: I cut out the pieces I like and use them, or I like what I end up drawing and just keep adding. This will still be in line with the idea of cutting and pasting components from different time periods (in the spirit of nostalgia and hauntology). By collaging separate components, I can build a framework for the larger drawings, and build volume 3-dimensionality within the pieces themselves.
This will allow some flexibility in planning as well help me get out of this creative block. I’ve found that the process of actually drawing helps to generate ideas. Because I have not been drawing, I’ve felt very stuck.
Notes from Lauren:
Look at Artist: Alexis Rockman. Take note of the realistic technique and commentary on humans relationship to nature.
Look up artists: Balthus, Georgio de Chirico
NYPL, Library of congress, and British Library all have Digital Archives that can be resources for futurism/retrofuturism
Use text to shape and hold the work together
Ask: what gives the work a coherent aesthetic?
Is there a certain place? Ie. The coral reef, NYC, a psychological state, something that never was?
imagine the future:
are t4here 5 different people with different ideas of utopia?
Think of the incredible strangeness/stillness, Motion frozen in time
Hauntology is the seed, but doesn’t have to the the entire work
Notes from Chang:
Look at the artists Cleon Peterson. Take note of the image construction, flat landscapes, shape and line, use of positive and negative space.
Look at Artist McBess. Take note of the visual narrative and full landscapes. Try “edge to edge drawing” (start drawing on one point on the paper and don’t stop until the page is full).
Notes from TA’s:
Maricarmen suggested looking at Philip K Dick books (or movies) for inspiration on sci-fi dystopian futures. Much of his work revolves around “eroding realities” and the question of “What is real,” particularly as technology becomes intertwined with existence. He also incorporates the psychology of Jungian archetypes, mental illness, police states, and dissociation with reality/realities..
She also suggested that incorporating Art Deco motifs could be cool. In a way, I could be “reimaging Art Deco” from the view of Hauntology.
What do we gain by asking “what if”?
We have lost the possibility of a better future
New Tech causes resistance. What are we afraid of? (NPR, Throughline, “Resistance is futile. What does memory look like?