A Cube Can Lean (Week 8)

Last week was very eventful but at the sacrifice of making work.  It all started out strong in the studio but some great events just took control later in the week.  It must be related to fall break.  You get all that time to be in the studio and then school just rips it away from you.  I am really looking forward to winter break.  One entire month to be in the studio outside of a few family and holiday adventures.  My fear is that Battelle will be closed and powered down for a period of that time.

Anyways, the early part of the week involved me problem solving the larger gridded wheel.  I am going to just have to install the thing directly to the wall because the weight of the object pulls it away from the wall at the top and towards at the bottom.  It is a problem with the plywood that I have used.  Too flimsy. My solution was a simple shim to angle the axle upwards a hair.  That seemed to true things up a bit.  After that I gave it a spin and enjoyed my work a bit.  I will likely match paint to the shadow and paint the steel grid in order to melt 2D and 3D space together.

The next thing I got myself into was a leaning cube design that I had been toying around with.  Photos of the first attempt are in last weeks blog post.  The difference with the second version is that it had a bottom side made of a steel square instead of created with a shadow from a spot light.  I’m just going to go ahead al make fifty of them.  They are really great optically and I imagine that a few more then one trained onto a single point in a gallery space or in an interesting environment could be pretty spectacular.

I have started fleshing out the mock gallery space a bit more.  The walls are painted white and I am looking for a mock floor material.  I will have the mock completed by this time next week.

The later part of my week has been filled with other sorts of productive distractions.  I allowed Ismeal to use my side of the studio for his first critique of the year.  The way the space and his work go together is pretty amazing.  All the rust and texture of the stone and steel paired with his Pollock like treatement of paint and color added to his spiritual and often menacing compositions.  Since then my studio space has been on hold I have chosen to dedicate some time to writing and reading.

Friday’s lecture presented by visiting artist Sarah Mattes was profound, and for some possibly existential.  I find it to be a beautiful thing when artists figure out a way to just play and to allow that behaviour to become the product of their creation.  It is such a liberating thing to see and incredibly encouraging in a professional universe that can be rather oppressive if you let it be.  I related to her presentation from an academic perspective.  As a child, my parents placed me into Columbus Montessori Education Center.  Schooling of this sort revolves around experiential learning by just simply doing.  Starting in preschool and kindergarten, children learned complex geometry with shapes that when added together made other geometric shapes and taught mathamatical concepts.  These shapes are also explored between 2D and 3D space through pairings with physical objects thus creating a cognitive relationship.  I’ll never forget the color of blue that the shapes are painted.  Learning was quite literally placed in our hands at a very young age and relational awareness between many disciplines was encouraged immediately.  It all started with experiencing the physical world.  There were no desks.  Learning by doing and just simply trying, because who is out there in the universe telling you not to other than yourself.



Unexpected Loose Ball Bearings (Week 7)

Fall break is a wonderful thing.  Five days of open time to be in the studio.  I had initially intended on going to Pittsburgh to see the Mattress Factory for the James Turrell and Yayoi Kusama works but I made some choices to hang with my friend Nate, and my Mother for their birthday’s instead.  I’ll go to the Mattress Factory over Thanksgiving break when I am with my family in Wheeling WV.  Two major builds happened over break.  First I started making the rotating grid four times bigger.  I if you don’t know what I am talking about then come see for yourself.  I’m not posting the video or the photos of the final product.  The larger grid  has come with a lot of engineering problems I will discuss later.  Second, I started building my thesis mock up that will be eventually be presented to Plaskolite with the hopes of them being generous with their product.  This mockup is a one inch to two feet scale model of the room to the left of the entrance in Beeler Gallery as you enter it.  It will function like the final installation and will help me refine my intentions for the space.  I have been thinking pretty long and hard about how it will be lit in the space as going from a micro to macro form will take some tinkering.  Below are some photos of that structure.

Right now I have the cube sitting at three feet above the ground.  This will eventually hang in the space at a comfortable height for most to enter underneath.  I may play limbo at my next critique to see what hieght people might be most comfortable entering the box.  I have also thought about how Roxy Payne is using light and may play with capping the box in a similar way to how he used plastics to create his fluorescent lights.  Lets just say that the mock up is making me think about a lot of things.

Welding is all about planning and setting up everything ahead of time to create an efficient workflow.  I started off by creating a drawing with measurements and then made all of my cuts.  This grid is 4 x 4 feet as opposed to 2 x 2.

So I thought everything was cut correctly but it turned out that my five and three quarter inch rods were a sixteenth of an inch too long.  I found this out when I tried to puzzle my grid together before welding.  This was frustrating for a little bit because I had no idea how I was going to shave that tiny sliver off of each piece identically.  My solution was a wood jig I came up with that had a slot measuring five and eleven sixteenth inches.  I spent the next half hour grinding the rods to fit the slot.  Worked like a charm.

Then it was smooth sailing.  I clamped and welded my outer square together in a similar way to making a stretcher frame.  Then I pieced the grid together over the next two hours.  All in all it took me about six hours to complete.  The next day entailed a few more hours of grinding and filing.

Today, I threw the hub into the center of the grid and had to overhaul it a second time because the lubricant in the bearings took on a little too much heat from welding.  Smooth as butter now.  There are a lot of problems to work out of this structure.  It isn’t one hundred percent flat yet and it sags a little on the board due to its weight.  I am just going to have to work through these issues patiently.  The closer to parallel I can get the grid to the wall, the better the illusion will behave and the snapier the optical effect will be.  I’ll get there pretty easily all things considered.  If anything, this is a good wake up call when it comes to making something larger than an initial test.



Parts Of Cubes And Shadows (Week 6)

It is really a rare thing when I draw out an idea but lately I have been falling into the habit.  Drawings really just become affirmations of ideas that pop into my head.  My last drawing doesn’t make that much sense alone but helped me visualize what I had working around in my mind.  Like this drawing confuses the foreground and background characteristics of the cube, I hoped that I could create a similar effect with a steel form and a shadow.

This idea is really simple.  Basically it is a cube with only five sides that lines up with a light source.  That light source, or spotlight in this case, creates a shadow that makes the sixth side.  Through this exploration I learned a few new tricks for creating a dimensional object and managed to make a nicely welded steel frame cube.  Magnets are really great for this sort of design.  Here are some of the process photos.

After I constructed the form I had to set up a gallery situation, in a way, to see if my idea was at all possible.  Basically I had to imagine that the table was the wall and the light was in the ceiling.  Going into this I already knew that I was going to have to bend the legs a bit to account for the way the light traveled through the object or, in other words, the way the light is actually traveling in a conical direction from a single point.  Once that was adjusted the interaction between 2D and 3D space became more apparent and confused.

Once I match the tone of the object to the tone of the shadow this cube is going to blend 2D and 3D space in, I hope, startling ways.  Also, the sun is the ultimate spotlight leaving me wondering how I can create time related pieces that respond to the angle of the sun.

Again, just come to my studio an experience these things first hand.  Photos and sketches fail to translate the effect my work has on your perception.


Lots of Experiments, No Failures, Only A Practice. (Week 5)

Well, this blog post is a “failure” because it was not posted to “GoStudio” on time…

The thing about failures in making art is that there are none.  I don't believe in it.  It’s not about success and failure, it’s about practice.  I participate in an "art practice".  I have been disappointed in how things turn out but in the end I learn from the experience and learning is never failure.  I don’t have any pictures of the installation in this phase but last year I painted the walls of my installation the wrong types of black.  The glossiness of the two tones was too close and it didn’t do as I intended.  Did this make the piece fail?  No, repainted the surface and learned from the experience and then I moved on.

I’ve been reading a lot about Robert Irwin.  The book is titled, Forgetting The Name Of The Thing One Sees.  His practice is fueled by a desire to answer questions and intuition.  This is something that I relate to.  There is a point in the book where he talks about his dot paintings.  He completed 10 of these paintings in 2 years.  Two of them were destroyed with knives in San Paulo, Brazil by people who were angered about the work’s presence during a social upheaval that was occurring at the time.  I guess perception wasn’t something that people on the verge of rioting wanted to see.  So anyways, we are left with eight on the planet and I don’t really want to drive and find one so I thought I would try it out for myself.  The idea is that you put and bunch of red dots with a bunch of green dots of the opposite color on a canvas and then turn the surface grey at distance.  Six hours later I had this.

There may be a few directions I will run with this.  I may explore painting shadows with this method if I can figure out how to make the greying effect darker which is quite interesting to see in person.  Juggling projects has been my direction this last week.  I needed to clear my mind a bit so I revisited something a little less mental and a little more free from my past.  Interesting how my shabes and forms have changed.

It was nice to revisit this work even though I really have no language for what is happening with it.  Just expression.  A while back I created a drop shadow GIF to visualize a thought I had and it has been coming to life over the last 3 days.  Here are a bunch of process photos.  First I went to a local bike shop and begged for a free steel hub that I could refurbish and use as an axil for a rotating grid.  After an overhaul I was able to make it smooth as butter.  It was nice to do some old bike repair tricks.  Makes me miss working in a bike shop.

Next I started the construction of a new grid, this time with squared steel rods and a much cleaner assembly method with mitered corners for a flatter build.  I intend to paint the object in some fashion in the next few days. 

After it was built I cleaned up the welds and cut out a portion to center and weld the wheel hub in place.  Then I engineered a mounting plate so that it could be installed on a wall or a piece of plywood.  With all this put together I took it outside and placed it in the sun, the best spotlight in the universe.  The thing needed to be trued because it had a high and low point in the rotation that killed the effect that I was looking for between the object and its shadow.  After I re-welded a few sections things were much more plum.  

Next I cut a board to mount the square wheel to, combined the two elements, took it upstairs to the photo room in Battelle and threw a spotlight at it with a spin.

I am rather pleased with the sensation that it creates visually.  All that is left to do is paint the surface of the baord and hardware white as well as figure out the most interesting position for the spotlight to exist.  No one gets a video of this so just come to my studio at take a look at it for yourself.

I also spent some time this week in the CMoA installing for the Ruben and Isabel Toledo show opening Saturday and found a piece of a plexiglass display box in the garbage.  Greg Jones let me have it.  After work I took it over to Battelle to start my shift for Saturday and noticed that it did some really interesting things in the sunlight.  Later in my studio I experienced its characteristics with respect to all the lights in my space.

There was this beautiful moment in 1967-1971 when Maurice Tuchman smashed art and science together, pairing artists with different research industries in the United States.  Robert Irwin and James Turrell were paired with Dr. Ed Wortz, head of environmental systems research for NASA.  Their relationship was incredibly stimulating for Irwin and Wortz in particular and really allowed Irwin to dial in his skills for revealing perception.  During this time Irwin spent hours and hours inside of an anechoic chamber which, is a space void of light and sound, as well as suspended above the earth so that sound and vibrations do not travel through the earth and into the system.  It was designed to allow future astronauts to experience deprivation of senses that might exist in space travel.  After these sessions Irwin and Turrell recalled experiencing perceptual shifts or afterglows from the experience as their senses calibrated back to normal existence.  I must experience this at some point in my life.  The sooner the better.

In Report on The Art and Technology Program 1967-1971 in the Irwin-Turrell-Worts section Irwin wrote in his notes:

“Allowing people to perceive their perceptions - making them aware of their perceptions.  We've decided to investigate this and to make people conscious of their consciousness…

If we define art as part of the realm of experience, we can assume that after a viewer looks at a piece, he leaves with the art, because the “art” has been experienced.  We are dealing with the limits of an experience - not, for instance, with the limits of a painting.  We have chosen that experience to be defined as “art” because having this label it is given special attention.  Perhaps this is all “Art’ means - this frame of mind.

The object of art may be to seek the elimination of the necessity of it.

The work of previous artist have come from their own experiences or insights but haven’t given the experience itself.  THey set themselves up as a sort of interpreter for the layman… our interest is in a form where you realize that the media are just perception.

The experience is the “thing”, experiencing is the “object”.

All art is experience, yet all experience is not art.  The artist chooses from experience that which he defines out as art, possibly because it has not yet been experienced enough, or because it needs to be experienced more.

All art-world distinctions are meaningless.”

As an artist I really resonate with that last line as well as a lot of what is stated.  I understand that it relates to the work of Irwin and Turrell at the time.  As anyone else outside of being an artist, I understand how that might be a bit of a kick in the teeth.  Some of us like boxes to put things in and others wish to bring the walls down.  I just want us all to be humans.


Something will Manifesto (Week 4)

Perception is fragile.

Right now my interest sits in developing an understanding of perception through creating spatial disturbances that challenge our understanding of perception, ultimately formed through habit, causing us to question our behavior.  These disturbances to our cognitive interpretation of space create questions which promote evolution and growth, as well as conquers complacency and ultimately creates change for the better.  

Critique went well last week.  I presented a perceptual challenge to my cohort and people responded to the experience in various related ways.  Many had questions but none of the questions were from off the field.  I was interested in the experience with my installation.  

There were a few things that I hadn’t thought about yet.  One was the interaction with my hanging grid that seemed to take the space of the viewer with respect to my painting.  The hanging grate was located where a viewer might stand to optimally experience the canvas and in taking that space forced the viewer to exist elsewhere.  I was concerned with guiding people through the space in a way that would minimize interaction with the real light source until they got right up to the painting thus prolonging the illusion.  At this point members of my critique discovered the illusion that I had presented.  I really enjoyed how people focused on the canvas first rather than the light on the floor that was out in the open.  

I showed this piece to a friend of mine, Micheal Geiger, after the critique and he immediately looked for the lightsource that didn’t exist near the ceiling.  I saw him wrestle with the piece for a few seconds before he realized what was happening with the actual light source, the object, and the painting.  It was exactly what I was hoping for and it seemed to happen consistently with many.  I would say that it took people a few seconds to figure it out, some shorter and some longer, but it was proof enough for me that the puzzle worked.  Kieve brought up a great point involving the number of layers that I could present in order to lengthen the challenge to the viewer.  I’ll be exploring this potential further.  It was just so simple and incredible to watch.  

There was discussion around whether I was concerned with creating something sublime.  If this piece was sublime to some, it was never a direct intent for the work and rather just a side effect to my design esthetic. I am digging into this more with my research.