Monday, May 7, 2012

Becoming - new print for Lost Coast Culture Machine!

This spring, I was asked to be part of an invitational portfolio to support Lost Coast Culture Machine, this totally awesome, amazing, alternative exhibition and papermaking space up in Fort Bragg, CA. Book Bombs was part of an exhibition with them a while back, and since I've moved to California, I've been meaning to visit. More on that later.

For this portfolio, each artist was given some paper (see mine above) made at LCCM, to which they were asked to respond to this following quote by Giles Deleuze, One should seek to create a foreign language from one's own language, to be spoken by a community that does not yet exist. Not being too familiar with Deleuze, my first step was to sit down with my knowledgeable friend and philosopher Phil King (who currently has some paintings up at the Bay Area Free Books Exchange - go see them!).

My first response to the quote, before even talking with Phil, was that Deleuze spoke of a form of rebirth. As I came to understand, Deleuze was interested in breaking free from convention, reality, the mundane, but rather than attempting to reach a higher plane or truth, he felt that truth was found in the act of escape itself. The in-between interval, the interstice, was where he wanted to stay. When talking to me, Phil mentioned Heraclitus's concept that it is impossible to step in the same river twice, and how Deleuze would answer this by saying instead of stepping into and out of the river, or across the river, try to place oneself within the constantly changing waters.

I liked this idea: constant change, constant becoming. As an representational image-maker, I also liked the idea of the river. When considering process, philosophically the idea of reduction block, something that is constantly carved away to make the next image layer, seemed to reflect the ideas of the Deleuze as well. I started with this layer of very transparent blue:

The second layer was a rainbow roll of two different colors - below you can see how it was rolled, and then the print:

I was originally intending to carve away the mountain shape down to the border of the water, but I felt the image would flatten out too much without something to imply depth. So I cheated. the next layer (the darker green mountain shape) was not part of the original block. In the interest of time, however, I printed the sandy beach at the bottom in the same run, which was.

I almost left it at that - but I wanted the water to feel more watery, so a very transparent bluish silver was printed next:

Finally, reducing the block to almost nothing - the completed print, Becoming:

For those who might not recognize the scene, it's based on the view from the beach at Miller-Knox, looking towards Mt. Tamalpais. Instead of Heraclitus's river, I have the waters of the San Francisco Bay. Hydrologically, the estuarial waters of the Bay are part ocean, part fresh, and their salinity changes depending on the amount of rain the region receives. With their currents and rising and lowering of the tides, they are a state of endless flux. I see the figure in outline dissolving into their state of constant change.

For an six-color edition of 50, not counting extras printed for mistakes, the block ran through the press around 300 times. I can't even imagine how many passes of the roller I did. As it neared completion, Robert and I decided to use this print as an excuse to finally head up the coast to visit LCCM and see the Fort Bragg/Mendocino area. More on that to come - check back!

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