Monday, November 7, 2016

Autonomous Drying Experiments

During my residency at the School of Visual Philosophy, I've been experimenting with paper sculpture. For the past year, I've been examining my personal studio practice, and how I plan and plan and plan and then execute said plan, and then feel a certain exhaustion. And again and again I remember the idea, listen to the process. Which is a bit scary for me; unpredictability and always a struggle for time creates an environment that encourages planning and discourages experimentation and risk taking.

This came to a head for me, privately, when I was mentoring a student who was trying to do the same thing: plan out her project in its entirety from the start, because she's juggling work and school and has very little time. And, while I understand this, I was counseling her to remember to take a step back, to observe and question. Then I realized how little I do that myself.

As a installation, print and book artist, some planning and project management is necessary. Yet I realize that I wasn't doing much experimentation, that I wasn't discovering the unexpected. I was checking things off a list.

So when this opportunity was offered to me, I pushed myself to step outside of my comfort zone, and try things in which results were not guaranteed. I started with small tests like these, and, building on the tests I discussed here, I pulled out some reeds I had left over from this project to build some armature tests.

Again, it was scary, I didn't know what to expect. I'm not sure what these mean in the greater vision of typically narrative-driven work, and if the question of having one's vision adapt and grow is even scarier than the original risk.

As for what I've determined so far: all of these armatures started out relatively flat, the shapes they formed is just from the flax warping as it dried. I'm starting to notice patterns of what causes it to warp a certain way, but nothing reliable yet. I'm also still working on how I can integrate this technique into my greater body of work, and how can differentiate myself from the amazing Peter Gentenaar.

However, if you're interested in trying some of this yourself, and learning a few other things, join me for this workshop in 2017 in San Jose!

Click on the images for larger views.

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