Last week has been mostly about finishing up a few things in the studio. Thank goodness for tape!! It must be the best ever tool in the studio that every artist uses.
Laminating the prints on dibond has been good for a super smooth finish; it surpasses regular mat board that always seems to have a bit of a texture that shows through the print. Liking the way the slickrock paper reflects ever so slightly and by mounting it on the aluminum, it just adds to the reflection.
Been printing the wallpaper in panels too. First time I ever used the adhesive synthetic paper which has a good mat finish. Colors look good but are slightly sensitive to the shifts in light temperature. Making it tough to tweak.
There is something very sad about finishing a work of art – but according to the theory of the grotesque: “the grotesque image is never finished,” so I’m going to hold on to that.
Version 4 of the wallpaper. The same gestures of arranging a still life composition are repeated in post-production. Rearranging objects never ends. The grotesque image is “never finished, never completed; it is continually built, created, and builds and creates another body” (Bakhtin)
The grotesque is not gross. It about being in a state of flux. Suspended between boundaries. Unstable. Constantly re-building itself.
I’ve been experimenting with ways to bring the theory of the grotesque into my work. The scanned images from last semester on the black background seemed to fixed and permanent on such a solid ground. But by repeating the image and layering it at different opacities the image is unstable.
I’ve also been experimenting with printing on MOAB slickrock metallic pearl paper so that there is a slight iridescent glow in the highlights.
This week I started to take apart the arrangements that I have been photographing and I decided to document some of those single items using a flatbed scanner. The items were either crumbling and breaking (from the large composition) or were dissolving from the fish tank composition. Strange how even the ceramic pieces became fragile when soaking in water.
Using a scanner, (instead of photographing them with a camera), gave the items a different glow and the dark background connects the work to the traditional Vanitas. While I’m not interested in a straightforward dialogue that uses the same formal language and set up as this genre of art, I am interested in building on the sensibility of that theme – about life and death and the transient nature of life.
Keeping the surface of the scanner bed dirty was a happy accident and it was good to embrace my messy studio and my dirty scanner. I’m thinking of putting them together in sets of 3.
Some studio experiments. Working thorough the idea I discussed with my mentor about the image going to the edge of the frame instead of building a mound of stuff.
I decided to clutter objects on a flatbed scanner instead of shooting a composition arranged on a table. With this process I have less control because I can’t get the same view as when I’m creating a sculpture based work and looking at it from the same angle as the camera.
I liked the composition of the first few scans but felt that it looked too stable, in contrast to the original sculpture of stuff that was arranged in a precarious pile. Also, the new scans weren’t gross enough. Currently I’m researching about the grotesque in visual art and also precarious works of art – and I’m looking for ways to formally bring those concepts into my work.
I decided to add water to the arrangement on the scanner and it was a good way to play with the idea of uncertainty and instability. (Making the arrangements on a plastic tray) Also, the water dissolves some of the sugar roses, cookies and jelly bits into a beautiful and slimy mess. The whole process is vulnerable and uncontrollable. I really can’t control how the image will unfold and this is totally different from my normal working method. It’s frustrating.
The inability to determine the outcome is fitting with ideas about precarity in art that I have been investigating. Nicolas Bourriaud stated that “an object is said to be precarious if it has no definite status and an uncertain future or final destiny: it is held in abeyance, waiting, surrounded by irresolution. It occupies a transitory territory.”
The idea of flux in an image is also an element of the grotesque. Frances Connelly describes the grotesque as “images in flux” and that the grotesque “put things into play” and “aberration, combination and metamorphosis” are some of the visual attributes in the grotesque.
These experiments in the studio also address a few things from my last residency that I have been sorting through: pushing the grossness further (it needs to ooze), risk and reward you take in the studio, inviting the viewer into the photograph, making YES work, and photographing past a peak moment.
Experimenting with sequencing images and cutting off the composition