Thursday, April 29, 2010

I was going to go wash and set aside the clothes I plan to wear, and return all my library books since they wouldn't be any use to me at my house, but I ended up explaining my place project to my girlfriend tonight instead. I really botched the whole conversation and made it about whether or not she appreciated my art instead of the dangers and selfishness of me living without a home. Like, I preemptively defended myself against the attack I expected but didn't actually get . . . and that whole thing took a lot out of me.
I did the apparently obligatory two drawings, and they appear exceptionally sketchy and half-assed.
I noticed the predominant colors in the still life are red, yellow, and blue, and it made me think about Seurat and how in pointilism the separate colors mix as light, and therefore in order to make something appear yellow, he would have to use a combination of red and green dots. I like that the still life I'm copying is composed around red yellow and blue. It makes me think about the connection between the light of the real world which shine and reflects off of the illusionary paint, while at the same time the pigment has mass and is material whereas light is not (I guess. I'm not really a scientist).
I got a couple of things accomplished today. I cut out the paper for the major copy, the one I'll carry around with me. Also I put masking tape on my camera viewscreen to create sights so my photos will be hopefully very close in composition.
I told my roommate that I wouldn't be home for a little while next week. I was thinking the other day how funny it'd be if while I was gone he stole all my stuff. It's weird that a home is a more secure place for things than a parking lot or sidewalk. It's not like our houses have defense systems or booby traps (well, I guess if you're cool your house probably does). It seems to be mostly the fact that the stuff in your house is hidden from view. Locks help too I guess, but I hardly ever lock up. I guess there's a sense of territory to the concept of house that just doesn't exist in the concept of "pile of belongings out in the open". Like, the invasion of someone else's territory is maybe more taboo and unthinkable than stealing.
That reminds me, before I left the house to come here and scan pictures, I heard this really loud bird chirp, and at first I thought it was like an internet alert noise going off, but quickly realized it was a bird. And the sudden knowledge that I was in his presence, in, from his point of view, a part of his territory, I found that very interesting. Like, everyplace within earshot of his song is a place where he is asserting his existence, and his pride. I think that art is a kind of chirp like that, something we do to kind of assert ourselves and make ourselves known, and of course there's a very real element of territorialism in things like graffiti. I like the thought of the drawing I carry being, like, my bird song, and I'm asserting myself to everyone who sees it. It's like I'm saying wherever I go "You are in the presence of a proud young artist!" . . . . or more likely "You are in the presence of a homeless crackpot!"

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera."

- Dorothea Lange

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I was feeling drowsy and didn't want to go to sleep yet, so I went for a walk to the track, where I went for a run. Then I came here to the Tech computer lab in order to scan in the copies I did today. You would think a student who did as much scanning as I did would own a scanner.
But instead I go to where a scanner is. When I want to run I go to where the track is. And I can never keep track of a pencil sharpener, so I leave whatever I'm doing to find a pencil sharpener, or buy more sharpened pencils . . .
Thinking about this sort of thing, I realized that I have a tendency to let places happen to me, or to let circumstances control my place. And then, whenever it's up to me to create a place for something, like a pencil sharpener or a route to run or whatever, I don't do it.
This made me realize that my Place project is basically the antithesis of Matt Blache's place project (and upon further consideration I realized that we are sort of artistic opposites - he creates work that's elegant and simple, formal and universal, whereas I create work that's clumsy and convoluted, contextual and personal).
The definition of place Matt is working with assumes or creates order. He's creating a place, and creating the thing that goes there and defines it as a place. And the piece itself is a real object with a designated place - the classroom and/or a gallery.
My piece on the other hand . . . I'm removing the only places that I could be said to have had any large part in creating for myself. I'm becoming even more passively placed. And the bulk of the piece itself is a virtual object whose place is wherever it's viewed.
It's funny . . . Probably a way more challenging endeavor for me to attempt would have been just to try to get organized and find places for all my stuff. While I am pushing myself to do something that will be somewhat difficult, at the same time really aren't I just indulging in escapism? Maybe I'm leaving the places that are mine because in those places I am confronted by myself. Not that I think I should be organizing my stuff for this project. That wouldn't be very much like me, and so it wouldn't be my work.

Sitting outside on campus getting ready to draw some copies, getting a little preview of what it will be like later, I guess. The sunlight reflecting off the paper is almost blinding. It's an interesting contrast to the pitch black of the Clara Peeters still life background, like, a place where the elements aren't able to go. Yet, the sun still hits the page of the book, and if it rained, the book would still get wet. Though the data of the painting would not be compromised since the original is elsewhere.

The black of the background gives the still life objects a luminescent quality. It makes me think of TV and computer screens in dark rooms, rather than well lit, peopled homes - the image of the agoraphobic. There are no plants or fruits. The objects are either processed or from underwater. Could there be tension and a sort of resentment toward the home and domesticity here as well? It's dark, there's no life, there's a knife and claws and things on the verge of falling. Maybe it is even an unconscious sentiment. I don't think it's a hateful painting. It still feels like a picture of comfort and pleasure. It's just . . . complicated; strained. Fictitious. Auto-fictitious - a lie we tell ourselves. "We" being Clara Peeters and I.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Here's the master work I'm copying, by Clara Peeters.
The song Big Top Candy Mountain comes to mind. I never noticed 'til I started doing copies how that shadowy loaf of bread in the back right can't be more than 1/10 on the table. And then you've got almost everything else hanging off the edge of the table as well, and this precarious cheese tower . . . It's, like, this impossibly bounteous table, I guess. Some of the stuff comes from distant places - like the bowls from China, the crustaceans from the ocean, some of it's local - like the cheeses and beer. I think the blue of the table cloth would have conveyed a sense of wealth, if not holiness, due to that color's association with the virgin Mary.
The picture is imaginary. The 17th Century dutch still life artists did studies of individual objects and put them together into one picture. So you could say the place is imaginary. But then, there is no place, just a black void. Though I suppose the table is a place, and the bowls, and so on. In any case, it evokes a place. It's a happy place, a place that provides for you, where you would not suffer.
"To me, painting is home."
- Vincent van Gogh
"Sometimes you have to draw with your feet."
- Peter Jones
I came up with an idea for the Art 318 project on body/identity, which I didn't end up using, that made me, like, sick to think about doing. I was going to dress up in sexual fetish costumes and hang out in public, maybe hold up some cardboard signs, get someone to take photos. It was kind of silly and hamhanded, but I think I would have done it if I hadn't thought of something else to do.
This place project, it doesn't make me feel sick like that, but it's sort of upsetting to think about. Like, what if I fall asleep outside and wake up without a wallet. What will my girlfriend think when I tell her I'm not going to be in my house for a few days. Little things about it depress me, like having to go to the gym to take a shower, having to carry everything I "own" around with me, not having a place to go and be apart from everyone.
I guess that last one is the main thing about the project, and the thing I'll have in common with the drawing I will be carrying around. Like, it'll no longer be aloof and separate from the world on a wall or in a book. It'll be in the same boat as every other object. I don't think either one of us is cut out for this sort of thing. We're both flimsy and vulnerable and . . . sort of separate by nature, I guess.
I've felt compelled to, like, clean and organize my room before I go. Maybe I just want everything to be in order before I abandon it. Maybe I want to take stock of what items there are that I can take with me, sort of like trying to drag some of my place along.
Writing this has actually gotten me excited about the project a little bit. It's a sort of adventure, and obviously it's something that I want to do since I made it up for myself. Last night, I went outside to take out the trash, and the wave of pleasantness and just, like, psychic relief that hit me upon leaving the confines of my house was just incredible. And I forget about this sort of sensation of almost, like, motherly love that the outdoors has to offer us. I remember last summer, listening to Bottom of the World by Tom Waits, and feeling so trapped and alone, grasping for control and security/comfort.
This project is a little scary or intimidating or whatever, not knowing what I will do when I get sleepy, not being able to avoid people, and so on. But it's better than being so inextricably attached to a place.