2013 Fall Project

For our final project in the Digital Culture class we’ve been taking, we were tasked with making some kind of piece related to our artwork using one or more of the programs/systems we learned about over the semester.  I had so much fun playing with video artist statements and Aurasma, the augmented reality app, that I re-worked a new video statement that better shows and describes my semester long project.  I also created two trigger images in Aurasma that will play this video statement when the app is used:

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These two images were chosen because they are two of my favorite from the semesters work, and because I printed them on a very large scale for our end of semester critique/exhibition, 60×40 inches!  If you do not recall what the Aurasma app does, look down a few posts on my blog and it will show you!

So this is the end, semester one in the books, can’t wait to return with new work, new ideas and new possibilities!


_DSC5523Here we are.  The beginning of the end has come to us first year MFA students.  I’ve been bogged down with all sorts of work: readings, 15-page papers, final projects, augmented reality projects, etc…. needless to say it has been a little crazy!  Luckily my final project images have been selected, printed and are primed to go up on the gallery wall for our big-time end of semester critique!  You can see my finalized project here: A Lost Man.

It feels good to have a clear view of the end, and the journey here has been a long and exciting one!  Up next is a month of retrospection, new mentor selection, project proposal writing and most importantly relaxing.  I’m glad that I have a new idea in the works, and have already had a brief meeting with the wonderful Crystal Tursich, who will hopefully be my mentor going in to the spring semester.

Paper is finished.  Augmented reality is close behind (will post about that when It is completed).  Just a few short leaps and bounds to the end of the first semester, and the beginning of so much more.

“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.” – Douglas Adams

111913Try4Just had a mentor meeting with Hiroshi, the first in a while (broken finger on dominant hand = trouble shooting = a little less work than I’d like to have at this point), but great as always.  His continual input, as well as the advice I got from Tracy Longly-Cook last week, have really helped push this project to an interesting and newer state.  Looking back, this project has been through roughly five evolutions of ideas and experimentation before landing where it is now.  Hiroshi used the term ‘a gateway to another reality’, which I’m going to shamelessly steal as an excellent concept name for this project, which has stuck with me as a great way to describe what Im trying to do.  I am interested in that alternate, unknown and often constructed reality that I wind up creating in the blending of imagery, and these realities have started to take on a dream-like quality while still remaining in that realm of being ‘lost’.

The use of the term ‘gateway’ has really opened my mind on this work, first finding it accidentally with a blend of images I threw together, and now striving to find those locations where some kind of barrier can be broken down/built up to alter what viewers see as reality.  The use of gateways has also re-stirred up an on-going theme of my past work, the dream-like state, which I see as bordering on the surreal and helping to both address my idea of ‘lost’ and my own personal struggles with sleep and dreaming.

New work is forthcoming, I have my last critique of the semester tomorrow, which will hopefully give me some new topics to think about and leave me with a comfortable window to finalize the images I already have and to create some new ones.  Hiroshi has me thinking about playing with varying degrees of perspective as well as looking at an old favorite, Ralph Eugene Meatyard and his dreamy/bizarre alternate reality images, and not that I’m about to start strapping on creepy masks for my pictures, but I see a connection and a strong place for inspiration.

“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality” – Alfred Stieglitz


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Had a studio visit with photographer Tracy Longley-Cook today.  We discussed the new path my images have been taking over the semester, and how to make the spaces I’ve been creating more unique and individual.  Tracy encouraged me to go and actually get lost somewhere – to just get in my car and go, and see where I end up – and use that as the basis for these lost feelings I’ve had.  I think being lost will help with shooting the empty spaces I’ve created, and bring forward some of the new environments I’ve been searching to find.  Tracy also encouraged me to take my photoshopping too far, to really just edit the shit out of these images, making them barely recognizable as streets and figures, and then scale it back, knowing where the end point really is.  I’m very intrigued by the idea of doing these two things, and it is the new stage of my experimentation so far.  More coming soon.

My parting words today come from my dear Phil Young – mentor, teacher, and most importantly friend – who has helped me in so many ways in the short years I’ve known him.  I stumbled upon these words from him while reading The Lure of The Local by Lucy Lippard, and found them so fitting for what has been running through my mind lately.

“It’s a little fragment, but it’s speaking of something that’s whole…  I’m trying to weave broken threads back together… I am attempting to reconnect the cord, searching for ‘home’.” – Phil Young

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Attempts at figural concepts were made.  Not a TOTAL failure.  Last week my mentor and I discussed the idea of placing figures into my images, in a way to help bring the conceptual/psychological self-portrait to the front in more of a literal self-portrait.  At first this idea turned me off, I thought the images might end up looking cliche or just too busy for words, and after my first round of playing with the figures I was in no way sold on the idea.  In the past, and mainly just for laughs, I’ve played with the multiple-nevins-in-one-image idea, so I had a solid idea of what I wanted to do, though after capturing these ghostly figures I really struggled with combining and layering the two images.  At first, when in full color and untouched in photoshop, the figure just disappeared in the mixing of full-color images, and playing with masks just made everything look really photoshopped (in that ugly ‘he has no idea how to properly use photoshop techniques’ kind of way).  So thus begun the tweaking of contrast, brightness, saturation and vibrance of each layer in attempts to ‘pull’ that ghostly self out of the picture.

I’m still not %100 sure if this idea is the direction the project is going to take, though I do really like the few final test images I’ve been able to create, and the sense of the self is coming to the forefront in pleasing ways.  Unlike the images above, most of the tests involve two or more figures, layered on top of each other in unique ways, which really helps drive home the duality I’ve been able to find in this process and help to convey the lost feelings I’ve been aiming to convey.  Now I just need to really analyze my body language and surroundings to produce some solid images that properly blend the conceptual with the narrative without going overboard on cliches and overused poses.

“An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself.” – Charles Dickens

Just had my mentor meeting with Hiroshi.  LOTS of things swirling around in my mind about this project now.  New images coming soon, and judging by what we discussed this morning, they’re going to be real weird.  Been investigating the work of John Pfahl and his unique alterations to the idea of space.

“People think the camera steals their soul. Places, I am convinced, are affected in the opposite direction. The more they are photographed (or drawn and painted) the more soul they seem to accumulate.” – John Pfahl

NewSpace3 copy copyFeeling kind of stuck lately.  While I am very happy with my overall work I’ve done so far this semester, I have this continual feeling of missing something or that the work just isn’t whole.  The general consensus I’ve gotten from mentors, professors and my fellow candidates is that I have a method and a formula that works well for what I have been doing, but that I need to now figure out some level of a narrative or more thematic elements.

With those thoughts on my mind I’ve been capturing some new images on my night walks.  I think I just got stuck with the formulaic mindset I had, and lost sight of the intentions and thoughts that started this project.  I’ve been doing more reading about space, the everyday and the connection they can have on a deeper level.  I got to crack open The Everyday: Documents of Contemporary Art recently, an awesome collection of essays by 53 different artists and writers, and the few short entries I’ve read are helping with my current block.  I also recently discovered the artist Bradley Garrett and his concepts of ‘space hacking’ – venturing into urban, and frequently illegal areas to create amazing imagery out of seemingly everyday locations – and his book Explore Everything: Place Hacking the City, which is currently in the mail!  Looking up and looking forward to my weekly mentor meeting tomorrow morning, Hiroshi always has the best words and advice for me!

“Sometimes you don’t know why you’re doing something. You’re intuitively following, to see where it leads.”            – Edward Burtynsky

Had a studio visit with poet and renowned art critic Jon Yau today!  His advice and the discussion we had about my current work was oh so helpful.  As with any visit from a person with a fresh perspective, John had lots of insightful things to say from new angles that had not crossed my mind.  Along the lines of my critique from yesterday, John agreed that I have built a formula that I like and I now just need to start creating a narrative and stronger imagery to help support the statement I’m trying to make.  He got me to think about the concept of digitally altering my images ever so slightly, to help aid in my attempts to fool the viewers mind of what is where in each composition, and since I’ve accepted the fate of photoshop being part of my life now, I am open to experimenting with how I can deceive the eye with very subtle touches.

John has gotten me to look at Michel de Certeau and his book The Practice of Everyday Life, photographer John Divola who works with creating interesting spaces, photographer Kate Greene and her beautiful portraits, the films of Wong Kar-Wei, and the oddities found in Nighthawks, Edward Hoppers famous and over-used painting (look at the napkin holders).

New ideas circulating, new stuff coming, will return shortly.

“As a photographer you enlarge or emphasize a certain moment, making it another reality.” – Rineke Dijkstra

Continuing to print BIG images, at least 44 inches across, and starting to really enjoy them on this big scale.  My initial test print was out of whack in terms of resolution, but after investigation I realized I had been trying to print a jpeg file that big, whoops.  Adjusted the file types and all is hunky-dory.  Very pleased to see the large scale nature of these, the images successfully drive home the feelings I’ve been trying to convey, and my unease about this project has been lessened ever so slightly (don’t worry Ric, I am actually stressed out.)  I had one of the second-year candidates take a look at them (woohoo Angie!), and she was able to immediately understand the psychological aspects I’ve been trying to attain, always good to know I’m not the only one who sees what is happening in my images.

Been picking up books here and there for research.  Got a few reads on the sacredness of space and the feelings they evoke, just cracked open The Lure of the Local by Lucy Lippard – I love this book already for a few reasons:  she constantly references her experiences growing up in Maine (makes me miss my homeland more and more) AND she analyzes a piece by the one and only Phil Young (mentor, friend, teacher, all around mostamazingpersonever), so bravo Lucy!  I also picked up books about Eugene Atget, Edward Burtynsky, and John Coplans!  While Burtynskys pictures are very familiar to me – he’s been one of my favorite photographers for many years – it’s very exciting to have one of his artist books in my hands!

Photo on 10-3-13 at 3.16 PM #2I was also fortunate enough to come across the work of Jonas Fornerod recently.  His use of perspective and placement of the lone figure really appeals to me and what I try to say in my own work.  Fornerod executes psychological feelings in a expansive space perfectly, his The Center Of My World series is really quite stunning.

Also, got to speak with photographer Chad Hunt after his talk today.  His work is a direction I see my own stuff going – I’ve always been very interested in portraiture and photojournalism!

“Photography is a marvelous discovery, a science that has attracted the greatest intellects, and art that excites the most astute minds—and one that can be practiced by any imbecile” – Nadar



Started to print full-size (or close to there) test images for my project.  I printed one huge one, on three separate strips to get an idea of big scale.  I enjoy it even with a slight loss in the overall resolution and can’t wait to print this big (and bigger) on single sheets.  I also printer three smaller images, just to be able to look at them in a format that is not on my computer, or on a small 8×10 sheet.  I’m pleased with my current direction, deciding on final sizes and continuing to shoot as much as I can.

I also sadly didn’t get into a show I entered in Wilmington, DE.  Wanted to get in, so I’m feeling kind of let down, and not that I’m a ‘use this defeat to work harder and make better art’ type of person, but that’s really all I can do, so I’m going to.