Made - One of the coolest things about having a show is talking to people and getting new ideas.
I think it was Sunday, the day after the opening that I came up with the idea for my next show at Bau-Xi, which I hope to mount and open in January of 2014.
The present show Wandering consists of images of discovered subjects. The plan for Made will be to subtly create temporal works that couldn’t really be mistaken for found subjects like the subjects in Wandering. I’ll build or create the scenes and then photograph them to preserve and display, the actual pieces would be left to survive or disappear, or be dismantled.
The work in Made will be part street art, sculpture, performance and photography. I think the following list will adapt and change until I have about seventeen concepts that are relatively different from each other. Each will have to stand on it’s own as an exploration that I could build on over time. The other goal will be to make everything work together as a group of photographs that’s dynamic and visual compelling. To get to that final list in the next month or so I’ll expand, add, and remove things from the following inventory over the next few months. Hopefully I’ll also get a chance to try and execute a few of these in the near future as well. I imagine some just will not work well and I wont be able to tell until I try to execute.
1. Tarps – I have a fascination with tarps. In particular the woven plastic variety. I’ve thought about doing various projects with them but the most resonant and the one I think has the most staying power is pretty simple. I’ll purchase as many basic colour tarps as possible. I imagine I’ll end up with; blue, orange, white, silver and green tarps. I”d prefer eight foot squares but I don’t want to incur the cost of having them custom made so I might have to get them a little larger and possibly rectangular rather than square. I plan to either hang these tarps after a particularly serious snowfall, or lie them on the fresh snow in a vacant lot somewhere. The goal is simply to get the colorful tarp square isolated within a framed, vibrant white background. This particular piece has an added dimension for me. I could easily just draw this, or create it in illustrator or Photoshop but I want to create the composition with tarps and snow for some reason. In a way with Tarps I’ll be creating a very simple, minimal, abstract image in a fairly complicated and involved manner. I see these as physical sculptures that represent very minimal paintings.
So it’s Monday a few weeks after I originally wrote this part of the post on Tarps and I have yet to find the perfect tarpaulins. I’ve also realized a more practical way of executing these pieces. I’ll simply build a whack of square stretched canvas frames. I could make them in a myriad of sizes, but all square. The goal would be to create two pieces. One would be the photographs. No matter what size the square stretched canvases are, each of the image will easy translate to a 36 x 36 square print. The actual painted pieces could easily be planned and created to interlock into one big square wall piece of painting.
The following is an image I found today that represents the square of squares idea I was thinking about. This is from an amazing math site called the Global Constraint Catalogue I’m going to do my best to understand how they figured this out, but this is what the larger “square” piece from the Monday revelation would look like although I’ll be working with twenty one different colour panels. I’d like to see if I could make the twenty one colours represent something other than just the minimum number of squares for squaring the square. So now I look for a colour system in history that relied upon 21 colours. I may just create my own colour wheel with 21 blocks on it if I can’t find anything relating to 21 in Josef Albers theory of colour.
There’s a derivative of Tarps I’ve recently thought about that I’ll probably try to do as well. It could be an easier lift. For this derivative shoot I would ask the guy who has moved into the industrial spot on our street if I can use the exterior of his building. He’s place is called Factory and he has the occasional party. Anyway I’ll just simply ask him if I could use the front widows of the building. it’s a nice brick facade with five largish industrial widows. I’d simply take the tarps of different colours and configure them to cover those windows to varying degrees. Some might be covered completely, some might be organically and naturally draped so some of the underlying widow could be seen. I’d then fame the windows in the viewfinder in various manners to create pieces that would represent diptychs, or triptychs of the tarped windows.
2. Boxes – I hope to use the tarps from the first concept in this piece but I’m not trying to connect the two pieces. I’d shoot Boxes in the spring or summer. While exploring for Wandering I happened upon a series of utility boxes in the green space wedged between the Lakeshore and the Gardiner Expressway. These probably hold switching devices, light controls or something utility related. Whatever their purpose they aren’t high voltage or anything and don’t appear to be touchy or they wouldn’t be fully accessible to pedestrians. The plan is to cover the various boxes with tarps in such a way that they simple become colorful geometric shapes surrounded by landscaped natural stuff. I’m hoping they’ll look bizarre enough to be engaging and and that they will retain measure of aesthetic attraction for me. If this doesn’t work I’ll simply opt for a self portrait in a field of me wrapped in one of the tarps. I may need to get assistance for these “self portraits”. I’m not entirely sure I could manage wrapping myself up the way I want to while maintains safety level that’s comfortable. I’ll also have to get a remote control shutter release for the camera so I can take a true self portrait in this manner.
3. White – is a result of some images I found on line. While trying to explain Tarps above I came across a bunch of sites that described creating shelter structures in the woods. Specifically there was one site that showed how to create a simple protective draping out of a white tarp hung over a taught line and then stretched via the corners to various trees where it was tied down. It immediately struck me that the white tarp became a shape in the photographic frame that appeared alien to the scene and therefore more resembled a Photoshopped subtraction of colour in the photo than an actual physical structure within the setting of the photo. The image I create will hopefully amplify this effectively Again I’m using a physical manipulation of space to appear like a digital manipulation of the space. If I’m trying to say anything I’m working on early themes and suggesting that there’s something of value in the effort even if the results are attainable by some other easier method. IN a way this embraces my ideas on inconvenience being more attractive to me than comfort or convenience.
4. Leaves - This plan is for next fall when I would be to head to my neighborhood Campbell Park and rake leaves. Not for the sake of actually bagging them up but just to take pictures of the resultant shapes. In my head I picture raking a big pile into an elliptical shape that when viewed from a bit of distance appears as a complete and well shaped circle that hovers within a field of deep green grass. I figure if I get up early enough om some nice and cold fall day when it’s dark and rake until sunlight nobody would be awake to bother me. The idea of someone coming along and seeing the weirdly eccentric and anally arranged leaf pile also interests me. Hopefully it will make someone smile, or at least scratch their head.
5. Paths – This is another one of those ideas that’s been percolating with me for four or five years. I once took an unassuming photograph of a small worn path in a patch of grass. The image has stayed with me and I often think about it and that path. For this proposed piece I’d find a vacant field. It might be worth my while to locate something like a clearing in a forest or a clearing or meadow of tall grass. I’d then figure out what sort of line might enhance the composition and create that line in the field by walking back and forth over a predetermined path for hours and hours. This piece would also have an inherent meditative aspect to it. I think I’d really like the repetitive route and the slow trampling of the path. I see this as a meandering route through the heart of a meadow, but I’ve also thought about more absurd paths. A circular route that by it’s nature is endless. A circle around a tree would also be interesting yet harder to capture with the camera. In writing this it might be interests to create such a circular path around a tree, but have it actually branch off “behind” the tree out of the frame or view of the camera. there’s an absurdity here I like that correlates to The Task that I performed for Nuit Blanche.
6. Cone – With an average size bag or bags of gravel I’d create a conical pile. I think I’d have to experiment with it to figure out how to create the structure, but I’d want to make something a bit stretched so it would fighting against gravity to be built. Maybe I’d have to build some sort of retaining cage, plexi-glass housing or at the very least some sort of internal structure to allow the conical mound to be built taller and slimmer than if it was dumped out the back of a truck. I see this on a sidewalk or a paved road somewhere. Maybe it’s on a paved road like that goes nowhere and isn’t used anymore in the country. Those cul de sacs you see from the 401 on the way to Barrie come to mind. Dirt roads that really provide access to houses but are not through routes and end in a circular nothingness. Maybe it’s in the path of some access way to a now defunct quarry
7. Clearing – These images would be related to Leaves and Paths above. In a large long grass field I’d create different sized clearings. I figure I could do this with a scythe, hedge trimmers or in a more detailed and controlled manner with a pair of scissors. The clearings could be simply small areas of grass cut to different heights, or areas of grass sculpted to create contours of different heights. Rather than cut a chunky circle out of a field, I could cut a well formed half-sphere. I could do this in farmers field. It could be done in corn or some other crop. The ideal would be to select a smaller area of a wheat field and carve out the spheres sculpting the wheat into a topographical sculpture. For this I’d need to get a small plot of land for myself for this purpose. That could be an added dimension that I’ve actually grown the material I use to sculpt.
8. Foliage – This came to me while at my brother’s place on lake Huron. It’s a very idyllic and quiet place.
In dense deciduous overgrowth, carve a path to allow light to travel from one area to another. Take pictures of the sculpted holes. This could be in a single tree’s leaf canopy or the canopy of multiple trees. The goal would be to create a straight pathway to the open air and sunlight. I’m not sure that the foliage could be shaped in such a way that –without being detrimental to the tree– the carved open path in the canopy focuses beams of light onto the floor of the forest in places. It might actually be easier to do with PVC conduit that reaches beyond the canopy and is angled in such a way to allow sunlight at a certain time of day to be focused down it’s length ending in circles on the forest floor. There might be easier ways to do this using tarps with holes cut out of them suspended over the forest floor that I could fool around with and manipulate the natural light.
9. Nails – At one time I was working on a new concept for a performance or installation piece for Hamilton’s annual Supercrawl. I never ended up submitting my proposal but it focused on Stelco or the steel industry. The common Ardox nail was developed there. The Ardox is still the nail of choice in the construction industry. But I digress. The fact is that the image of a three or four inch Ardox nail has stuck with me for over a year. It’s my Twitter account identifying image. It can be seen on my Facebook page.
For this piece I would take a thirty pound box of four inch Ardox spiral nails and dump it in the middle of a concrete floor somewhere to be photographed. I’d sculpt the pile or simply spread the contents out over the floor, spacing each nail in such a way that it didn’t impinge on any neighboring nails space. I could completely cover the floor in this manner or alternately create a pathway that mimics a river bed. I like the geometric idea of covering the whole floor’s surface because it reminds me somewhat of an Agnes Martin painting.
10. Topiary - Construct weird unfamiliar shapes out of wire mesh, or whatever is used in topiary construction and grow the plants in over the course of the year. In writing this I think the idea is unattainable. I’m fairly certain that I’ll need to grow the plants for a few years to get to the point where I can trim them to the realise the shapes I’m thinking about in the type of density I’m imagining.
11. Lights. Take a dark street and a relatively obscured home or building with a solitary front facade window. The idea is to pile interiors lamps into the window and let their light spill out into the darkness and then capture. Hopefully the image will be intensely bright and somewhat blasted at it’s core and then fade off into complete blackness in every direction. This idea might be better served by heading out into the country with a small generator and a bunch of lights. I could then set up the mass of lights in a confined space. I see these as floor lamps of adjustable heights. I’d photograph these from a fair distance away where the light has little to no effect.
12. Cups - Somewhere to be determined in the city. Spend a few weeks visiting a certain location and then walking around the vicinity and collecting empty coffee or drink cups. It will take a few weeks to get enough to be dramatic and I’ll have to find a place to store the bags of cups prior to executing the shoot.
After I’ve got four or five garbage bags of cups I can take them to a predetermined spot and pile them and arrange in what looks like a haphazard manner in some weird doorway, or beside some lonesome bench somewhere. The idea is to create this unreal pile of trash created by an unidentified and fictitious person. This might be too staged.
13. Packaging – I worked on this for about an hour several months ago and produced a work that was sort of interesting. I took the exterior box from a common tube of toothpaste and sliced into sections like a loaf of bread them rearranges those sections so each was slightly offset from the other and photographed. While writing this it might be more compelling to cut the packing via laser into a series of shapes, maybe circles, then discard any excess packaging and “rebuild” the package like a jigsaw that instead of interlocking joins together with suggested space. This is definitely an interior piece and as such deviates slightly from the other concepts. It also involves a fairly complex technology and by virtue of this is removed from the simpler concepts in this grouping. This one might be better left for a show that focuses on similar projects. I could see developing a series of these studio shots taken on white or black backgrounds.
14. Balloons – This is an idea that just came out of nowhere. I’ll live with it for a bit and see if has merit. It might be too cute to be of any worth. I can see it being relatively humorous but the trick will be to keep it from being too contrived. I imagine the loading dock overhang at the old Outside Music office on Carlaw in the east end of the city. This was was relatively low-fi when I knew it fifteen years ago. On the dock I could fill a few hundred helium balloons and let them rise, constrained by the overhang of the dock itself. The bland and industrial location would contrast nicely with the lighthearted and celebratory balloons. Alternately I could completely fill a squash court or build enclosures to contain the spaces behind windows in various buildings and shoot these in such a way that an illusion is created of a house or building being completely filled with to overflowing with balloons.
15. Books – This would be a bit similar to the secondary premise for Balloons.
In doorways at my house, completely fill up each space where the doorway should be with a wall of books, spine out so all you see are the page edges crammed into the door jams. The whole piece should suggest a feeling of being trapped or confined. Maybe a sense of mystery and intrigue at the reasoning for the walls, or again perhaps it will suggest that the room beyond is complete rammed with books. Again, as I write this I’m now thinking this is a partner image to the balloons concept. It could be expanded with other household articles. Maybe I pile the doorways full of clothes, or maybe the coffee cups can be arranged in openings. I could manage a multitude of articles to convey the same or different things. Books, balloons, clothing, coffee cups, water bottles, newspapers, old electronics, etc.
16. Holes – Simply dig a perfect cylindrical hole in clay or in dirt using water to form the sides and prevent them from caving in like you might build a sand castle. Picture the reverse of a sandcastle carved out of a dirt field before construction begins. It could end up being a concave sculpture that resembles a tiered landscape.
This is one of those ideas that has stayed with me since the creation of The Task for Nuit Blanche. I see this as a performance piece filmed. I start with a near pile of implements and proceeds like I’m creating an archaeological dig. The end goal though is to create the space, not to discover stuff. It might turn out however to be about discovering stuff as well. Urban archaeology.
17. Blind - Another spur of the moment concept. I figured this one out while writing the older ideas above.
Using heavy gauge fishing line or some other reasonably hidden support method I plan to hang window blinds in mid air as if suspended and closing off the light to an invisible building. I think I could rig these on fishing line that’s suspended from the underside of the pedestrian bridge by my house.
18. Falling - I just had a dream that gave me another a idea. In October 2013, after the leaves have dropped from the trees in High Park. Take coloured paper and create paper leaves that will biodegrade. Make these multiple colours, or one very vivid and uncharacteristic fall leaf colour like white, or maybe blue. Whatever the decision, place the “fake” leaves under trees in what would will look like a surreal second fall. This could a two part project. One part could be the leaves photographed in different locations in the park. Go into the location early, Maybe 4 or 5:00 and create the pieces. Shoot them when the sun comes up. The other part could be to wait until people start to populate the park and take pictures of them interacting with the leaves, or maybe even a video. Maybe someone will come along and re-arrange them or rake them up.
A better less “cute” idea might be to make circular leaves, or geometric shaped leaves, so it doesn’t look like I’m trying to “copy” the leaf shape. Maybe 3 dimensional paper sculptures? I series of different sized-sized cubes all in black?