11.12.2011

Test post using Blogsy

So this is a test post using an app called Blogsy, it's in the AppStore and it looks promising so far. Like any new piece of technology there is a learning curve, however the upside is being able to use my iPad efficiently for blogging. The interface is clean, and the app as whole looks promising. It also has the option of setting up the publishing time and day, so a post could be worked on throughout the week and posted later.

A photo from my library

And another photo...

Test video...

So not too bad and not too painful either, the real test will be tomorrow at 9am when this post is supposed to publish. Is it worth the $5 price tag? Maybe. This will definitely need more testing to see if it's worth it, but the only thing I wish this could do now is directly import pictures and videos from your local library instead of having to upload them to an online version such as Picasa or Flickr. I think this will be a good stop gap until Blogger decides to make an official iPad app like Facebook did(which for some reason... that took forever). They (Blogger) have an app for the phone, but I haven't been able to find the same app for the iPad and I have looked.

10.15.2011

Intimately breaking


Breaking glass is fun.  There is no denying it.  In fact it can be quite addicting, I did breaking experiments earlier in the week and recorded the process.  It was... exciting, dangerous, nerve wracking, and only with the barest hint of trauma.<---  This is what I'm after for the viewer, while trying to make them be very deliberate about what they are doing.  Can they shake off their societal programming and complete the piece?  I already want to try and make this piece again, away from an academic setting and see how more "normal" people deal with it.






So this helped to prove a few things... that I'm moving in the right direction for the overall wall thickness of the vessels.  The teardrop shape in the last video will be the hardest to break due to it's egg like structure.  An egg is really good at distributing any force that could potentially break it.  Aiming for the lip of the piece is an, almost, guaranteed break.  That it is addicting, after breaking about 6 pieces that morning I was looking around to see if I had any left to smash, so some type of limit will need to be in place.  That everything is heightened, from the fight or flight response, when your that close to flying glass.

It has been suggested to throw the objects into a corner or a box.  Meh.  To me by making it so you have to pick up the piece, place it inside, and then break it makes the entire situation more intimate.  There seems to be some kind of detachment going on throwing the piece away from yourself, your still safe, and far away from anything "bad" that might happen... that is something I don't want for this piece.

Now, a few things have come up...

Is there anyway to prolong the breaking?  No, not in this project, 10 seconds is an average time to line up the shot and take it... that is not saying it can't be done and I am looking into the opposite of this piece... larger, thicker vessels that would be very difficult to break at all.  Other ways of breaking are being entertained as well, but so far nothing seems to be as satisfying as straight up smashing.

Do I have to be so responsible?  Yes.  There is no way around this one, watch this video...


There is no way I can willingly let this be in a public setting and not take the safety precautions I think I need to take.  It's not going to happen... I don't want the institution (CCAD) to get into trouble for allowing one of their artists to make a dangerous piece and not take the steps necessary to make it as safe as possible.  I am used to pieces of glass popping off and hitting me in the arms, neck, face, legs, etc., and other glass blowers are used to it... the general public is not.

Well... maybe I can loosen up a bit.  Looking over the design of the breaking box, I think I can strip away a lot of the over the top safe guards and have something that is still works while making the situation as exciting(dangerous) as possible.  The possibility of waivers is something I'm seriously considering.  Right now, this project is in the same editing phase as my project from the first semester... stripping away everything else to get to the essence.

I have been considering what is the most important thing for this particular project.  Things that cannot change are picking the piece, taking it to it's destination, and breaking it... but even then, the most important thing is to break it.  The glass has to be handmade, not just off the clearance rack at Pier 1 or World Market.  Why?  The aspect of these objects being handmade helps to drive home this aspect of preciousness associated with them.  There is the notion that handmade glass is a precious material.  It's a collected medium, it's used for awards, it's something that is passed down in the family as an heirloom.  All of these are very precious attachments that only really came about from machines taking over the more mundane aspects of glass blowing (i.e. making bottles) allowing glass blowing studios to concentrate on other things.  So messing with that is important to me, and I think once this is in the gallery some people will have a very hard time doing what is asked of them.  Once the viewer becomes part of the display, and is put on display... some will revel in that and others will shy away from it.




The result of the breaking was no less beautiful than the vessels before the breaking began.  On a nice table with some good light, I think these remnants of vessels will look particularly good.  With how things are shaping up now, I'm thinking pedestals are a must.  To really cement these fragments as an art work, their presentation is very important.


Considering the activity, and that this is all that happened with open air breaking, it was a good day.

It's not just me



No, it's not just me who likes breaking things... 




A small showing

So here are a few pictures of glass installed in the lobby of the Crane Center.  I was asked, along with two other artists... Dion Utt and Lilandra Holmes, if we could show work for Startup Weekend that was being held in the top floor of Crane last weekend.




Now I did have a slight problem, I forget to get business cards and my resumé out with my work. Bad self promotion on my part.  However, I did remember a great thing from last year that seemed to be a perfect solution... QR codes.



The QR codes are linked to my blog to show process, and to my website for portfolios, resumé, and contact information.  Since Startup Weekend was primarily a tech development venue... teams would work on developing the ideas they had voted for on the previous day, after that they had a chance to pitch the ideas to investors... just about everyone there had a smart phone and a lap top.  This made the entire presentation super sleek, very clean, and paperless.

Thank you Charlotte!

10.09.2011

My outside experience (Part 2)




So after working with Aimee at the Springfield Museum of Art, the next phase of the OE was to begin.  This was volunteering at Glass Axis, which can be found here, to install a new glass furnace and to do some extensive shop maintenance for the annual shut down that begins and lasts through the month of August.  Most of this was very technically based, lots of time cutting metal, moving gas lines, etc... this usually resulted with me showing up at Glass Axis Wednesday through Friday for 8 hour days assisting Trevor.  So I'm going to list what we did over the shut down and expand as needed...

1. Install the new Wet Dog furnace on the right side under the exhaust hood, move the left furnace to the left by 3 inches and adjust the heat shields to accomodate for the move.  Move the old furnace, goodbye old friend, out to the loading dock to await it's fate.  

Here was a perfect example of making sure you have the right tools for the job.  To move the furnaces we had to end up using 2 palette jacks rated for 3,000 pounds.  Normally you would have to use one, but in Columbus NO ONE rents a 3k pound palette jack that doesn't have busted hydraulic seals.


To do any of this we had to take apart, re-plumb, and reseal the gas lines for the furnace and one glory hole so we would have enough light to see back behind the furnace.  While the gas was shut off we also installed reduction valves on all 4 glory holes, this way if renters at Glass Axis wanted to do some fancy reduction techniques to their glass then all they would have to do is throw a lever open to reduce and then close it when they were finished.  

When you reduce the flame in the glory hole what you are doing is increasing the gas and dropping the oxygen within the chamber, certain glass colors will then get a metallic sheen to them when exposed to this type of flame.  By putting the reduction valves on the glory holes the plan was to make it as simple as possible for a renter to use and then reset a reduction flame.  Before this lots of money, in the form of a gas bill, was being wasted from people using a reduction flame but not putting the settings back so a higher gas flame was always being used.

Cut holes in the heat shields to accommodate the new reduction valves at each glory hole.

2. Install new exhaust ports in the exhaust hood above the flues for both furnaces.  Since The foot print for the new furnace did not match the old one some adjustment was need to make sure that the furnace could vent properly. The other exhaust port for the old furnace that was still there, had to be adjusted since we moved it 3 inches to the left, a minor move but still a hassle.  You have to keep in mind that while this was going on the furnaces were shut off, however because they designed to hold heat really well they were still giving off an uncomfortable amount of heat for the first few weeks.

3. Reline the bottom of 3, out of 4, glory holes.  Over time, especially at a public studio, glass will get inside the glory hole.  If allowed to build up it becomes a pain for the renter at the facility.  The more glass there is, the longer the hole takes to heat up, the more fuel it uses, and it can lose it's heat faster when the doors are opened for any length of time.  To help combat this a glass studio can install a diaper.  A diaper is a layer of fiberfrax covered with a layer of refractory, mixed with some water, that covers the bottom of the glory hole.  If you have a build up of glass over time, you simply pull the old diaper out and install a new one.  Doing this makes the heat more efficient, and saves you from having to rebuild the hole over time... getting longevity out of your materials.



4. Cutting metal, angle iron and flat stock at 2 inch widths; and 1/4 inch thickness, for new doors on one glory hole and back up doors for all the glory holes in the studio.  By far my least favorite part of the entire experience, there were a few days that all the work consisted of was cutting and grinding metal to be welded later.  It was also a challenge to get all the measurements needed from a finite supply of metal.  At CCAD we have a huge selection of metal to use, a non-profit glass studio?  Not so much.  Every cut had to be measured carefully to get the most out of it, while not having to reorder more because the intern(me) screwed up the cuts.

Once the door frames were cut, they were cast with refractory.  A high temperature resistant form of plaster.  Plaster is not the right analogy but it's the closest I can think of at the moment, as the two are mixed almost the same way.  Once the doors were recast, they set overnight and the next day they were cured in a kiln at 1000 degrees.  Now if a door needs to be replaced, all anyone has to do is just swap out the old one with one of the back ups.

And closing with...


Considering it was a summer filled with long drives, power tools, welding equipment, rust resistant paint fumes, and a whole plethora of ways to hurt yourself... that was as bad as it got.  4 stitches from being careless while drilling metal, and like most accidents it happened in a split second and was a result of user error.





9.27.2011

Glass production has begun


So when I started thinking about this project, I had this grandiose plan of using goblets to help blur that preconception of beauty.  Someone picking up a goblet, looking at it lovingly before reluctantly putting into the box to be broken.  Then I realized I suck at making goblets.  I make them way to big, crooked, and the proportions are all off.  In short, they are ugly goblets.  Maybe if I had a solid year of making nothing but goblets, I could use them as my breakable wares for this project.  But that is not going to happen, at least not for this run.




Once I figured out that goblets are not my forté, I relaxed a little bit and started to produce some work that is still technically challenging to me, but cleanly designed.  I am much happier where this is going now.  This will be the trick to this project... by using clean design coupled with a strong technical slant to make glass that can be broken easily.  Nothing would be more embarrassing than someone hammering a piece of glass that won't break when that's the whole point of the project in the first place.




This grouping is much closer to what I am after.  Body wraps, small handles, torch work bits, and blown feet all add up to a great foundation for making even more complex (gaudy?) work, and harken back to 1950s Dutch glass I that absolutely love.  As it stands now, these take approximately 15-25 minutes to make and require an assistant to bring bits.  Usually not a problem, but I am training my assistants as I work with them so production has been a little slow, but it has been getting faster as my assistants retain more knowledge through repetition of movements.




The size is better, and the proportions are getting better as well.  One thing that I have noticed is how much variety is possible within a golfball sized blob of glass.  Once I start adding optic molds for texture, the bling factor will go up exponentially, as there will be tons of little ridges to catch the light.  Now just imagine a couple of long tables with about ~300 pieces of glass between them, with some nice lighting they'll be spectacular.  That's the plan anyway.

9.04.2011

My outside experience (Part 1)



Part of the requirement for the Masters program at Columbus College of Art & Design(CCAD) is an outside experience away from CCAD campus and faculty.  This can take any number of routes.  From something along the lines of discussions of the aestethics of your work, to something completely technical related that you feel you might be lacking.  My outside experience evolved into a bit of both of these situations. The outside experience(OE) started in June and eneded right before school started in August.  During this time I was helping dismantle an educational glass studio in Springfield, Ohio, at the Sprigfield Museum of Art.  Talking over the aestethics of kiln worked glass, and getting some advice for teaching undergrads with local artist Aimee Sonnes.  Installing a new glass furnace, and performing hot shop maintenance at Glass Axis a non-profit, public glass studio here in Columbus. During all of this I was also rehabilitating the cold shop at CCAD to make it safer and easier to use, and doing some upkeep in CCAD's hot shop as well. So my OE was very busy and very educational in several ways from seeing how non-profits survive, or don't.  The upkeep those non-profits require. Looking at ways to change my existing work using new techniques that have a different aestethic to it, and the artists to look at to get a baseline to start with. Pointers on teaching undergraduate level students better than I currently am, something I can always improve when it comes to teaching.

Over the summer I have written down entries in a journal to keep everything straight, and so I also wouldn't forget what had happened and will present everything in as close to chronological order as possible.  There was a lot that happened for Springfield in short amount of time, in all I only helped Aimee for a week before the studio/school was shut down.  Going over the notes I have, I decided to break this down into a few smaller posts instead of one huge wall o' text.

6/6/11-
After speaking with Aimee yesterday the focus, for now, of the OE will be teaching principles and to a lesser extent the aesthetics of my work.  As it stands now the glass studio attached to the Sprigfield Museum of Art is up in the air in terms of it staying or going.  Yet another facet of non-profits, indecision.  If the board hasn't reached a solution yet... then the studio, and it's employees, are in limbo.  This has not prevented Aimee and the other glass employees to think about an eventual shut down.  Some of them are getting ready to leave already, so if it does shut down then all they have to do is pick up any personal equipment and leave.  All this leads me to think that this situation has been brewing for awhile now and that some bad blood has been made between the institution and the people working for it.  On the other hand the museum is a business and has to keep it's best interests in mind.  Hopefully the longevity of the museum as a whole will be kept in mind while all this shakes out, and no hard feelings remain on either side as a final decision is made.

The Springfield Museum's hotly contested hot shop

As I will be meeting Aimee later today I made a list questions, a sort of mini-interview...
1. What is the situation of the glass studio now?
2. How much of the studio does the museum control? Just the space the studio resides in? Or is it a mix of the space and equipment.
3. How much of the equipmentnis being moved?
4. If the studio is lost, what will be your perceived impact on the area?

Follow up after meeting with Aimee...
I met with Aimee today, not at Sprinfield, but we had a chance to talk about several things. The conversation moved to more teaching principles. Like using Skype for lectures with "visiting" artists for undergrads. To me beginning to study kiln working and fusing.

The situation at the Springfield Museum is not good, for the Arts Interface School anyway. From what I've been told, Whittenburg University has bought the museum and the school, but didn't quite know that the museum was as bad off financially due to mis-management. As a result the foundation the supports the school has decided to stop/greatly restrict it's funds to the school. Whittenburg has also raised the rent for the museum at $2/sq. foot and the school at $10/sq. foot. The school can't keep up with the increased price and as such is going under. Now, it's a matter of cleanig up, packing up, and helping the school(and Aimee) as much as possible before next week which is the projected closing of the the Arts Interface School at the Spirngfield Museum of Art.  As far as what is in jeopardy for being lost it's the Arts Interface School... which encompasses much more than the hot shop.  It also includes a ceramics department, theater department, and limited exhibition space for those classes.  In short Springfield is losing a location to experience different art forms at a location that can exhibit more well known versions of what they might study at the Arts Interface School.

I can't help but think this is the darker side of non-profits we don't normal see or hear about.  While the altruistic nature of non-profits are a strong driving force for their survival, somethings can't be mitigated when they happen and all the good feelings in the world won't save an institution from going under.

6/7/11-
So I met Aimee today and we carpooled to Springfield, on the way there I a few questions on teaching.

1. How flexible are you with deadlines?
2. Do you always follow up on excuses for absences?
3. What are the top priorities for your classes? Technique vs concept? Is it something that's age related? Course related? Or both?

Aimee's advice for deadlines, don't be flexible.  Ever.  She always follows up on excused absences and believes being proactive with Student Services is the only way to go.  Now question 3 had a lot of variables in the answer.  A lot of it depends on where your students are in their academic career and what you want them to know.  She suggested to try and push technique and concept as much as possible, to let the students have as much time with concepts, materials, and ideas.  Set the tone for the class up front from day one, and to let the students have a fair amount of class time to work.  One thing she did mention was to try and get the students to engage each other as much as possible, but not too large of a group, 3-4 students are good for this.  She has found that the students are more likely to interact  when they only have to engage so many people as opposed to entire class.

As she was explaining all this I started thinking that teaching is like running a pack of wolves.  You, the teacher, want to be the alpha, but you want to make sure the entire pack eats and gets from point A to point B at the same time.  Sure, there might be some infighting but you should only step in when you need to, to remind everyone of the rules.

There seems to be an odd correlation between kids and wolves.

6/7/11- continued
Aimee and I got to Springfield and to say the atmosphere was a little somber would be an understatement.  Most of the day involved packing up and labeling glass color, and helping the theater department take down their curtains.  With this school going under Springfield is not only losing a public glass studio, but a ceramics studio, and a small theater as well.  Aimee has started looking for an alternate source of funding for the studio.  This hasn't gone too well because most of her time has been in packing up the studio, factor in the travel time and it doesn't leave a lot of time left at the end of the day.  One thing I might be able to do is find a buyer for the cullet (clear glass chunks), that way Aimee doesn't have to find a storage space for, or move, 1500 pounds of glass.

6/8/11-
Today has mostly been working over at the sculpture lab at CCAD, while trying to arrange a contact for between Aimee and a potential buyer.  I want this to go well, for both sides.

Throughout the day I have been able to secure a buyer for the Arts Interface glass, 1500 pounds of Spectrum 96 nuggets.  Now it's a matter of arranging meeting and pickup times as the school officially shuts down next Tuesday(6/14/11).  All the incoming checks have to in the account before then.

6/9/11-
The buy and pick up went through without a hitch.  One on hand I'm really glad to help make this happen, on the other hand I'm really sad to see a public education opportunity such as the one in Springfield go under.  In a way it can help feed other glass programs through the acquisition of equipment and/or materials, and help them survive.  I guess glass blowing is a very opportunistic industry.  We won't think twice about getting a good deal from a shop going under. Survival of the fittest?  Maybe.  Or maybe it's just plain survival.  


Especially now as the economy is slowly recovering and to make ends meet more "unnecessary" opportunities/abilities/products go under.  I know that's a more generalized statement, and it doesn't exactly fit these circumstances, but one thing I did notice is that no one picked up the flag after it fell.  What I mean by that is there was no wealthy entrepreneur that swooped in and made everything ok, and the studio had a happy ending like I have heard about before.  The realty being, this probably happens more than we would ever realize and we should be thankful for the institutions that allow us the opportunity to practice what we love to do as artists.  So is this a bad ending to Springfield?  No, melancholy for sure but not bad.




6.25.2011

The cost of moving forward


So, it was bound to happen.  The shake up of a technology I have come to like for it's simplicity and ease of use.  What I am referring to is what will ultimately be the end of iWeb.  Since MobileMe is going away by July 2012, that means iWeb will also be going away as well.  Considering there haven't been any updates for the service in awhile, this is more than likely true.

Moving to a new type of layout and hosting can be a great opportunity to try some things out and polish existing content to further streamline what I want from my website.  Better galleries for images, current images for my MFA work, and still have all that in an easy to use, 1 click publishing format.  Finding a good host can be a bit more challenging, especially since there might be a boatload of people doing the exact same thing I'm going to do.  Jump the MobileMe ship before the expiration date in 2012.  Since cloud based services are on the rise, this move isn't too shocking just another thing to do in a long list of projects that need to be done.  But it isn't it always like that?

5.16.2011

Where I'm going with this


Throughout this semester, I have been a bit preoccupied with how my thesis for next year will shape up, this should give you an idea...   I have all the references in case is anyone is interested, just drop me a line.


Mini-thesis

Fine craft as an art object has always been a point of contention with the art world.  The fine craftsman's argument is that the refinement of process can, and should, be enough.  The aspects of labor, commitment, money spent (through studio rentals/education), and classlessness (all walks of life have attempted craft at some point or another) are evident in many, if not all, crafts.  Is it art though?  It could be argued as both yes, and no.  Yes, because if an object can elicit an emotional response then it could be considered art.  This can range from the more experimental sculpture of Eva Hesse to the finely crafted glass objects of Dante Marioni.  No, because the majority of crafts are not criticizing anything the way art, usually, does.  Glass art, as Bruce Metcalf alludes to, is more in a kiln (or kiln worked) and less in a hot shop (or studio glass).  The objects that can be made through being kiln worked are more detailed, more explicit through realistic or abstract iconography, larger scale, and more like art.  In studio glass, several famous glass object makers are making various objects that take 2-3, sometimes 4 hours to make.  These objects are very technique driven and only the title adds any aspect of art to the glass they lovingly, and often painstakingly, make.  By exploring art as an action driven endeavor, what can be said artistically in glass blowing begins to open up.  The layering of other specific actions over the preexisting actions of glass blowing can begin to help elevate production, and ultimately studio, glass blowing into the critical arena of art.
The physical act of glass blowing, and other fine crafts, could become Process Art.  Process Art can be viewed as the making of art through making a physical action, or act.  This act can inform the form itself, as the form may arise through laborious and often repetitive actions.  The author J.J. Kelly has stated that "Man's reach directly influences the form..."  in the terms of the arm's length in relation to the scale of sculpture.  The act can also sometimes inform the context, as in the action is being used as a way to mark time (Eva Hesse, Barry Le Va).  So what are some of the acts that can mark something as art and not as fine craft?  Yves Klein's  paintings made through the actions of nude women covering themselves in blue paint and pressing themselves onto a canvas (the Anthropometries) is an example.  Richard Serra throwing molten lead at the corner of where the wall and floor meet (Splashing, 1968) is another.  Jeanine Antonie, obsessively chewing away chocolate and lard for her work "Gnaw" shows the bodily harm and obsessive actions an artist can endure to complete a work.  These interactions are the art, the physical objects left behind are the remnants of the process used to make them.  The actions have informed the work, were repetitive and often laborious.  
Many studio glass blowers use similar actions, repetitive labor that informs the work is a central idiom.  Studio glass blowers also fit Mr. Kelly's criterion of "Man's reach directly influencing the form" directly as most glass objects often have a direct relation to a glass blower's physical stature, and that a glass blowing bench is set up in such a way to make the majority of tools within arm's reach.  Studio glass blowers have used the time making an object as an increment to mark larger chunks of time and set a time table for themselves while working in the studio.  To the make the most of the time they are often paying for, they need to be able to set a tempo of an X piece made in Y minutes.  The biggest divergence from Process Art, in studio glass, is the act of making is not the art itself (although it has been recorded on video as a type of performance, and for simply documentation) it's the final object that is the "art" and that object usually has a functionality or utility.  In most cases of studio glass there is an object, a product, something made from action but not art.
Glass as a material, and more properly studio glass, is process oriented but not necessarily Process Art.  The act of glass blowing is dictating the form and providing a context of functional object, but beyond that the realm of studio glass is lacking in true art. Some glass blowers have admitted to being fine craftsman and not artists, Dante Marioni is a famous example, while other glass blowers (usually not as well known) will fight tooth and nail to make sure you know that they are making art and not craft.  Which leads to the question of; can studio glass objects be considered art objects?  Unfortunately there seems to be no definitive answer to this question.  Again, this seems to come down to kiln worked glass versus studio glass, and someone who has been discussing the "is it art or is it craft" debate for years is Bruce Metcalf, a jeweler/small metalsmith who has been writing papers and giving talks about fine craft and art.  This is relevant because Mr. Metcalf has drawn a line in the sand in regard to studio glass.  In his lecture entitled "The Art Glass Conundrum" at the annual Glass Art Society conference in 2009, held at Corning N.Y.,  Mr. Metcalf argues that there is very little in the way of studio glass as art. Most of the slides he references as art, and he shows artists Judith Schaecter - slide 43, Libensky and Brychtova - slide 46, Daniel Clayman - slide 47, and Clifford Rainey - slide 48, are examples of art in glass and they are all kiln worked, or kiln worked and incorporate mixed media.  So if glass can exist as art, but not a studio glass sense, then where does that leave studio glass?
The question now shifts from can studio glass objects be considered art objects  to can studio glass blowing be used as a vehicle to make art at all?  Is it even possible to layer more actions upon the process of studio glass blowing to give meaning beyond formalist notions of decoration?  The history of art is littered with movements/major artists being tied to actions of some sort.  It is this action or even a reaction to a previous action that makes modern art what is, that singular experience being accessed by many in the gallery, museum, or some type of event outside a formal presentation.  Some examples include the Abstract Expressionists, Marcel Duchamp, Yves Klein, Robert Smithson, Richard Serra, Shigeko Kubota, Bruce Nauman, Carolee Schneemann, and Jenny Holzer. 
For studio glass there seems to be an exception to the common rule of studio glass objects, Josiah McElheny.  Mr. McElheny is an accomplished studio glass artist that has layered production glass blowing with the action of story telling.  He accomplishes this by recreating glass from oil paintings, the stories from the objects in the paintings are now being fleshed out, and by recreating period glass from the past, bringing the past into the present by attaching a story to the object he is creating.  By being aware of studio glass history and applying that knowledge to the larger context of art history, and literature, he has been successful in taking studio glass into the arena of art criticism by setting up his "historical fictions" and letting the viewer decide for themselves if the situation they see is real.  Recently, another artist that has started producing historically influenced studio glass is Lino Tagliapietra.  Mr. Tagliapietra's latest work, Adventure; 2011, is a cabinet of 98 smaller, glass vessels that are referencing the culture of the Mediterranean.  While not as charged with as much history, and story, as McElhney's work, the history is there none the less and being put on display.  These are examples of layering studio glass with other actions to create something viable for the art world view beyond large, technically proficient glass objects.  These glass objects can be viewed as having something to say beyond being a commodity while simultaneously celebrating it's utility.
Breaking glass has always had elements of excitement and danger associated with it, and the sound of it is unmistakable.  However, could the action of studio glass(Eros) be layered with the action of breaking glass(Thanatos) to create a viable art work beyond an inert, aesthetically pleasing, object?  Try to picture a plexiglas box with a hammer inside, there is an arm length glove set into the box.  This allows the viewer to insert their hand into the glove, reach into the box and pick up the hammer.  The viewer now has a choice to break the piece of studio glass, that has already been placed in the box, or not.  These interactions are the art, the physical objects left behind are the remnants of the process used to make it.  Will the viewer proceed to smash the object inside and complete the work?  Or will some sort of issue of nostalgia, or preciousness, prevent the viewer from breaking the object?  By placing this "machine" into the White Cube, will that have an effect on the psychology of the viewer?  Will people be able to knowingly break handmade glass objects (since that is an action most of us have participated in during adolescence and have outgrown since then; i.e. breaking windows on abandoned buildings with rocks) with everyone watching and waiting?  An art work such as this can touch on nostalgia, preciousness, fear, breaking the "rules"(both in society as a youth and in the gallery as an adult), commodity, aspects of the handmade, and action.  For it to be successful, the studio glass placed inside the box would have to be technically astute, of the highest quality, so that breaking it is something you might not want to do.
Within the art world, the process, or action, of glass blowing is not art and the majority of objects produced from it are not either.  It is a fine craft, one that takes  several years to have any sense of competency with the material, and that kind of dedication is something one can be proud of.  The qualities of light, transparency, form, and color have been seducing people for thousands of years, ever since the Egyptians wound glass on a core of sand to make small, 2-3 inch high vessels for royalty.  Modern technology has made glass an outlet and commodity for all, not just for the very rich.  It is a specific action that can begin to take on new meanings once it is layered with at least one other action.  By acting upon, or literally destroying, the utility of studio glass the possibility of a discourse, using studio glass as the vehicle, unlocks... breathes new life into it, so to speak.  This approach would then start to circumvent Bruce Metcalf's declaration of "...most (studio) glass is not convincing sculpture... and if it's not convincing sculpture, it's not convincing art" and allow more studio glass, beyond Josiah McElhney, to begin taking it's place within the gallery as art and not just an aesthetically pleasing object.  For this to work, one has to know art history and craft history to combine the two into an amalgam that can deal with the conceptual rigors of art while satisfying the longing for making fine craft.  After all, Josiah can't have all the fun now can he?

End of the Semester

So, it's the end of the semester and a time for celebration, regrouping, and reflecting on the past year.  This first year of grad school has been a roller coaster ride of ideas, the environment at CCAD has been crucial for fostering this, and this is a good thing.  The way it's set up is good if your inclined to use it that way, as Ric said earlier in the year... "I'll give you plenty of rope, the question is are you gonna run with it? or hang yourself?" 


Here are some pictures of my final piece in progress up to and including the finished install.  I'll post some other, more polished, pictures later after I've had some time to get a few different types of lights and photos of it throughout the day.










Overall, I'm pleased with how this turned out.  Using plastic as a substitute for glass really has some possibilities that are worth looking into for the future.  The only thing that bugs me is how yellow it is, that's the lighting.  I didn't want to at first, but I might just have to go plunk down $100 for two LED bulbs for a brighter, less warm light.

For those interested here's the breakdown of materials...

~2,000 yards of monofilament
~69,000 2mmX2mm crimp tubes
~10 sq. ft. of aluminum mesh
~24 ft. of steel rod

All the materials are approximated(~), as I did not keep 100% accurate records of what I  was using.

4.17.2011

Plodding through the pain


I will be thankful when this project is over and I have a chance to sit up straight for longer than a day.  The combined bending and repetitive motions are starting to take their toll and even with the use of assistants (4 so far) I'm slowly devolving into a troll.

BUT, I am liking where this project is ending up.  All and all I'm pleased with it... am I totally happy with it? No. There are several issues to deal with before the final showing of it.  Namely other classes, my own undergrad class, and meeting with a lighting specialist (thank you Ric) to finalize how this is going to look in the space I have available to me.  Until then here are some progress photos as I race to the finish.





4.03.2011

A statement of sorts

My advisor, Kelly Malec-Kosak, gave me an assignment to write out an artist statement either with the current project or something more in general.  The idea was to get all the information out of my head and to worry about editing down later.  This was a great exercise and helped to nail down, for me at least, where I think this project is going and what might be a possible thesis for next year.  It is just how it appears in my sketchbook, no editing has been done yet... so that's your warning.


Originally this piece was supposed to be more of a tunnel in structure.  A support system suspended from the ceiling using strands of monofilament to create the walls of the tunnel.  Glass vessels would be hung throughout the walls to have encapsulated fragments of time, small found objects, such as the watch one would get from retirement.  Since then the project has evolved.  I use evolved because now the shape is more organic, organic in the terms of deep sea crustaceans or krill.  The rectangular ceiling has now morphed into something more hydrodynamic and would look at home in the water.  The monofilament is still there, not as walls but now tendrils.  Hundreds of tendrils giving this organism the look of a monstrously constructed jellyfish or squid.

The new shapes now denotes a new purpose.  The tunnel is gone and in it's place is something alive.  Something that wants to protect it's young.  The irony is the animal shape that manifested is not something that sticks around to protect it's children.  That instinct is largely reserved to mammals.  This animal presented itself as a manifestation of me wanting to hold on to my daughter for as long as possible.  She's already 9, and the next 9 years will fly by for the both of us.  Being in school is a good decision for me, but not so good for the relationship with my child. This is a poignant revelation for me because my father did the same thing, only with work not school.  My parents divorced when I was young and I hated him for not being there.  I think I'm getting a taste of what he must of gone through and only now at 38 do I realize that he did what was best for him and me with what he had.




The clean steel and mesh is my support and shielding for my child.  The monofilament is the decisions I can help her make going from parent to, hopefully, friend and maybe advisor.  The short strands are from when she was little and the worst things were "put that down" or "don't eat that".  As time goes on those decisions, and their circumstances, will get larger and more complex.  "No baby, I don't think you should go out with Bobby  because he's an ass"  I think one glass piece nestled into the monofilament can represent this situation, at least for me.



There are several sources of inspiration for this project, the main being the For Use/Numen design collective out of Europe.  They have designed giant funnel webs as performance backdrops made out of stretchable packing tape.  The kind of tape used to hold cartons of boxes together on pallets.  This very common, industrial made, material being used in a very unique way.  With the right lighting it looks like glass.  The same glints, highlights, and translucency of glass.  Any questions I may have had of plastic as a glass substitute, or forgery, were answered.  Larry Bergner is another source.  His suspended, wire-screen walled installations were useful in figuring out how to pair screen with an armature.  A more philosophical influence would be Eva Hesse, although her work is an influence as well most notably "Accession III",'67.  Hesse's take on process is what struck me most.  As an aspect of "making time" and "perceiving time, so the form grows out of the process".  This resonates strongly with me, but I would go on to add loyalty, determination, and a dialogue with the work.  By dialogue I mean the process is a conversation the piece and I working on to complete each other.  


The more research I do into process oriented artists, the more it feels like I fit.  Having been in glass for over 10 years, production glassblowing is a viable living and that is all process.  I think a personal challenge now is to take that process and see what it has to say about mass production,consumption, uniqueness, and the making of objects precious just because they are hand made.  Using other glass sources like readily available window glass is another avenue to explore.  Clear plastics used with glass is another.  Can they, the glass and plastic, be similar enough to each other that you can't tell which is which until you picked it up?  What kind of statement does make in a disposable society?


Which leads to interactivity.  I want(would like) direct physical interaction with some of my work.  To let the viewer have an opportunity to actually dictate what the final piece will look like before teardown is... intoxicating? exciting?  Definitely intriguing.  There will be a level of optical and mental interaction.  There's no escaping that.  Tactile interaction is different.  Usually it is reserved for the kid's section  at the local science/art museum.  Why couldn't it be in the white cube?  Does the gallery always have to remain sterile and sealed?  Forever archival?


Part of me thinks that this is a hold over from production glass blowing.  I made objects to use, to hold, there was a utility there.  A satisfaction knowing I made something that someone wanted to use physically. (I guess "true" art does the same thing to a certain extant, mentally.  However since everyone will, usually, have a unique experience with an artwork this is much harder to quantify.  A cup is a cup, there are only so many uses for it)  I think there is a way to bridge fine art and craft, at least it feels that way.  Multiples, singularities, and interactivity would all play strong roles in this type of work to harness process to inform the content and resultant forms.  On the multiples the form would be less important due to the sheer numbers I would want.  The singularities would attempt to tackle more formal aspects of glass sculpture with form, light, translucency, and/or transparency.  Interactivity can be tied directly to multiples or singularities but can be considered violent in either regard as broken glass will be the outcome.

3.07.2011

Where was I again?


So I think this pretty much explains where I sit with my project currently.  It definitely doesn't feel like it should.  Maybe that has a lot to do with how it evolved from the beginning to now, but that seems counter intuitive as while the evolution happened it felt ok... good to do, the right thing.  Now?  I don't know.

Well, let's look at some pictures of progress shots skinning the armature...




So there is a progression from some screen to one side fully skinned.  In direct and indirect lighting and a close up of the eyelets and lacing.  When the first panel went on, I didn't like it.  It didn't feel organic enough, and that probably has to do with the materials chosen and the design I laid out for the armature.  It does have a feel to it (more on that in a bit) but the feel I wanted to capture in it... and to be honest, I don't know if this project will capture what I want out of it.

A curious thing has been happening though, several people have had their own relations to the form.  Through all sorts of associations... "it looks like a..."  Bat Boat, an ID project, an African mask, a shield, it's hydro and aerodynamic.  So it is evoking something in the people that view it, one part of me thinks this makes it successful.  The form is dictating the mental relation realized by the viewer.  The other part of me thinks this is a failure by not getting across what I wanted to, but it may not do that until it's finished.  As of today I had started to hang monofilament from the screen and it looks ok, there is not enough of it yet.  So it may be just riding it out some more and see where the process takes it.

Now the concept is entirely different.  I have been trying to take time to write about what I'm doing but so far this feels like an empty gesture to myself.  I thought the evolution made sense, it felt right, that it was designed right, that it was looking right.  There is a huge chunk missing for me and haven't been able to figure out what that is yet, but I might be getting into an idea of where my head is at.  

I have heard that there are basically two types of artists, the conceptual types and those who make cool things.  I might just be getting the wake up call that I fall into the later camp.  I have struggled with concepts in art for a long time and in the glass world the concept of conceptual glass art is REALLY new.  New enough in fact that I will getting a book from the 70's from a glass artist by the name of Harvey Littleton called Glassblowing : A Search for Form.  Even though this book is 40 years old the information of how glassblowing is perceived and what it can be could really help.  Having read just a small excerpt from this book I think it will be a seminal reading to absorb and digest as I get ready to start thinking about my thesis for next year.  Maybe by then I'll have a handle on wtf I'm doing.

2.26.2011

An experiment


This semester marked a venture into doing as much work as paperless as possible.  This is a  daunting task for an artist but thanks to technology, most notably the iPad, it is an achievable goal.  It's only been slightly painful as I have used some paper to work out ideas and do some sketching on... but there's an app for that.

There are a few apps that have made this transition go really smooth and they are...

Note Taker HD
Pages
Keynote
iDisk
Amazon Windowshop
iBooks
Kindle
Google Books
SketchBook Pro

A few pieces of necessary kit would be...

Stylus
Protective case with multiple display angles
6 ft. charging cord from Apple


Now to really capitalize on this a stylus has been a must.  It allows me write and draw on a contact point much smaller than my finger tip for more accurate results.  Any PDFs I can open on the iPad I can open directly into Note Taker to highlight and make notes on.  If the iPad can't open it, no worries, I just open it at home and import it into the iPad via iTunes.

Pages, while not as powerful as Word, has a nice amount of features and allows any document you make to be sent as a Pages, Word, or PDF document.  My final paper for Theory & Criticism last semester was written on my iPad.  iDisk is a must for keeping important documents like my resumé, and pictures such as my portfolio always available.  All the ebook readers are good to have, if your looking for a specific book chances are one will have it.  I was able to find some textbooks in ebook format at a significant price reduction because there is no shipping, no ink, no paper.

Have I totally abandoned paper?  No.  Have I drastically cut back from what I was using before?  Most definitely.  I still use Post-it notes, but thats about it... I used 6 sheets of tracing paper to figure out my final form for the wire armature this semester.

Is it for everyone?  No.  Someone who is really into 2-D processes will hate it as an iPad does not have the strength of a laptop, at least not for 4-5 generations from now.  Anyone who touch types will hate it, anyone who actually types at all will hate it.  I hunt and peck when I type so no worries for me on the keyboard size.

The more I use it, the more I am impressed by it (and trust me, I was a heckler of it when it was first announced, I felt this video summed up all the hype it was getting) in terms of how it does everything I need it to quickly and efficiently.  How it has merged into my life rather seamlessly after giving my wife my laptop after hers got broken.  It can't do everything, but it's not supposed to.  Anything I need to do on a more powerful machine, like blogging, I make a note of and do it at home after working in the studio.

A side project...



It was bound to happen at some point.  There was going to be something that sparked my interest that has nothing to do with my current project.  This has everything to do with having a great assistant during my Friday afternoon studio time.  What I'm referring to are these...


These are approximately 16 inches across the widest point and are the beginning of other art thoughts.

Or actually, more importantly, it's just this one below... now see if you can imagine another one like it, slightly longer and more pointed, with a faceted bubble nestled inside the two halves.  There would be a space in between the two halves from 3 to 5 inches to view the bubble on the inside.


I started to mess around with these shapes last semester, and by messing around I mean I got one off the pipe to look at and start cold working.  This could be the start of something really beautiful or a down right failure.  Time will tell, but I will work on this as a side project when I feel I have time to work on them.  Each one takes about an hour to make in the hot shop and the cold working I'm thinking of will take it beyond 10-15 hours per half.  Thats not including metal work for the stand or electronics for the lighting.