Sunday, December 13, 2015

In Memory Of - Presentation Day

So presentation day was...nerve-wracking to be frank. I wasn't sure if I felt if we were ready to present, and I wanted so badly to make sure that my last art class presentation was one to at least leave an impression.

Sean had to move his car suddenly leaving me to start to set up and move tables and chairs out and give the space towards our stands. He immediately got to work when we came back though. We set up the temple first as we had decided it was to be our centerpiece and arranged the other stands in the places we thought best. As for the mausoleum piece, I decided to stick it on the door to maybe attract some attention for others to come and see.

By no means was our presentation the most popular, but we did have a bunch of people come in both classmate and student. I was extremely nervous as to people's views of the show, but I was thoroughly happy when I received a lot of positive feedback on the exhibit. I even got interviewed by a journalism major on my thoughts and struggles on the stand.

People said there was a quiet but powerful feeling to the stands. It felt quaint yet chilling and sad as well. One person even stated that the miscarriage felt creepy and sad as to the lack of the twins in the stand. They could see the lives of each person through the Life Gems, and it was the Life Gems themselves that drew them in. This made me extremely happy as the feeling I wanted and the message it spread didn't overlook any person who came in to see it. What made me even more happy was that people weren't looking from a distance but coming close and crouching down to see the details in every stand. There were a few people who even took pictures.

I do have a few things I would have done differently in a gallery setting. I would have had it in a smaller room with a darker floor in order for the Life Gems to shine a bit brighter than they already did. I also wish the mausoleum piece had been finished and the bullets had been there for the drive by shooting. Tyjuan's stand felt like a full life rather than one cut short without those bullet casings around the bag.

This project, for me, was meant to represent everyone and breathe some memory for strangers who died full or short in life. It was supposed to be chilling and sad; it was meant to show that so many people die every day by multiple means. Still, it doesn't mean that everyone gets a sad ending. That's what my full lives were meant to show. Furthermore, the time capsules, my favorite stand of the eight, was meant to show the hope we all have in living a good life and being remembered even if we pass on.

I hope that, to those strangers and those familiar we paid homage to in our gallery, they are smiling at this.

Lecture #2 - Phil Zimmerman

Up until this past summer, I knew little to nothing about book arts, but I fell in love with it after my first book arts class. I loved everything about it: the letterpress, the book binding, the design process, and the result after all the hard work put in. My love of this grew stronger this semester taking the Typography class, and I had looked up some other book artists to see their styles. I think I got a bit overhyped when I heard there would be a book artist lecture.

To start off, I do think Phil Zimmerman’s work was very intriguing. I liked his idea to combine video and animation with the made book as well as the idea that every book is meant to read as a story. I had been unknowingly introduced to him before when I read Sanctus Sorensis (which I greatly enjoyed) at the Nevada Museum of Art downtown. I also like the feelings he greatly echoes out in his books such as Reaper, In Nature Of, and High Tension. Finally, I did like the idea behind Zimmerman’s latest book: Celsius 233.

However, I found myself looking at the works a bit more critically than normal, and I found I had some disappointments with a few of them. With how gorgeous and well-put Sanctus Sorensis had been, why did Celsius 233 seem like such a disappointment for me? I guess it was because I didn’t feel like enough effort was placed in the video side of the project while the book side was really outstanding. For a book that talked about book burning that happened around the world, why did the video only show the Third Reich? It took away the worldliness of the entire piece and brought it back to a “Hitler’s regime was just awful” state of mind. That in itself really disappointed me.

Also, this might be a personal opinion, but I believe that if you are calling yourself a “book artist,” you do every major thing yourself and get help when needed. Therefore, I was greatly disappointed when he said he always hired someone to manage the letterpress. It took away some of the authenticity of his art to me, and I found myself unhappy hearing that from him.

Overall, I wanted to like Phil Zimmerman’s portfolio, but I just found myself...disappointed. I loved the ideas behind it, but the execution could have been so much better.

Lecture #1 - Kevin Chen

While Phil Zimmerman’s lecture had left me very disappointed, Kevin Chen’s lecture really blew my expectations out the water. I had no clue what to expect from a curator’s lecture since I didn’t know much about curators and curating, but the art that he showed at the lecture, both his and those he curated, were completely amazing. It also gave me a much better sense of the profession.

Ever since I was a little girl, I loved maps. I loved the styles and detail maps brought to represent lands, towns, and people in both books and real life. I believe I still have my NYC subway map since that one’s a personal favorite of mine. Therefore, seeing Kevin Chen’s curated galleries, both Here Be Dragons and Magic Story Table, fascinated me. I loved how the maps of certain groups were made with code and phones like the maps that showed where flickr and twitter were being used mainly and Jenny Odell’s All the People on Google map. My personal favorite were the demographics maps that color coded the map based on what ethnicity was where. It looked so neat seeing the colored dots on a page like a painting yet knowing that they are representing different cities. Seeing New York City represented made me really happy as I was born there and have knowledge of what ethnicities reside where in parts of the Bronx and Manhattan.

Seeing Kevin Chen’s actual work also made me happy as I felt he was very talented. I can be a bit of a detail-oriented artist and seeing The View from There just fascinated and inspired me. I could not believe how small he had made the buildings and yet how much detail still remained in the piece when you look with a magnifying glass. Furthermore, the fact that he did a lot of the work with a pencil is awe-inspiring to say the least.

Overall, Kevin Chen’s work had to have been some of the coolest stuff I had seen this semester, and he has my full respect as a curator and artist.

In Memory Of Progress #8

November 30th:
I was feeling a bit nervous as it was the week before our installation would be shown and I did not feel ready. Not exactly on my part, but on Sean's as, compared to only 1 or 2 gems I needed to print out, he did not have nearly as many stands done as he should have.

The thing I focused on was getting the LED flashlights. I had waited on purpose until Cyber Monday to see what good deals I could get online for a massive pack of LED flashlights. I found some good deals both on Amazon and on Walmart, and I decided I'd get them tomorrow at the Walmart store.

December 1st:
Sean and I went to Walmart so that I could get the flashlights and he could get some more things for stands. We got the 20 LED flashlights for $20 ($1 each). Sean got some other things for the miscarriage stand.

I also finished my last gem in Maya. Now all there was was just to print.

December 5th:
I spent a few hours in the digital media lab printing out the last two gems. One of them, more of a diamond shaped gem, came out fine and perfect. I printed two of those, one smaller than the other, and I chose the bigger one. It was the second gem shape that gave me a lot of trouble. I changed the shape of the gem four times and did everything in my power to make sure the 3D printer was in good shape, yet still the gems came out horribly. The first attempt was a comb shaped gem which turned into piles of plastic every time I tried. I then went for a seashell shape, but the same thing would happen if it was any bigger than 4 cm tall. My third attempt was a heart shape, yet somehow the plastic wasn't coming out at certain points in the design. Finally, I resorted to make a more tear shaped pear Life Gem which somehow came out perfect. I guess the 3D model wanted to stay simple that day. Either way, I had all the Life Gems done and all the flashlights to successfully light them.

December 6th
Even though the Life Gems were finished, the stands were far behind in completion (to my frustration at my partner). We went to Michael's to look for things that could work for our remaining stands. We found more items to use for the temple, the time capsule, and the mausoleum stands. We also got some paints that would work well. I had found a poorly constructed birdhouse that resembled a temple slightly, so I decided to buy it to reconstruct it to what I wanted.

Taking the birdhouse, I carefully removed the glue that held the pillars of the birdhouse, stood the pillars up properly, and re-glued them to be more stable. Giving some time for it to cool, I then painted the birdhouse with a base of pearly white paint to give a nice sheen. The birdhouse would get three main colors: gold, white, and blue. They represented the Erawan shrine the best. I ended the day by taking out the rope that connected the roof to the rest of the temple.

December 7th - December 8th (before presentation):
This had to be the most stressful day of the project...even more than the next day. To say I was frustrated at my partner would be an understatement...I was furious at how much left he had had to do for the stands.

I first went off doing the things I said I would. I printed out pictures at the @One in the library, and I worked on the birdhouse. The pictures took little to no time as I already had the links and simply needed to get them on the USB, pay for the paper I was using, and cut them to size at the station next door. The birdhouse took much longer. When it comes to detailing, I can be a bit of a tedious person, and I was applying a small pattern to 4/6 of the pillars (the others were being spray painted gold. It was hard and long work, but I was happy to see the result when it was done. I was also very happy to see that Sean had burnt items for the rubble under the temple while I was doing detail work. We switched from my house to his once the detail job was over. Painting the rest of the temple was a lot easier since it was simple stuff. I used black for the bottom border, spray painted the temple and last two pillars gold, and used bronze for the inside of the temple. Last of all, the broken Life Gems were placed inside, and I was happy to see how the finished result looked like some unusual mini shrine.

After that, it was mainly helping Sean out. Both of us knew that sleep was going to be highly scarce that night, and there was still a lot to be done. The car accident cross had not been made (I was already mad that Sean never burnt the luggage, and the mausoleum had not been started (again...this was a day where I was practically fuming at my partner for his slacking). I worked to arrange the finished stands with the pictures and Life Gems added, and I also colored the LED lights so every gem had a different feel. The time capsule stand was the first to be entirely finished and set, and it was my favorite to set up. I worked to paper maché cardboard into two placeholders for the mausoleum (one for the Life Gem, the other for the flowers) and spray paint them bronze when they were dry. I made sure the miscarriage stand was properly arranged, and I filled out the birth and death certificates for the twins after looking to find a better birth certificate to use. With Sean's help, I looked for and found more things to place into Bridget Finn's bag and characterize her as the adventurous pilot. I also helped find a way to secure the Car accident cross Sean had made with him, and I figured out that the shoes made great placeholders for the Life Gems of the Garza family.

I finally got my break to sleep a little around 6am. Just an hour and a half of sleep...but seeing the mausoleum still in the beginner stage made me want to fume. I didn't I had not eaten, slept very little, and had a partner going through a bit of a meltdown. I just worked to figure out a solution...and I decided to only use the placeholders for my grandparent's showing (seeing as Sean didn't even have a picture of his grandmother) and stick them to the wall.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

In Memory Of Progress #7

November 15th:
I spent another day in the digital media lab with the intention of making completely new 3D modeled Life Gems as well as making some previous Life Gems a bit bigger. Again, it took me a few hours (I believe around 5-6 hours) to completely get the models I wanted, and even then I had some problems. The gem I had wanted for myself for the time capsule was an arrowhead seeing as I have a love of archery and can be a bit of a straight arrow at times. However, every arrowhead I made came out with holes in some manner even when I increased the millimeter thickness. I thought though...that the one with the least amount of holes fit me. I wasn't a perfect arrow...and I had been hurt more than once in my life. So, although it wasn't perfect, I decided to keep it.

That gave me the idea for Tyjuan's gem. Tyjuan had been the drive by shooting having been shot in the head before any other bullets could hit. So, I took one of the scrapped oval gems and broke a big hole in the front. In a sense, his Life Gem had been broken...not shattered...but broken.

My arsenal of Life Gems was almost complete by this day. All I needed were two more gems and my part would be done.

November 16th:
During the beginning of the day, I was helping get Tyjuan's display exactly right. It was a simple stand yet it worked to show what we wanted. Getting the stand pieces to and from the classroom was the harder part as there were very bulky boxes to move up and down a steep hill.

The new challenge we now faced was how to make the stands smaller. Since we wouldn't be showing our galleries off at night, the original plan to have the stands outside in the courtyard became null and void. Now we would be showing them in the digital media room...which was a big room so I had my concerns. I still wanted to keep some of the stands the same like the Bangkok Erawan Shrine bombing with lots of rubble and a temple and Bridget Finn having a travel bag. However, we had to shift the looks of some of the other stands like the miscarriage and the car accident. We had bought a bunch of stuff for our stands, so downsizing became a bit of a challenge of what to keep and what to hold back as well.

November 19th:
I made a small adjustment to the idea of the Life Gems. Instead of using LED lights with batteries in a circuit system, it would be far more productive to get small LED flashlights for the Life Gems. They'd still be just as powerful. I wouldn't be able to get them until after the break considering I had multiple papers to write and a wedding to maid-of-honor.

November 23rd:
We were in Vegas around this time. For one of the stands concerning a nurse, I asked my mom for some of her old scrubs and a stethoscope. Thankfully, she was very helpful on the matter.

Exhibition #2 - Emily Arthur

In my opinion, there are endless possibilities of how a journey for a person or a people can be shown or conveyed to others. I especially love well done, woven journeys of stories in books and epics such as The Odyssey by Homer. So when I see a story that is simplified but well shown in art, I am deeply intrigued. I got this feeling from Emily Arthur’s gallery named Endangered.

Endangered is the story of a Native American woman’s journey through a dangerous yet threatened environment. It shows the idea of forced migration for a person showing how one clings to familiarity while being immersed in the different. For one thing, I absolutely love the contrasts of the background and the things in the foreground of the pieces. The backgrounds are always pale showing maps of the land and parts of the country along with the star maps, while the foreground keeps to familiar things like butterflies and songbirds. I really like how the landscape in the background always was changing yet the same things could be found by them. It gave that sense of having a guide with you in a rough time where you did not know where the end would be. I also loved the star maps and the use of things like the Ursa Major bear. I’ve always loved astronomy and have known that stars have been the compass for so many people in the past, and it acted like such for me. The colors used were great, and my favorites in her gallery were Black Water (with dark bird), Threatened (with Deception), and Blue Star Map of Home. All three of these pieces gave such a strong feeling of the uncertainty of the future, the feeling of being trapped, and the longing to go home all entwined in a single art piece. I would personally want Black Water (with dark bird) in my apartment as I feel I can relate to it.

Overall, the story told in these etchings and prints are the strongest when the feelings of the woman reach the audience as well. I cannot speak for anyone else in the audience, but I could certainly see this woman’s story unfold in these paintings. It’s the storytelling in this art that deeply inspires me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

In Memory Of Progress #6

November 9th
This day may have been one of the longest days I spent working on the project. The day was strictly focused on making as many Life Gems, and as many correctly made Life Gems, as possible. I came in around 11:45am and worked till around 8:00pm. Thankfully, Serina taught me more about maintaining the printer, moving the build plate to the proper height under the nozzle, and both removing and replacing the clear plastic in the printer. Thanks to her, fixing problems in the printer became a whole lot easier.

By the end of the day, I had created around 25 gems, and about 7-8 of them were good to use. It was a constant struggle of printing gems, measuring gems, making calls on if they were the right size or not, remaking gcodes, reprinting gems, and fixing problems in the 3D printer. I did feel like working with the 3D printer became a lot easier after today.

November 14th
I went back into the digital media lab to print a few more gems. Unfortunately, I decided to completely scrap two of the shapes. No matter what I did, those gems weren't coming out nice at all.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Exhibition #1: Joe Allen

When I was little, my parents immersed me in Native American culture. We went to go see museums on their history, watch the pow-wows when they happened, and visited some Native American territories on our way to national parks like Antelope Canyon. I’ve always admired Native American culture and their history, and I have even tried to learn how to make baskets like they made in the past. Therefore, Joe Allen’s exhibition, Tule Duck Decoy Maker, did bring back that love for the culture in my mind.

The exhibition itself was not big, and it basically showed the same thing no matter where you looked. Duck decoys made of tule were all that were seen in the exhibition just like the title straightforwardly stated. The only difference were the years the decoys had been made as some were made in 1993 while others were made this year. To most, I’m sure this exhibition must have been plain and pretty boring. However, this exhibition reminded me of the beautiful things Native Americans were known to make. It also served as a testament of how much time was needed to make something as simple yet useful as a duck decoy. The decoys were simple in shape and design, but I could see the practicality in it as well as the beauty of knowing how much effort was placed into making it. I also liked the differences between the newer and more aged duck decoys. There were not that many differences, but the older duck decoys were smaller and had signs of aging through the darker looks and spots on them. It went to show the artist’s improvement in his years of making, remaking, and improving his duck decoy models.

I really did enjoy this exhibit more than I thought I would. There was nothing eye-catching to the normal viewer, but it was beautiful in the way it showed progress and gave a big homage to a culture that’s sadly underrated but wonderful and unique in its own right.

In Memory Of Progress #5

November 2nd:
Sean and I both decided that the place we wanted to set up our installation at was in the courtyard in the CFA. It had a very open space with a few trees, and the glow of the Life Gems would definitely bring the attention needed for viewers to see the exhibit. I spoke with Carla Geib at the theatre department asking for permission to use the space as it was property of the theatre department. I also asked Serina for help about 3D modeling and how to use the printer. I also sent her two 3D models I had made in Maya asking if she could print them out so I'd have some test models ready.

November 5th:
Serina emailed me back telling me she'd help teach me how to use the 3D printer. I met her in the digital media lab, and we agreed to meet the next day for the lesson.

November 6th:
As confirmed, I met with Serina in the digital media lab to learn how to use the 3D printer. She had printed my two models though, as she pointed out, they were way too small. I first learned how to use Cura to make the models much bigger and rotate them correctly. She also showed me Microsoft 3D Model Repair to help clean up the models I made instead of me taking hours to find the loose ends I made in them.

Then came learning about how to 3D print. She showed me all the instructions of how to use the 3D printer when I had a gcode for the models with a good size in my mind. We printed the newly sized test gems, and she showed me how to fix clogs in the plastic tube after just so I knew.

The two gems came out a good size. However, the layer was too thin. There were significant holes in both that I saw. It was a start, but there was a lot more gems to be printed and a lot of fixing to go.

November 7th:
I went back into the digital media lab to try the 3D printer again. I got one print done. However, this was the same draft Serina and I had printed I got a second copy of the gems from yesterday. On top of that, the clear plastic in the 3D printer wasn't coming out no matter what I did. I fixed it as Serina taught me too, and I cleaned the build plate as well. I ended up leaving defeated though I did email Serina about it.