Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Trapped In Carbonite!

Clay maintenance continues to be an issue. I was feeling a little anxious the other day, because the clay seemed to be drying out no matter how often I watered it. So I overcompensated. Lost most of yesterday because the clay was too wet to do much. Left it uncovered all day without wet rags, and today it was basically perfect. Had a gratifying day working the details as a result. Also nice to know that the drying is reversible. Otherwise, I'd be finishing this sucker up over the weekend.

Working the surface, for me, means finding a way to suspend the time-is-money mindset. Working the surface is slow. And mostly, mostly nobody notices or cares. To be able to spend an hour getting the folds in the fabric behind the back knee right requires that I not think about the millions of other ways I could be usefully spending that time.

I come from a commercial art background, and while I'm grateful for that background in lots of ways, the commercial arts start and end with a deadline. Fine art is different. In two important ways. First of all, nobody is waiting for this piece. There is absolutely no reason to rush this thing to the finish line, other than my own Yankee/Calvinist/Commercial Arts sense of productivity uber alles.

The other difference is that I'm making an object, not an image. This, I think, is particularly important in a world of arts aggregators like butdoesitfloat and FFFFOUND. The story of the impact of the internet on art is yet to be written, but an important piece of that story has got to be how the ubiquity of images influences artists. When what you make is primarily viewed (and evaluated) as an image on the internet, you start to think and work in terms of what looks good on the internet. You'd be a fool not to.

The problem is that many things do not look good on the internet (and many things look better than they are). Subtle details are lost against higher contrast, higher key images. And everything becomes an image. Great sculpture, which really needs to be experienced, is lost on the web. Think of James Turrell or Richard Serra, both of whose work makes no sense as an image. Or even Ron Mueck, whose work is so amazingly realistic that the photos just look like people, not amazingly rendered, totally out-of-scale objects.

All of which is to say, when working the surface, I try to remember that I'm not making an image, I'm making an object, and if I want that object to have any integrity, I need to work for the people who will actually see it, not the people who will scroll past it on the internet. In other words, I don't need it to look good, I need it to be good.

Stage 1 - .07 mil plastic pulled close with push pins

Stage 2 - .4 mil plastic pulled across the frame, and stapled tight along the edges

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