Wednesday, February 2, 2011

this is me experimenting with plastering/painting the mutant sculptures. First I coated them in another layer of epoxy, and sprinkled plaster onto them. I went the plaster down and kept sprinkling more on it. I am planning on using paint to make lines where the seams are on the clothes. and then maybe even going further with some paper mache.
I was sort of bummed out last night because I found someone else that makes seam drawings, although she doesn’t call them that. Her name is Jean Shin, and while I’d seen her work before (she is a friend of Julia Randall’s). But anyway. There is something about feeling like something is wholly original, and I really felt that about my thesis…. This whole feeling (and I’ve also been feeling pretty jealous of Joanna Newsom’s newer album lately) reminded me of an essay I read in college called ‘the ecstasy of influence’ by jonathan Lethem based on this quote:
"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated." —John Donne
I always rationalize copying in terms of covering songs in music—like if I covered thom yorke, it would sound like me, because I am my own vessel that is regurgitating someone else’s work. but her's look a lot like mine! and she even used hangers! ugh. so now I really want to find a way to make the seam drawings wholly my own and not go the ‘obvious’ route with them. Jean Shin’s work, while similar to mine in that she uses discarded clothes and often asks people to donate stuff they don’t want as her materials, her work mostly centers around creative reuse of masses of one thing (umbrellas, bottles, computer keyboards, etc.). her seams are mostly either suspended, unstiffened, and tangled, or hanging on hangers or clotheslines and rendered 2D. Also she only made hers out of button down shirts. So I really do want to go with Cara’s suggestion of stiffening and hanging them in space. I feel like then I will feel like they are wholly mine. Also I want to make more ‘outfits’ out of them. Lethem writes, “Inspiration could be called inhaling the memory of an act never experienced. Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos. Any artist knows these truths, no matter how deeply he or she submerges that knowing." Its true that I can feel it when I’ve invented something and I am aware when I’m inspired by someone else’s invention. If only it wasn’t so hard to be an inventor! I hate how ideas have to be unique in art these days for them to feel worth making. I was so reticent to give my unmaking video secrets to my own sister because I didn’t want her to ‘steal’ what was mine, instead of it be a collaboratory sharing. "I can no more claim it as “mine” than the sidewalks and forests of the world, yet I do dwell in it, and for me to stand a chance as either artist or citizen, I'd probably better be permitted to name it." I remember this consoling me when I first read it, because it sort of reinforces my thom yorke cover theory—that as long as you have your own personal context for experiencing the world, you are aloud to own things because your response is unique to you, and no one else. Would it go against this theory to ask how I can inhale my own work and exhale it as more wholly mine? "when damn near everything presents itself as familiar—it's not a surprise that some of today's most ambitious art is going about trying to make the familiar strange.” YES. "we're surrounded by signs, our imperative is to ignore none of them.” Collecting, always looking, gathering. And then my favorite, when texts and textiles tie together into neat metaphors:
"Old and new make the warp and woof of every moment. There is no thread that is not a twist of these two strands. By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. Neurological study has lately shown that memory, imagination, and consciousness itself is stitched, quilted, pastiched. If we cut-and-paste our selves, might we not forgive it of our artworks?" I am finding myself very inspired by string metaphors lately, and wanting to make them physical. Yesterday while getting my oil changed I re-read the Invisible Cities by Calvino and remembered what installational fodder that book brings. I could make a video for each city. I like Octavia and Ersilia best, because they mention strings most overtly. Joanna Newsom sings about 'this system of strings'; i definitely need to use systematic string in my installation in portland. in this installation by jean shin called unraveling, collected sweaters are unraveled and the strings connect two walls and swarm above-- i like the metaphor this piece presents-- of connecting, of being unmade and broken but it being a way to reach out to another.
{photos: 1 & 2 my own mutants, jean shin's seam series, Cut Outs and Suspended Seams (2004), Unraveling (2006-9); the ecstasy of influence by Jonathan Lethem can be read here}

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