Me: It’s the whole atlas and I pretty much followed it. Well its actually two atlases because they have front and back.
Lindsay: I love these bolts.
Ben: So you said its orange and L.A. county?
Me: Yeah, theres a few other counties too that were in the atlas, I just used the whole thing.
Sean: I’m really noticing the weight, just in terms of the object, (mumbling, can’t hear… something about weight and tension, heavy vs. light.)
Kevin: Maybe something about the duel-layered paper, can we think about that? Its more structural.
Cassie: Its interesting, it’s a mass of paper, some of it flimsy paper, like Sean was saying theres an accumulative mass about it
Sean: And also we have the structure of the string
Ben: I see a geological form. Like a boulder
Daniel: I get something really nostalgic about the material, the use of the maps, I think about like Situationalist International, and the way it sort of forms a topography, it sort of feels like a science museum
Kevin: science museum? Like something you’d see in museum displays?
Lindsay: I keep on wondering what it would be like if it wasn’t maps, and it was just like paper or another form of material, and the way that would change my read or the way it was affecting me.
Someone else: well there are other materials involved…
Lindsay: I mean like non-descript material.
Kevin: No text at all.
Lindsay: no text, no map, no nostalgia.
Kevin: does anyone here make a relationship between the maps and the dress forms, the patterns?
Daniel: theyre both patterns to follow
Lindsay: but the patterns to follow aren’t followed. I almost see them as another material. Like it doesn’t seem like theyre relating.
Someone else: other than the nostalgic quality. Its an aesthetic of nostalgia.
Jimena: The patterns are instructions in English, Spanish and French.
Linsday: but this isn’t the world. Its just LA.
Jimena: LA is the world.
Cassie: I feel like the artist is trying to make a connection between the contours of the body and the contours of the landscape.
Kevin: whats that equate for you?
Kevin: anyone else have a feeling about that? Sort of the body and the land?
Katie: I’m trying to make the connection but I’m not able to get there. I’m trying to figure it out. I just keep going back to the 3 D map.
Lindsay: Its not a topographical map though. Its carefully put together, like these sections are cohesive, but then, the way that it falls off, the mountains aren’t the way that they really are, so then I keep thinking of miss-usage, and that’s as far as I can get.
Kevin: whats that mean?
Lindsay: Using the material wrong. Like these are clothes patterns, and then this is a map, and the way that she’s mapping it, its not the correct mapping of the landscape,
Kevin: the landscapes actually fairly correct, just not topographically. Location-wise everything is where it should be
Lindsay: Topographically its not functioning. But because the locations are correct, something is trying to be conveyed to me and I’m not sure what it is.
Isabel: you mean if it was more shaped as mountains or something?
Lindsay: I don’t know. I can say what it isn’t doing, and its not following.
Isabel: I think that, when it starts to become this square, that’s where I’m interested. Because there is some shape underneath. It looks like weight but there is no weight under it.
Someone: Is there canvas backing the paper?
Me: Yeah. Well its not canvas, its cotton. Its called Muslin.
Lindsay: I do appreciate the different textures that the thread has. I like how its wavy underneath and straight on top.
Isabel: I like that the way it is hung is highlighted. Like you didn’t use fishing line or something transparent, instead you highlighted it.
Kevin: Silvie, when Daniel brought up drawings and mappings and Situationalist work, do you know that work?
Silvie: We learned about it in Juli Carson’s class.
Kevin: Elan has a couple books of mine, Constant’s New Babylon and the Activitist drawing . But can you locate us a little bit in terms of the use of the map of the Los Angeles area and then the combination with these patterns? It seems like its not getting a lot of traction in terms of people figuring out what that is.
Me: Well I wanted to use LA because I just moved to this area and I wanted to piece together where I was. I didn’t want to do something too literal, like I’m not trying to make a woman’s body out of the landscape or something. I do see a connection between clothing patterns and maps.
Kevin: Just as a schematic?
Me: Clothing patterns are a one to one map of our bodies, but also all the printing on them has to do with the labor that goes into clothing. On a different scale, maps – we are really small compared to the streets and everything. How I figured out where the seams would go, is I cut along every highway, and the shapes of the clothing patterns ended up corresponding pretty well to the where the highways cut up the maps. I was seeing a connection between driving along a highway and sewing along the line of a pattern. I think the first idea came from being in an airplane and looking down, and seeing a quilt-like thing and wanting people to feel that way. I didn’t want to make a true topographical map of where we are because I feel like that would belong in a science museum.
Kevin: I hear you talking about looking out of a window of an airplane, there’s a different kind of aesthetic deception that takes place. Its less notational. It could be referred to as being nostalgic, but also in terms of systems. You’re talking about looking, and having a kind of phenomenological experience. Its somehow softer, you break down patterns, you mentioned a quilt, you see the roads but you don’t know the territory exactly, you know where you are but you don’t break it down schematically, but youre using that as a tool to get from one place to another. But what you’ve done here is you’ve used two systems that are basically scientific systems, cartographic systems that have something to do with travel or building, so I feel like a little of the magic youre talking about in your mind is not translated as well as it could be with the object. Because the object is so much about reading and readability as it is about aesthetic phenomenology of human experience.
Me: In process I really like working with systems; following and misfollowing directions.
Kevin: You have been working with patterns before.
Me: I’ve been working with them for a while.
Kevin: Is this your first time with maps?
Me: This is the first time on a large scale. I did a little road map of California first. I was frustrated because of how close together all the highways were. This is also the first time I’ve superimposed two systems over each other.
Kevin: Is there something in it about mimicking physical activities? You talked about driving and sewing.
Me: No, I was thinking about drawing and lines, and how both these things have very dictated lines. I don’t know how people decide where a highway goes, but it seems really important. I guess when things are printed, to me, they seem more like laws.
Kevin: Drawing is a background too then.
Me: Lines and cutting and sewing along lines.
Kevin: Drawing is a thing for you guys.
Cassie: its economical.
Me: I guess I am thinking about activities because I want the labor to come through; I am interested in the fact that these are two nostalgic materials that people may not know about. Maybe people in the future wont know about paper maps. Maybe people wont have atlases anymore. They probably don’t anymore. I got these at a thrift store. The reason why I chose the orange was because of construction in cities. I was thinking of that being similar to mending in clothing.
Kevin: is it orange? It looks ochre…
Me: its orange; maybe its good it doesn’t look orange because orange is a little ugly.
Kim: The thing I’m wondering is, the object is really bold but the mechanics of how you installed it seems to be about mirage, like how you make something magically float, I can see the weights underneath, I see all the points, I see where you’ve tied everything. I’m not quite understanding how that fits with the things that are going on in the map. And its not installed on the ceiling its installed on these other things.
Me: Ideally it would be installed right into the ceiling—I didn’t want the wires to be too apparent.
Kevin: The threads are so prominent, its such a beautiful visual part of what we’re looking at. The topographical map with the threads makes me think a little about war, frankly. Like a war map, bombs falling, Jack Goldstein paintings, much more about destruction of land. I think maybe that has to do with how many there are and the angles. Also how many there are. It seems like overkill. And the movement of lines seems to mean something.
Jen: is it moving? It looks like its moving. Is it actually moving a little in the air? No, right? It might be. The way its shaped it could be breathing.
Cassie: There are so many strings. There is an evenness of the form, its very consistent. Its working well. Its interesting but also harmonious. If you were to keep going with this you could play with asymmetry.
Kevin: Is it all women;s clothing?
Me: No. its babies and adults, men, women.
Kevin: but it brings up that labor. Also with the conflagration of mapping with the body ownership of land and territory comes forward. I don’t know if that’s anything youre intending. When you put them down in the same form in gets into that and those types of issues.
Michael: I keep going to this place where I’m trying to equate geography with subjectivity, and theres a circuit between those two but I feel like its closed. It seems one-to-one, like the body is geography, which to me, I can’t get into.
Isabel: I’m wondering if it has to be pre-bought maps. What if you made the maps yourself. Tried to remember how something looks.
Kevin: Like a more psychological mapping or a reconstructed space?
Isabel: Maybe both. Something about these maps being so easily read makes you want to read into them, and maybe that’s not the most interesting thing that’s going on here.
Kevin: I think it depends upon whether or not you want to point directly to mapping as a project and as a cultural object. What type of points you come back to: conquest, cartography… And its also directly to LA and the Thomas Guides which is another very specific aesthetic, those numbers and everything. If youre trying to open it up to your own experience of the area right now, which you talked about a little bit, trying to grasp it, maybe there could be, like Isabel was saying, ways you could try to remember the area, figure out your own aesthetic. Makes me think a little of Franz Ackermann’s maps, have you seen those watercolors? They have to do with trying to remember and recount psychogeographic kinds of drawings. Walking through a city and trying to recount that. With his own aesthetic, capturing them. But in an abstract and poetic way that doesn’t lapse into the scientific. And that’s the kind of balance I think youre dealing with. Its not clear to me exactly how much you want to abstract the specific physical elements that youre working with, and turn them into something else, and how much you need them to stay there for clarity of subject that your started with in the first place.
Me: The idea of walking through a city and dreamily coming up with things is not really the way that I work. I’d like to think that I could do that but I usually start out with a lot of rules and then it becomes more formal and then it starts to tell me what to do.
Kevin: Can you talk about rules?
Me: I said, I’m going to match up all these clothing patterns to where the highways go and then I’m going to cut along all the highways and then sew it back together and see what shape it looks like.
Kevin: Why do you need those rules?
Me: I don’t know why I need them.
Kevin: Is it predicated on the rules or the idea that youre trying to bring forward to your audience or is it predicated upon the system that you need to work, like I put down that mark and now I react to that mark?
Me: The latter.
Isabel: I didn’t mean like walk around in a dream. I was meaning what if you really tried to remember. Having a system of remembering. That could be a system too.
Me: When I first got here I was using San Francisco maps because I know that city better. I could point to places where things have happened to me. But here, I don’t really know the area, so its almost an abstract thing to me.
Kelly: The way that you hang it, I feel like youre pointing at certain locations on the map. What is the intention of hanging it this way if you aren’t? I’m just trying to figure out why its even hung. Why isn’t it just its own object if you aren’t pointing at these places?
Me: The locations of where its connected to the ceiling has to do with the points of tension and the weight, how to make it mechanically extend to its full shape. But I like the idea that people might think they are important locations. A lot of times the locations are at an intersection of many different seams.
Kelly: How would it change if it wasn’t hung? Just on the ground?
Me: It would be like a crumpled piece of trash. That what it looked like. The tension of hanging it makes it rigid—it pulls it to its full extended shape.
Kelly: So its making the shape.
Isabel: Is it though? Because it looks like its pretty sturdy.
Me: It would be more sturdy if I had used a different material.
Kelly: I’m just wondering, why this specific way of hanging?
Amanda: I’m there with you, if you wanted it to be free standing you would have done that.
Cassie: I feel like I want the hanging mechanism to have more purpose.
Amanda: Well yeah, its very arbitrary, it looks like geography gone wrong or something. I would have liked a little more intentionality if you are interested in systems. Youre dealing with maps and dress forms, and then the third system is how to formalize those. And that third part seems very arbitrary.
Lindsay: I don’t know though, because it’s the whole entire system that’s happening. Theres a grid-esque mentality on the top-most layer, then you have the movement coming down from these cross-lateral points, and then you have this organic form, and the organic form produces some wild stuff underneath, this whole other thing, with these curly strings, like roots, and the bolts, and the metal. Its all functioning in a different way. This is why I made my original comment—I not sure why the information is on the top, because I see this whole thing as a larger figure and a larger form. And if that’s the case, then I think the information is irrelevant because what you are really investigating is the materiality and the way the material is functioning and reacting with itself.
Kevin: Is that true?
Me: I definitely feel like I have all these systems I’m using and then I have my whims. And I don’t know when to use what. And I think there can be both going on at the same time. I don’t think if you were going to work logically then you have to work only logically. Or if youre going to work in a more whim-like way then you have to just never use any rules.
Kevin: There is something interesting though about the idea that you, and this is perhaps prescriptive, but you use the information in order to find the systems, but then you release the information from the final object, right? I’m thinking in particular this thought that in the same way, when youre sewing, all the information is on the inside, and then you turn it inside-out and it looks like a perfect thing.
Me: you’re saying that the underside is something to work with.
Kevin: Right. But youre still using the same information, the same systems, and the same ideas of space to get there. Its just that we don’t get that reveal.
Rochelle: I think also the aesthetic of nostalgia is something really hard to work with, because its presented to us commercially a lot, through advertising, or shopping, its hard for me to get out of that realm. When I think about aesthetics and nostalgia, I go back to those kinds of presentations or displays.
Me: What do you mean? Like Etsy? What are you talking about?
Rochelle: Yea, like Etsy or Anthropologie.
Michael: Well even the idea that youre equating the nostalgia of one thing with the nostalgia of another could really problematize either one. It’s a pretty clear equivalence between the map and the pattern, but it’s the fact that its such an easy equivalence is problematic. Its not adding anything to my experience of nostalgia. If that’s even what you want to do. You might not give a crap about that. But I think to take that on is a task on its own.
Kevin: Who brought Etsy up?
Me: I thought Rochelle was referring to it because you make your own stuff and then people like it because its made by people. Like put a bird on it. I don’t want to do that, though.
Kevin: Does anyone else think nostalgia is even important to this, because I’m not so sure that’s whats important here.
Ben: It reminds me of being a kid and looking at maps. My dad was in real estate, he had maps like this in his office, so I remember looking at maps more as a child than I do now.
Cassie: Its dealing with an outmoded form. Like instead of shooting digital, shooting super 8 film. Nostalgia of the analog.
Ben: I guess maps are becoming outmoded.
Daniel: Even the Thomas Guides, I mean they come out with a new one every year, so any one you use will soon be outdated.
Jimena: I think its too soon to call a paper map outdated. Its like we are trying to push it to being nostalgic. We’ve been using maps on phones or online not for too long. It’s a self-created nostalgia.
Kevin: Maps are still heavily in circulation.
Cassie: I don’t think it’s the use of the map but the fact that shes contorted it with her own experience of the map.
Jimena: She’s pointing at Los Angeles and the experience of a new place, but I know we cannot look at these for just the material used. I don’t know about placing so much emphasis on the fact that it’s a map. I liked what Kevin said about using it as a method of working. Using the information to find the shape and then it doesn’t have importance anymore. It contradicts what you started with. But on the other hand, who cares if it does? This is where you are.
Kevin: Silvie, what do you think about this nostalgia, all the stuff that’s coming up about nostalgia?
Me: I like that the material itself has its own weight without even making art out of it. Its already loaded with different things. I do think maps are becoming outdated. I’m getting worse and worse knowing how to read them just because of my iphone. But I was thinking more about the systems and the lines, than the fact that maps are nostalgic.
Kevin: Are dress patterns outmoded yet?
Me: People still use them but I think they are less and less used.
Cassie: Its so much cheaper to buy clothes already made. It used to be that people would make their own clothes to save, and now its more expensive.
Me: If you bought one new its like $16 just for one pattern.
Kevin: And then you have to get the fabric, and the sewing materials.
Isabel: You said you were interested in math and math is definitely involved here.
Me: Yes, I love math.
Daniel: But where do you go from there?
Kevin: Where do you go from where?
Daniel: So we don’t make our clothes anymore. Who cares? Why is that important?
Michael: Whats important about it?
Me: I do think its important. Its not bad or good, but its important.
Kevin: Its interesting the way it re-contextualizes the object, though. Patterns can no longer be used in a cost-effective way. I guess if you had a big family you could buy one pattern and everyone could wear the same dress. But the object becomes also about labor and attachment to labor and attachment to the object, and it has this sort of romantic one-on-one quality.
Daniel: But then when you bring up labor, I think of labor in terms of the mode of evaluating artwork, where labor adds value to artwork, and I think that is false.
Kevin: this is different though. It doesn’t just bring up the labor that went into making this, but I’m talking about that issue of what zone of making does this pattern operate in? In terms of something’s domestic life? As opposed to when they first started circulating publicly.
Daniel: Its like hobby.
Lisa: I’m seeing this map of Los Angeles and these patterns…its political. Los Angeles has one of the biggest industries of textiles. I know she’s more interested in the systems, but that’s loaded. Los Angeles and labor and the exploitation of labor, being a port for this kind of trade. Also clothing is one of the worst environmental impacts in the world. I went straight to those kinds of things instead of nostalgia or whatever. My first read was political.
Daniel: Theres just so much content that these things have attached to them. Its just floating around and you can choose from a multiple variety of reads. It doesn’t feel like theres control of that.
Kevin: Could all these reads still be there if you just laid those two materials down next to one another? Like a map and a pattern next to one another? Would you read it the same way?
Daniel: I am doing the body/map equation. Its an easy poetic reference. It has a little cliché attached to it. I think of the English Patient. Or a John Mayer song.
Kevin: This gives you the same vibe? Silvie, do you think you’ll continue on with the maps, or …?
Me: I don’t know what I’m going to do next. I’ve been working with patterns for a long time and I’m still interested in them, so I feel there must be something going on. I can’t stop using them. I would like to move on, but …
Kevin: How long have you been using them?
Me: Like 5 years.
Kevin: That’s not a long time. It’s a long time in art school, when everyones wondering what youre going to do next and thinking ‘I’m bored’ but that’s not the way it works in the art world. Its not uncommon for someone to work with the same subject for 5, 10, 15 years. You should stay with it as long as it makes you feel alive. As long as its making you go to the studio.
Me: I’m not sure what I’m thinking about doing next but I do like the idea of using the underside as a thing.
Jenn: I agree with what some people were saying, if it is about the system, then you don’t need to see what the result of the system is. You don’t actually need to see that side.
Me: And the inside is actually where you see the real labor.
Lindsay: Theres something to following something but then showing the other side. Like Kevin was saying, the system is being followed, and then revealed as a secondary action. It would be interesting if you followed a system and didn’t look at the other side until the end.
Isabel: You said the strings help create the shape. What if it was more fragmentary like it really made a series of shapes. More tension to create more shapes. Right now it looks sturdy enough to hold its shape. Things are still sticking out on their own.
Me: I used a lot of glue.
Ben: There is a fanciful quality. Like stage design. I know that you’ve worked in stage design. The lighting adds to that. I like the lighting. Its kind of yellow. The nostalgia thing might not just be the maps but the lighting. That lighting on the string in combination with the map. Its soft. And the shadows are interesting.
Kevin: Do you like Mark Bradford’s paintings? I guess when I think of Bradford and the earlier transformation you were talking about, the material is speaking, for the kinds of things you’re talking about, its too close to what it is. You haven’t re-formed it into something else. Like its surface quality, colors, it seems like you could go further. Turn it into something else. But that’s different from what Lisa was saying, if it is more about the legibility and you do want to speak more to the politics or something specific like that, then you need to get the hap-hazard aesthetics out of the way and make it even more legible. Like Walid Raad or someone like that, where theres incredible designerly beauty but also a real backbone of meaning there. Where every decision, color, everything represents something. A different caliber of bullet that was shot in a specific corner of a specific building. Something like that. The mapping in his work is very figured out but he comes out on the other end with an aesthetically satisfying object. But you can’t put a fissure in that logic. You can’t say why does it look like this ?
Me: I hate to say this but I haven’t really decided what read I want. I like that everyone is getting these different associations from it, but I don’t think I’ve really resolved what I’m trying to communicate exactly.
Kevin: I have to say for myself that I’m not an advocate for that kind of resolution. It depends on what you want. Certain things don’t gain anything by being miss-read. Walid Raad’s projects wouldn’t gain anything from being misread. They have a specific way they are supposed to be read. If you are looking for something that’s more associative in nature, it doesn’t come incumbent upon you to find one way of doing things to make that clear. What becomes important is that you make an object that has an aesthetic presence, a quality of surface, all of these things, that’s reading in an intoxicating way. People are going to get through an associative matrix of references, thinking around what youre thinking about, not just 1 + 2 + 3. That all happens through association. Some things we recognize, some things we don’t. Different things colliding with one another but they build a discourse between them, that cause us to go, ‘oh, ok, this is about sex.’ Or whatever it happens to be about. Its not you honing that down. It all depends on how you work in general. You can’t work like a Walid Raad if you are not a Walid Raad. You work how you work. You have to figure out the best work you can make based on your ideas and whats in your heart and the associations you make with things. Theres a balance between the sociopolitical elements within this which necessarily have to be there because of the materials you are using. So the question is, how much do you want to foreground those to take control of how your work is read? Or do you want to keep those as the baseline material that you’re using just to get you started? It seems like that’s where you are right now.
Me: I like the idea of my work being really really deep, but I’m not always there with it.
Kevin: Deep is all over the place.