Sunday, January 27, 2013

Notes from simon mtg : to use a system?

What happens when the system you use you don’t reveal? I’m task oriented. I should keep doing huge things.
In the map piece: I was following all these rules that I made up, and then there was a point where I started to get a little more whimsical about it, and that seemed to be good.  People were responding to that. I like to create these otherworldly spaces, coming at it from set design.
Dance piece: In the very beginning stages of a collaborative project at the xmpl: In the map piece, the thing I was cutting along the lines of was the roads. And I was thinking about the way pathways are made over time, this could be really great in a dance. I imagine bodies there, but I don’t know what they’re doing. I’d have to work with a choreographer. I would want to do the environment. Kim Zumpfe – emergent actions based on rules, choreography. I create environment and she creates rules within environment. Don’t need trained performers. Fine people who want to be involved as performers. Certain parts are open to interpretation; certain parts are set, like a score. What things are set, and what things are flexible? Rules and rules for games, rules are encoded. Projected environment on the floor? Roads, dress making instructions, topographical indicators. Decision making process for each performer. Emergent dance.  Tontlawald—ribbon grid walls and floor with pulleys, malleable space.
Systems: I’m trying to free myself from the rules, rules are my way of working, its good to challenge the way I work. Why free myself? Do I want to make specific work about a specific thing that has to be read a specific way, or do I want to make work that’s more associative and more abstract? I was excited that everyone was getting all these things. That’s the nature of people, to interpret things on their own terms. There will always be associations, there will always be surprises in what people get from the work. There is a history of artists using a generative rule system. Brian Eno’s Oblique strategies is a classic example, Mark tansy academic table of nested disks that creates a program for a painting. Duchamp also.  Don’t be too hasty to give up on a generative method and exchange it for whim. You can get the associative excitement dimension without abandoning a generative system. There’s a distinction to be made between a generative system and oppressive rules.  There are the kind of artists who want everything figured out in the beginning and then there are others for whom the making is generative in itself, and I am the latter kind. It would be dangerous to assume that an intellectual liveliness has to be opposed to generative making. I can’t fall into that trap. Be constantly inquiring and challenging myself, but don’t abandon a method that works for me. I can continue to be actively intellectually engaged while still continuing that process if it remains generative.
Nostalgia – is it negative? Trendy because people like cool old things but that’s not it… not doing it for clichéd reasons. My aesthetic, I like brown, I like things that look old. Interrogate my predilections – staining, tea-stained paper, sepia tones, evocative of mummified skin. Guanajuato Mexico – exhumed bodies from a cemetery had been mummified because of the minerals in the soil. Built a museum to display the mummies, in theatrical tableaus. The skin stretched over the faces in different ways, different expressions. The skin: translucent, coffee stain colors. The clothing patterns are skin color—look like leather or skin or parchment. Under lighting, letting the light come through them. The deer pelt: it’s a skin.
Videos of hair. A building up. Its boring. Saving up hair.

I want to start a project that I feel really good about – envisioning the crit space, I am show oriented, thinking about the big day. Don’t have much time. Don’t be hasty to abandoned the techniques and things I’ve developed, but change them, but if they work for me because they work for me because they resonate with the way I think. Math, I think with rules and lists, but I’m a maker and things happen. I don’t need to abandon these two things and they are not opposing. Interrogate the criticisms, maps, the dress patterns.
Cliché, maps, patterns: People were thinking it was an easy equivalence, body and land is cliché. It could be, I like clichés, I like romantic comedies. I don’t like really bad music but sometimes respond to clichés. It’s a superficial read—dress patterns and maps are a representational system once removed from the subject. Its different from hokey 60s photography of a naked woman looking like a mountain range. Both these methods of representation shift from the real to the symbolic. Modes of representation, building it back into a topography or a topology. Translations of space into planar symbolic representation. What other things exist that are 2 dimensional schematic representations of 3d things? How can I use those in much the same way using the same process but taking it to a different place? Architectural blue prints, engineering drawings. Aerial photography. When I worked at the architecture firm, transparency drawing. The idea to first use clothing patterns came from looking at blue prints and realizing that clothing patterns are just the same but actually to scale. Should I go back to using clothing patterns, I thought of using maps as the next step, to move beyond the figure and into deeper issues, maps are such a commonly used material. People had problems with me using maps as a material. Where as with clothing patterns, a lot of people don’t know what they are, and that’s really interesting to me.  The map of California with the stitching through it is a lovely object. There’s the map and then there’s the sewing, the technology of dress making. Something about combining two things that aren’t related. Can I flip that? The dress patterns with the technology of cartography? Hammers and nails go with blue prints, surveying technology. Technologies to measure landscape, trigonometry, areas measured from marked points. You measure the body to make the dress pattern. Map projection. The syndrome, problem of making 2 D representations of things that are not 2 dimensional. The problem of the spherical globe, cannot really be represented by a flat plane without distortion.

Look up map projection pictures/ books. You can’t take a surface that is round and make it flat, basic geometry.
Lines of longitude/latitude trying to be a grid but then the north and southern poles become lines. The land masses around the poles are vastly ridiculously magnified. Mercator projection for navigation, using compasses. Translates directly as a navigational aid. Pan am had a sliced up version of the glove to unwrap a sphere onto a plane. You can’t draw a line on them.

The clothing patterns are flat representations of 3 D things. I know the way a pair of pants looks flat. This concept of the distortion to the figure and the dress patterns. When I attach a bunch of random clothing patterns together, I’m distorting the figure. Scanning dress patterns and then distorting the image and then print that out and make it. Don’t necessarily have to use the thing itself. Tailoring in men’s clothes is similar to the trigonometry in cartography. Measure the guys body and there’s a mathematical form that dictates the suit pattern. Women’s clothing is more sculptural. There’s an algorithm for the men’s suits. Going from a pattern for a specific piece of clothing to a system of distortion of cartography. Take data from the body, subject them to a mathematical distortion, based on a grid, like in map distortion. A pattern that would fit no real human being. Mutated clothing. By sewing I’m making reference to what I did – the paper patterns say what I did. Speak to women’s craft, labor, I’m interested in the labor that goes into clothing. We don’t think about it, Marx’s commodity fetishism. Another direction: contemporary dress-making technologies, laser cutters. They cut thru so many sheets of denim. The line walks a bità more and more distortion. Passing through a numerical processing stage within computer and coming back again to a laser cutter, and it spits out bits of a pattern.

Distortion: ‘On Growth and Form’ by Darcy Thompson. Mathematics of nature, Fibonacci spirals. Mathematical Distortion of the grid to get one species from another. With very simple but rigorous mathematical distortions. Put a grid down and do something mathematical to the grid. Clothing patterns are doing the same thing—putting an order on something natural, especially with men’s clothing, and those don’t refer as much to feminism. Frank Gehry, its like making a building out of dress patterns. Scott Snibbe, combinations of utilizing mathematical system to produce graphic projection. Its like map projections.
Sewing, textile based skills, computer, video skills. Sewing metaphors are rich. Feminist point of view. Lacan’s sutures. Building a practice. Feeling de-stabilized.
Chicken wire: I’m making really interested forms. Not a rectilinear grid, we are so full of grids—it can be more biomorphic. Something to think more about. Sculptural possibilities are endless, reminds me of knitting, its twisted, woven, knotted. Bringing seams together – like darts, a dress-making effect to produce the form. 

{images: 1 Marcel Duchamp, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (1915-1923); 2 - 5 mummies of Guanajuato (Mexico); 6 - 11 Map projections; 12 - 14 Darcy Thomson 'On Growth and Form' (published 1917); 15 Frank Gehry's Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health (Las Vegas)}

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