Last week, at this time, I was operating on less than five hours of sleep for the seventh day in a row, trying to finish preparing for City-Wide Open Studios and the curator led tour Friday night.
I was prepping the studio, in general, meaning moving all of the stacks of storage bins and boxes, and art project remnants out of sight, to have a nice, clear, open space for people to come in and see my art.
That part, the preparation of the artwork, as still in flux. Not only did I have to figure it out, I had to come up with something practical, technically appropriate, and it also had to be curator-ready, not to mention accessible for the average person to view and understand. This was all on my mind while I was moving box after box, and packing up loose ends.
As of Wednesday night, I still wasn't exactly sure how I was going to present the pinhole camera project, my most recent work, to the curator led studio tour.
It may have been all that time moving around 3-D objects, or inspired visions due to sleep deprivation, but I realized I wanted to present both the thingness of my process as well as the unique, intangible properties of light and image.
My artist statement, the personal narrative about the work, was also in gestation. It was there, here in my brain, in fragments, but nothing really cohesive. Not until I started talking about it did I come up with what I thought made sense. Always a struggle, I approached this version of my artist statement with the idea that it can be good enough, no need to be perfect. And from there, I was able to relax and just write in a much better frame of mind.
Then I put pen to paper and jotted down some key points. I moved to the computer and started to work from a previous draft, incorporated some of these new thoughts and phrases and kept paring it down until the essence of what this project was all about was clear and distinct.
Back to the installation challenges:
There were technical issues to consider: the paper negatives are fugitive, still light sensitive.
I needed to protect the paper negatives from exposure to light and from handling.
I wanted to display the pinhole cameras but didn't want to put them on a shelf or a table.
I needed to devise a way to display the metal cameras, and wanted to do it with as little hardware as possible.
Then there was the challenge of presenting the digital positives.
My idea was to go ahead with a large projection. I could actually see it, in my mind, the end result, and I knew I could make it work. I've created unique installations before. This one was no different, but it was. I had to ask myself, would a curator be OK with this?
And with that question, I began to doubt myself immediately, to the point where I was searching online for confirmation that it was an OK thing to do. Somewhere, I thought, I'd find my doppelganger out in the artworld that was doing things without doubts. I didn't find him.
And the handful of art people I talked to had differing opinions ranging from don't do it, to yea, that would be cool.
So, I decided to go ahead with the projection. Put the paper negatives in shadowboxes and cover them with rubylith cut to size, install the pinhole cams on top of the shadowboxes and secure them with strong magnets.
I loaded the digital images in Keynote, the Mac version of powerpoint, but realized the transitions I wanted weren't going to work, so I reloaded all of the images into iMovie. I hadn't used iMovie in a while so I forgot how to turn off the annoying Ken Burns effect. (Ken Burns, I admire a great deal but this effect should not be the default.)
After I got the images and transitions the way I wanted, I exported to Quicktime and played that as a loop. ON the laptop screen it looked good.
I borrowed the projector from Artspace and the dongle (aka the connector for the Mac to projector) from Catalina (this year's Artspace Artist-in-Residence). I climbed onto the top of my darkroom with the projector, adjusted the keystone effect and got the image to the size I wanted, exactly how I imagined it would fill the wall.
All that had to be done at that point was sweeping the floor and getting ready to talk about my work.
Colin Burke's observations on becoming, being an artist, art related news and analysis, features, reviews, tips, popular culture and historical references, facts and creative non-fiction.