First, some Bach. Then, “The ‘Declaration of I Don’t Understand’ in Which I Feel Like an Insect”; “Incipient Variant in Petri-Dish”; “One”, and “Two”, and “Three”; Student Incubator at CVAG

Today’s music: Bach, The Art of Fugue

The ‘Declaration of I Don’t Understand’ in Which I Feel Like an Insect
insect closeup
insect closer-up
Existential Crisis 1
Existential Crisis 2
Existential Recovery
Existential Stability
The Genesis of “Incipient Variant in Petri-Dish”
New Year Baby, January 1, 2022, 7:03 pm. (aka Incipient Variant)
“Incipient Variant in Petri-Dish”

One, Two, Three

These next three, just playing around. I wanted to see if I could create expression with very simple elements, no internal interpretive cues. I’m currently reading a book called “Asemic: The Art of Writing”; I am being influenced by the idea of asemics, markmaking that looks like some sort of writing, calls the viewer to attempt to interpret the marks/lines by trying to “read” them, but of course they are not representative of any particular language, but merely representative of the “act” of writing and in that way these lines tend to foreground the “art” of writing.

I am attracted to this, and have been for a long time. So far, I’ve tried to work with a depiction of eyelashes, and maybe a way to go with eyelashes is to make them look “asemic”, as if the printed eyelashes are some sort of language that refers to the inexpressible. The more I engage with visual expression in the form of image-making, both 2D and 3D, the more I recognize that like language, both oral and written, there is an interstices that can’t be breached, can’t be expressed. The idea, the feeling, the emotion, lies somewhere beyond words, beyond mark-making, beyond line. Maybe it is somewhat like the extremes of grief and ecstasy.

So, I shall begin more consciously to explore this beyond place, this ineffable and mutable truth.

“One”
“Two”
“Three”

Today, January 8, our 3D design class installed our projects at the CVAG. Here are a couple of photographs of my part.

The day was bright and there are too many reflections on the window to adequately see.
The entities related to the moment of death have converged/are converging

Wire and Rawhide

I’ve been experimenting with rawhide for the past couple of weeks, but took a break for four days, more or less, over Christmas. I bought some pieces of rawhide “seconds”, and had wanted to see how they would look wrapped around some wires, so I constructed a few wire armatures and started wrapped the hydrated rawhide around the wires. I tried sewing some pieces together while wet, but that proved to be difficult, so I bought a leather punch, which made things much easier.

However, I also made a couple of pieces without any rawhide, and they are much cleaner to look at.

Here are some photographs of five different wire sculptures, three with rawhide and two without.

#1 in window with Le Petit chat. These rawhide pieces look like insects to me.
#1 (base)
Figure #2. This is what the rawhide looks like while its drying. I have to clip it onto the wire.
Figure #2. A few additions to the figure, and it looks “noisy” to me. But it feels like a noisy entity. The hips, the knees, and the insect body on the back of the figure are all made with airdry clay. This figure doesn’t yet have a head, and I’m not sure if I’m going to add one.
Figure #3. This was the first iteration of the figure, but after this dried, I added a few more elements. The hands are made with airdry clay.
Figure #3.
Figure #4 The Dancer. I would like to do more of this minimal type of wire sculpture. I love how I can made wire look like a figure.
Figure # 4. The Dancer.
Figure #4. The Dancer.
Figure #5. Insect Woman.
Figure #5. Insect Woman. legs.

And, finally, some photographs of cloth (painting tarp, actually)

Christmas “break”

I realize that I’ve been silent for the past month, and that is because I didn’t really have much that is shareable. I’ve finished my courses for the fall semester, and am moving into Christmas break. Here are a few images of what I’ve been working on.

This is my 21st century representation of Euterpe, the Greek muse of lyric poetry and song. Traditionally, representations of Euterpe have been of a wistful-faced female carrying a harp, a lute, or an aulos, her long hair falling over her shoulders or tied up around her head and held by a wreath. She looks vulnerable, as if herself waiting for inspiration. I wanted to make a muse that is more “practical” looking, more chthonic than ethereal. Originally I was going to have this non-binary figure playing a bass guitar, but the guitar evolved into a bicycle, meant to represent the urgency I feel that we (dwellers on the earth) must change our actions, change our minds, change how we experience the world and act within it.
But we shoot the messenger, don’t we? I was aware, am aware, that this figure is quite repulsive. They are made from a wire armature covered with tissue paper taken from old dress patterns, and then covered with photocopied sheet music from a book of music by Chopin, papier mached around the figure. I have used yellow because yellow is both an attractive and repulsive colour; I believe that for the most part people want to engage in “right action”, and/or they want to stop engaging in actions that continue to harm the earth. At the same time, we want to continue to do the things that we have come to love; we are attracted by calls to action (we love the earth), and we are repulsed by those calls to action because if we heed them we will need to stop doing many of the things we love.
Although I have largely left behind the work I was doing on the Apocalypse Theatre for the past few months, I realized upon making this figure of Euterpe that I need to return to the theatre and the Cassandra Players. There is so much more to do, and I think now that I have a slightly better idea about how to “plan”, I can return and make a better plan and will have a sense of where I need to go and how to get there with this project, which has been sleeping.

Here are a few photographs I took with my cell phone camera. I seem to be attracted to photographing these monochromatic scenes, where grey disappears into grey. I love this type of weather, this type of light.

Sometimes I can’t help myself from taking more photographs of these entities that live on the shelves and window sills around me. As the light behind them changes, so they change too.

Book binding and poetry

Finally, I’m teaching myself some basic bookbinding techniques, including Japanese bookbinding. I have a basic plan to make a small book with two of my own poems in it, and I’m thinking of making the pages out of watercolour paper and then typing the poems and printing them out on high quality computer paper; I’ll attach the poems to the watercolour paper and draw/paint small watercolour illustrations around the poems, and bind it all together with a Japanese binding technique.

Here is a link to one of the videos I’ve watched. I think this technique looks repeatable, and I plan to use it for this first small book. I haven’t yet decided on a cover.

Me and my drill, More Baby Bodies, A Final morphed cat body, a new armature for Cornucopia Woman, and Squash in a Dark, Cool, Dry Place…so they turn into gourds that can become musical instruments…

Smokin’ hot…
“Mother and Children”
Morphed Cat Body
Morphed Cat Body in a piece of rusty metal
Cornucopia Woman armature

Squash in a dark, cool, dry place wherein they will become gourds by the end of April, 2022.

Some Music, Baby Body, Cat Body, More Entities in the Studio for second photo shoot…

As I frequently do, I’ll start with the music. Jerusalem in my Heart is a group out of Montreal. Just when I think I’ve found the music that I love the most, I come across something that bumps it out of the way. “that’s the sound I’ve been looking for”, I think to myself, when the new music arrives. And I live, breathe, obsess about the new music until something else arrives out of nowhere.

Here is a link to Jerusalem in my Heart, including a whole bunch of information about the group, and some music samples.

Baby Body

After spending another few hours in the photography studio photographing the entities again, but this time in groupings of two, three, or four (or more), a process during which I became more intimate with each of their personalities, I came away with a concept that will, in a large format that I won’t share here (yet) include the wooden figures I made last year, the white skeletal entities I made in the summer, and the current figures that I’m working on and sharing here now. As part of this concept where I’m starting to see how the figures are “related”, I decided it was time to make a baby. Here is the first baby, and it is called “Before I Was Born”; it’s not really supposed to be me, but that’s the title that popped into my head, so there you go.

Before I Was Born LaDoll air dry stone clay, two inches by one inch. View #1.

I also finished Cat Body since my last post. Baby Body (before I was born) and Cat Body, as well as being part of the larger work I creating, are also part of my assignment for 3D design and integrated studies at the college.

Here is Cat Body.

Cat Body. Six inches high at the head, and ~8 inches from ear to tip of tail. This is the first time I’ve used water colour on one of these figures, and I think this figure might be the transitional figure as I move away from using acrylic (plastic) paint to the more environmentally friendly watercolours. I was really intrigued to watch as the watercolour paint filled the cracks and imperfections of the cat’s head, feet, and tail, and I think there might be some great opportunities to explore in that relationship between the paint and the clay.

Entities in studio for second photoshoot

I have the studio booked again for photoshoots on November 9 and 10. Each time I go into the studio I’m adding the new entities and learning more about their interrelationships.

It takes a really long time to upload each photograph to WP, so I’m only including a small handful of the 200 or so that I took last week. Also, most of them are kind of crappy, so I’ll try to include only those that I think capture some of what I’m trying to express. I have annotated the photographs, as all the entities are “named” now, and it will provide a sense of the narrative.

The Empath is sitting next to The Dreamer, who is in the final hours of life. An entity looks on from behind. The Empath is present during the limen, as the ailing dreamer is about to pass through.
Opera Singer, consoled by her earthly consort, The Cowpoke, expresses deep sorrow.

The Receiver/The Dreamed (the figure on the left has two names) sits with the Opera Singer next to The Dreamer.
The Opera Singer and The Receiver/The Dreamed recede as The Dreamer prepares to leave.
Two unnamed entities watch over the moment when the breath stops moving in and out of The Dreamer.
Time arrives to claim the breath.
The Empath attempts to intercede, but Time will not be stopped.
The veil is thin.
Time claims breath, The Dreamer ceases to dream.
Dog Body accompanies Time as it backs away.
Gold Fallen From the Hem of Her Dress embraces the departed Dreamer.

Body: Jive Body and Cat Body; Music: making musical instruments from gourds

But first…some music. Try Dorothy Ashby. In my musical explorations, I came upon the harp playing of Mary Lattimore (contemporary American harpist), which took me to a BBC radio show (available on the BBC app called BBC Sounds) called Late Junction, hosted by Verity Sharp. In the 29 October podcast is a Mary Lattimore mixtape, introduced by Mary Lattimore, and featuring a number of harpists who influenced her own development as a harpist. The mixtape features harp greats like Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby, the latter of whom was active in the 50s and 60s playing “afro harp”, and “jazz harp”…

If you don’t really like harp, the playing of Dorothy Ashby or Mary Lattimore or Alice Coltrane may change your mind.

Here is a link to Dorothy Ashby on the album “Hip Harp”, from 1958.

And here is Alice Coltrane in a late career harp solo:

And here is a link to Mary Lattimore’s 2016 album called “The Withdrawing Room”. I chose to include this one instead of her more recent “Silver Ladders” because I’m more familiar with it, and I love the atmosphere it creates – I listen to this while in my studio. Beautiful.

Jive Body

Continuing on the theme of “body”

I made this for my friend Lynda, who is a dancer. It’s called Jive Body; I don’t think she jives. But she would if she could. Maybe she used to.
Lynda asked me what the wire was for, what she was supposed to do with it. I told her that it is both an energy receiver and an energy transmitter, and that she should/could attach the wire to whatever she wants…including the air. I think she should connect to the harp music of Mary Lattimore.

Cat Body

Gourd Project update
The gourds have been washed in warm soapy water. I chose these four gourds for their exterior appearance. It’s not a sure thing that all of them (or any of them) will “make it” through the drying process, which takes six months, but I’ll work with what I get.

Here is a reminder of the process I’m following to dry the gourds.

https://www.thespruce.com/how-to-dry-or-cure-gourds-1403445

After these have dried, I’ll cover them with rubbing alcohol and then put them on a open-to-the-air (indoors) drying rack for a week before removing them to a somewhat darker and cooler space where they will wait for six months. That will take me to the end of April, just in time for a summer project. In the meantime I’ll research and source the materials I’ll use to build the harps that fit across the cut gourd, the type of skin/s that I can use to cover the open side of the gourd, and the types of materials that I might want to use as strings or other percussives that will vibrate to make sounds.

I am not a musician, nor do I have any experience as a luthier. But I love sound. Right now as I write this post I’m listening to Mary Lattimore’s album The Withdrawing Room. Here is the link again, just in case I can tempt you.

Cheers.

Entities in the Photo Studio; Torso photos, and a couple of New Entities

This week I had the opportunity of getting into the photo studio and setting up the full complement of clay entities I’ve been working on. I’m still trying to understand all the settings on the camera, but I’ll be back in the photo studio again next week to take photographs of the entities in smaller groupings.

This is the whole crew of Dreamer and the Dreamed; the teal figure upper right is the receiver of the dreams.

The dreamer is on the far left; the entities are the dreamed.

Torso Project
Time

A Couple of New Entities

Cat Body and Jive Body
Jive Body

Assemblage of entities into a tableau: “desiderium”, Loveletting, Sons of an Illustrious Father, poems, Odyssey

The word “desiderium” means “desire, characterized by grief, because the desire can never be met”.

This tableau that I pulled together out of various elements is meant to represent the entities surrounding a person in their last hours. The first photograph, which tries to capture everything, is a fail, so I’ve added a number of other photographs to focus on some of the individual elements. The shell hanging in the middle is a pendulum and the small book covered in cellophane is a book of poems called “Loveletting”, in which each of five poems is an attempt at loveletting, a word based on the concept of bloodletting. A band called Sons of an Illustrious Father has a song called “Loveletting” (lyrics here: https://www.musixmatch.com/lyrics/Sons-of-an-Illustrious-Father/Loveletting), and here is a YouTube video of the song by the actual band (sound, no visuals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duOKZHs7-LY), but other than that I could not find it mentioned anywhere on the big bad interwebs. I used the word and then later found the song by Sons of an Illustrious Father.

Desiderium (full on view)
Desiderium (with focus on far left entity and poetry booklet)
Desiderium (with focus on silver entity and reclining figure under light blanket)
Desiderium (with focus on far right entities)
Desiderium (with focus on shell pendulum)
Desiderium (reclining figure with wires)

Music, Skateboarder, a new Entity based on a drawing, catastrophic water event, lyre-making

Here is the music, sort of. I love Laurie Anderson, and I love the idea of making my own instrument, something that has no preexisting rules for how to play it, and something that is not necessarily tuned to any currently used scale. I’m not sure if that is possible. But I’m going to try.

Catastrophic Water Event

This is a short post this week, in part because I’ve had problems with the plumbing in my condo, with plumbers, ServiceMaster folk, and building management traipsing around in here. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that my life has been disrupted and I’ve not been feeling that great. Mostly I’m riddled with worry.

Skateboarder
The skateboarder is now lashed to a plexiglass rod in an attempt to create “air”. I have to continue to build it up with the plasteline, but I know I’m stalling on this because I don’t really like where this piece is going, and it feels like I might put in a lot of work for nothing. So, that will require some strength of will that I didn’t have this week.
Here’s another view of the skateboarder on the plexiglass rod. I drilled a 3/4 inch hole in a piece of wood which will become the stand for the piece. I think the rod is probably a bit too high, so I’ll cut it back a couple of inches. I’m thinking of getting a 1/4 inch rod for the angelfish.

This skateboarder is part of an assignment in the sculpture class, as is the following piece that I worked on while the plumbing was making life horrible. Generally speaking, I love working on long-term projects, ones that I have to put together piece by piece over a long period of time. However, I also need smaller projects to work on at the same time, so that I get some feeling of accomplishment along the way. This is why I have the two projects running side by side, and then of course the lyre-making project, which makes it three projects.

From above, this piece is based on a watercolour drawing I did in 2019. Like this sculpture, the drawing is simple, and my purpose was/is to capture the posture of a person in the final hours of their life. This figure is lying on a simple bed and in a position that he has been placed by a care aide.
In an earlier phase, I just really wanted to capture the simplicity of the end of life. As I watched my father dying months before I drew the original picture that this is based on, I was struck by his breath, how even as it seemed that most of everything else about “him” had shut down, his breath kept entering and exiting his body, and then it seemed that it wasn’t even “his” breath but that it was what I started to think of as “life”. And I kept thinking, watching the air go in and out, that “life wants to live”. After he stopped breathing, his heart continued to beat for another ten minutes.

All life really wants is to live. A convenient metaphor right now is to think of the breath of life as a virus occupying our bodies until our bodies give out.

Here is the original drawing, which I called The Yellow Rose. The yellow flower in the window is meant to be a rose, and I placed it there because my mother had loved yellow roses, and I imagined her, in the form of that rose, to be in the room. My father outlived my mother by thirty years.

So, the skateboarder and the small sculptures I’m making here are both part of my sculpture class. I have proposed to make a life-sized skateboarder, using my grandson as my primary model, and 100 “entities”, these small sculptures made of air-drying clay. 100 is an arbitrarily chosen number, but I chose it because I consider myself to be a slow learner, and I’m hoping that by the time I get to the 100th entity, it might actually be pretty good. Also, when you do multiples of things like this, set a goal of 100, that gives room for what I do and how I do it to change and evolve, which may be the same as saying that I might get better. Ideas beget ideas. It’s addictive.

Lyre-making

Making a lyre is a longer term project that is not necessarily attached to any course I’m taking, or going to take. I introduced the project in an earlier post, and have since managed to find some squashes to turn into gourds to turn into lyres.

I also bought some strings for an eight-string ukulele. The next step is to clean and sanitize the squash, put on a screen to dry for six months, and then once dry, hollow them out and start to prepare for covering with a skin.

Next steps for lyre making:

find skin for covering

design a “harp” structure to be placed over the skin which is covering the hollowed out half-gourd. The process I’m following for making the harp is described in an earlier post, and while that maker cut out and shaped pieces of wood for his lyre, I’m going to look into other possible materials to use for the harp part of the lyre, and because I love working with figures so much, I’m going to see if I can make the harp structure look like figures instead of just pieces of wood.

Here is a photograph of the “harp” part of the lyre. This is attached to the gourd, and then strings added to the harp. What I’d like to do is design and make these three pieces as figures instead of merely functional pieces of wood holding the lyre together. http://www.crab.rutgers.edu/~pbutler/greeklyre.html
http://www.crab.rutgers.edu/~pbutler/greeklyre.html
This is a short youtube video showing the lyre maker playing his handmade lyre. Paul Butler is actually also a musician, and wanted his lyre to be playable.