Friday, December 7, 2012

Wrapping Up

It's incredibly hard to believe that this semester is coming to a close. I don't exactly feel like I'm at the point I'd always imagined I'd be at this point of IP, but I think it's just one of those things you can't matter how hard you try. This week I put together my December Review (yikes!) presentation. I went through and began to edit a lot of my second interview that I did over break (excerpt below). I worked a lot on my sculpture and it's ALMOST ready to paint. Michaels unfortunately ran out of the fences I was cutting to use as shingles, so the last few rows will have to wait. I discovered that I have a lot of thinking and planning and work to do over break! I hope I can enter next semester with newfound clarity and confidence in my project. For next week I will conquer my panel review and feel like I've closed the chapter of sculpture least for a little while.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Building Blocks

I think these last two weeks have been really important for my project. I've made a lot of progress-a new interview and almost finished with my sculpture. Although the process is slow, it's given me time to think about what I want to get out of it, and where I see all of this work going. The interviews that I have done don't truly capture what I want to convey. Rather, I think it's how I piece them together that will tell a more accurate story through my eyes. Next week I want to feel more confident in what that story is.

Friday, November 16, 2012


I regretfully forgot to take a picture before I left my studio yesterday, but should be able to add one sometime tomorrow. This week was all about the details. I went on the hunt for all sorts of wooden objects that could be cut up into pieces I'd need to make my sculpture come to life. The tips of tiny picket fences and craft sticks become shingles, and balsa wood rectangles cut to size are window shades and siding accents. I got to work, putting little details into my sculpture, and getting it ready to be primed and painted in the very near future. I ran into some trouble with gluing things down, so I spent some time seeking alternative methods to attaching some of the little details. I've learned that these details make a huge difference, and I feel excited about my work again. I was having a bit of a rough week due to some personal things I am working through and some of the terrifying things happening in the world right now. I am starting to discover that sometimes channeling that emotion into my work instead of running away from it, can often be the best thing for me. For next week, I plan to have this sculpture finished, and hopefully set a time to meet with my 2nd family. My third family, I plan to interview in Dallas over Thanksgiving weekend. It is just a father and daughter that live together, so I think that will be an interesting addition to the "neighborhood". Thinking farther down the line to December reviews, I would like to have one sculpture and sound piece totally finished, and another sculpture and two sound pieces in progress.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Quick Update

This week was spent mostly getting my grant proposal together. I spent some time talking to potential interviewees too, and did several sketches to plan for my sculpture. I've been working on putting together my first sound piece, and it is coming together nicely. I feel like the sound I have is still missing something. I am currently hunting for that something. I don't feel like I discovered anything new this week-just lack of something new. Next week, I am going full steam ahead and hopefully making some important breakthroughs for my process.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


This week was devoted mostly to aesthetics. I built the skeleton for my sculpture (I apologize for forgetting to take pictures!) and made sketches for various options I'm exploring for its completion. After my crit, I started to think more seriously about the connection between the sculptures and the sound, and I think the connections will become more apparent as the piece progresses. I spent some time writing my grant proposal as well, which was helpful in honing in on what makes my work compelling to an audience. This week I realized how important imagery is going to be in all aspects of my project. I think that the imagery from the sound and the imagery in the sculpture don't need to be a perfect match, but they need to correlate in some way that makes sense to the viewer, even subconsciously. For next week, I am gathering the rest of the interviews to finish the first sound piece. I also hope to finish basic construction of my first sculpture and prime.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Making Moves

The beginning part of the week started with a lot of brainstorming, list-making, and important conversations. Once I realized what specifically I needed (and wanted) to be focusing on, I got to work on form. First purchasing supplies, then sketches, then chipboard models, and finally cutting and sanding the wooden pieces for my first sculpture.

This week was spectacular. I had breakthrough after breakthrough, and feel like I'm in a fantastic place and in a position to just start hammering out work the way I've been itching to since IP began. This week started with some major soul-searching. After a chat with Stephanie and one with Anne, I realized that I had to edit, and I needed to make some major decisions quickly. I couldn't do a functional multi sensory, naturally amplified, abstract sculpture installation about people's lives. Writing it out in a single statement now, it just sounds ludicrous. I made a pros and cons list for doing wither natural amplification, multi sensory work OR abstract sculptures about families. I thought about it a lot, and I had the ultimate realization that this does not have to be the last thing I make. In the end I decided on the abstract sculptures with stories for a number of reasons (which I'll explore in greater detail as my project progresses), keeping in mind that I can return to the other project at any time in my life.
For next week, I hope to get close to the finish line for this first sculpture, line up my next interview, and make arrangements for gathering the remaining sound for this first piece.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Getting My Hands Dirty

I can't wait to make physical objects this week. I'll be gathering supplies and starting on my first sound sculpture. I will also be working on my designs for my first slip cast ceramic forms, as well as testing alternative designs using regular clay. I also want to shape up the sound I collected into a rough piece, and plan a trip to visit the two sons on my interviewees. I plan to record their reactions as they listen to their parents and use it as narration for the piece. I think that a wide array of people from various communities will be far more interesting than focusing on just one.

Starting Fresh

I came to terms with myself this week. I was in love with my idea, but not the process. The truth is, I didn't have enough to do on a day-to-day basis. I decided that what was important to me was not really Detroit, but came from a place far more personal. What I needed were stories people could connect to, and pieces of lives that needed to be shared. My new project idea is to make smaller sculptures, combined with my research from the summer about acoustics and amplification, and my research on multi-sensory therapy. I discovered that I really do need to make something visual, or the sound doesn't seem worth it. I realized that I was missing out on making ceramics. Most importantly I realized that the larger cause I was focused on was distracting me from the smaller details that make up everything that interests me about this work. Below is a photograph of John, whose voice can be heard in my previous post. In our interview he spoke about how he built a lot of the furniture around us with his own hands, and how the smallest things in life can make you the luckiest man. I want to spend less time trying to sum up an entire community, and more time celebrating individuals like John.

First Steps, Take Two

Since I changed my idea a great deal this week, it kind of felt like starting over from scratch. I soon realized; however, that what I had accomplished prior to this week was essential in me coming to this new idea. What I really spent this week doing was fleshing out my new plan of action. I realized what I could let go of, and what was staying no matter what. Over the break I interviewed a fantastic couple, and learned about what went into their home, and what they have gotten out of it. They shared memories and advice, and I think I ended up with some really interesting clips. I spent the rest of the week looking for my next interviewees and editing up the sound. Naturally, I also spent time rewriting my entire proposal to suit this new idea. Below are a couple of my favorite (raw) clips from John & Melissa's interview.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ready For Change

This week I am making a prototype for my new project idea to see if this thing has potential. I am recording a family I have been dying to record for some time now, and building a sculpture based around that. Hopefully I'll get into the ceramics studio and start learning the process of slip casting. I want to use ceramics as a functional piece of my project rather than the entire basis of the sculpture. There aren't a whole lot of things on my list for this week, but I think it will definitely fill my time.

What's Missing

I had an epiphany of sorts this week. I think that the appeal of Detroit has worn off a bit since I worked there over the summer. It's become less important to me to be in Detroit, and more important simply to be gathering stories, and focusing on the themes that get me excited to record each day: family and connection to home life. I also realized, I want to be making something visual, and I'm not quite ready to let go of my obsession with natural amplification. Within the coming weeks, you'll see progress on something new and exciting, which in short will combine the concepts of my original IP idea (which I spent months researching over the summer) and my new installation idea.

New Adventures

This week was a challenge. I struggled with my idea, and wondered if I was really heading in the right direction. I spent most of my time writing and brainstorming, attempting to figure out why it was I was making this work, and what made it so important. Besides pouring over my proposal and working on past sound pieces, I went on an adventure to the far away land of Ypsilanti. I met a couple interesting people, and recorded some conversation. The exploration was really to see if it was Detroit specifically that I wanted to pursue or just community in general.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Thinking Long Term

I have been doing some thinking. What do I want to have accomplished in April? What will make me say that I used my time well? I want to have something that sets my portfolio apart from the rest, but also that makes sense to have in my portfolio in the first place. What type of career do I want to pursue? What sorts of jobs would make me happy? One could argue this isn't entirely relevant to IP, but I think it is. I want to create something that I not only enjoy making, but also that represents me as an artist. this week I will delve deeper. I will try new things. I will put my foot down about non-negotiable aspects of my project, and see what things I might be better off letting go.

How A Story Feels

One of the most productive things I did this week was tear a big sheet of butcher paper and tack it to my wall. On it I wrote and illustrated the three ways I foresee people experiencing stories in my installation, and their benefits, elements to consider when editing, and a long list of ways a story can feel. some of the items on the list (so far) include:
Like coffee with a friend
Like a dream
Like pulling weeds
Like going to a show
Like climbing a mountain or descending one
Like hearing a secret
Like being there beside them
Like a scavenger hunt
Like reading a memoir
and the list goes on...

Something I discovered this week is that the experience of listening can hold so many meanings, and although I may be limited by my material, the way I present it to the audience is limitless.

Below are three "sketches" of different ways to shape the material I gathered:

Horses & Houses

This week was all about meeting. I met teachers, children, friends, strangers, and horses. It started out with a trip to Detroit. Along with a fantastic group of people, I went to Bennett elementary school to teach about photography. Though I don't know a lot about the subject, I was perfectly comfortable with this first exercise of visualizing what the kids might want to photograph. The kids I sat with talked about home, about having nicer neighborhoods, and the importance of family. Some shared their dreams of designing video games or owning a big house of their own someday. They drew their futures and their pasts. It was fantastic getting to meet the teacher and all of the students. Hopefully I will get to visit with them again, and possibly meet their families. Over the weekend I was able to meet with my friend again to re-record her story. It was interesting to have two takes of the same story, and I was able to use pieces from both when putting together my tape. I began looking into buying a house in the wayne county auction. I did a lot of research an visited some potential properties. I'm not sure if it will work out, but it would be nice to have my own space to work with. Towards the beginning of the week, I visited some horse stables to record sounds for my friend's story. The woman I met there, Dee, was so helpful and even helped rile up the horses to get me some great variety. I managed to capture a little bit of a conversation I had with a girl I met at the stables who rides her horses out in the woodlands while she isn't at class at EMU. The rest of my week was spent dissecting hours of tape to come up with three ways to tell a story. I transcribed all of my friend's words to pick out what I liked best. And I wrote some narration around it to try out a new technique. Overall a very productive week! For clips see my discovery post.
A student at Bennett shows her picture of "a better neighborhood and a better life."
The house I have my eye on in the upcoming auction.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Making Moves

Next Week: I will revisit my friend for an interview in a more comfortable setting. I will conduct another interview as well. I will visit Detroit and meet with people, and hopefully find a niche. I will try to find resolution in my sound piece and explore the possibility of re-interviewing those people again (if I can track them down). I will edit my tape into three different ways of telling the same story. I will do good on all of these things. Feels nice to write it.

Renewed Challenges

The wonderful thing about working in sound is the chance to renew all of the past challenges I've had, and approach them differently each time. While I know that holds true for many mediums, it's easy to get into a way of making and cling to it. But with sound, you always have that "x" variable. What is the person going to say? How will they react? Will the wind be on my side today? What if she doesn't speak, or what if he won't shut up? What will it take for them to be totally honest? I faced new challenges this week like I do each time I record, but this time it was personal. When my friend's father passed away this summer, I was the first one she told. I packed her things, I picked out the dress she'd wear to his funeral, I drove her to the airport. Though I'd like to think she only loves me more for these things, I can't help but think that she gets a faint tinge of pain remembering that dreadful moment each time she sees me. I didn't ask her to relive that day, but rather to tell a memory of spending time with her father. A funny thing happened though--she told it to me as if she were reading a children's book, showing me each illustrated page with a smile on her face, and a singsong voice. Had I not known my old roommate very well, I wouldn't have known she was putting up a barrier for all the pain she was feeling. Sometimes, the people you think will be so simple to record turn out to be the most difficult. Here is my new challenge, a discovery that has taken me aback before pushing me forward: Make it feel okay, when everything is telling her it's not.


This week I did a lot of learning and brainstorming. I researched various artists, looked through books and journals, and listened to sound. I tried to pinpoint how to approach my three directions for our next assignment, and found it difficult since I've been thinking in such large and final terms. After a meeting with Professor Rowden, and some careful consideration began to sketch out what I thought might be three ways to approach my medium and three ways to present a story. Like I said last post, I needed some raw material. I originally intended on asking a stranger, but after lunch with an old friend whose father just passed away over the summer, I realized she had some important stories to tell. I am not totally satisfied with the initial interview I had with her, so I am going to her house later today to see if she will be a bit more comfortable opening up. I worked on my sound piece from last week, but admittedly it is still quite unresolved. Most importantly, I began to understand what it is that intrigues me about the work I am doing, and explore what will make the process most meaningful for me.

Friday, September 21, 2012

One Step At A Time

I realized that last week, my "next" post quickly became daunting and unmanageable. That was because many of my ideas were vague and assumed instead of based in concrete progress. This week I want to take notes on every book I have checked out (including the ones from our class browsing trip.) I want to make a new draft (or two, or three) of the sound piece I've been working on, and I want to sit down for an interview with someone to talk about something. I say this part vaguely only because I want to have a conversation with someone whose name I may not know, and whose story will be of their choosing. I want to do this really just to practice. I'm not plotting any master plan or intimidating endeavors like I proposed last week. Instead I just want (and need) to practice. I think that's okay, too.

Transferring Discovery

While piecing together this rough cut of a new sound piece, I learned an important lesson: You can't force discovery. While transcribing my interviews last week, I came across two that seemed to mirror each other in a strange way. Both interviewees had squeezed into beds with their siblings in childhood; however one was out of necessity and the other for fun. My natural instinct was to splice them together, to reveal this relationship to the listener (as you'll hear in the rough draft below). What I realized afterwards though was that it loses something when the relationship is spelled out. I've left nothing to the imagination, and no chance for the listener to forge these connections on their own as I did. Discovery is one of my favorite parts of the process, and yet if I can not allow that sensation to my listener, then what have I really accomplished? I have an interesting new task for next week-discovering what makes discovery. I can't wait.

A Hopeful Lag

This month, according to my religion, it is customary to be honest in your wrongdoings. So, in the spirit of the season, I have to admit that my productivity was less than ideal this week. That is not to say I accomplished nothing, but I know I am capable of more. It has been a bit frustrating in these first few weeks, as I am so excited to really begin work on my installation, but logistics unfortunately take longer than I would like to come together. What I did do this week, was spend a good chuck of time at the library. I tend to lose track, but I want to say about two hours went by. I gathered several books and journals on housing initiatives in Detroit, Detroit community statistics, as well as installation art history, and site specific work. My work always feels more legitimate and, in a way, personal, when I am able to ground in within the framework of history or the context of some larger and greater thing. Naturally I spent some time reading those finds as well. I spent several hours (maybe 5?) messing around with the two interviews I had become drawn to last week. I did take the time to begin mapping out some long term goals for myself as well. I also went back to look at my past work, just to see if there was anything I wanted to revisit or anything I didn't realize I was already revisiting. Finally, I booked my first Detroit adventure for next Friday, and I could not be more thrilled with the project I have the honor of being a part of with Professor Tobier, Charlie Michaels, and graduate student Roilando Palaccio. My participation will give me fantastic insight, experience, and hopefully open the door to finding the material I need for my installation.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pushing Forward

Goals for this week are to plan out deadlines for myself for the rest of the year (or at least the next few months?) and solidify where in Detroit I will be spending my time. If I can determine where I will be putting my installation as well that would be ideal, but that might not be for a few more weeks, until I get "settled" into a neighborhood. I want to complete the sound piece inspired by revisiting my bedroom material, which splices together two very similar similar accounts from vastly different backgrounds, and perhaps conduct another in depth interview or two for use as practice/experimentation. I'd like to visit the library and check out a couple of books on Detroit communities and history as well. Finally, I'd like to start planning for another longer piece made up of multiple interviews, by determining a topic, writing up a list of specific and evocative questions, and setting up times to hold interviews.

Drawing In Sound

I did a few things I normally don't do. First, I transcribed interviews, which for me is typically counter-intuitive, but I found it really meaningful and helpful. I found that I was noticing lines that were really poignant that I had skimmed over the first time around. By seeing the writing in text I began to notice parallels and interesting contrasts between some of the interviews I had conducted. Next, I drew illustrations based on what I had transcribed. I have always enjoyed drawing, but never thought about pursuing it for an IP project. In the end, I discovered that I wasn't nearly as passionate about drawing as I am about sound, but I am still satisfied that I gave it a try, and now I don't have to wonder "what if". Overall, I think I gained some valuable tools for approaching my IP. It is easy to capture a really beautiful story, and present it as is. However, to revisit, rediscover, and truly craft the story into something unique and memorable can take a piece from beautiful to captivating.

First Steps

This week I started to lay the ground work for a sound installation in Detroit. I am, by nature, a planner, and so I already know all of the pieces I will need to put it all together. I had a meeting with Nick Tobier, who does a lot of work and a lot of good in Detroit. Together, we brainstormed my approach to making this project a reality, and what it would take to document a community with the utmost respect and legitimacy. Following that I researched arts initiatives in Detroit and determined what I could possibly trade to community members in exchange for their stories and memories. I spent a few hours this week emailing people that are involved in different art projects in Detroit, as well as professors and colleagues that may be able to help in my search for a venue. Lastly, I transcribed around 20 interviews from my sound piece about childhood bedrooms, paying attention to the words and imagery over the sound quality. I created 3 pen drawings with text to illustrate the lines that stood out to me the most.