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.