Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Look Into Collaboration

          After hearing suggestions in class and meeting with my sound collaborator, we chose a German handwritten letter from an unknown person to my paternal Grandmother. It is thin tissue paper and is four pages long, dated 1955. So far, the plan for the images is to consider the objectness of the letter and contrast it with the immediacy and immaterial properties of email. I plan to be careful to avoid imagery in the video that could be too literal. I want to pair email and letter writing without simply showing video footage of one medium and then the other. I want to stick with the minimal settings and imagery style I used in my 30 second video. I enjoyed how I was able to successfully convey my message in that video with minimal objects and images. I have not entirely decided if someone should read some of the German as part of the soundtrack. That is something to consider as I progress in this project. A letter could at first be seen as just another piece of paper in the family, but through my video, I want to emphasize how this document will last, while an email will not. I may also address the language barrier in the video as well. I may emphasize the few words that may be recognized by English speakers.
          The sound coordinator and I discussed some sounds that could be associated with paper and technology to include. We agreed to let time make the final decision on what the soundtrack will truly be like. For now, we focused on diagetic-like sounds.  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Adventures In Design

© Adobe
          While completing the final portion of the food desert project, I used Adobe's InDesign for the first time. After a quick tutorial, I was left to my own devices. I had a little trouble understanding how the final PDF would appear, causing me to export it a few times before I was finally satisfied with image placements. Going over the PDF in class showed me what needed to be fixed, changed, and moved around. While I was generally pleased with my "final" product, I am now actually happy with the overall appearance after applying feedback suggestions. Nicolas Bourriaud's The Radicant mentions journey forms. This collaborative book will act as the final leg of the journey into the food desert, chronically each artist's individual experience in the world.
          In my previous blog post, I discussed the aesthetics of Joel Greenberg's book Urban Wilderness. While considering the design for the six pages I had to work with in InDesign for the collaborative class book, I kept in mind the clean layout and formatting that Joel Greenberg used. I chose to not clutter my pages with several images, placing at most two images on a page. I do enjoy a nicely configured grid of photographs, but for the photographs I had for this project I felt their aesthetics benefited from only two images per page. After trying several different types of text, I chose to nearly omit text from the pages, allowing the photographs to speak for themselves. I used the same photograph and text of canned goods that I used in the video I created for this project as my cover image. I felt it was a powerful way to draw attention to the issues in the food desert without using an abundance of text throughout the layout. I feel that when every artist's images are placed in the book, it will read in a way similar to Ed Ruscha's instructional art work Twentysix Gasoline Stations. There won't be step by step instructions, but the photographs may present themselves as a narrative that shows the journey form. Perhaps, if someone picks this book up in the library, they will be compelled to go out and photograph in a food desert.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What Do You Find in a Food Desert?

          Before embarking on this project, I was not familiar whatsoever with the term "food desert." Once I researched the definition, I realized I did know of the concept, just not the correct term. How shocking it was to realize my location bordered right along a food desert. I have realized over the past three years living on the Lawrence campus that we were not near a grocery store, but having friends with cars allowed me to ignore this fact. It was an enlightening and troubling experience to walk along Wisconsin Avenue in search of anything that could be considered affordable and nutritious. I encountered a bakery, a specialty chocolate shop, a KFC, two asian stores, and a pasty shop. I performed a preliminary internet search and discovered a food pantry, which turned out to be a Citgo with a few food items. The video I made focuses on the issues of finding food in the food desert and being overcharged, while the residents are already at a disadvantage when it comes to acquiring food. I was disheartened to discover that the supposed grocery store was really a gas station. I purchased the majority of the food with my $10 stipend at the gas station, but in order to create a complete meal, I purchased the noodles at one of the asian stores. I felt successful in my meal planning, purchasing noodles, sauce, canned beans, and canned peaches. I did  not, however, feel as successful about the fact that my meal did not include any fresh foods. My video shows a few perspectives on the food desert, as well as some of the products I was able to purchase.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Joel Greenberg and Book Aesthetics

          When thinking about the ongoing food desert project, I looked to the book Urban Wilderness: Nature in New York City by Jean Gardner and Joel Greenberg. By reading many books and viewing many art books over the years, I have come to be rather specific about what styles I enjoy. I shifted through several of the photography books in the library in search of something that resonated with me, when I finally picked up Urban Wilderness and felt immediately pleased by the layout. The end papers are a soft, flecked gray, there is introductory text, and there is not a superfluous amount of title pages. What I find most aesthetically pleasing is the way in which the photos are centered on the pages with simple text accompanying them. I prefer this style over other books I have looked at that are cluttered with photographic images and text. The pages of this hardcover book are numbered and the titles are explanatory of the location in which the photograph was taken. Written before each chapter, which are separated by locations within New York City, is a few pages of text by Jean Gardner. I feel that by including introductory text and not shoving that information in with the photo plates keeps the clean aesthetic.
          Considering how each member of the class will be structuring their photographs for the class book is important to me when considering my decisions for my portion. I will most likely mimic several of the design elements used in Urban Wilderness as I feel they relate most closely to what I look for and would use in my own work if I were to make a book of my black and white photographs. I look forward to seeing what each person resonates with aesthetically and how the book will be as a whole with several different voices.             

Saturday, January 14, 2012

More Than a Soundtrack

          Workshopping with filmmaker Cathy Cook in preparation for our upcoming project was inspiring. I do not often work with film in my personal art, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to learn from someone who's art is majorly in film. Cathy Cook used several of her films as examples of how we can incorporate sound into our upcoming video projects. She discussed an early film of hers, June Brides, and how she made many of the sound effects using nothing more than her own mouth. She also used films that she found relevant to our upcoming project that she did not work on or create. 
Cathy Cook
(UMBC Profile)

          I found it very helpful that Cathy Cook outlined how to go about using found sound without impeding on copyrights. She pointed out various websites with non-copyrighted sounds, as well as a few sites that required a minor fee. I was familiar with what a storyboard is and how it is used, but Cathy Cook showed a website dedicated to storyboards that contains several examples on how they look and are used when translated into film. Because this will be a collaborative project, my classmates and I are creating videos, while other students compose soundtracks. Cathy recommended using a scratch track initially. I was very familiar with most of the film terminology she used, but I had never heard of a scratch track. A scratch track is made up of temporary music or sound that mimics the finished product and is replaced in the final version. Cathy's suggestions for working collaboratively and using sound effectively in films will be very useful in the development of this upcoming project.  


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Art Unseen: Bernard Gilardi

Image by Bernard Gilardi

          Deb Brehmer's presentation of the "basement artist" Bernard Gilardi focused on an almost entirely self-taught artist who never exhibited his body of work. The show I viewed contained on Bernard Gilardi's religious paintings, while the lecture Brehmer gave covered the range of subjects of Gilardi's 400 works of art. Brehmer's analysis of the painter was highly analytical and, from her viewpoint of curator, helped me better understand what to look for when analyzing any type of artwork. Deb Brehmer questioned every aspect of Gilardi's work from his studio to the finite details within his paintings. All of these details allowed her to piece together the way the artist's mind functioned and conversations with his family gave her the knowledge of why Gilardi never showed his work outside of his basement. Bernard Gilardi truly led an isolated life as an artist, which is both fascinating and slightly sad, because he never came forth into the art world. 
          Bernard Gilardi's paintings represent a fantasy world. I, too, must discover a fantasy world within the digital processes class experience. While behind the lens of a digital camera, each student is challenged to work beyond the documenting of real life images and, instead, potentially find a fantasy world. While the images I will capture are "real" images, perhaps Gilardi's paintings are reflective of his reality or world view. Deb Brehmer mentioned Gilardi's satirical depiction of the blond Christ several times in her presentation, which she related to his views on the civil rights movement. She illustrated how Gilardi utilized his positive feelings of racial equality in his paintings, truly bringing his ideals to life.