Sunday, March 20, 2011

making art/viewing art

I can't believe how little homework I have this week: making a Lightroom web gallery of the photos that I shot for my Lighting assignment (due Tuesday--I have the photos picked out, and I've made enough web galleries at this point that I could make one in my sleep), choosing two or three things for a panel assessment (also Tuesday--done), choosing photos for the first year students' show at City Hall (I'll run it by Karen, but I'm leaning towards one or other of my junkyard photos) and doing research for a presentation, collecting cardboard, and making a mock-up, all of which is for Design (due Friday). I started the research on Friday night--I might profile Chris Burden, who seems like a really wacky guy: in addition to sculptural work, he's also done some really crazy (and I do mean crazy--some of it's downright dangerous) performance art.

Mom and I rolled into Freddytown about an hour before my Photoshop class on Monday afternoon, and after dropping my stuff off in the res, we drove downtown and I dropped off a roll of film at Harvey Studios before going to class.

After class, since the weather was so darned Springlike, I decided to get a blood orange Italian soda at Read's (a newsstand/café that's popular with the students) before heading home.

Tuesday. Now that was an interesting day. Rod gave us a fill-flash assignment using one of the studio flashes with a soft box attached. Since that day was so sunny, I decided to do it over lunch. As usual, Rod let us out at eleven (class is supposed to go until twelve), so since I'd left my camera in my room at the residence, I went and got it.

I did the shoot in front of the school with Erin (one of my classmates). That is, until Adam showed up. As usual, he asked what we were doing--and asked me to take some photos of him. I agreed. We chatted as I shot the photos, bouncing back and forth between shooting and adjusting the flash (moving it around, adjusting how much light it put out). He's still interested in having me do his artist portrait (according to him, the one on his bio page on the college website is about six years old--when I look at it, I don't recognize him, which isn't a good thing). Yesterday I finally sat down and went through the photos and emailed the best to him. Hopefully we'll be able to meet at some point and come up with some ideas for the artist portrait--and then eventually shoot the darn thing. ;-)

Peter met with us on Wednesday to talk about our independent projects and see how we were doing. Originally one of the first things I was going to do was in-camera cyanotypes using one of the school's 4x5 view cameras, but Peter put a stop to that due to how long each exposure would take (somewhere in the ballpark of oh, I dunno, eight hours). Instead he suggested that I make cyanotypes from digital or film negatives (the digital photos would be made into black and white images and then inverted and printed using a regular black and white printer (not the photo printer) before being photocopied onto acetate paper).

The next day I finally dug in and chose images to work with (with help from Karen--thank you!), inverted them, printed them out, and photocopied them. I then booked the UV light table in the Surface Design studio for that afternoon and made the cyanotypes. I'm going to make more this coming Thursday afternoon, and I'll probably have to make more cyanotype paper: when I started out, I had a good number, but with the experiments that I did this week and what I'll be doing in the coming weeks, I'll definitely need to make more soon (though I have probably have enough for next Thursday).

That evening I went to the first of two show openings. This one was at the college gallery. The show features work by three of the Class of '11 students: Monica Lacey, Brody LeBlanc and Rachael Flett. Peter spoke at the opening, and while all three artists gave little speeches that kind of reminded me of an awards ceremony, Peter's was a hilarious description of what the students learn at the college--using learning how to ride a bike as an analogy. But in Peter's description, the students not only learn how to ride, they learn the history and the mechanics (and more) of the bike. I'm laughing as I write this, by the way--it was that funny. He also talked about the fact that the students eventually get to a point where they've learned all they can learn at the college--and Peter's job is done.

Once I'd had my fill of the show, I went back to the studio, fished the last couple of cyanotypes that I'd made out of the big sink that we use to wash photos--and found out that a lot of the blue had washed off. When Peter came back up to the studio a few minutes later, I showed the photos to him. Turns out, you really have to pay close attention when fixing cyanotypes: five minutes in the water should do it. We also talked about how long to expose the photos: more contrast is better, which means that from now on I'm going to expose the photos for twenty minutes, rather than fifteen. However, I've saved all the photos, jotted down notes on the back of each one, and put them all in a binder that I bought specially for my project.

The next day Gallery 78 opened their show, Our Game, AHL: Art, Hockey, Life. Since WhiteFeather was one of the artists involved (it was a group show), it was a no-brainer for me: I would be there.

While all the work was really cool, my favourites were WhiteFeather's installation (Hockey Fight in Canada) and Ann Manuel's print series (Concussed). In one of Ann's pieces you can see the county line between my home county (Charlotte County) and Kings County (where Saint John is).

The Gallery 78 opening is a good example of why I both love and hate openings: yes, more people means more stuff will be sold, which means money for the gallery and the artist(s) involved. But put a lot of people in a fairly small space (though the first floor of Gallery 78 is just over two times bigger than NBCCD's gallery), and I start to feel uncomfortable: I want to be able to move freely and not have to manoeuvre myself around and between people just because I want to look at Hockey Fight in Canada for the fifth time, or check out the work that's on the wall across from the gallery's CD player (that part of the gallery is reasonably narrow at the best of times--on Friday evening it was nearly impossible to look at the work that was hung there).

However, I had a really good conversation with WhiteFeather about art and music, and I even met the guy who composed the music for Fantasmagorie (Chris Giles--the photo's from the blog post that I commented on in my last post). And it turns out that mine was the loudest voice when it came to critiquing the music in Fantasmagorie--or whether the music should be there at all. When I critiqued it, I took advantage of my knowledge of music and went into as much nitty-gritty as I could. Here's a screen-shot of my comment if you'd like to read it:

NBCCD's openings tend to not be as big--plenty of people come, but there's room to move around and I'm a lot more relaxed and I can actually enjoy the experience.

Last night was the so-called "supermoon", and fortunately there wasn't a cloud to be seen. Before I went to bed I took a walk up and down my street and admired the brightest and biggest moon I've ever seen (it was so bright that if I looked at it for longer than a few seconds I saw spots, and I could barely see the dark patches). Since Gallery 78 isn't far from where I live, I decided to see what Hockey Fight in Canada looked like at night (when the gallery closes for the night, they turn the panels around so that people can see them right-side-around from outside). To me the images looked harsher, which isn't surprising since they were lit with artificial light. And as I'm thinking about the work now, I think I prefer the night version: the images almost need that harshness, because the subject that WhiteFeather is presenting is harsh. In the daytime, due to the light from the windows the images seem gentler--and the fights that male hockey players get into are definitely not gentle (players have died as a result of fights that they were involved in). I say "male" because although female hockey players can be brutal, they don't seem to get into as many fights as the men.

Spring doesn't officially arrive until 8:21 ADT/7:21 EDT tonight, but I still want to wish everyone a

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