Gathering my thoughts over the last few weeks, Part 4 – Artist Books

The second upcoming event for me is the Tokyo Art Book Fair 2017 with five other members of Art Byte Critique.  Over the course of the last few months, I have been thinking about what kind of projects to pursue.  As a sort of bookend to the Memory Walks drawings on eggshells, I wanted to make a series of photobooks with the scanned images of my Memory Walk drawings from 2016.  The initial plan was to make a series of photobooks for each month in 2016 and release them monthly starting with October 2016 at the Tokyo Art Book Fair.  The first artist book that I made using the Memory Walks drawings also consisted of scanned images of the eggshells along with a list of departure points and times on the facing page.  For this second artist book I want to just use the image of the eggshells and create a more sculptural form.  Think…

I am also interested in doing the 2nd edition of my Dialogue Zine series.  If you remember the Dialogue #1 from 2016.

Dialogue #1 was A5 size.  For #2, I want to make the size of the zine smaller.  A6 or A7.  I originally thought that I would do another version of Dialogue where I start with two disparate motifs, colors, etc. and merge them as the pages progress along.  The other thought that recently popped up was to revisit my Daily Drawings that I did in early 2016 where I spent between one and three weeks making a drawing.  Here are some images of one drawing in progress.

People seemed to be interested in the in-progress images during “My Everyday Life” exhibition at hasu no hana.  I have the images all scanned in as TIFF’s and it might give me a chance to revisit these in progress drawings in the context of my recent work with the “Daily Drawings Network”.  I might get more insight into my process of markmaking and composition.  I am going to try and make mockups later tonight so I can see what will work moving forward.

Gathering my thoughts over the last few weeks, Part 3 – Printmaking

With the “Daily Drawings Network” almost completed, I started to turn my attention towards two more upcoming events/exhibitions.  Once again, I am participating in the Future Perspectives printmaking exhibition this fall.  The keyword for this year is “noise” which offers a lot of potential for me.  Last year, I intended to try screenprinting or mokuhange for my prints, but time constraints and working more closely with the theme “bricolage” led me to use actual Memory Walk drawing eggshells for a series of unique state prints.

This time around, I really want to use printmaking to make my work.  I have only had brief intervals to return to printmaking and I think that it would be really good for my practice to re-establish a printmaking aspect.  The work for “noise” will consist of one edition of 45 and another edition of 3 – 10 on B4 size paper that are both due at the end of September.  I still have time and have been thinking about what I want to do for the two editions.  I want to use my repetitive markmaking process to create a plate and/or screen and will listen to something on repeat during the creation of the plate and/or screen.  What I would listen to has been something that I have gone back and forth about.  Since I am only working on two editions, I cannot really delve into the archival aspect of comparing and contrasting markmaking forms between different sounds.  In the end, I think I would like to listen to white noise or number stations for the edition of 45 and then listen a familiar pop song on repeat for the edition of 3 – 10.

Which technique am I learning towards?  For the chance to make the prints in the studio, I am starting out with drypoint on sheets of acrylic which I bought more than a year ago at Tokyu Hands.  I rummaged through my stash of carving tools and found a pair of etching needles and started working on a sheet of acrylic.  This is what it looked like in progress.

I managed to finish the plate which is about 12 x 16 cm late one night.  Afterwards, I set about on a search for inks and tarlatan on the internet.  It would require a trip to the Sekaido in Shinjuku to see what was available there.  I figure if I could not find the tarlatan there, I would head to Yuzawaya and find some cheesecloth.  As luck or logic would have it, I found inks, tarlatan, and more etching needles, all at Sekaido.  Always happy for one stop shopping.

While I was there, I started browsing through the silkscreen supplies.  With that, I was opening up a whole new can of worms and what I really wanted to find on the silkscreen side was some rubylith which seems like the perfect way to combine my drawing techniques with my love of making fine cuts with a design knife.  No rubylith to be found, but in my search I found several silkscreen starter kits which ranged from 2000 – 5000 yen.  I decided that it could not hurt to pick up the cheapest starter kit to get a sense of the supplies as well as the ability to make silkscreens in my studio.  And remember, when I say studio, I mean my apartment.

During the “Endless Dialogue” group exhibition at hasu no hana, I got a chance to talk with Michiko Fujita about silkscreen and she told me that she does all her printing at home.  I told her about my interest in returning to silkscreen and she says that I could contact her with questions.  My plan is to re-assess my level in silkscreen and see what I can manage in terms of forms for the screen.  If things don’t look promising then I will contact her.  In the meantime, I will try and ink up my test plate in the next couple days and see how it prints.

Gathering my thoughts over the last few weeks, Part 2 – Podcasts

For various reasons, I have found that my attention span tends to be quite scattered over the last year or so.  I used to be able to binge watch TV shows and movies with no problem only moving from my sofa or bed for essential bodily functions and needs.  With a constant list of things that need to be done in the short and long term, the urge to multi-task is incorrigible.  I find myself using already seen TV shows as background music to have some noise and activity without having to fully commit myself to them.  And then I discovered podcasts!

Okay, so I had know about podcasts before and had subscribed to a handful of them over the years such as This American Life, Radiolab, NPR Music and Modern Art Notes.  I, again, felt like I was treading on familiar territory.

In concert with studio work this year, I started to branch out in my podcast universe with the bulk of the podcasts being radio dramas, science fiction, horror.  My gateway podcast was Homecoming which features Catherine Keener, David Cross, Amy Sedaris, and David Schwimmer.  From there, I became a podcast junkie.

The following is a list of podcasts that have helped me get through studio work during the first half of 2017.

Archive 81
Alice Isn’t Dead
The Black Tapes
Welcome to Night Vale

With long stretches of studio time this summer at Nakanojo, I burned through all the episodes from the list.  The exceptions would the Welcome to Night Vale whose episode list numbers over 100, so I have plenty more time with Cecil.  Lore is another podcast which I have picked and chosen from mostly because there is something particular somnambulent about the voice of host Aaron Mahnke.

As a result, I stepped even further out into the podcast universe and also listened to/have been listening to the following podcasts

Missing Richard Simmons
S-Town (which I could not finish)
*The NoSleep Podcast
*Ear Hustle
Mogul:  The Life and Death of Chris Lighty
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History
Tides of History
*Song Exploder
*LeVar Burton Reads
36 Questions
Steal the Stars
The Behemoth

The ones with a ‘*’ are the ones I am currently listening to with the most regularity.  Whether because of the summer weather or for other psychological reasons, I have been swimming deep in horror movies and podcasts and the nine seasons of The NoSleep Podcast continues to satiated that desire.

The three other podcasts have touched different chords in me regarding my studio practice.  Ear Hustle speaks to my involvement with the Prison Project at the Intersection for the Arts in 2008 organized by Kevin B. Chen.  I was invited by Sonia McKenna to work collaborately on a project that responded to the situation in the California Correctional system.  It was the first project of mine which had an aspect of social commentary and had an important impact on me.  I think participating in the Prison Project opened my eyes to the possibilities of social commentary in my work and on occasion I do try to work on projects that go beyond the walls of my studio work project.  And since then, I have had an ongoing interest in correctional systems and the impact on inmates and society at large.  When I saw this podcast posted, I read the teaser and discovered that Nigel Poor, an artist in the Bay Area, whose work I followed and regularly sought out at Haines Gallery was part of this project.  I started listening to it and it is fantastic and makes me think about related projects that I have discussed with a friend who worked with parolees as well as putting the Eastern State Penitentiary annual call for artists on my must do list for next June.

LeVar Burton Reads is a relatively new podcast in which LeVar Burton takes his love of reading and shares his favorite short stories with an adult audience.   The list of authors that he has read so far is Daisy Johnson, Richard Parks, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, and Laura Chow Reeve.  “What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky” by Lesley Nneka Arimah introduced me to her amazing speculative fiction and seems especially relevant to current times.  The most recent podcast with “1000 Year Old Ghosts” by Laura Chow Reeve was particularly inspiring to my interest in memory and opened up a new way of thinking about how memories are stored and remembered.

Finally, Song Exploder which was just recently introduced to me by a friend continues to blow and inspire my mind.  It is a simple concept.  Ask artists/producers to talk about the process of making one track.  I have always been fascinated with writing music and was also part of band for several years in the Bay Area.  During that time, I took to playing around on my keyboard and Garage Band to write songs.  I never got to be good at it with the learning curve seeming to steep for me.  Song Exploder is done really well and it is fascinating to hear the inspiration for a song as well as how the song is assembled from a series of tracks and ideas.  I also love how it helps give meaning and a new point of view about songs that might just be considered earworms.  I have a newfound respect and love for both Peter, Bjorn, and John’s “Young Folks” and KT Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See”.  Everytime I listen to an episode I want to just back into music making. More importantly, it also gives me inspiration about my own studio practice and how the process of making is a cumulative process – each work/idea influencing the next with the history reaching all the way back in my studio practice history.  The most recent one that I listened to was from The Books and he talks about making field recordings and about how they are sound sculptures which trigger memories.  This idea was particular timely as I am currently thinking about developing a project with a Tokyo-based NPO to work with junior high school student using my studio practice and neuroscience research as a basis for thinking about everyday memories in new ways.


Gathering my thoughts over the last few weeks, Part 1

I haven’t posted about my thoughts and process since my last visit to Nakanojo at the end of July.  In the interim, there are have been a flood of thoughts and emotions that have filled my head both studio and non-studio related.  Perhaps it the sheer amount of information that has passed through my head which has made it difficult to sit down and put everything down.  A blistering, humid Saturday afternoon seems like a good time to begin this process.

I spent last weekend getting my studio organized.  Over the last year or so, my work space and storage space have become increasingly cluttered and unmanageable.  I have a number of ideas that I would like to start trying out, but my access to supplies which were stored away behind piles and piles of other things made the process prohibitive and uninspiring.

The first task was to sort through all my Memory Walk drawings and store them properly.  This involved taking all the Memory Walk drawings that I made before 2015 which consisted of a single walk and going through them all and assessing their archival quality.  To clear space and create a clean archive of these drawings, I discarded any eggshells which were damaged due to cracks from either the installation process or damage during storage.  The remaining eggshells which still number over 1000 were stored in lots of 50 and placed in the back of one of the shelves in my closet.  With those put out of sight, I was able to move some more recent work that I completed for the “Everyday Circuits” to the front.  The remaining Memory Walk drawings from 2015 were also organized and placed in the cardboard egg cartons which I bought for possible sales during “New Face!”  These egg cartons are quite sturdy and are ideal for long term storage of the more recent Memory Walk Drawings.  All the cartons were labelled and reorganized into two cardboard boxes and moved around the studio so that I had access to my bookshelf.  Admittedly, I still have to go through the 2016 Memory Walk drawings and organize them by date as well as document the sold drawings as well as the handful that were damaged during the process of installation and de-installation.

The organization of the Memory Walks drawings was by far the most daunting and pressing of tasks.  With that out of the way, I began to reorganize what little shelf space I have in the studio to make books and materials more easily accessible during the making process.  I moved all my pens, pencils, paints, and other drawings supplies to a shelf that was just to my left. I also included several books that I see as potential inspiration on the same shelf.

My Daily Drawings portfolios used to be on that shelf, but I moved them to another bookshelf a bit farther away along with all my notes and archives from exhibition planning.  I also put text that I want to read on that bookshelf.

I also moved a rolling cart of drawers which stores old sketchbooks/journals, my ticket stub archive, and my unused notebook collection next to my desk.  This cart used to next to the sofa and was hard to access since opening the drawers required sliding the sofa around a bit.

I cleared off my studio desk so that it had a minimum of stuff so that I had the as large as possible work space.

Also, I took down all the Daily Drawings that I had put on the wall in preparation for my Daily Drawings Network installation.  In their place, I put up 12 A4 panels that have been prepared with stretched paper.  I figure that these can be used as filler in the studio when I am feeling uninspired or need a break from starting at the computer or whatever else I am going.

There were more little things that I did to make the studio more amenable to doing work rather than just a storage space.