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ape meeting

monday evening the final ape (aesthetic purposes exploration) meeting in 2009 was held. it was fun!

in the evite, david and i had put forth the following potential discussion topics:

- the (genuinely) new versus the (merely) novel

- awesomeness (particularly as it relates to the contemporary in art)

"the contemporary" (specifically, creating art in a time period which could have existed in no other time period, which is intended only to be appreciated to be appreciated by those alive at the time of its completion, will in all likelihood lose relevance with age and eventually be consigned to the grand dustbin of historical artifacts)

i always really enjoy the unpredictable nature of ape meeting discussions. i used to take copious notes with the goal of transcribing them. these days i listen and try to figure out, by the end, if there's some sort of conclusion the discussion has led us to, so that we can have a distinct answer to the question "what is the function of art?"

today, can't find what i wrote, but it was something like "the function of art is to create awesome artifacts which engender such passionate feelings about them that one is moved to attempt to share their awesomeness with others and find other like-minded individuals, ultimately binding us together."

the next day extremely valuable first time ape meeting attendee justin emailed the rest of us. here's what he sent.

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 at 11:18 PM
Subject: APE

So, I was all hopped up after leaving you all last night and had all this decontextualized dialogue rattling around in my head resulting in the below prose piece. Sorry I'm not great with titles these days.

I had a blast. Thanks!

For Katharine, Erik, Daniel, Toby, David and Nicole

Which is your favorite planet? Did you ever wish it had a different name? I wish erosion were the verb form of Eros or one of its particles, instead of its sometimes, sad consequence. Ah, the folly of expectations, of reliable metrics by which to justify the simplest things. Breathing, for example. That’s an important one. The urge to glue things together; things which hatch. How many choices are there? You’ve never met my family, have you? It’s about evolution and they keep changing the formula for the glue. They’ve changed it four times since I started. What do you use to clean seltzer from the carpet? Bread. A rye or whole wheat, something hearty, with seeds. Really? Yes. Kandinsky was Pollack’s awesome. I heard that too, somewhere. Does that hold true for everything? No. Cool is more minimalist. Cool is a subset of awesome. Like rectangles and squares. All squares are rectangles it’s like that, you know? Everything that’s awesome is cool but not everything that’s cool is also awesome.

ruthie was a good sport (and we broke the rules)

spent most of the past few days programming:

had (arbitrarily) decided to use only found imagery in found landscape, seemed to give it some kind of cohesion, helped limit my methodological choices (film new painting done on top of a picture of the painting? etc.). but then got to a point where i thought "hey, i'd really like to add something" and wanted to make it instead of finding it, so make it we did.

will see what it looks like tomorrow, getting more and more nervous that it won't look so good projected onto the painting, might make more sense as a virtual piece, viewed through your screen. however, did make it so that the background painting can disappear in the projection.

and, thinking more options would be a good idea, also made it so that i can adjust the transparency of the background painting (from totally invisible to totally opaque, here's maybe 25% opaque).

tomorrow i'll find out what it looks like. regardless, i had fun this past week! and thank you ruthie for helping me out!

found landscape (work in progress)

next week showing a couple of pieces and giving a short talk at a small private salon. (i'd like to invite more people but space will be tight and a few other artists are presenting work as well.) anyway, a few days ago i stopped by to figure out where to set up. i figured i'd probably show spring planting since it's interactive and that seemed like a fun thing to have going during an evening of cocktails and so on. however, usually whenever i show work, i want to make new work. i mean, i almost always want to make new work, but logistics (where, when, and how to show, where to store before and after, what materials to use, how large to make something, how much money and time to spend, etc.) can make me hesitate. but what might appear to be logistical obstacles can also end up providing opportunities to do things i wouldn't have thought of otherwise. and that's what i really want to be doing, working on things i couldn't have thought of or wouldn't have imagined unless i had started working on them. this is what happened earlier this week. isabel and i were talking about where to hang spring planting and we decided the best spot would probably be a place where there's already a picture hanging. while we were talking about materials and dimensions for this presentation of spring planting, i kept looking at that painting. i started thinking that maybe i wanted to make something new, which would involve projecting onto that painting. after mentioning that to isabel and then hanging out for a few more minutes, i decided yes, that's what i wanted to do - rather than show spring planting i'd make a new piece, a collaboration with an unknown artist (whoever painted that painting and gave it to isabel). so i took a picture of it and started thinking about what i wanted to do.

the first step was to isolate the painting from the rest of the room.

decided that since it was a landscape painting i had stumbled upon, it would remain a landscape painting, and i'd call my piece found landscape. at first i thought i would do some paintings (or parts of paintings, and collage, somehow making animation maybe) and project them onto that painting, but then i decided that since i had found that painting, i wanted to find all of the elements i was projecting onto it as well. what did i want to project onto it? although it's a recent painting, it shows only nature. i thought i'd try to make the water appear to move. and i decided i'd like to introduce some human artifacts and technology into it, along with some color tension. began searching on the internet, where i found these balloons:

decided to use the bottom-left one above, needed to get rid of any backgrounds in order to isolate just the element i wanted to include in the piece, here (below) you see the sky around the balloon being erased:

after i had a few balloons and watercraft, wanted to see how they fit in the landscape - figured i'd get some motion not from the trees and the wind but from the artificial artifacts making their way through the scene:

one thing i won't know until i show the piece is whether or not to project the painting onto the painting, or a black background. the images might look very transparent and ghostly either way. i'll be borrowing a projector and anyway there's no way to know until i set it up. but i'll make it so that i can toggle between both versions and decide which i like better just before showing it.

the only remaining decisions are what to keep adding (decided no buildings, just things passing through) and how many new elements to introduce. i'm very happy with the walking skeleton:

and once it became as surreal (maybe goofy) as that, decided to make some burning giraffes which can walk through. i've been reading a biography about dali, and today started thinking about breughel (was probably the skeleton that brought him to mind).

it has been really fun working on this. i like the short timeframe, and i'm not feeling much pressure, it's not something i've been building towards for a long time, it's just something i wanted to do which is happening very quickly. knowing i'll be able to set it aside after tuesday evening makes me want to work hard on it until then (but not too hard). one surprising "crafty" note is that i had a much harder time with the walking giraffe than with the flames on it. i thought it would be the other way around. i'm happy with the flames (although i might want to add smoke) but am thinking of redoing the giraffe (am just using an animated gif i found at present, but maybe i'll be happier if i animate it myself). anyway i have until tuesday to show it one way or another. want to see what it looks like!