The Show

January 14, 2009

The "staircase" display when you first walk in the door.

The "staircase" display when you first walk in the door.

 I finally managed to find some time to drop by the Arsenal and take some photos of the completed piece so here they are!  I also received this link to a flickr page that RISD is maintaining for the show.  It has images of all the work in the show (in case you can’t come see it in person) and will supposedly be updated with photos from the opening at some point.  Of course these photos are not even vaguely equivalent to seeing the work in person, but it’s a good start.  And lastly, I’ve started my own YouTube Channel.  Originally I opened it just to post the one video in the previous post, but now that it’s there I might as well put other things on it!  There’s only one additional video right now, but I hope to post a couple more of both this piece and the Paper Jungle.

And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for… Installation Photos!

The final layout of stacks and piles
The final layout of stacks and piles
Broken Tiles Pile
Broken Tiles Pile
Single Broken Sheet
Single Broken Sheet
You can even see all the dirt on the fabric/tiles from people going up and down the stairs
You can even see all the dirt on the fabric/tiles from people going up and down the stairs
Post-Processualism = Archaeological Theory related to Post-Modernism
Post-Processualism = Archaeological Theory related to Post-Modernism
View from the 2nd Floor, looking down
View from the 2nd Floor, looking down
A couple of the framed pieces, scattered throughout the gallery
A couple of the framed pieces, scattered throughout the gallery
One of my favorites
One of my favorites
Some of the frames in context
Some of the frames in context
They are purposefully scattered in forgotten places
They are purposefully scattered in forgotten places
Oftentimes the forgotten spaces are unlit, making photographing the pieces quite difficult
Oftentimes the forgotten spaces are unlit, making photographing the pieces quite difficult

Installation

January 11, 2009

The show opened yesterday.  Sadly I forgot to take my camera with me in the rush to get out the door so I have no photos to share yet. I can, however, share a couple from the installation process.  I went to the gallery on Thursday, after the majority of the show was already up, and began installing the “pile”, then went back on Friday afternoon to install all of the frames throughout the gallery and touch up the pile.  I don’t have any photos yet of the completed piece, or of the framed elements hanging throughout the gallery, so those will have to come later.
When I walked in with my boxes of tiles, here's what the show looked like.

When I walked in with my boxes of tiles, here's what the show looked like.

And here's what my piece looked like after the first day of installing

And here's what my piece looked like after the first day of installing

Initially, I was just stacking them randomly because I had no idea what I wanted to do, or what form they should take.

Initially, I was just stacking them randomly because I had no idea what I wanted to do, or what form they should take.

A few unexpectedl did this wonderful layering with the broken edges where you could see some sort of form emerging

A few unexpectedly did this wonderful layering with the broken edges where you could see some sort of form emerging

To me, it hinted at some sort of decay or ruin to the perfectly arranged stacks, so intentionally rearranged them to empahsize this

To me, it hinted at some sort of decay or ruin to the perfectly arranged stacks, so I intentionally rearranged them to emphasize this

I had one box of blank tiles left, so I printed those later in the evening and brought the final pieces in the next day to complete the "pile"

I had one box of blank tiles left, so I printed those later in the evening and brought the final pieces in the next day to complete the "pile"--I will post those photos as soon as I take some!

One of the coolest things about installing was the breakage factor.  Especially with the larger central tower, as I added more to the stack, tiles below would break as they succumbed to the weight of the tiles above them.  They made this amazing popping noise and would shake the whole stack whenever one broke.  I thought it was so cool, and something no one else would get to see once the stacks settled, so I caught a bit of it on video just so I had some sort of documentation of this phenomena.

Printing

January 7, 2009

Okidokie–the final stage of the project (other than installation of course) is the print transfer process.  Little did I know how unpleasant this would be…  Transferring a couple test prints was totally reasonable, why I thought this would be a good idea for nearly 300 tiles, I don’t know…

I’m making use of a photocopy transfer process that is fairly common in the graphic arts.  You take a nice fresh black and white photocopy, flip it upside down onto whatever surface you want to transfer the content onto and rub the back of it with some sort of solvent that breaks down the binder in the ink, allowing the toner to move onto the new surface.  You can do this with blending markers from your local art store, wintergreen oil (significantly harder to find) or acetone from any hardware store.  I’m sure there are other substances that will do this for you, but these are the ones I know will work.  Pretty simple, pretty straightforward–a little experimenting will quickly show you how easy it is.

For this project, I’m using acetone because I need a lot of it and blending markers are insanely expensive (and uber toxic) as is wintergreen oil.  It was also recommended by another artist who is much more experienced in this process than myself as a cheap and easy tool to get the job done, and I like cheap and easy.  Especially when I have to do it 300 times.

Photo essay style.  I apologize for the bad lighting, these were taken at some ungodly hour of night and I was probably shaky with sleep-deprivation:

padding, tile, documents (printed backwards on a photocopier), acetone, cotton rag (old socks), nitrile gloves, tacky cloth

The setup: padding, tile, documents, acetone, cotton rag (old socks), nitrile gloves, tacky cloth

First I clean the tile with this tacky cloth, which is exacty what it sounds like.  Sticky fabric that's perfect for finishing as it picks up all the little particles you've just sanded and can't seem to clean up any other way

First I clean the tile with this tacky cloth, which is exactly what it sounds like. Sticky fabric that's perfect for finishing as it picks up all the little particles you've just sanded and can't seem to clean up any other way

Place the document face-down on the tile and attack with acetone

Place the document face-down on the tile and attack with acetone

I've found the best way to do this is pour some acetone out in a disposable container, dunk the rag (old sock) in the acetone so it's basically dripping wet and then rub the back of the paper with it--the paper MUST be soaked with acetone for an effective transfer to happen

I've found the best way to do this is pour some acetone out in a disposable container, dunk the rag (old sock) in the acetone so it's basically dripping wet and then rub the back of the paper with it--the paper MUST be soaked with acetone for an effective transfer to happen

And hopefully, if all goes well, you magically have a print on your tile

And hopefully, if all goes well, you magically have a print on your tile

All seems easy enough, but wow has it been a nightmare.  First there’s the simple fact that acetone is nasty with a capital “N”.  I’ve got my scary respirator, a bottomless box of nitrile gloves, windows open and a fan behind me blowing toward the window, but it’s not really enough to counter the fumes.  Not to mention the fact that whoever designed these containers did not have pouring in mind.  Thanks Acetone Can designer, I now have acetone spills in my living room.  And because it evaporates so fast, I need a lot of it…

I'm hoping I'll be able to take one or two of these back, but who knows, I might need more by the morning!

I'm hoping I'll be able to take one or two of these back, but who knows, I might need more by the morning!

(Non-sequiter, but I just realized I designed a booth at work today with this exact same blue and orange color scheme…)

So the acetone in the house is horrific–the sooner I can be done with it the better.  The second unpleasantly disastrous issue is the fact that I’m trying to print on porcelain…  Transfers onto paper are really easy–the surface is super consistent so you don’t have to worry about any texture or defects disrupting how the print transfers.  This is not a liquid printing process so the toner can’t fill any divots or dips in the surface like a liquid ink would.  This means a perfectly smooth surface is essential to getting a legible print in the end and I’m finding I just don’t have any good surfaces.  Some of the tiles that I managed to sand really early on are working well, but those all have holes in them from back when I thought I was going to be hanging everything, so those are no longer perfect samples.  I also break nearly half (if not actually) of the tiles due to the pressure of applying the acetone.  In the rare instance when I actually get a good print, the tile is broken before I can mount it to a frame…  It’s all very frustrating.  I knew tiles would break, and in fact, they’ll break when I install them if they’re not broken ahead of time, but I was really hoping to get at least a few “perfect” specimens for the frames and I just don’t see that happening.  I’m OK with mounting one of the broken ones as long as the print is legible, but I’m still holding out, hoping the perfect set of tiles will come along.  As of 10pm, I have about 100 tiles printed and I still haven’t come across one perfect tile, much less 15.  Sad.

There’s also the whole issue that the adhesive for gluing the tile to the frame has to cure for 24 hours and I seriously have to install this thing tomorrow.  If I was doing it right and giving the adhesive its proper cure time, I should have mounted them all this morning… Obviously hasn’t happened and I’m not sure when it will!  But I really do not want to wait until Friday to install.  Something unexpected always comes up during install and I just know if I wait until Friday, something will go wrong and I won’t have any time to come up with  a solution.  On the other hand, if tiles are falling off the walls during the show, that would probably be worse than any installation disaster I can think of…

I just don’t know.  I’m pretty skeptical of this whole project at this point, and whether or not it’s actually going to come together.  I think if I had a fortune cookie right now, it would tell me that disappointment is looming on my horizon…

Final Count

January 6, 2009

OK, so I lied about concentrating this post on the printing process–too much to do!  I can’t seem to make enough time tonight for an actually informative entry, so instead I’m posting some photos and then getting back to work immediately!  I unloaded my final kiln this evening, so I have an approximate final count…  can you guess how many from the photos?

I haven't officially counted, but based on the foam sheets I've been using to pad them, which come in boxes of 100...

I haven't officially counted, but based on the foam sheets I've been using to pad them, which come in boxes of 100...

Drum roll please...

Drum roll please...

265!!!
Not too shabby I guess.  Of course, most, if not all, will break during their installation into the space so there won’t be much left to look at after the fact… It’s nice to see it all together now–I’ll try to get some photos during daylight since they will never exist like this again after this week.
And since I promised this a couple days ago and never actually posted it, some images of that old test tile of the cover page.  The previous image was before it had been fired, so the toner was still very black…
All of the black in the toner burns out and what's left is the rust red iron...

All of the black in the toner burns out and what's left is the rust red iron...

The same test piece, mounted to a sheet of glass... I broke the tile through my own careless mishandling...

The same test piece, mounted to a sheet of glass... I broke the tile through my own careless mishandling...

And one last closing shot for the night–various parts of the project taking over the entire apartment..
The other half of the room is equally bad, if not worse...

The other half of the room is equally bad, if not worse...

For realz, tomorrow will be about printing.  Stay tuned.

Frames, Part 2

January 4, 2009

As promised, here’s more framing documentation.  There was a series of really fantastic oil paintings of scary clowns that looked like someone took them very seriously when they painted them, but they didn’t have glass in them so sadly I left them at the thrift store… next time, I’m coming back for you scary clowns.

From Blacksburg, VA titled "Dover Castle" and dated '89

From Blacksburg, VA titled "Dover Castle" and dated '89

From a "Cheap Chic" store in Allston, MA

From a "Cheap Chic" store in Allston, MA

From Kohl's, still with its expensive price-tag ($40!)

From Kohl's, still with its expensive price-tag ($40!)

Boy with bucket of puppies

Boy with bucket of puppies--there's something kind of sinister about this one...

Unopened Cherry Cola

Unopened Cherry Cola

Not sure what this is... photo of a metal elephant/god statue?

Not sure what this is... photo of a metal elephant/god statue?

Whale tale--I opened this one up to find it's actually an image from a calendar!  Someone loved their calendar enough to frame it...!

Whale tale--I opened this one up to find it's actually an image from a calendar! Someone loved their calendar enough to frame it...!

A hand-painted beauty from Blacksburg, VA.  Frame is falling apart in a really bad way but I'm sure I can still use some part of it

A hand-painted beauty from Blacksburg, VA. Frame is falling apart in a really bad way but I'm sure I can still use some part of it

A Winslow Homer print from the Met--looks pretty ancient...  also found in Blacksburg

A Winslow Homer print from the Met--looks pretty ancient... also found in Blacksburg

I think that’s all for now.  I loaded and fired my last kiln today–scary!  But good too.  It’ll be nice to stay out of studio for a while in order to concentrate on printing everything.  Hand rolling the tiles might not take a lot longer than using the slab roller, but it is exhausting!  I’ve been pretty incapable of getting much else done so hopefully from now on, finishing the rest will be much easier.  Of course, I’m technically supposed to start installing tomorrow… but that’s not happening so no use worrying about it!  I meet Dina and Dan at the space on Tuesday night to finalize the layout of everything so I will begin installing after that meeting.  If I just spend a couple hours installing each night after work, I should be fine with having it all ready by Thurs/Friday–worse comes to worse, I’ll take a day off work to wrap everything up.

Also, if anyone is especially inspired by these prints and paintings, let me know!  For now they are in my living room, but soon they will have to go somewhere… most likely the trash…

Tomorrow’s entry will be focused on the printing process.

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