Monday, January 28, 2008

Sitting on the Dock

Joe and I go to the marina, sit on the dock, and watch the sunset often. Last week, as the ultimate colors faded from the evening sky this fellow flew down and stood on the piling next to us. He looked right at us and stayed for several minutes, long enough for me to fumble with the camera, try several shots with different f stops and shutter speeds, give up and set the camera for flash. I aimed and shot the flash several times, but he remained standing on the post, refusing to give up his perch. It was as though he were posing for the camera. Only after I stopped shooting and put the camera down did he fly away.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Then, Now and Tomorrow

It’s Finally Done!

I’ve never struggled with one of these photomontages for so long. However, Seventy Photoshop layers later I think I’ve accomplished my objectives. They are the following.

1. To appeal to a gay male audience through the use of the erotic male body.
2. To create the appearance that the viewer is looking through layers of time past, present and future, and through slight discrepancies in the divisions of space to indicate the possibility of chance and accident.
3. To reference American Precisionist painting, “a la” Charles Demuth through the superimposed transparent divisions in the picture plane.
4. To include references to gay and lesbian figures in history and American Literature, and finally the Constitution of the United States of America. I know the writers - if they could be placed in the 21st century and allowed to absorb the changes that have taken place since the 18th century - would agree that the USA is to be inclusive of all people regardless of race, color, religion or sexuality.
5. To include hidden references to my own family that place it firmly in the stream of American History.
6. To give direction to the viewer of the photograph to create his/her own narrative about the scenes, people, and animals presented – should he/she take the time to look closely enough – a Modern/Post-modern technique used early on by Marcel Duchamp and later by other Twentieth Century artists.

As I stated in the January 5, 2008 entry, once the artwork is complete and signed the artist gives it away, and the Art World, indeed, the world in general, will do with it as it will, and artistic intent… that remains to be reexamined in a post structural world.*

Be that as it may, the image’s crowded composition finally works. I just wish it didn’t have to be 8 x 10 inches. It really should be my usual 16 x 21 inch format, but the large format printer is in Delaware, and I’m in Florida. I do not have the funds to waste on having it printed larger, partially because the US economy is such that I am being cautious and frugal. So, I will print the image in 8 by 10 inch format as "proof #3,” since there have already been two small printed versions. At some point in the future I will print a run of ten, 16 x 21 inch prints as the actual first edition of the print.

*Derrida, Jacques. The Truth in Painting, trans. Geoffrey Bennington & Ian McLeod (Chicago & London: Chicago University Press, 1987).

Friday, January 18, 2008

Beach Walk

The other evening, during the most recent outbreak of chilly and refreshing Canadian air, Joe and I walked on Juno Beach. We took our shoes off after descending the coconut palm lined walk and boards to the beach. Joe said, “Darn, the sand is cold,” as we walked to the edge of the rushing waves. I stopped to put a foot gingerly in the surf and discovered it to be much warmer than the 68-Fahrenheit degree air and algid sand. Perhaps that shouldn’t have been a surprise since the Gulf Stream runs three miles off shore.

We practically had the beach to ourselves and I snapped more than a hundred photographs. Of course that resulted in about ten good shots and ninety that had to be trashed. This picture of our footprints, the creamy aqua-blue and green water and the evening shadows created by the sinking winter sun gives voice to the quiet joy I feel in such sundown walks.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tata Nano, the Little Giant from India

I can’t help myself. Sometimes I just have to write about something other than Art. I’m not a one-dimensional personality. In fact, I seem to be so multi-dimensional (scattered might be a better descriptor) at times that I think I must be from that elusive 4th dimension that scientists talk about in connection with relativity and quantum physics. Be that as it may, this little car sparked my interest because it is evidence of another substantial and expanding third world economy. It is bound to happen with so many millions of people and a rising middle class ready to buy, buy, and buy. Of course the Brobdingnagian corporate entity spawned in the United States during our own 19th century industrial revolution is jump-starting the Indian economy through out sourcing and in-sourcing American citizen’s jobs to Indian nationals. Yes, Mr. Republican free trade capitalist, this is a global economy, and we must be ready to share the riches and grow our own economy or die. However, this little car also provides evidence that our corporate entities (reads automobile industry and United States Federal Government) are giving away our chances at sharing in the global economy. Our President should be negotiating (reads cajoling, nagging, insisting, soft-soaping, wooing, demanding, pleading, elegantly demonstrating) whatever it takes to accomplish the ACTUAL global economy by freeing foreign borders of trade embargoes, taxes, and so on. Our auto manufacturers should be designing and developing small, high mileage, low emission vehicles that will sell in a global economy as well as our own, instead of concentrating on PIG gas guzzling sports cars, SUV and other family truck type models.

Our own middle class must be willing to take a share of the blame for our (not so) slow disenfranchisement. We constantly rail against our corporations for outsourcing, and our government for failing to negotiate properly with other nations - creating NAFTA like trade agreements that favor other nations to our own detriment, and decry the influx of illegal aliens from Mexico. At the same time we are unwilling to accept a reasonably competitive price for our labor, and/or do jobs we consider beneath us. We also over spend and live above our means. It is that simple or complex, as you will have it.

The Tata Nano is aptly named, Tata, the manufacturer’s name, and Nano – Greek (nanos) meaning dwarf. In a global economy the United States must be able to think differently. Our Giant structures, our gluttonous cars, our huge institutions, are evidence of closed and limited understanding of the new “global” economy we find ourselves in. This morning's headlines on reflect our preoccupation with bigness – “Ford, Chrysler Introduce New Pickups.” Huge trucks are not always the best vehicles – even for moving large quantities, and/or big objects from one place to another. Nor is BIG and wasteful spending. We constantly talk about being able to think outside the box. Well, let’s actually do it!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Untitled Photomontage

I am working on a small (H-m-m-m-m-m-m!) project for a judged exhibition in Fort Lauderdale. It is one of many, a sideline of digital images that I have worked on since 1995. The first of these were exhibited in Rehoboth Beach Delaware in 2001 and 2002, and more were created for Isaac Stolzfuts' Journal. All of the images are composed of many strata -the current work is sixty Photoshop layers – with overlapping forms, text, geometric, free form shapes and stripes interposed. These last are a reference to American Precisionist art of the Twentieth Century, specifically that of Charles Demuth. The current photomontage diverges slightly from the others because the layers create the illusion of seeing through time, past and future. There are at least two references to Nine Eleven, including an image of the “Freedom Tower” now under labored construction in New York. I am also trying to make a statement about the necessity to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people as first class citizens. The Bill of Rights, Article IX, specifically states that, and I am paraphrasing, rights not stated in the constitution are not to be denied the people (note, "the people," not, some of the people). Additionally, I hope all of my montages invite the viewer to create his/her own narrative about an animal,animals, person or persons in the image. This piece will present the viewer with detailed instructions “a la” Marcel Duchamp to do so. And, of course the male torso in the foreground is meant to titillate gay men.

I'm worried that the photomontage is looking like an over stuffed turkey. The image will be printed at 8 x 10 inches, and I fear that some of the text will be unreadable because of that size limitation. I will print a test/proof today, though I have at least ten more layers to create. The proof I present here is a quarter of the pixels that the final printed version will be. I have too many expectations for the work I fear, and a title escapes me (Cyberspace entities may wish to suggest titles.). Of course, as soon as it is finished and signed it is no longer mine, and is open to any/all interpretation and criticism. Or, it may simple disappear into the art black hole, as so much fine art does.