Acoustic Ecology & the Urban Soundscape, 2010 (video still) My most recent work has been based in the urban soundscape. This is a video still from a recording I took of a man singing 1960s R&B songs along with backup music on a disc-man which played through a small portable amplifier. He was so astonishingly talented that the many diverse types of people who are brought together in the subway were all momentarily transfixed by his angelic voice. Even those who tried to move past the small crowd around him couldn’t keep from smiling from the scene he had created. Although underground, his music was like a breath of fresh air because he sang so vibrantly and heartfelt that the harshness of the train sounds and the monotonous prerecorded train announcements were interrupted. The interruption created a temporary transformation of a group of strangers in to a gathering of people. I’m interested in this type of transformation and interruption of urban infrastructure through human centered design which is based in sensorial experience. It is my current research practice to document and capture situations in the city where an ‘other’ spatio-temporal platform is interjected by individuals, especially those not affiliated with commercial institutions.
The Singing City, 2010 (video still) In a short video titled, The Singing City, I captured the importance of sonic awareness by comparing and contrasting the city with and without sound. To do this, I juxtaposed recordings I made of the New York Javanese Gamelan Orchestra as the underlying soundtrack for the video and dispersed clips of the organic soundscape intermittently over a montage of different sound sources of the city. Water hitting the shore, an elevator, different types of transportation, fountains, birds, and human voices all contribute to an invisible language or song. The Gamelan music, which is intricately complex in itsâ€™ composition and structure, is contrasted with the fragmented and indeterminate nature the NYC soundscape and raises questions about their seemingly opposite relationship. Rhetorical questions are written on the images such as, â€œWhat do these spaces tell us when we listen?â€? By changing the speed of the sounds they are desynchronized from their contexts to make the viewer hyperaware the two distinct spaces and our reliance on site as a culture.
The Virtual Palimpsest, 2010 (website proposal) This homepage template is a social networking tool for people working on collaborative projects of any form. Each point on the circuit board signifies a different a gallery. The archive boxes shows the most recently uploaded material. Using flash animation, images, sound, and video can be viewed interchangeably in a virtual palimpsest.
Thin Air Food Map, 2010 (website proposal) This site helps users trace the sources of their food. Users submit any kind of food and a visual map is created on the history of the production of that food. The map begins with a geographical location and expands to the specific factories, farms, and restaurant kitchens.
The Pain of Others, 2010 (flash animation) Inspired by Susan Sontag’s book, Regarding the Pain of Others, I decided to animate all of the images she cites in her book to visually illustrate her inquiry to find an ‘antidote to the perennial seductiveness of war.’ From paintings of the beheaded John the Baptist to images of victims of 9/11, the images flicker within a dramatic frame to sounds of war to tell a photographic history of our relationship to human brutality. It seems as though we are simultaneously too close and too far away from images of war, which causes fear or indifference and psychologically divides us from whatever reality is being framed by the media. By animating still photographs, they seem less as though they are taken from life. This creates a compressed effect of how the media can make people numb to what they see. The lifelessness of the photographs become exaggerated and our hyper-stimulation to images of brutality causes us to stop questioning what we see. This piece reconnects the viewer and producer through the technological mediation they were initially separated by.
Global Circulations and Labor, 2010 (class presentation) During my first semester at the New School, I gave a presentation with fellow student Emma Willmann for our class, Understanding Media: Ideas. Our presentation, Global Circulations and Labor was based on three different texts. In an essay by Arjun Appadurai titled, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy”, he defines five areas of global flows that help characterize international capital. He explains the fluid and contextual relationship between these flows as they change in different parts of the world creating ‘new terminological kaleidoscopes’. The presentation continued to explain the role of the internet within the global economy based on an essay by Tiziana Terranova titled, “Free Labor: Producing Culture for the Digital Economy”. In her essay she examines whether or not the internet is a continuation of capitalism or if it allows for a break with it. The presentation concluded with chapter four of A. Neesh’s “Virtual Migration:The Programming of Globalization” which explains the routes of exploitation that are extended through transnational capitalism.
Americorps at Mother Seton Academy, 2008-2009 (teaching art) Before my graduate work in media studies, I was an art teacher through Americorps at a private middle school in Baltimore, Maryland. Mother Seton Academy is tuition free school for inner city and at-risk youth who want an alternative to public education. The schoolsâ€™ limited space and minimal funding for their art program meant I had to be as creative and resourceful as possible. I enjoyed working under these limitations because it inspired me to branch out of the traditional model of art education based in formal aesthetics and the history of fine art into projects based around community, media literacy, and art therapy. Without any teacher training and a very limited amount of materials, I taught six classes a week, designed the curriculum, and founded and led the â€œArt Installation Clubâ€?. This was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life because the students were so grateful for any opportunity to creatively express themselves. I quickly understood they could only absorb so much of formal art lessons since most of them had never been to an art museum. With this in mind, I began designing projects based on the strengths and interests of each group which involved story telling, collaborating, building, and even singing. Projects included making a horror movie, building mini geodesic dome models, mediative drawing, and magazine collages that taught students about media literacy. I also collaborated with the core studies teachers so the students would make art that connected to what they were learning in other classes. Examples are projects such as making visual models with clay for math problems, bookmaking for a creative writing assignment, and tree identification drawings for life science classes. I enjoyed the challenge of managing so many different projects and responding to the new ideas and feedback I was given from students and faculty. Helping the students utilize their own creative talents in interdisciplinary projects taught them that art can happen anywhere, at anytime.
Experimental Music Projects, 2006-2010 After graduating from art school, I shifted my art practice from visual to aural space. Having played piano and drums in high school, I later taught myself to play guitar and synthesizer. I developed a playing style similar to my collage making process and that attracted me to the work of John Cage and experimental musicians. I became interested in the overlapping boundaries of music, sound, and art. Using a mixer, I composed many layers of sound including pre-recorded music, tape loops, and feedback. I discovered that through improvised manipulation of these electronic sounds I could re-insert a human element. While I was living in Baltimore, I performed with Jenny Graf Sheppard and other local musicians which are shown in the above photos. I often prefer the added dimension of playing with another musician because of the dialog that is created. Playing improvised music is similar to new design practices because it involves responding to the present moment. Having a present moment awareness also facilitates a shift in focus from product to process. The importance of working on and understanding process has been overlooked as the present conditions of the world reveal. My musical process has been a metaphorical investigation of the chaos in noise pollution reflected in human expression.
Everything You Forgot, 2007 (mixed media) Everything You Forgot, was an installation that was part of a group show at Maryland Art Place titled, Memory Works. Working in a Duchampian vein, the piece was made of found objects that had been throw away or left in basements and attics. Arranged in a wall-sized 3D collage, the seemingly useless objects were recontextualized which could then evoke thoughts on use-life, or the histories contained in objects. To refer to Benjamin’s usage of the word, the ‘aura’ of the objects was uncovered and illuminated by an old classroom projector. The lighting recreated a sense of discovery that comes from shinning a flashlight into a cluttered basement. Flickering lamps and potted plants and vines also added a sense of re-life to the artifacts. A small collection of discarded instruments invited visitors to add sound over the piece, which also celebrated the notion of reuse.
Ash Street Garden Series, 2006-2008 (community space) A project I designed while in Baltimore was a series of music performances. Much in the same way as I designed art projects based on the needs of my students, limited supplies, and physical space, I found that the garden and backyard behind my house was architecturally conducive for community gatherings. An empty a-frame carport functioned as a mini amphitheater that looked out into a cement enclave that rose up about one story which guests could look down from. The whole yard was landscaped with flower beds which I maintained and I also built a sod couch. When I first saw the space, I knew it could be transformed into a small outdoor music venue. Since itâ€™s so rare to attend an event without paying for it, only donations were accepted for the musicians. I always provided homemade food which was reciprocated by people who also brought a dish. Although the majority of the musicians who performed were adults, many children attended and were encouraged to perform as shown in the photo above. The production of the each event took weeks of planning beforehand of curating three or four musicians, distributing flyers, invitations, and planning the menu and cooking, This space was also an exercise in the designing of a multi-sensorial experience because I was taking into account the sounds, sights, and tastes that could be brought together based on the pre-existing structure of the yard and available materials. The architecture of the landscape served a platform from which I could build an alternative way for people to come together, outside of commerce and also in the open air. Much like new philosophies on urban planning and architecture, the project was an extension of an existing space. From deejaying in between sets, to planting flowers, planning the menu, making lanterns, and setting the lights all contributed to an aesthetic experience that I created for my community. In both projects at school and in my backyard, Iâ€™ve found my strengths lay in the managing and designing of multimedia collaborative projects.
Believe In Me, 2006 (mixed media) I was invited to participate in a curated collaboration project titled, Believe In Me, that was exhibited at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The curator sent a questionnaire with directions about the project to six artists who had never met. The invitation to the project initiated a three month long exchange of any form of correspondence that could be installed in an exhibition. I was paired with Portland, Oregon based artist, Kevin Noonan and together we exchanged over 300 works on paper which involved adding or altering to each piece by drawing, collaging, and printmaking. The collection of the pieces were displayed in a long trail that ran along the gallery walls.
(letterpress postcards I designed and printed for the show)
Presence not Presents, 2006 (performance) I was invited to participate in a group show at Gallery TK, Northampton, Massachusetts titled, Christmas Is the New Black. As a performance, I sat at a table with Christmas cookies and a list of gifts the visitors could choose to receive from me. This project recontextualized cultural associations with Christmas because it took place in an art gallery during in mid-July. Since it wasnâ€™t Christmas and the visitors and I were strangers, the point of the performance was our interaction with one another which expressed the symbolic gesture in gift giving.
There Is Only One, 2006 (site specific installation) As a printmaking major, I decided to consider the original use of the printing press and experiment with other possibilities from there. In this project, I let the prints reveal the process of reproducibility by printing with different amounts of ink which changed the legibility of the words. I also changed the order of the words, printed them backwards, and double printed them to show how variation, legibility, and multiplicity contribute to the meaning of words. It was during this time that I was studying work of Karl Marx and John Dewey. They both inspired me to think about how the institutionalization of art has caused the study of art to be marginalized in our educational systems as something that is extra curricular or for those who can afford to attend private art schools. After researching that Massachusetts College of Art and Design is indeed the only state funded art school in the entire country, I silkscreened flyers that stated this and hung them around campus. The photo above is the accumulation of the flyers as an installation in the Arnheim Gallery at MassArt.
Read A Poem While the Sun Sets, 2006 (site specific installation) This site-specific intervention took place in four different locations in Boston during February of 2006. For each location, a poem (written by a famous poet or anonymous) was posted on a windowpane through which the sun could be seen setting. Directions on flyers were posted within close proximity to the poems that gave the location and times that the project could be experienced. The intent behind the piece was to intervene in a public space that would help others to pause at a window to enjoy some momentary beauty in a common space that might have been otherwise unnoticed.
Fuck the Clock, 2006 (silkscreened shirts) This project was inspired by a photograph that was taken of Patti Smith performing on New Years’ Eve of 1977 while wearing a tshirt with the words: “Fuck the Clock” written across the front. I appropriated the concept by silkscreening the same design on to a variation of different types of shirts and packaged them with a copy of the original photograph. These shirts were sold at several local art galleries in and around Boston and displayed with a sign that read: “For one dollar, you can take the bus or be like Patti Smith”. The quality of the product, price, and manner in which it was sold was a physical manifestation of the philosphy printed on the shirt and a critque of ideology and consumerism.
Printmaking at MassArt, 2004-2006 For the majority of my time at MassArt, I was a printmaking major. I enjoy printmaking over most mediums because it is very process orientated. I found that because of the experimental nature of printmaking, often times the process would determine the result. With printmaking, I can uncover new ideas and relationships by combining many different elements. Once my work started to involve into installation and performance, I decided to design my own major titled, â€œCultural Theory in Inter-related Mediaâ€? which was guided by one of my social science professors, Jasminka Udovicki.
Archival Collage Project, 2005 (mixed media) One of my largest projects was an archive of found ephermera, printed matter, and flat objects which I arranged in tempoary compositions, photographed and then re-used in other pieces. The development of this process was pivitol in my understanding of myself as an artist, reverse engineer, and appropriator. I learned that through composition and design I could create artistic relationships between anything which served as a jumping off point for all of my other creative endevors in art, media, and, design.