How we believe that the process will lead us home. Iterating with sense over intellect, moving briskly without a map. Staying open.
Although I’ve lived in Manhattan for many years, I still discover gems regularly. Two weeks ago: a museum where I can spend time alone with illuminated manuscripts. Last week: legit nengmyun at an unassuming food stall for $15. Sunday, an indie café selling transcendant rhubarb scones.
When returning from somewhere, I enjoy wandering on foot and taking the unfamiliar route. I note quiet spaces, brimming places, bustling unmarked eateries with sidewalk tables. Places with novel-engrossed, glass-of-wine-at-hand patrons. Windows with fresh flowers, pastries, old books. A cat.
Discovering in this way is an easy pleasure. All I have to do is meander, and somehow I always seem to find my way to what I need, and then home.
Exploring with relaxed openness hasn’t been as “straightforward” in the studio, especially in the face of a hard deadline, and a fall exhibit.
Still, something is coming into view.
Because it’s been difficult to make art about what I want to make art about, with the kind of organization and planning I’d normally do, I’m embracing new workflows. I’m suspending anxiety (whatever gets done is whatever will get done); I’m honoring discontinuous narrative (the only way I can tell a story right now).
These past weeks I animated a woman leaping in a traditional Korean jumping game called neolttwigi. It dates back to the Goryeo period and was primarily played by girls. I’ve never played this game, and it’s unclear why I’ve kept thinking about it over the years. But in general, flight and falling; gravity, and reversing it; are themes that I seem to keep returning to.
A painting from 2017:
One of my recent index card scribbles:
The leaping figure I ended up animating is a Korean queen from the Joseon Dynasty (another recurring motif in my sketches):
Here she is in triplicate, about to be masked:
Since watercolors can look frenetic when animated, I maintained visual consistency by only painting one part of the queen at a time, across the entire sequence. Painting every instance of the skirt before painting every instance of the face, then the hair, and so on, helped me express a more even hand across frames.
Scanned and printed:
Thirty-four queens, scaled down to fit together onto a 12” disc:
Finally, I filmed the paintings on the turntable, then edited the footage into a 2 minute sequence.
This exercise made me realize how much work there is to be done
On the production side alone, I need to address issues like shadows (common to shooting in macro), and start normalizing lighting and color. And although the idea is to explore fragments as narrative, the form itself still needs to be communicated as a player of its own.
Members, watch this experimental cut to music, in the 2 minute draft below.
The queens, leaping against the lines, make me think about containment, duty, defiance. Repetition, too, and what it means in the context of resilience: her hands, reaching against boundaries, and toward each other, never quite making it. The way she tries again, regardless.
Everyone else—until next time.