How we stay close, at a distance. Linework, lighting, shadows. A peek into the sketchbook. Essence versus excess.
I’m in California taking care of a few things for Mom; this will be a quick update.
Some of you know that I’m preparing for a group exhibit in the fall, exploring memory and trauma. The past few weeks have whizzed by while I rushed to get work done before leaving NYC. As I’ve said,
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).
Playing with proximity in the context of triggers has been an interesting exercise. From afar, painful things become form- and feature-less, but nose to nose, another kind of equilibration happens. In the latter case, I can still feel what I see, even if I can’t see all of what I know.
Current workflow goes something like this: translate a fragment into a short animation either on paper or in TVPaint, compose in After Effects, print 34 frames onto an 8 to 12” disc, film it while it runs on a turntable, edit the footage in Premiere Pro.
This is both a familiar and new mode of working for me, and I’m still figuring things out (a little nerve-wracking to say this in two months before delivery).
The past two weeks, I animated four concepts and several offshoots around themes of estrangement, aloneness, and the gaze, inspired by sketches from earlier this year:
A composite of lines:
Testing some things out, before I left:
Oh, and I made headway with lighting.
On advice from friend and seasoned photographer Julia Parris of Analog is Heavy, I got some inexpensive studio clamp lights. They’ve greatly helped mitigate shadows cast by a macro lens attachment on the iPhone, held only an inch from the turntable.
Warning: strobing in next 3 GIFs.
Even before that though, I had to tend to flicker issues:
Fourth time’s the charm? The final bulb cast a nice, blue light; we’re finally flicker-free; and it’s easier to avoid unintentional, prominent shadows.
The work I’ve been doing simultaneously allows me intimacy and space with what I love and want to run away from.
This past weekend, the women in my family converged under one roof for the first time since Dad died.
We’re starting to accept that Mom may not improve cognitively beyond where she is now. There are moments of lucidity that we deeply cherish.
My toddler nephew in his innocence allows us to spend time together despite the violence and estrangement that the cataclysm has wrought. Father’s Day comes and goes, while I avert my eyes. In the absence of other things, we fill ourselves with an abundance of California produce: mountains of mangoes, oranges, and watermelons.
Standing only an inch away from grief and truth means, ironically, that I can avoid taking in too much at once.
Until next time.