Last book update… for a little bit…

July 6, 2008 at 10:24 pm (art, culture, drawing, interesting, painting, personal, thoughts) (, , )

This is a picture I took last night – not sure how much you can really see (it’s one of the girls on top of a bridge over railroad tracks, with tons of things in the background) but it sort of captures the mood of the last few days:

So, a few conclusions I’ve come to about this project:

It has a full day left in it, tops, in terms of the amount of work I have to do. That’s how close I am to being done(!!!!!!!!!). Having said that, I won’t really know what the piece looks like until I install it – it’s so big and unruly that I can only look at it in little segments while it’s in our apartment, and that’s even if I set it up so it starts in the bedroom, goes straight through my studio, and then into the livingroom. I won’t be able to get back to some distance and view it as a whole until it’s in the space. Realizing that made me come to terms with the fact that it won’t be totally, 100% done until some time from now, no matter how much work I pour into it. I could spend every second of the next two months obsessing over this thing, and there are still little parts of it that will have to be tweaked once it’s all set up because I won’t know until I see it. This was sort of a bitter pill to swallow, as I just wanted to get the damn thing done and sparkling… but then also, I realize I have to do what’s good for the work.

Also, since I see this as being the centerpiece of the whole show, I want it to relate to the work around it – which right now it does for the work that is done. However, I have a few more weeks of making work to go, and I want to allow myself a little wiggle room to add stuff as I feel it’s called for.

Anyway. Point is, I’m putting it aside for a bit. I’m folding it up and packing it off – out of sight, out of mind. I need a little break anyway. I can’t help but notice that my blurry, close-up photos of it are starting to look a bit like sightings of the Loch Ness monster, or that I’m becoming a bit like a person who swears she’s seen the Loch Ness monster.

I’m so tired, I don’t even know what that last sentence means. In brief:
The project is a good 95% done.
I need to stop staring at it and come back in a little bit, once I’ve had a break.
Contrary to what a sane person would think/do, I not only don’t recoil at the thought of pop-up books right now, but I honestly can’t wait to start my next one.

One last blurry shot, a girl among some oversized flowers:

Tomorrow I’m out all day. Tuesday I get straight back to work on, yep, another pop-up. I got bit by the pop-up bug I guess… possibly the glutton-for-punishment-bug as well.

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Building the book, part two (first tree)

May 12, 2008 at 10:29 pm (art, culture, drawing, painting, personal) (, )

So, after assembling a bunch of little tiny parts, eventually you wind up with a large, more-or-less 3-d tree (this tree is not a flat drawing that is propped up in back, rather the shape is curved and you can actually view it from all angles) that is about 2′ tall:

Eventually, once the other four trees get put into place, a new line of text will be woven in their branches and the story will continue.

But first, I think I need to go back and rethink a few tree-related things I hadn’t really thought about before, primarily having to do with how the tree attaches to the base (which I will admit to having not thought of at all until I was standing there with this paper tree that needed to be attached to something). So that will take some figuring out, but it’s something that needs to be resolved before I just jump in and do the rest of the trees.

The plan is that I hope to have the whole “forest” part up and finished by Friday so I can move on to the next stage. I think that’s pretty doable.

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Building the book (part one)

May 12, 2008 at 3:07 pm (art, culture, drawing, interesting, painting, personal) (, , , )

(Best place to start if you don’t know anything about this project is with the post below this one.)

The thing about this book is that it has to be done in parts – it’s not at all the kind of thing that can be whipped out via an all-nighter or a marathon of a couple of serious drawing days. Everything is slow and methodical. Cut, measure, paint, dry, glue, dry some more, cut a little more, and so on. It sort of has its own pace, at least for now. And all of this is exaggerated by my documenting it as I go, so I have to first build the thing to see if it works, then take it apart and document it in parts, and then build it back up again.

But so far so good. Here are some preliminary pictures:

It starts out 10 1/2″ x 10 1/2″, which is the same size as an Artforum magazine (this will become important later, but for now it’s not a big deal). I haven’t fully bound it yet since that will be the very last step and there is no cover, so you’ll just have to trust me on all this.

Here it is opening…

and more open:

You can see one of the tree stumps popping up already. With a little help (there are tabs in the back that can be put into slots on the base to help keep them standing up), the rest of the stumps come to life:

There are two girls standing in this forest of tree stumps, and surrounding them – on a yellow banner – is the following text:
There is a consciousness there – it is absolutely real – at first glance you feel as though you are alone + miles away from the rest of the world – you come across that place + it’s like you’re not supposed to be there, not supposed to see this corner of the universe – it’s supposed to somehow always remain alone and unseen. And then, in an instant, that corner that had seemed so empty, vacant, dead, can seem to suddenly spring to life ad be totally filled with this presence – you’re not alone at all – you are actually surrounded – + the world isn’t empty at all and is in fact quite crowded. This place that seemed so desolate is brimming so full with life.

So the reader opens the book, the tree stumps and the girls pop up, and the reader reads the text. Now, if she wants to continue reading the book, she’ll need to do some work to reveal the next part of the story.

In the back of the book, there is a pouch:

…and in this pouch are the things she’ll need for the next part. (Note that I will probably have to remake the pouch so it can accommodate more things, but that’s not such a big deal.)

So here, I’m taking things out of the pouch:

…and here are the parts for one of the trees to be assembled, all spread out on a tabletop:

Basically, it’s is made out of a series of cut paper with tabs and slots and scored bits, all of which fit together and make the full tree. Once the whole forest is assembled, more text can be revealed and the reader can go on to do her next task.

So, later tonight: Assembling the tree…!

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Something new

April 14, 2008 at 10:35 pm (art, culture, drawing, interesting, life, painting, personal, thoughts) (, , )

Today I saw something today that I have never seen before in my life – and it occurred to me what a rare instance seeing such a thing is. Perhaps if you travel to remote areas of the world, you get used to seeing things that are so odd that they stop you dead in your tracks… but this was made all the stranger by it happening just about a mile from my home.

I was over on Newark Ave (the “Little India” section of Jersey City), waiting on some dosas and samosa chat. Upon getting my to-go plate, I exited the restaurant and headed up the street, en route back home. That’s when I saw it: A man, medium build and in his 20s, carrying into another restaurant a stack of what had to be about seven goats, all perfectly skinned and dead. The hooves, ears, and (most remarkably) the mournful eyes were still completely intact; he had them layered one on top of the next and slung over his shoulder, carrying them like I would carry a backpack or purse. Their legs dangled gracefully off of his body and their eyes stared at me as I stood there, completely shocked and fascinated.

It was only noon at the time, but as far as I was considered, the day was basically over. Really, nothing could (or should) top that.

I came home and worked on my first try at the massive pop-up book… but man, those goats. I’ll come back to those goats at some point, I’m sure of it.

Anyway. Massive pop-up book. This is what I worked on all day. This picture doesn’t do it justice at all, but I got the most nightmarish part (from an engineering point of view) done:

Honestly, building the rest of the book doesn’t scare me too much – it’s just going to be hard work, but nothing insurmountable. It was this part in particular that was freaking me out.

So what you’re looking at here is the book spread open and these trees coming out of the middle of it. The pages are about 10″ each (so a spread of 20″) and then the trees go up to about 24″ tall. It’s an “assisted pop-up” (yes, I made that up… I think) which means it pops up with some help. Basically, the whole thing comes apart and can be assembled and re-assembled – parts are glued into the book, other parts will come packaged with the book in an accompanying envelope and you have to add them, but then you can take the whole thing apart and shrink it down into this little 10″ x 10″ thing when you’re done with it.

Figuring out how to make it grow tall was the hard part; having it go wide (and I eventually want it to be 30′ or something crazy like that) is really easy – that’s just a matter of accordion-folding. But this tall part… that was really hard. So I’m pleased to have it mostly figured out for now. Now I just have to leave the thing set up in my studio for a few weeks to see what effect gravity has on it – will it droop? fall over? and so on. And then I’ll make adjustments after that. And then, once all that’s done, I can get to work on the actual piece – at this point, it’s all basic architecture; there’s no art really until I get the form all figured out. (I also want to make stuff that’s much taller but the point is: what I did today gives me hope. It should just be scalable from here on out. Maybe.)

When I showed John at the gallery my drawing of the gigantic pop-up, he nervously asked me, “But you’re going to use cheats, right? Like the whole thing doesn’t have to totally pop-up on its own?” I took it as a really sweet way of saying, Please don’t die of a pop-up book-inflicted nervous breakdown. And yeah – this thing has cheats galore. It does, however, still fold up all the way, which I’m psyched for. And if I got this much done in a day – a day torn in half by the sight of skinless goats, no less! – I’m feeling pretty good about what I can get done over the next few weeks.

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