Residency 3 Summary – January 2016

There is an inextricable tension in the critical process when you open up ideas for analysis and evaluation. At one end, the vulnerability afforded by sharing work for specific analysis provides freedom and a space expansion and at the other there is a violence in the rending of one’s own idealized meaning from the reality of that work’s public perception. It is in this process, however that we are able to engage in critical discourse, evaluate conceptual and formal strengths, and begin to sure up areas of weakness within our work or approach. This process of endeavor, vulnerability, critical analysis, and reevaluation is, in my personal experience, the highest value of a residency. As in previous residencies, the feedback received has allowed for reflection and decision on not only the success of the current work, but the direction and conceptual framework on which to build future work. I will evaluate (in a slightly informal and bulleted manner) the observations that I made on my own work and a response synthesized from critiques and personal evaluation. Much of the ‘decision’ I make is open-ended in that it will submit to concept and will answer to supporting the work. (As a point of note, I have abbreviated my initial observations. A full list can be found on my blog.)


  1. I like love detail. I like that high-resolution imagery provides an overwhelming amount of visual information and choose methods and processes that render me a large amount of detail – it still has the ability to lend to the ‘truthiness’ of the image. I like the distance a medium-wide lens at a distance gives. A wider, more distant view is preferable and allows for more of the aforementioned ‘information’ to be present in the work.
    • While it is good to be drawn to detail, ‘visual information’ is not in and of itself an armature on which to build work. I need to evaluate a center of interest – surveillance, geopolitical issues, environmental concerns, systems, distribution and control of information, etc. – and utilize my ‘visual information’ to support a position or investigation. When the topography is viewed without being framed, it only references itself and provides little more than formal entertainment to the viewer.
  2. I realized that I was more interested in people as a whole – groups and formations of people – and I wasn’t interested in seeing them in my pictures at this point. I love the traces we leave, the marks we make unconsciously and the way we organize ourselves as micro- and macrosocieties.
    • As stated above, my preference for this type of imagery has only allowed me to articulate form and aesthetic complexity. I need to center my investigation or analysis on a particular idea, utilizing the aesthetic and physical qualities of my images and materials to support a concept. As another slightly related note, my painting and use of gold/silver leaf in the work actually worked against the overwhelming nature of the scale and detail of my images by offering the viewer reprieve and breaking the simulation of reality (however thin it was). One option I am currently evaluating in the several weeks after this residency is the idea of systems and networks. I am particularly interested in the interconnectedness of so many people and their cultures in the post-internet era.
  3. I’m inextricably drawn to the West, but can’t afford to spend much time there. It may be that it interests me because I don’t live there, it may be that I don’t want to actually deal with the fact that the Midwest is less visually striking, it may be that I am emulating so many of the artists that I’ve already seen.
    • The Midwest is my territory, my place of residence, and the locale available to me. It may be that I was fostering a certain type of idealization or escapism by looking at the West, but I was also genuinely interested in the structures posited in the middle of the expansive emptiness. I need to further work with this idea to make a decision on direction from this point, but it is on my radar. I really need to narrow my research and imagery to a site or set of locations or objects based on a set of rules. I cannot have my imagery be arbitrary in any sense with the type of work I am hoping to make. I have begun to research areas of interest in my region and am continually nonplussed by their appearance. It may be difficult to overcome this hurdle, so I’m working with my mentor to address this issue.
  4. The aerial view and the ground view paired together interest me immensely. The simultaneity of two perspectives – one natural and the other machine-assisted – is compelling to me.
    • I feel that the use of two (or more) perspectives will be present in my work. A plurality may lend itself to an idea, but I can’t say with absolute confidence it will be present in my work. It will be explored in several ways – multiple physical views, similar views separated by time (same view different days), the use of mirrors or other reflections, etc.
  5. My photographs are objects, but simulations. As such, they are synthetic, malleable, and begging to be worked. I walk a fine line between ‘straight’ photography (which I think is an idealistic fantasy) and constructed reality – not quite tableau, but certainly not ‘true’. I’ve begun to experiment with anaglyphic glasses, painting on my images, and utilizing other media such as silver leaf to break the ‘reality’ of the images.
    • This attempt to break the simulation of a photograph as a ‘window’ functioned very well and the work was formally well constructed and showed a high degree of control, but broke down conceptually. The paint and the foil and the 3D need to be there for a reason. They cannot function as gimmick. I need to assess how, if at all, they can work with my ideas – not what ideas I can come up with to support the gimmicks. In many of my crits, I wrote down ideas for materials that may allow me to follow ideas, but before I manifest those ideas physically, I am going to evaluate how they will add to or detract from my concept. I also plan to make many small-scale images as I work on ideas. This will allow me to spend more time on my thought process and evaluation of work.
  6. I would photograph these places myself if I had the means. Google Earth is a next-best-thing at this point. I’ve got to use whatever I can.
    • I’m still not independently wealthy. Crits didn’t change that, although it would have been nice to win the Powerball.
  7. Man-altered landscapes are an area of interest, but the field is overwhelming. It has been difficult to narrow a field of particular interest because there is so much to discover and understand.
    • Man-altered landscape is an area of interest for me still, but there are so many voices in the field. Most of the voices come from an activist perspective, which is not of any interest to me. I am not concerned with issues of environmentalism in my work, even though it interests (and concerns) me outside of the work. As in preceding reactions, I need to focus my area of interest and research in order to evaluate and support conceptual concerns. With a few weeks of reflection, I am leaning toward locations that are not easily accessible, locations that have some sort of storage capacity for large volumes of data, energy, or some other type of power that can’t be handled or manipulated physically.
  8. Maps don’t seem that different from aerial photography. When I see aerial survey photographs, I see maps, and vice versa. I am drawn to both of these because of the ability they have to be understood and trusted. They seem to fundamentally be texts to be read.
    • This was a big observation that I didn’t evaluate in the course of critique and dialogue. I have begun to read more on Foucault and plan to dive in to this idea in the semester. I have a fascination with language as it pertains to the naming of locations. I think this may be a digression from my thesis work, but I want to explore it as I am able as part of my critical analysis. Even if it doesn’t tie directly into my thesis, it will allow me to read the work with a foundation necessary to being a visual artist in contemporary discourse.
  9. I’ve found out (finally) that visual art is Many of the languages, ideas, and philosophies of art stem from the study of the function of language.
    • If my work is language, it is very poetic sounding nonsense in its current state. It may have a whole bunch of words or ideas within it, but I need to spend this semester arranging, culling, and editing the visual language in order to take a position, submit an idea, or support a question.
  10. I’ve got to let my intuition lead. It’s there to be trusted, but I’ve got to have an ongoing conversation that includes critical self-analysis and refining of my idea. I can’t work backwards from a pure idea and I can’t start without one, so I’m starting with a fuzzy idea and working outward in both directions.
    • This observation came late in the semester. I will continue acting upon my observation.
  11. I’ve learned the first idea is usually the worst. I’m really good at being heavy-handed, obvious, and cliché, so I’ve started gunning for the later ideas as they are generally more refined and better filtered, which makes for a much better fit.
    • This is the same as #10. Refine, refine, refine.
  12. I’m still playing catch-up. There are so many ideas that I’m learning about. Every time I read a book or an article, I have sixteen more to read just to feel competent about the article I’m reading.
    • I am easily interested by most anything. I plan on picking up readings and material that are inherently connected to my ideas in order to saturate my understanding of the field in which I want to converse. In conversations with my advisor and other faculty, I have identified readings which will help me to think about the wide categories my work from this semester fell in. Foucault (specifically Panopticonism), John Tagg, Systems and Networks (Whitechapel) and other readings will help me to continue the narrowing and focusing over the course of the semester.
  13. While I’m playing catch-up, I am a new voice. I’m the bridge between the pre-internet and after-internet crowds. I speak both digital and analog. I really think this is a strength that I have. It scares me, but I need to follow it.
    • Not sure how this will manifest itself. I’m keeping it on my list to evaluate, but making claims at this point is futile.
  14. I really need to stop trying to become other people. I revisit ideas and thoughts I’ve had and realize I’m trying to recognize a pattern and repeat it rather than creating a pattern.
    • I am working with a mentor this semester outside of my specific practice.



Syl and I realize our missed potential for trip art. Note to self: Make and sell trip art to pay for grad school

The first gathering of Residency 3 – complete with our table at the back

Deb Todd Wheeler can’t resist the call to try on Miki’s jacket. The consensus? “Quite comfortable — nice weight…”


The cheap view of R3 crit space


R3 Crit Space


Mario keeps us afloat with regular coffee in Professional Development. Thanks, Mario.

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