Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I Was a Camera with its Shutter Wide Open Recording

This book structure did not start with the book or its title which is contrary to the way I have been working lately.  Instead, I was cleaning my basement storage place (i.e.:  attempting to not look like a hoarder) when I came upon this:

This cool little Brownie Starflash Camera, which was manufactured from 1957 to 1965, was calling out to be a part of the process.  Now, all I really needed was a book that fit the size of the camera so I selected

Why Climb the Corporate Ladder When You Can Take the Elevator by John M. Capozzi.  Every once in awhile I love to alter books that have an internal arrogance I do not appreciate.  So, in this case, the title and author are all going to disappear as the book just becomes a platform for the assemblage.  

I started with my constant mantra:  first step is to drill holes for the hanging device and to hold the book together.  The central core was cut on the drill press with a hole saw which also allowed a bolt to come through the back, past the flash basin, and let me affix my next assemblage in place.  

Onto the bolt I was able to attach an arm.  From my stash of eyeballs I selected a cat's eye (in part because it was the perfect fit over the lens of the camera).  Then it was time to do some painting, painting, painting.  

For me, titles imbue the theme of any piece.  For this one, as it was coming together, I remembered a Christopher Isherwood quote from The Berlin Stories (the work that would become the source material for the Broadway show and feature film, Cabaret):  "I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking."  Because this piece is about identity and is retrospective in nature, I decided to paraphrase the quote and go with:  I Was a Camera With My Shutter Wide Open, Recording.  I decided to go with the theme painted on tin in the style of Mexican votive art.

Here is an example of that:

Mine ended up like this.

So I glued it onto the front of the assemblage and pretty much hated it from the moment the glue dried.  The reason was it looked like a billboard instead of part of the art.  I decided to remove the tin but then discovered that E6000 does its job.  So, plan B was to create text in a smaller font and paste that on the tin.  

Then it was time to detail paint the assemblage.

And so, we have, I Was a Camera With My Shutter Open, Recording.

Or, do we?

The more I looked at this piece the more the new lettering still look to dominate on the piece.  It bugged me, it bugged me, it bugged me... I ripped off the text again.

This time I decided that I wanted to feature the camera operator as well as the camera.  I went through my pile of cabinet cards and found an image that would work.  It is a Brownie Camera after all so why not go with the idea that this might have been a photographer's first camera.

When I do flea markets with Denice she spends a lot of time looking at jewelry.  She was the one who spotted this little bezel frame and she bought it for me.  I thought is circular nature echoed the flash and the lens so I painted it up.  

I added a leading line down the spine of the book and then created my third attempt at getting the text on the assemblage.  This time I went with an additional word in the paraphrase of Isherwood as I felt it added a sense of wonder to the statement.  

And so, after much creative altering, we have I Was a Camera With My Shutter Wide Open Recording.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Sublime Man

In a previous post I talked about making an ATC sized assemblage for a trade.  This format intrigued me enough to make another one, with additions.  I started this one with a 2 1/2" by 3 1/2" block of 3/4" wood.  I decided that the featured find was going to be one of many gold shapes I have like this.

I am not sure where I got these but I think they either came off a belt or a necklace.  I drilled a hole through the wood to bolt it on.

Next I rummaged through my collection of tin types and decided I wanted to make this old dude my subject.  The idea here is that this is his death photo and this is an homage to him.  

I was hoping that these little tacks would help give a tombstone look to the piece.  

Then it is time to paint, paint, paint.  I added the hand reaching out to the viewer and some wire to help enclose the image.  

I thought the final touch was to title the piece so I found text in my collage materials that I felt was appropriate and the piece got its title:  A Sublime Man.

It was at this point in the process that it became evident that I was not going to need to make an ATC for the trade (after Denice laid claim to the last one).  So, that freed me up from the structure of the trade and I could embellish on the size.

I added a few nails to extend the definition and attached a crucifix to the hand to add meaning to the theme.  

And so, we have:  A Sublime Man.  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Suffering of a Broken Heart Seen From This Point of View Changes Its Meaning

Back on August 28th, Doug Gelhaye, fearless leader of a Facebook assemblage group I belong to called Assemblage, Found Object & Mixed Media Artists said, "In the tradition of artist trading cards, what would you say to creating small, simple, mini assemblages to trading among our members? I have never done the ATC thing, but could someone kick in some ideas as to how this would work? I'm talking something that would only take a couple bucks to ship."

As this is the group's first attempt at a trade things are a bit challenging to get organized.  But I like these types of challenges to my creative juices, so I jumped right in.

I cut a 1/2" board into ATC sized shape--2 1/2" by 3 1/2".

I wanted a central core piece so I drilled a hole for a support bolt.  Then four holes went into the board for some 3" nails.  

This round shape is the back of a drawer pull.  

With the structure in place, I needed to texture the wood block so I reached for my favorite substance, DAP Easy Caulk.

From the book Art as Therapy by Alain de Botten and John Armstrong, I selected this quote for the title, and the theme, of this piece:

The suffering of a broken heart seen from this point of view changes its meaning

So what would the point of view be that could change meaning?  I decided that the heart had to go on the bolt and be hidden by something.

First, the hand.  Ironically, for another piece I was working on, I dropped one of the pair of porcelain arms I intended to use.  When it broke, it left me with the hand I needed for this piece.  Onto the palm went this heart charm I had in my stash.

I attached it to the bolt with Apoxie Clay.  Then it was time to paint, paint, paint.

The last step was the cover.  I knew by this time that I wanted a skeleton to ride on top of the nails so that the heart could be seen through it.  A transparency later and it was attached.  Because of the theme of the title, "changes its meaning," I decided that the final thematic effect would be not to have the hand hold the heart but rather to have the heart thrust at the viewer.

And so we have, The Suffering of a Broken Heart Seen From This Point of View Changes Its Meaning.

P. S. Then two things happened.  Denice, my lovely wife, told me not to give this piece away as (G*A*S*P*) she liked it enough I could hang it up in our house.  This does not happen very often. Next, my partner dropped out of the trade and nobody wanted my piece in trade.  SO, I now have this hung up in my house.

Here is the ATC I received from Nancy Viebrock (who took the time to make me something I would like--how nice is that!).