Thicket

Two years ago I contributed towards Jan Johnson’s[1] go-fund-me campaign, to help with her expenses for a residency in Greece. In return I received this print –
 
 

 
 
In response to the print, now framed and hung in my workspace, I wrote a series of Processing sketches. My idea was to explore the process of printmaking as animation. I began by photographing Jan’s print, close-ups and medium images, never the whole print. Taking the composition apart, arbitrarily, much as it had been put together from a series of marks – black, red, blue and yellow – layered one over another.

The first sketch is about ‘layering’. Two full screen images slide horizontally – the first left to right and and the second right to left – across the screen, and, as they move, they cross-fade. When the an image fades completely, it is replaced, randomly with another. Here’s a video of the sketch ‘in action’ and three frame captures –

     


 
 
The second sketch is about ‘registration’. It’s also my homage to Stan Brakhage’s hand-painted films. A close-up image from the print is ‘printed’ over itself several times, each time the registration is offset by a random amount. Overlaps appear at edges of the frame. Colors blend as a result of varying image processing operations –

     


 
 
The third sketch prints pieces of the images from Jan’s print. The images are cropped then written to the screen. They begin to fade. The size and location of these ‘pieces’ is random, as is the duration of the fade. Sometimes the images build up one over the other, and sometimes they simply fade to black. Every now and again, not often, an image processing operation blends a new image onto the screen –

     


 
 
The fourth sketch uses desaturated, black and white, close-ups. Before printing to the frame buffer the images are tinted either black, red, blue or yellow, the colors used in the original print. Then they a blended to the screen using various image processing operations. A whole new palette! A final video and three frame captures –

     


 
 
I showed my sketches to Jan. We decided to collaborate on a gallery exhibition. Jan thought about reprinting some of my frame captures, about painting over the prints languishing in her flat file.
 
 

 
 
Several months went by, we settled on the Greenwald Gallery at the Arts League of Lowell. Jan decided to re-create the thicket that had inspired the prints. The thicket near her home in NC where, as a girl, she and her sisters used to play. A place in the woods, a refuge from the world. She decided on a ‘paper weaving’, using prints from her flat file and printing on the backside new material in response to my sketches. A couple of weeks before the exhibition opened we went to Jan’s printmaking studio –

     

     

     
 
 
Over the Christmas holidays Jan had visited NC and recorded video of the thicket. I ‘wove’ these videos together; full-color for display on a digital picture frame and a b&w version to be projected on the paper weaving. Here’s the final video and some frame captures –

     

     

     

     

     
 
 
We’re ready to install the exhibition. Here’s the plan –

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
 
 
[narrative, describe the installation]

The exhibition will run March 6-30, Wednesday-Saturday 12-6m, Sunday
12-4pm, 2019. The opening is on Wednesday March 6 6-9pm and includes artists’ talks –

     

     
 
 
During the exhibition, on weekends, Jan will be ‘weaving’, cutting, sewing, and modifying her installation. On opening night only the warp, the vertical strips, are present. During the first week Jan starts adding the weft, the horizontal strips. I add video projection and sound –

     

     

        

     

     

     

        

     


 
 
[Observations, interaction between media, light& shadow, sound]

Jan extends the paper weaving out onto the floor, the stream running through the thicket –

     

        

     

 
 
[narrative] Four weeks pass quickly, time to pack up –

        
 
 
[Conclusions]

[1] “The forms I build contain narratives of place, memory and relationships. How I construct these forms grows out of an understanding I have of the body, and its interior design. Cross-sections, maps, charts and landscapes diagram and unfold different levels of thought, comprehension and awareness that reside in the body—the senses, brain, heart, guts, genitals, soul. Paint, pigment, collage and thread laid down as various marks embody a language that conveys and holds these stories just as one’s own material structure houses one’s history. Landscapes depict piles of color, weaving a mass I suppose as a brain, mostly my own, but sometimes includes my grandmother’s failing brain and sometimes my daughter’s newly forming brain. Existing in an invented landscape, I re-contextualize this form and re-plant my memories and thoughts of our lives at different stages. Simultaneously, they are memoirs and also presagements”
~ Jan Johnson

[2] sketch 1 code
[3] sketch 2 code
[4] sketch 3 code
[5] sketch 4 code
[6] …


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