Usually I blog when I head out on the road, but I wanted to share a stationary experience. I’m in the midst of an online residency — we have fuze lectures and conference calls, do tutorials, work up files for samples and, hopefully, create a finished project in a four-week period. The theme is digital fabrication: software-driven laser-cutting, 3D printing, CNC milling and routing, textile printing, digital embroidery and so forth, offered by Digital Fabrication Residency of Easton, Maryland. (Of course, being online, location is irrelevant.) Kari and Erik are incredibly knowledgeable and generous with their time and learning.
It’s an opportunity for me to unite my dormant inner geek with my artistic practice. While I still think of myself primarily as a painter, artist books have become another important medium. They offer dimension, intimacy, proceed through time, carry a lot of cultural baggage, and can exist somewhere other than on a wall.
I had already been exploring laser cutting as a means to make rigid pages for my rockbound books, such as Snowline and Canyon:
Rockbound Book: Snowline. Sliced snowflake obsidian covers, stiff leaf bound with viscose fabric to laser-cut mat board pages; CNC-routed wooden case.
Rockbound Book: Canyon. Sliced chert stiff-leaf-bound to laser-cut matboard pages with viscose fabric. CNC-routed wooden case.
Now I am learning to visualize and execute an additional variety of processes.
The books have been evolving. They began with re-use of original paintings through reproductions. Somewhere in the first ten or so, I realized that matching the book’s form and materials to the painted subject matter was at least as exciting as the paintings-as-pages. More recent examples these books not only don’t need text, they don’t even need images. The form and the materials *are* the narrative!
Elephant Canyon Volume. Sandstone covers, laser-cut mat board pages, strung on elastic cords. The book “opens” by pulling up the top cover.
The residency is helping me see that a subtext (so to speak) of my preoccupation with the natural world is melding machine techniques with organic forms and materials. To me, if there’s no sense of nature, the artist’s hand, or an inviting surface in the end result I’ve failed. So I’m thrilled on many levels with this residency, and it follows a common artistic development:
- learning new techniques…
- doing the old stuff in new ways…
- uncovering latent themes…
- generating new ideas, seeing new ways to do new things.
I’ll be excited to share images of the results when they’re finished.