Sunday, June 16, 2013

Copper Bound Book Makes a Roof for My Copper House

The cover of this book is copper, but the folios are stitched to the fabric end papers.  The cover & endpapers are glued to a mat board sandwich.  The book has three folios of four color film images each, and sequence the burning of the house.  The house acts as a stand for the open book to be viewed, and the book becomes a protective roof for the house. 

Cabin Sculpture & Completed Broken Barn Sculpture

This Cabin sculpture is sided with clapboards covered with the actual dead leaves and dirt that was stuck to them when I salvaged them.  Nothing was rearranged.

Barn Sculpture mounted & Completed:

So here is my miniature Deering Farmstead:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Final Mentor Meeting with Jesseca, June 1st

     I tried to get a lot of things from the semester wrapped up before I met with Jesseca for the last time.  I knew she'd be asking about about the following: how did the house burning go, how did double exposures work out, what am I bringing to the residency, how do  my images look big, how has my collecting gone, and do I know who lived in the farmstead.
     Jesseca liked very much that I used my 'collection' to build a broken barn.  She said she was very happy to see that my sculptures were much less literal than the ones I'd showed her from my first semester.  She said she liked that this sculpture inferred 'barn', rather than be a replica.  And she liked the way I let the materials be just the way they were, and didn't try to neaten them up or make them look perfect.  I told her some ideas I had for embellishing my barn, and she seemed to think that I should leave it simple and should keep it direct.  I told her I was still going to build a cabin, and she said she was sure I would.
     I had made a powerpoint presentation of the copper house burning to show her.  She suggested cropping some of the pictures in the powerpoint.  She said I had get in close to my sculptures so the viewer believes it exists in its own world.  This is a comment she has made repeatedly during the semester, and I think I should make a neon sign that flashes this statement so I remember.  She told me I should burn the house again, and take even more photos.  She loved the pinhole images of the burning. I told her for the next burn I would construct more cameras so I could take more pinhole images.  It handy to have more cameras anyway (although I may need a bigger house - or a camera storage barn).  She also said it was interesting that I came up with the idea to carefully built something for the purpose of building.  She said I should consider why I have this compulsion.  She said it's kind of like funerary practices that burn the body to set the soul free.
     She said in China Town there are these funerary papers people purchase to burn that are in the shapes of houses and cars and things.  She said I should look up what this practice is all about.  Well, in my preliminary investigation I have discovered that these are called Joss Papers.  Traditionally Joss Paper is spirit money that is burned to send currency to the deceased so they may have a comfortable afterlife, and hopefully in return protect the living through spiritual intervention.  There are three kinds of spirit money: cash (also known as copper), silver, and god.  Gold is to be burned for the gods, like the Jade Emperor.  Silver is for your own ancestors.  Cash (or copper) is for spirits of the unknown.  Wikipedia says "These distinctions between the three categories of spirit money must be followed precisely to prevent confusion or insults to the spirits."  Today Joss Paper is also constructed into the shapes of houses and material goods to send off to the departed in the spirit world for their comfort.  Joss paper must always be folded before burning.  So I think it's kind of funny that my house is of copper (I definitely don't know these people from the Deering Farm), and that the copper is folded in even divisions down each side.
     Jesseca also seemed intrigued with my book-roof idea for my copper house.  So I think I will move forward with this and see how it goes.
     Jesseca was particularly excited about my double exposure images, and said this is something I should continue on with experimentation, and should try to push the limits.  She said these images are really the ones that speak to the heart of what I'm getting at.  And she said they also provide mystery and ambiguity for the viewer.  Her two favorite were:

The second image is the un-inverted negative image of one I had printed out small but had not put on the blog.  The negative image was her favorite of all.  She said I should perhaps consider more images in negative form.
     Jesseca enjoyed looking at my large prints (which are 17" x 22"), although she asked if I could print larger.  I told her this is the biggest I can print at home.  We talked about how I was planning on presenting them, and she seemed happy, although she said I still had time to add or subtract images, or perhaps print more and switch them out at the residency.
    When I told her about the Deering Farm's history she told me that I have been like a miner this semester, digging, digging, digging.  I told her I felt like an archeologist, slowly uncovering things and piecing back together the past.  I wish I had met with her before I wrote my semester summary.  Oh, well.
     I brought her the book House and Home: Spirits of the South that has work by Max Belcher, Beverly Buchanan, and William Christenberry.  She enjoyed looking at the book.  Her comment was that Belcher's form of photography is reportage.  But she said Christenberry & Bcuanan's work is an act of listening to the people and places.  She said their work is a form of respect.  She said that is what my work is.  She said I have been listening to this old farm, and am giving it dignity, despite that it's falling down.  I was glad to hear that.  I've kind have grown attached to the place.
     And I've grown attached to Jesseca.  It's been a great semester working with her.  I feel quite fortunate to have had two excellent mentors so far.  I hope this trend continues.