Saturday, November 12, 2011

More Mylar

Five piece set includes,
10.25 x 5 inches

This is directed by an image in a swimwear catalog, which I have traced over with a knife. I see this as extracting elements of drawing from the printed color image. I have bought some of these bikinis online and am very happy with them so the catalog works as a sales tool but I find the images unsettling. The combination of beautiful specifics and implied narrative keeps me in a closed loop so I chose to alter this by dismantling the image’s luscious but unsatisfying qualities. I wanted to extract something less lurid that would be less specific, giving me an exit from the frozen cool of a fictitious life. So I selected elements I wanted to look at from the "realism" of the photograph and transferred these to another situation by tracing a contour drawing. The result is recorded as the cut edges of excised shapes, and presented as a shadow on a second layer of Mylar.

A simpler, neutral image feels more congruent with the reality of volume printing, the relentlessness anonymity of hundreds of thousands of copies of this girl. Without the details of the scene and the girl herself, I am less likely to imagine myself splashing playfully in her place. Without the details and product descriptions "matching slouch tote with logo lining...", "hipster with side cinch..." it is impossible to think about buying anything. I don't identify with the shadowy, ghost girl. I can never be her. Instead, the stereotype is made obvious at the same time as THIS particular image has become singular. There is now a way out of the picture, for me. I can move beyond a specific narrative to contemplate broader issues. ...What about the stereotype it presents? What messages are embedded in its structure?

So I've taken action, I've imposed my will in a different way than the marketers intended. I think it has enabled me to see something more clearly. Is it revenge, a sense of outrage that drives me to overturn this "innocent" image? To rip this small drip-feed of consumer medication from my vein? We live and breathe within the calculated structures of 21st Century life so is it a futile gesture? Yes and no. The image is now the subject of a drawing.

A topic for another day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Deskilled Drawing

Just installed a small exhibition at the fabulous Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit, NJ.

Curator Mary Birmingham and Exhibitions Manager Katie Murdock along with the staff at the center went out of their way to help and support the installation process.

Studio X gallery now holds my show "Heather Lewis, deskilled drawing" which runs October 7 - December 11, with an opening reception October 14.

The mural is a painted shadow -
echoing an interactive installation in the gallery itself.

Objects from a kitchen drawer (interactive model), 2011

As the stairwell is flooded with daylight normally, I had to test the idea out at night. Before painting the mural I took some photos of the original projection, getting a fresh sense of it from a distance, and as it was reflected in the large glass windows.

It took quite a while to get the right objects positioned in the image... I wanted the items AND the distortion to make sense. It worked best with some objects running the whole length from small to crazily enlarged. I ended up wearing my sunglasses while working at the projector tray...!

In the hallway below I have framed drawings made with brake grindings, and drawings of folded industrial mesh and sacking using oil paint.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Light installation

Photos from the McColl Center for Visual Art, Charlotte, NC
Pay per view, 2011 (no money in meter)
Coin meter, light, mirror tiles
Approximately 4 x 11 x 6 feet

Pay per view, 2011 (money in meter)
Coin meter, light, mirror tiles
Approximately 9 x 11 x 6 feet


Friday, May 6, 2011

new work

Catalog (upholstered armchair), 2011. 2/3 (detail)
16 x 15 inches

New work on show at the McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte includes a series called "Catalog" which is a 10 foot x 42 inch Mylar hanging with 17 smaller mylar "drawings" of chairs taped to it. I am creating each of the small drawings in editions, and these two are now framed in my studio.

Catalog (stacking chair), 2011. 3/10
6 x 5 inches

These drawings are stencils created by tracing (cutting) selected visual information found in a promotional image of the chair - a magazine or sales material.

The cuts show up nicely alone, but when they are behind another sheet of Mylar they have a 3D effect. The images change as the light changes. You'd hang these like stained glass, so that light would be behind them.

Friday, April 22, 2011

It was happening at Hatchfest

April 15th I was in Charlotte opening the McColl Art Center show, and Carlton took this installation to the YMI Hatch party - where it was really popular. It was meant to be writ large in Pack Place Park with 2 projectors, a coin-meter and other niceties, but was rained off.

This installation is called "Found objects" and is an interactive spin-off of a previous work called "Objects from a kitchen drawer" 2009/2011, now on show in Charlotte and pictured on my main website.

So, a success! Carlton says people were taking bits off their phone, taking their high heels off, rolling up bits of tissue to make lettering... and really expressing themselves by creating their own images. Very rewarding - wish I could have been there!

Little disappointed that the installation isn't credited anywhere but with all that was going on that night - that week! - it is amazing that it happened at all. At least we tried it out and discovered it was a big hit.

Carlton, who set up the projector in the YMI was working on a client's computer way out in the sticks til about 7 pm, and had to get back to Asheville to grab what he could for the show. He did a great job - the above photos are some of his, he took them with his phone until the battery ran out. That's what I call dedication!

Photos of the Hatch YMI event overall (including this installation) can also be bought at photographer Camilla Calnan's site here....

And this photo below appeared in the Mountain Xpress this week, taken by Timothy Meinch.

Looks like we'll have to do it again!

More on Charlotte solo show when I get photos. No time for those at the opening reception for that, needless to say...

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Hatchfest hits Asheville in April, these are mock ups of my intended contribution.

Pay-per-view, 2008/2011, (as imagined on the Pack Tavern building).
coin-operated light installation (interactive prototype).
Dimensions variable

Pay-per-view is not a new idea in itself, but in this case it operates a bit differently in three areas.
  • One person will pay for and instigate a few minutes of projection time, for communal rather than purely personal benefit.
  • Each purchase of 4 minutes allows the consumer to contribute to the experience by choosing and arranging objects within their own projected image. Consumption does not need to be passive.
  • And the resulting artwork could be seen as a series of contemporary fine art products conceived and designed by an artist... but produced cheaply in the public sphere by a hired operator and some of the consumers themselves. Facilitated by generated power, just as a factory would be.
I won't be there (my exhibition opens at the McColl in Charlotte that night by odd coincidence) which fits in with the concept. Industrial ideology assumes "unskilled" workers will make the product according to instructions and pre-determined procedure.

This is a rough suggestion of what the end of the park will look like with my own installation on the Pack Tavern (right) and Gene Felice's laser tagging and interactive display on the City Council building (left). ( Note : This may not be at all what Gene's piece looks like, I just roughed it out quickly from remembered Graffiti Research Lab Youtube clips). It shows the general idea of scale at least. Also on show (not visible here) will be a screening of Juried entries to the photography competition, as well as a troupe of fire eaters and a local band.

The city committee apparently was reluctant to include any mention of the word tagging when approving Gene's piece ... so it was changed to laser "writing" - this keeps the taggers happy but obviously is not yet part of the committee's graffiti vocabulary.

Still to test locations and equipment to work out any issues before the night itself. Power will be courtesy of the City of Asheville and/or the mobile Art Lab vehicle with generator operated by the city's Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department.

Downtown Asheville - shown here with imaginary projections on the Asheville Art Museum, and the Legal building. Interesting for another time maybe... Hatch looks like being more lively at the other end of Pack Place.