Friday, October 30, 2009


Did: -collected and cut plastic (4-5 hrs)
-underwater photo shoot at the pool (3 hrs)
-editing photos (1 hr)
-thinking/networking about the future after John's talk (1 hr)
-looking at other artist's work (Beili Liu, Andres Amador, Tara Donovan) (1/2 hr)

Discovered: I want to thank Meg, Stephanie, and Erica for recommending artists for me to look at. I was definitely inspired by their work. I absolutely LOVED the aesthetic of this piece by Tara Donovan (Untitled, 2003, ACE Gallery New York):
It is made completely of styrofoam cups and hot glue. It mimics cells and natural structures, but it is also creating a type of synthetic landscape which I am becoming extremely interested in. I haven't found an artist statement yet, but I am wondering how much environmentalism plays into her work. I'm not sure that is a huge goal of hers because in her work I don't get the sense that she is using discarded materials. It seems really stupid to me that she would buy a bazillion styrofoam cups to make this... but it is something I need to look into before I make any statements about the work she is making. Regardless of that, I absolutely love the environment she creates with this incredibly mundane object.

I also photographed underwater for the first time this semester!! Yay! It has taken me way too long to get to that point...

I am really happy with the results of my first underwater experiments with the plastic milk jug pieces (photographs in last post). I feel like there is a lot of potential to expand this project and really create an environment for me to photograph in the pool. A lot of what I accomplished in getting into the pool was getting reacquainted with my equipment. I needed to organize all of the camera gadgets I had making sure I had enough batteries, making sure I remembered how to hook up the strobes (underwater flash system) to the camera...etc. This was obviously not my favorite part of the experience, but it is really beneficial.

Once I was in the pool it was interesting to watch how my plastic experiments behaved. I tied the strings of plastic to bolts, which sank to the bottom and allowed the rest of the line to float to the top. It almost looked like seaweed/kelp. Other free-floating pieces began to move in very interesting ways. They almost come alive in the water...

I want to make more. I want to fill a pool or at least a part of a pool with these structures. For my final exhibition I could recreate the environment indoors so people could view it for a longer amount of time, but I really want to see this underwater and photograph it underwater. I am now starting to envision the final result of this project to be an installation with the plastic pieces in a physical space, but alongside the sculptures would be my images. I am also thinking about how projection could be used to show the images instead of photographs in static frames...

I had been thinking about this idea before seeing Beili Liu's work, but her piece Tie. Untie, 2008 has really inspired me to explore this idea more. She projected a video loop onto a pile of string on the floor. I think projecting onto a material other than a screen could work well with my ideas:
Do: I need to get serious about finding out if I can reserve a pool. I need to talk to contacts I have at Rec Sports. I also need to find out how much it costs to rent tanks, weights, and underwater lights from dive shops in Ann Arbor. I will need to be continuously making, otherwise i will not have enough to photograph... I am also going to compile a list of figures/statistics/quotes from my research which are the most important for me to discuss with this project.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

another friday :) 10.23.09

Did: I have probably spent at least 7 hours this week collecting plastic milk jugs, washing them out, cutting them up, and either hot glueing or sewing them together. Here is the result (excuse the bad photos, I will post better ones soon):

These pieces were strung together and are hanging in my studio right now:

I still feel pretty disorganized at this point due to the fact that this weekend I completely moved everything out of my parents old house (fun fall break, hah). But despite the chaos, I think I was fairly productive with the plastic shapes.

Discovered: Most of what I discovered this week really had to do with the material of plastic itself. I really like working with the plastic milk jugs. I think there is a LOT of potential for experimentation with this material and the best part is that it is free. I have been taking milk jug donations and I have also been going over to Beansters almost every day... they may think I'm crazy, but right now I'm happy because I don't really have to pay for materials :) Beansters has also been a great source for the plastic because the milk jugs aren't sitting around for very long so they don't smell like ones that have been sitting in recycle bins (NASTY).

I also love how the shapes I am making mimic so many natural forms. Cells, certain types of fungi, & coral all have the same circular or ovular shapes.

Do: Here is my tentative schedule until December review.

10.28: I want to take anything I have made so far from the plastic milk jugs and/or the plastic bags and take them to the pool to photograph... I found out Weds. night is a good night for experimenting with this.

11.17-19: Continue to MAKE things!! Complete an underwater photo shoot after making adjustments from what I learn during the 10.28 pool experiments.

12.15-16: For the review I want to have images from a larger scale underwater installation using my plastic sculptures. I want to incorporate my research into the presentation and more clearly define which information is the most influential to the work I am making.

I realize this is a really rough schedule... but I think it is hard for me to come up with a day-by-day plan... especially as I encounter problems or challenges. (i.e. cutting the plastic pieces is extremely time consuming) As I work, I will discover things that will influence the direction I take. Ultimately I would like to have a completed underwater installation to show at the review.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

go see this!

Last night to see The Cove at the Michigan Theater is tomorrow night... Go see it!

Monday, October 19, 2009

shapes in the sand

I love love love these & wanted to share:

Jim Denevan creates these drawings in the sand at low tide. I love when simple and/or organic shapes make such bold & powerful images. Check out his site:

Friday, October 16, 2009

10.16.09 post

Did: -playing on beach, experimenting (3 hrs)
-edited photos (1/2 hr)
-research, found more artists (Ha Schult, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang, Claudia Borgna), found Antennae (a great online magazine), contacted scuba club (2 hrs)
-organized plastic research into a word document w/ links to articles (1 hr)
-continued editing project proposal (1 hr)

-collected milk cartons from Beanster's and began cutting them up into pieces for installation (2 hrs).

Discovered: I found more helpful articles about plastic pollution at I watched a video that Erica recommended on trash "Buy Your Garbage Back?".
I found a few artists working with garbage.
Ha Schult creates life size "trash people" and then installs them at different locations all over the world. Tim Noble & Sue Webster use piles of trash to create silhouettes.

Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang, collect trash on Kehoe Beach and use it to create art... here is a collection of plastic cheese spreaders that they have found over a 10 year period

I discovered Antennae magazine which featured an article about artist Claudia Borgna.

Claudia Borgna's work has an extremely similar aesthetic to the installations I have had in mind:

Borgna writes, "In the past years I have been looking at how rubbish and man made objects are very much transforming and creating new landscapes and becoming more and more integrated into nature... the plastic bags are a human creation and therefore natural appendix of man. One could argue that whatever is man made is natural and that ultimately nature is an unstable and unreliable human construction ruled by social and cultural needs."

As I researched plastics I found lots of interesting or poetic descriptions of the plastic problem:

"In the week it took to cross the subtropical high, no matter what time of day I looked, plastic debris was floating everywhere: bottles, bottle caps, wrappers, fragments."

"We were looking at a rich broth of minute sea creatures mixed with hundreds of colored plastic fragments-a plastic-plankton soup."

"Our photographers captured underwater images of jellyfish hopelessly entangled in frayed lines, and transparent filter feeding organisms with colored plastic fragments in their bellies."

"In the Great Pacific Garbage Patch most of the plastic looks like snowy confetti against the deep blue of the north Pacific Ocean."

These phrases that I keep coming across have influenced my ideas about the direction my project could take. I like the idea of illustrating these phrases and statistics from scientific research and reports. My installations would reflect different sentences or descriptions that I isolate from my research. In that way they could become a narrative about the process of plastic. Text may become an important component... Ultimately I could re-envision scientific research and show people what is really happening outside of the context of dry scientific reports and data.

Do: After organizing my research I would like to make a list of the quotes/phrases that I think would be interesting to illustrate. I also want to get a lot of work done on the installation I have in mind using pieces of milk cartons. I think this installation would explain the process of the break-down of plastic particles once the enter the water. I WANT TO MAKE THINGS AND PHOTOGRAPH THEM UNDERWATER. yay!

Monday, October 12, 2009

lake michigan experiments

I went to the beach in Grand Haven this weekend to play.

I want to create an installation HERE:

here are some of my experiments...
dark sand on light sand:

an attempt at a whitefish silhouette:

plastic bag boulders:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

10.9.09 post

Did: created a mini installation in my studio, took photographs & edited the pictures (3 hrs)
researched Great Lakes fisheries (2 hrs)
conversations in IP studios & printed some of my photos (1 hr)
writing and organizing my thoughts and writing proposal draft (2 hrs)
looking at grad student Sarah Berkeley's work (15 min)
editing draft (1/2 hr )

Discovered/accomplished: Building off of last week's photo experiments in the Huron River, I decided to experiment a little bit more with light.
I placed my light source and cut-outs behind the plastic and then kept my camera on the same manual settings as I moved the light source backwards, inch by inch. I created this image to explore the possibilities of the quilt as a screen. This image is a composite of 20 photographs:Having to write a draft proposal really forced me to face the conceptual background for my project. I think to some degree it is hard to explain or justify why you are doing what you are doing... and I think Sean & Erica had both begun to point this out to me in their comments on my posts. I feel like they were both saying that I had to decide whether I wanted to take an activist stance or not. But even if I don't want to become preachy, I still have to look at whether or not I am sacrificing my passion for environmental issues by not deciding to influence my audience in a specific way. So I began to write my proposal with those things in mind.

I also know that I am interested in water and human relationships with cycles occurring on earth, but I keep coming up with ideas for installations that involve either fish or plastic (maybe I am just drawn to an aesthetic idea that I see coming from these two subjects). When composing the draft I wanted to come up with a more unified idea for why I am interested in looking at these two subjects. I began to think about water in this way:
-Water as a food source/basis for all food & life
-Water as a disposal system/waste returns to water systems
(ultimately it's kind of a "don't shit where you eat" problem). My new analysis of this issue influenced how I wrote my proposal:
Project Proposal (w/ edits after peer review session)

I intend to explore human relationships with water by creating surreal visual experiences for the viewer. Human beings are made out of the same fundamental elements as all other living creatures, yet our extraordinary manipulation of the world around us causes me to question our role in the environment. I wonder whether or not we have removed ourselves from nature, making our processes "unnatural". I am especially interested in two areas of focus. The first being water as a supplier of food and our subsequent abuse of that food chain, and the second involves the transformation of our oceans into an enormous waste disposal system.

At this moment in time there is a huge disconnect between basic human processes and the environment. Many of us have risen above the basic processes of production and disposal to the point where these things become invisible and unimportant. This disconnect is important for us to acknowledge and understand. I want the viewer to be confronted by a surreal picture of the world that in fact reflects real problems we face as a society. In a way I am hoping to make the invisible become visible, and therefore important.

To complete my project I will be creating a series of temporary installations, which I will photograph. Since I will be exploring water related environmental issues, it is important that I make work outside and/or in water sources such as rivers, lakes & pools. With unlimited time and resources I would travel to a variety of locations worldwide to create underwater installations that would be photographed or filmed. My realistic challenge may still involve traveling to various locations around the state of Michigan. I hope to create a series of photographs based on my own temporary installations. I could also envision these final photographs being displayed in a gallery space, along with the resources I use to create my installations. With a much more limited time frame and restricted budget I would likely focus on one very specific installation and try to complete it in a public space.

-I want to compile a list of the installation ideas that I have been thinking about and decide which ones are the most important for me to accomplish.
-I am going up north this weekend and I want to create a new installation outside... I have felt like the images I have created thus far are just experiments leading up to larger projects. I need to really focus in on creating the type of things I have in mind... or seeing if they are going to work...
-Go to the Institute for Fisheries Research on campus (next to natural history museum) and speak to someone about the largest problems they feel we are facing in the Great Lakes.

Friday, October 2, 2009

weekly post 10/2

Did: photographed plastic quilt outside/in the river & edited a few of the pics (2 hrs)
emailed contacts about getting into a pool to photograph (1/2 hr)
worked on quilt...cutting and sewing... (5 hrs)
word mapping/brainstorming key words (1/2 hr)

Discovered/accomplished: Here are a few images from this weeks experiments with the quilt outside...

I think it was kind of funny to watch the geese as the quilt floated down the river towards them. They were a little confused...
I realized that camera angle makes a huge difference in how big the quilt looks. In the photo above, the quilt looks very small, but in the one below it looks as if it occupies much more space.

I liked the flexibility of the quilt to take on different forms. This photo reminds me of a miniature version of Christo & Jeanne-Claude's Wrapped Coast project in Australia.
As I have been constructing the quilt, I have been wondering about different ways light could affect it... These photos kind of happened by accident as my mom lifted the quilt with the light behind her. As clouds passed in front of the sun and the light's intensity changed, her silhouette became softer which I thought was really beautiful... It has given me a lot to think about in terms of playing with shadow and silhouette behind the quilt.

I have played with color adjustments in photoshop as well... the image on the left is closer to the original color of the photo straight out of the camera.
I made a word list in the hopes that it would help me figure out more about what I am really trying to accomplish... here goes:

bizarre/boundary of reality
surreal/surreal landscape

I also love this quote from the book Land Art:
"Places of this kind are outside of all places, even though it may be possible to indicate their location in reality." - Michael Foucault

I was also asked to answer WHAT my project is and WHY I am doing it, in order to prepare to write my proposal.

Art that explores human relationships with water and creates a surreal atmosphere that pushes the boundary of reality.

I intend to inspire deeper thought about our place in the world. My work should prompt questions about the role of humans in natural cycles.

Do: 1. I want to make silhouettes that I could place behind the quilt in order to create an illusion of a landscape/place that isn't really there.
2. I am going up north this weekend, in order to help my parents move, but I would like to experiment with a couple ideas I have had for outdoor installation ideas involving plastic.
3. I would like to do more research & consolidate research that I already have, especially plastic leaching into water & food. I want to read the water issue of Good Magazine.