Tuesday, October 26, 2010

25 seconds

Finally I have started the final piece based on the sound waves of my voice. When it is complete it will be 10 feet long, but shown in a loop, so that it is actually 5 ft long on each side. The stuttering sound wave will be displayed on one side, and the viewer may walk around to see the other side containing the confident sound wave. The piece is 18.5 " wide. I have begun the stuttering sound wave, which is in an opposing color scheme to that of the confident. Done entirely in subtle variations of white and cream. This image actually depicts the sound wave as being more legible than it is in real life; the variance in the tones is extremely subtle.

My goal is to have this piece completed in time for the graduate student show we are installing here at NIU; the opening is on November 11th, so I haven't much time!

These images contain a test I have begun using handmade hemp fiber and found, fallen seed pods. The pods are large, and oddly-shaped, and perhaps most incredibly, they make sound as they are moved and shaken. I'm not sure where this piece will go yet; my immediate thought was to build a giant wind chime out of them, where the viewer could move through them and interact, and cause their own sound patterns.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath

It is no secret that one of my greatest inspirations is the writing of Sylvia Plath. Her entire story has always held a hold on me, but I particularly enjoy the melodramatic journals of her youth, a period in which she was ever-observant and critical of the society and surroundings in which she found herself. Recently a poem by her husband Ted Hughes has been released, written in the days following her death. He refers often to the woman for whom he left Sylvia. Only a few years later his new wife ended her life and the life of their child in a copy-cat suicide. As I have always been interested in Sylvia's story I have not devoted much attention to Ted Hughes or his writing - it is interesting to gain insight into a different perspective of the happenings.

What happened that night? Your final night.
Double, treble exposure
Over everything. Late afternoon, Friday,
My last sight of you alive.
Burning your letter to me, in the ashtray,
With that strange smile. Had I bungled your plan?
Had it surprised me sooner than you purposed?
Had I rushed it back to you too promptly?
One hour later—-you would have been gone
Where I could not have traced you.
I would have turned from your locked red door
That nobody would open
Still holding your letter,
A thunderbolt that could not earth itself.
That would have been electric shock treatment
For me.
Repeated over and over, all weekend,
As often as I read it, or thought of it.
That would have remade my brains, and my life.
The treatment that you planned needed some time.
I cannot imagine
How I would have got through that weekend.
I cannot imagine. Had you plotted it all?

Your note reached me too soon—-that same day,
Friday afternoon, posted in the morning.
The prevalent devils expedited it.
That was one more straw of ill-luck
Drawn against you by the Post-Office
And added to your load. I moved fast,
Through the snow-blue, February, London twilight.
Wept with relief when you opened the door.
A huddle of riddles in solution. Precocious tears
That failed to interpret to me, failed to divulge
Their real import. But what did you say
Over the smoking shards of that letter
So carefully annihilated, so calmly,
That let me release you, and leave you
To blow its ashes off your plan—-off the ashtray
Against which you would lean for me to read
The Doctor’s phone-number.
My escape
Had become such a hunted thing
Sleepless, hopeless, all its dreams exhausted,
Only wanting to be recaptured, only
Wanting to drop, out of its vacuum.
Two days of dangling nothing. Two days gratis.
Two days in no calendar, but stolen
From no world,
Beyond actuality, feeling, or name.

My love-life grabbed it. My numbed love-life
With its two mad needles,
Embroidering their rose, piercing and tugging
At their tapestry, their bloody tattoo
Somewhere behind my navel,
Treading that morass of emblazon,
Two mad needles, criss-crossing their stitches,
Selecting among my nerves
For their colours, refashioning me
Inside my own skin, each refashioning the other
With their self-caricatures,

Their obsessed in and out. Two women
Each with her needle.
That night
My dellarobbia Susan. I moved
With the circumspection
Of a flame in a fuse. My whole fury
Was an abandoned effort to blow up
The old globe where shadows bent over
My telltale track of ashes. I raced
From and from, face backwards, a film reversed,
Towards what? We went to Rugby St
Where you and I began.
Why did we go there? Of all places
Why did we go there? Perversity
In the artistry of our fate
Adjusted its refinements for you, for me
And for Susan. Solitaire
Played by the Minotaur of that maze
Even included Helen, in the ground-floor flat.
You had noted her—-a girl for a story.
You never met her. Few ever met her,
Except across the ears and raving mask
Of her Alsatian. You had not even glimpsed her.
You had only recoiled
When her demented animal crashed its weight
Against her door, as we slipped through the hallway;
And heard it choking on infinite German hatred.

That Sunday night she eased her door open
Its few permitted inches.
Susan greeted the black eyes, the unhappy
Overweight, lovely face, that peeped out
Across the little chain. The door closed.
We heard her consoling her jailor
Inside her cell, its kennel, where, days later,
She gassed her ferocious kupo, and herself.

Susan and I spent that night
In our wedding bed. I had not seen it
Since we lay there on our wedding day.
I did not take her back to my own bed.
It had occurred to me, your weekend over,
You might appear—-a surprise visitation.
Did you appear, to tap at my dark window?
So I stayed with Susan, hiding from you,
In our own wedding bed—-the same from which
Within three years she would be taken to die
In that same hospital where, within twelve hours,
I would find you dead.
Monday morning
I drove her to work, in the City,
Then parked my van North of Euston Road
And returned to where my telephone waited.

What happened that night, inside your hours,
Is as unknown as if it never happened.
What accumulation of your whole life,
Like effort unconscious, like birth
Pushing through the membrane of each slow second
Into the next, happened
Only as if it could not happen,
As if it was not happening. How often
Did the phone ring there in my empty room,
You hearing the ring in your receiver—-
At both ends the fading memory
Of a telephone ringing, in a brain
As if already dead. I count
How often you walked to the phone-booth
At the bottom of St George’s terrace.
You are there whenever I look, just turning
Out of Fitzroy Road, crossing over
Between the heaped up banks of dirty sugar.
In your long black coat,
With your plait coiled up at the back of your hair
You walk unable to move, or wake, and are
Already nobody walking
Walking by the railings under Primrose Hill
Towards the phone booth that can never be reached.
Before midnight. After midnight. Again.
Again. Again. And, near dawn, again.

At what position of the hands on my watch-face
Did your last attempt,
Already deeply past
My being able to hear it, shake the pillow
Of that empty bed? A last time
Lightly touch at my books, and my papers?
By the time I got there my phone was asleep.
The pillow innocent. My room slept,
Already filled with the snowlit morning light.
I lit my fire. I had got out my papers.
And I had started to write when the telephone
Jerked awake, in a jabbering alarm,
Remembering everything. It recovered in my hand.
Then a voice like a selected weapon
Or a measured injection,
Coolly delivered its four words
Deep into my ear: ‘Your wife is dead.’

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sound wave weaving!

With the help of Bart Woodstrup, one of the professors in Time Arts here, I have finally discovered the visual representation of the sounds of my voice saying "I had a disparate nature... my nature is disparate still".
I have an image from me stuttering, and one from me saying it with confidence. I'm still working it out, but I'm either going to create one large, tall weaving with the two sound waves going across it horizontally, one over the other, or.... two different weavings, one of each wave, and title them the length of time it took me to say it. "2.4 seconds" will be the sound wave of confidence, and "25 seconds", which is the length of the stuttering file.

The stuttering image:

The confidence image:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Weaving, oh yes

How can I be a fibers artist and not know how to weave? Fortunately this issue is being rectified while I am here in school, as I am finally taking my first weaving class with Christine LoFaso. To continue with my theme of working through issues of sound and voice visually, I am making my first conceptual weaving based on a sound wave.

It is a test to see if I should continue along these lines. If I decide this process is worthwhile, I will make a large-scale weaving based on a sound wave of my own voice talking, perhaps (this is still undecided) only the phrase "I had a disparate nature, my nature is disparate still" to coincide with my paper piece.

I'm working in plain weave format, with two shades of brown cotton yarn as my base, and using inlays of white and pink to create the sound wave image. After I finish this weaving I will test out a variety of materials and color schemes before I begin the large, final piece.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

I am taking the first class towards completing my Museum Studies certificate here at NIU, in addition to my MFA - Introduction to Museum Studies. For the class we had to choose one local museum to report on throughout the course of the semester, and I have chosen the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. It was a wonderful choice because I have always wanted to go, and I have never before had the chance. Now I get to visit several times throughout the semester!

On Friday I went to photograph and review one of the exhibits there, The Lost Panoramas. While there I couldn't resist spending some time in the Butterfly Haven at the museum, a beautiful rainforest of a room filled with a hundred species of butterflies, flying free all around you. This place could cheer anyone in the depths of winter. As it grows colder, definitely check it out - admission is only $9 for adults and $7 for students.