A suite of diptychs about the development and experiences of a baby, and the parents who are raising her. On the left part of the diptych, a digital painting of the baby is overlaid by dialogue or monologue from the parents as “talking heads”; on the right part, the image of the baby is unobstructed. The format of the diptych is intended to foreground the connected, yet often parallel, experiences of parent and infant – the former existing in a world of language, the latter in a world of experience and sensation that precedes language. Exhibited at the Hobson Gallery, Reno, 2011.
At the Cartoon Art Museum, San Francisco, 2010, and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, New York, 2011. The two pieces of featured artwork in the below gallery are by Eric Drooker.
I co-curated The Art of Howl, a multimedia exhibit featuring animation art from the film Howl (2010). From the exhibit’s press release:
“Translating Ginsberg’s incendiary, oracular, stream-of-consciousness language into moving images was a unique challenge. The animation, like the poem, conjures a world of outcasts, ‘deviants,’ outlaws, poets and prophets digging for scraps of connection and enlightenment under the shadow of ‘Moloch’ – the overpowering industrial cityscape that demands submission, conformity, and ultimately annihilation.
“This multimedia exhibit includes character design drawings, animation keyframes and concept art, photos by Allen Ginsberg, storyboards, animatics, and images from Drooker’s graphic novel version of the poem.”
Howl, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s film about Allen Ginsberg’s seminal beat poem, was the opening feature film of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. It features James Franco in the Ginsberg role, and takes an experimental approach to documenting the creation and performance of the poem – as well as the obscenity trial that followed when, after undercover policemen purchased copies of Howl and Other Poems from San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore, the state tried to suppress its publication. The film blends glimpses of Ginsberg’s personal life, recreations of the obscenity trial, and animated sequences that accompany Franco’s performance of the poem, riffing on its ideas and images.
Graphic novelist and New Yorker cover artist Eric Drooker was the designer of the animation, and animation veteran John Hays was the animation director. I worked on storyboards for the third section of the poem, which is addressed directly to Carl Solomon, a fellow inmate with Ginsberg at the Columbia Psychiatric Institute (Ginsberg spent several months at the mental hospital). My storyboard animatic is below:
Multimedia Dance Theater Performance, at the Performática Festival, Peubla, Mexico, 2009, and at the Redfield Theater, University of Nevada Reno, 2009.
The Mirror Has Six Billion Faces was a collaboration with Kristin Heavey, Artistic Director of Element Dance Theater, and the dancers Cari Cunningham and Rick Southerland. It was inspired by the article How the Mind Works: Revelations, by Israel Rosenfield and Edward Ziff, published in the New York Review of Books. The article discussed mirror neurons:
“The importance of body image and motor activity for perception, physical movement, and thought is suggested by the recent discovery of ‘mirror neurons’ by Giacomo Rizzolatti and his colleagues. They observed that the neurons that fired when a monkey grasped an object also fired when the monkey watched a scientist grasp the same object. The monkey apparently understood the action of the experimenter because the activity within its brain was similar when the monkey was observing the experimenter and when the monkey was grasping the object. What was surprising was that the same neurons that produced ‘motor actions,’ i.e., actions involving muscular movement, were active when the monkey was perceiving those actions performed by others.”
In the performance, the two dancers mirrored and refracted each others’ movements. A large video projection both showed prior footage of the dancers’ bodies, their symmetry tweaked by interlacing the image with its own flipped reflection, and live footage of the dancers, interlaced so that at times the two bodies seemed to inhabit each other.
Drawings and Projections, at the Tahoe Gallery, 2008.
The exhibition traced the contours of a mind that’s in the process of failing. There were multiple images of a frail old woman, sometimes surrounded by visions that don’t quite correspond to the reality around her. Two large-format drawings were “colored in” by digital projections, which included brief animations that provided missing elements of the drawings themselves. The old woman’s hallucinations of ghosts, and of improbable visitations by gatherings of birds, alternately seem to comfort her, and to provide her an index for her deterioration.
Multimedia Dance Theater Performance and Art Installation, at CounterPULSE, 2008.
A performance created in collaboration with Navarrete x Kajiyama Dance Theater, Element Dance Theater, and artist Ilya Noé, staged as part of the San Francisco International Art Festival. The Mapping Project included video projection, animation, live music, and an exhibition of digital prints. The theme of the performance was the involuntary crossing of borders. Half of the dancers enacted images culled from stories from their grandparents, who suffered various displacements from the Second World War; the other half played out scenes of contemporary migration, making border crossings into shadow economies. The stage was dominated by a sculptural aluminum house, which was assembled, moved about, taken apart and reconfigured over the course of the performance.
My contributions included the creation of animation and digital projection, introducing staging and performance ideas, interviewing the dancers, creating and exhibiting digital prints based on those interviews, and running the projections for the live show.
Below is the text from one of the dancer interviews (it accompanied the print in the gallery above showing the screaming child with the elongated neck):
My family lived in Frankfurt while it was being bombed. There was an air raid and the family went down to go to the shelter. But my dad, he was about seven, he didn’t want to go. He got absolutely hysterical about it, screaming that he didn’t want to go. They gave up, and went back to their house. And found out, the next day, that the shelter had suffered a direct hit. Everyone in it had died. Dad doesn’t like to talk about this. Whenever Oma talked about it, her voice would get full of emotion, quivering, almost crying. That seemed to be one of the reasons Dad didn’t like to bring up the war – it would make Oma very emotional. He didn’t want us to learn German.
I didn’t understand all the implications. I knew my grandfather was in the army, but Oma said he wasn’t in the Nazi army, he was in the “other” army. It wasn’t until much later, somehow this came up with my boyfriend, who was Jewish. I told him my Opa was in the other army, and he said “Anna, there was no other army.” And a little light went off in my head.
New York-based arts organization Artists Space curated a series of webcasts called the YouTube Commentary Project in 2008-2009. In the words of Artists Space:
“Like ‘special features’ commentary on a commercial dvd, The YouTube Commentary Project involves injecting ideas, critique and comments recorded by artists about a YouTube video of their choice. After overlaying the recorded audio onto the video, we upload the results back onto YouTube and present it here. It’s part of Artists Space’s new WebCast: internet and computer based cultural content co-produced with artists around the world.”
I contributed a piece commenting on a video of a gun owner loading and unloading his gun (actually a toy replica of a .44 magnum, popularized by the movie Dirty Harry) against a red backdrop. It was also screened in the Video DADA show at UC Irvine – other artists included Shana Moulton, Negativland, Miranda July, and Kalup Linzy. From the press release:
“VIDEO DADA: No repeat of history, not neo-Dada, but still wreaking havoc with conventional parameters of art. Nowadays inventive, intelligent, and aesthetically sophisticated videos can be seen far afield, outside traditional art venues like museums and galleries. And artists circulate their videos on a much wider scale than that achieved by any television network. VIDEO DADA asks how these changes complicate the conceptual and aesthetic contours of art. The exhibition features 300 plus videos — playing on eight screens — by individual artists and art collectives that circulate in the hurly-burly multiverse of the internet. Some serious, some humorous, and some both at once, these works exercise manifold strategies: absurd drama, wry animation, politically astute collage, wild performance, and uncategorizable others. Some play with music; some incorporate extraordinary written or spoken texts; some prefer silence and all the noise that offers. In sum, VIDEO DADA surveys the internet’s amalgamation of popular culture and art, calling into question the difference between the two.“
Large-format Digital Prints, at the Richard L. Nelson Gallery, as part of the Gold Star exhibition, 2007.
A series of large-format digital prints, each roughly four feet by five feet, relating images sprung from the brain of a cow with Mad Cow disease. The pathology of the disease finds correspondences with episodes of bovine mythology; echoes of the cow-gods Audumbla, Io, Hathor, and Kamadhenu are woven into scenes of the cow eating, drinking, stumbling, suffering. Two flanking prints depict the cow watching a cannibal spider preparing its web-wrapped feast.
A print sequence of aquatint etchings, at the Fetterly Art Gallery, as part of the Paper Cuts exhibition, 2007.
This sequence was a response to images of martyred saints one can find in the old churches of Europe. There, the saints may offer to the viewer some example of their martyrdom – eyes that have been gouged out, a breast that has been cut off – displayed on a platter, as if serving a dinner of themselves. In this sequence, it is left to the viewer to imagine the circumstances of the saint’s martyrdom, and the rituals that have formed in that martyrdom’s wake.
Drawings on vellum, layered between sheets of plexiglass and illuminated from behind by lightbulbs, at the Pence Gallery, as part of the TB9 and the Fiction Factory exhibition, 2006.
The layered images were drawn from Google image searches. Each composite drawing was organized around the first page of results returned from a search for a particular word – for example, “dead,” or “self-portrait.” The work was partly an attempt to pull the digital flow of information back into the realm of the hand-made, and partly an attempt to discern the outlines of the new alphabet that could potentially emerge from the act of yoking images to words through search algorithms.