Even More Ideal Instances

Here we are again, with more altered, vintage Polaroids. Have fun.

There will be dozens of more posts about this, so stay tuned. If this is your first time seeing this project, feel free to click here to find out more.

Happy Shooting!

More Ideal Instances

I’m still going strong with my project, Ideal Instances. The goal is to create 1000 altered, found Polaroid pictures, and right now I’m at about 200. Here is the next installment!

Since I’m creating so many of these, I have the tendency to get stuck. I don’t want to get repetitive, which is quite the goal for 1000 of these, but I find that the longer I look at these Polaroids, the more potential stories I find. I may have to look through my stack 50 times before I get an idea for one Polaroid, but it is always worth it. I’m still making these and scanning them in, so, trust me, there will be plenty of updates. Wish me luck on my next batch! Happy Shooting!

Ideal Instances

Over the last month or so, I’ve been continuing work on my found Polaroids. When I initially started, I thought the work was about connections, longing, and the notion of family. I wasn’t really grounded in this concept, because it was one of those things that made sense in my head, but in context just didn’t convey what I hoped. But, because I’m stubborn, I kept working on this piece to figure out what it was about. It was bothering me, and I needed to figure it out, so I didn’t stop. I’ve made a break-through recently. Around Polaroid #120, everything clicked.

I was making up narratives in these photographs, and I was playing along in others. I was altering and editing and censoring them. I don’t know these people. Can’t these things be said about how we present ourselves today, on social media?

It’s no secret that we fabricate our lives for the internet. Everything we put on Facebook is carefully tailored to the image of ourselves we want the world to see. Sometimes the lives we create for ourselves are the total opposite of what we really are, or what we’re really going through. Like the UPennĀ  Student who looked fine on Instagram, but was anything but. Or, the girl who pretended to go on vacation, but was actually at home. We are making up our lives.

Thing is, this phenomenon isn’t anything new. We’ve been doing this since forever, carefully picking and choosing what we wish people to know about us. We put on different masks, hide things, make things up. The Polaroids I’ve been working with have a common thread– they are photos of instances that are happy, the kind of events that warrant a camera. Birthday parties, family reunions, holidays, vacations, all of the things in life that are supposed to be joyful. This is fine, but when you flip through your old family albums, you can’t help but notice some small things. Like blank spaces in the album, or a photograph of two people who look so happy, but they actually got into a huge argument years later and they now hate each other. Or a photograph of a loved one that looks so calm, but really they were dying of cancer. Photographs don’t tell the truth. But we still believe they do.

So many of us go on social media and get depressed that everyone is having more fun than us. Spoiler alert: it’s not true. The people you are envious of aren’t posting their woes on social media, because why would they? Why would they do that when they can show the world the ideal version of themselves? We put filters on our images. We edit them and we alter the content. With my Polaroids, I’m doing the same thing. Sometimes, I’m making fun of the efforts we go through to hide ourselves. Other times, I play along with the narrative in the photo, as we oftentimes do with our friends on Facebook or Instagram. “Oh, Katie looks so happy with her new guy, even though last night she called me crying about how she missed her ex. Oh well, I’ll like this picture anyway.” And, sometimes, I hint at the more melancholy parts of life that we all deal with, but pretend don’t exist. It’s a curious phenomenon.

The other connection I made with this project is how I kept thinking of Instagram and the editing features on that application, and the relationship to the Polaroid. Y’know, the earliest “instant” image? Snap a photo, wait a minute, and see if it’s what you like. Looks bad? Re-take it. Just like with our cellphones today. “Ew! I look terrible in that one– let’s do it again!” We really haven’t changed over the decades.

So, here are the next, uh, 51 Polaroids of my piece. I have 100 more of these, but, y’know, excess and all that.

I plan on having 1000 of these fabrications by the end of the summer.

Wish me luck.

Happy Shooting!

The House I Don’t Remember

I moved out of the Home Sweet Home house not too long ago, and things have changed in that house since then. It’s not the way I remember it at all. While I was in the process of moving, the photo album of a lot of my baby pictures was rediscovered. Inside were photos of my family and I in the house– only it looked completely different from anything I recall. I lived in this house before it became the house I knew, but I have no memory of it. At all. Yet, there is photographic evidence of my early life there.

I recently re-visited the house and took photographs with this project in mind. I had the Polaroids with me and I tried to replicate the composition of my house from the early 90s with what remains of it today. The thing about both the old pictures and new is that I don’t live in either of the scenes. Technically I did live in the house of the Polaroids, but since I don’t remember, I might as well never had. It’s a strange feeling, like a nostalgia for a place I’ve never been.

I created this series in anticipation for my senior BFA show (basically my thesis for my studio art degree,) and I can say with confidence that they worked extraordinarily well with everything else in my show– which I will be blogging about very soon, so keep an eye out!

That’s all for now. Happy Shooting!

Alice in Wonderland

For years, I’ve been wanting to create an Alice in Wonderland series. Like, since high school, when I was still taking pictures of flowers and clouds and shoes and railroad tracks (the usual rights of passage for young photographers.) But, I wouldn’t do it. I saw too many series that looked the same, and the world didn’t need one more copy. Then I saw Elena Kalis’ Alice in Wonderland series and threw my hands up in surrender. Because dang son.

It took me a while to come up with an idea I approved of, and, as you can guess because I’m writing about it, I did.

The idea involved a scanner, endless hours of torment and despair, a thorough search through my house for objects, a couple trips to the dollar store, a broken laptop, and sheer tenacity because honestly I wanted to throw in the towel so many times that if I did there would be enough towels for everyone at the local YMCA. That’s a lot of towels.

I started working on these in October, I had ten finished mid-November, and over my holiday break from school I completed them.

So here have some scanography:

Scanography Alice in Wonderland Series, my friends.

This was a fun deviation away from my work on dreams without actually deviating away from my work on dreams. Lemmie explain: Alice’s adventures were dreams. TADA. Also, all of my models have their eyes closed, which has an open interpretation. Are they dreaming of these characters? Are they these characters? Dude, who knows. I’m not tellin’.

I had the idea to make this series in 2012, after I did a self-portrait similar to the style of these images. I wanted to take objects that reminded me of the lovable characters, scan them, and piece them together as collages. I used my friends, and did my best to match up each person to each character. I have a feeling my friend Megan is going to kill me for making her the Mock Turtle.

Having read the books and watched many different movie versions, I had a lot of material to work with. It’s no wonder I was able to make these, considering all the resource material I had at my disposal.

There are three more I’d like to make, but the characters are a little more difficult to find objects that match them. Any guesses as to who is missing?

This past year or so has taught me that patience is amazing. More than once this year I accomplished a photo shoot that I had in mind a year or more, but didn’t execute because I either didn’t have the materials and needed to slowly accumulate them or I felt I didn’t have the skill set. I’m pretty impatient at times, but this year has proven to me that good things come to those that wait. So, don’t give up on an idea. Put it up on a shelf for a while for when you’re ready to revisit it.

Happy Shooting!

The Window Sticker of Epic Lisa Frank Proportions (Ft. Snow White’s Animal Companions)

One of my most recent assignments involved creating a 2’x5′ window sticker. Okay, maybe window sticker isn’t the fine art term, but really, it’s a giant sticker. It was a cool project because it forced me to think about the installation space, i.e. what was outside the window.

Since I’m graduating soon, I’ve been forced to deal with the inevitability of real life. I’ll be leaving my easy-going life behind and take a step out into the scary real world. Talk about pressure. That’s the concept that was following me while creating this piece. It hung on my shoulders while scouring the library for books on the planet earth and trees and animals for scanning purposes. It kept nudging me, reminding me that even though NASA has free images of galaxies available on their site, I have to get my head out of the clouds and watch where I’m going when I walk across the stage this May. Thanks a bunch, future.

But my sticker looks like Lisa Frank made it, so there’s that.

Doesn’t my future look awfully snowy? I’ll take that as a good omen of getting into a graduate school program in the north (which is where all the schools I applied to are located–yay!)

Installing the sticker was easier than I thought it would be, especially because I had the assistance of my lovely boyfriend. Doesn’t he look great on that ladder? I think so, too.

My little animal friends in the corner of the doorway are funny. When asked about them, prompted with, “Are they representative of the people in your life?” I responded eloquently, “They’re just my animal friends. Kinda like Snow White.”

If I had a re-do button, I would go back to say that the animals are reminiscent of childlike innocence. These are the last few months of my life where I get to hold on to whats left on that in my life (and not metaphorically– artists do have the luxury of holding onto the creativity childhood brings, so at least there’s that.) So, my animal friends, my childhood innocence, is seeing me out the door. How’s that for concept?

That’s all for my animal friends and I for now. Go make a window sticker or something.

Happy Shooting!

Dream On: More Negative Alterations Depicting Dreams

Even though I’ve been insanely busy with ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, I’m still producing work! I’ve been working on my dream series some more, manipulating negatives, and just kind of trying new things out.

(Shout out to all of my friends who modeled for me, and to my boyfriend for drawing a tiny little ship for me, and holding the scary lighter when burning the negative for the last one.)

So, how did I do these? I’ll tell ya, even though I’m risking losing my reputation as a total genius (or losing my delusions of grandeur.)

The falling one was all about timing and flipping the frame. Have a friend jump, and if you timed it correctly, they may look like they are falling off the earth!

The ship one was simple enough- a little ship was sewn onto the negative. You have to be able to draw really tiny (or know someone who can.) Or, an alternative could be to draw a ship directly onto the print.

That dark blob thing was just a three-second exposure of my friend thrashing around in a big poofy black dress.

Ah, yes. The girl cut in two. This one is really easy, if you have a splitzer. A splitzer is one of those tools Lomographers like to use, and I think you can buy one, but what’s the point in that when you can just make one out of black construction paper? Trace your lens, cut out the circular shape, cut that in half, and ta-da! A splitzer. To make a cool photo like the one above, have the splitzer cover half of your frame, snap the picture, double expose the frame (see google for how to do this with your camera,) and put the splitzer on the other side of your frame, and snap again. Cool, huh?

Nail polish and camera angles for the tree one. I saw someone do something like this somewhere (flickr maybe?) and I kinda wanted to try it. Throw some glitter nail polish on, and it looks like there are little fairy lights bobblin’ around.

The star one is easily one of my favorite because I’m a huge sucker for rainbows. This one took pre-planning, with negative alterations in mind. I took a star shaped hole-punch, a needle to scratch out the other stars, and star nail polish. Boom.

The bunny photo and the whale photo are just double exposures.

The last one was tricky. Again, I planned ahead with alterations in mind. My boyfriend and I took the negative and burned it, to make it look like he is running away from a burning frame. We used one of those long lighters to lower risk of injury, and burned it slowly. I played with the saturation of the burned parts in Photoshop, and that’s how that one was done.

I think we’re done altering negatives now for class, but man, I don’t think I’m done. I’m going to keep this technique in mind for the future. And, for the love of God, try this technique some time.

Happy Shooting!