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 UPenn  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!

Home Sweet Home: Senior BFA Solo Exhibition (plus some cheese)

The past 5 years of my undergraduate career boiled down to this one week.

I had been looking forward to it since Spring 2011. I had envisioned my senior show to be amazing, over the top, and the best I could make it. I’m so relieved to write that I was not disappointed.

First and foremost, before I swamp all of you with photos of the installation, there are a lot of people in my life I need to thank.

If you want to fore-go the cheese fest that is about to ensue, I suggest you scroll to the pictures.

My friends– for the enthusiasm they showed whenever it came to me taking pictures, whether or not it was photos of them or photos of garbage on the street. Their encouragement and support for my art has been the biggest influence on pushing me forward. I like seeing people smile, and I like impressing people even more (not even gonna lie about that– it’s so true.) So, thank you, for letting me impress you, and for saying to me, “Hey! I want my picture taken too!”

My teachers– for finding my potential and for pushing me to use it. For all of the times where I did something well and it was pointed out, and for the times I didn’t do something well and was challenged to improve. Mr. Ceresa, thank you for teaching me how to draw. I know I’m mostly into photography, but when I work with other media, your lessons come to mind (as does your sarcasm.) Mrs. Belf, there is a never ending list of things I can thank you for. The biggest thank you I have is for your encouragement. If it weren’t for you, and I sincerely mean this, I would not be where I am today and I would not be going to grad school this fall. Pointing out how I liked to work in series changed everything for my photography, and you taught me the basics for everything I know now. I cannot thank you enough.

My Mitchell– for carrying the heavy things, modeling last minute, and driving me around for materials and shoots. For turning on the generator in the woods and for making everything fit in your small car. For being the best assistant a photographer could ask for. For being friendly and kind to my friends. For hanging up the frames because the hammer bit my finger. For being the wonderful person you are.

And for carrying the heavy things– did I mention that?

My professors– for, really, everything. There are so many of you that have made me a better artist and person, each in your own small way. I can write better, explain myself with ease, take nice photographs, understand the technical aspects of my craft, and talk to my peers on account of you all. Thank you.

My Mom– for the sewing marathons, driving me around the country, taking me around the world, finding props in the basement, making costumes, filming in sketchy parts of the city, for loving me and telling me I’m amazing (and also making weird faces when I make something that isn’t so amazing,) and for dressing up as a creepy clown holding a butcher knife. It’s all your fault I’m here today. Who knew that making Popsicle-stick people and bead animal key-chains would lead to this? When I told you “I miss making art,” and you told me, “Well, maybe you should major in it,” I didn’t realize I was going to make my life out of it. I love you, mom. It really is all your fault. ❤

BUT ENOUGH OF THE CHEESE

Mostly everything I made for my exhibition had been made in the last two months, excluding my Home Sweet Home photographs. I essentially created the concept for my show around those photographs. So, only that piece and the embroidery-hoop pieces were things I did for class, the rest were on my own time.

Filling up the gallery was a daunting task. I had drawn numerous mock ups in preparation, but, of course, since they weren’t to scale they didn’t work out. I moved things around so many times, but the end result couldn’t have been better. I was so happy with everything, it was one of the saddest days of my life, taking everything down.

I didn’t envision my show to be made with different mediums, but it turned out for the better. I had traditional prints (Home Sweet Home,) mixed media photographs printed on cotton (Memory Mapping,) a video installation of home movies from when I was a kid (Documented Evidence,) a chair with a slip cover made out of photographs printed on cotton (Comfort,) and a few photographs that were weaved together (I Still See It Everywhere.) My concept was to bring the past and the present in my childhood home together, and all these mediums portrayed this idea in a different way. It was awesome.

There were a few things that were a total hit– well, more than a few, since my rubber ducky collection is MASSIVE. They were a last minute addition to my show, as was the dollhouse and the side table covered in mail. I was trying to push the chaotic feeling of being in my old house by incorporating these objects into the mix.

And yes, that is sawdust, and yes, that is a book of matches. All in the dollhouse! Humor!

The one last thing about the work in my show that I want to mention is my video installation, Documented Evidence. I had gotten a bunch of old televisions a while back for a photo shoot, and they have been sitting in my basement ever since. I’m not sure when or how or why the idea came to me, but they ended up in my show for one reason: proof. My entire concept was about how the house was the way it was, but I didn’t have any evidence of what the house looked like before all the construction began. That’s where the home videos came in. There were scenes of my house that I felt needed to be seen, to make the exhibition come full circle for my viewers.

It actually was a huge pain. I had all of these TV sets, but no DVD players– but I do have wonderful friends who lent me theirs (THANKS SHELBY, RACHEL, AND ELAINE!) What I didn’t know was that DVD players do not typically hook up to older TVs. So I became an expert on RF modulators realllll quick. It all worked out in the end, and the video installation was by far my favorite part of my show.

To see the video installation, follow this link to my YouTube.

So, if you missed out on my show, I hope this post paints a picture for you of what it was like. Thank you to everyone who helped out and showed up– having you all there meant the world to me.

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!

 

Perfecting Prints

I started playing around with my prints last week, and after getting nice results from altering negatives, I thought I would play with my prints some more.

Story time: I hoard craft supplies. Some would say it is a problem (I say it is a problem,) but people usually come to me, asking for x art supply, and whaddayouknow, I have it! I was looking at the baby doll picture and thought this would be great if I had googly-eyes… maybe I do have googly-eyes? Well damn skippy I sure did! Take that, doubters! Also, who said Lisa Frank stickers were only good for the 90s?

And yes, I have a plastic horse. Sue me.

And also yes, I have store mannequins.

And also yes yes, that last photo is an accurate representation of my life.

When I compose these images behind the camera, they look pretty surreal, kind of dream like, and when you alter negatives, the effect increases. But,you have to work itty-bitty with negatives. So working on the prints was cool, considering one googly-eye would cover an entire 35mm negative, but not a 4×6 print. Boo-yah.

Happy Shooting!

 

Positives About Negatives

My negatives from my last batch of film have been altered, and they look pretty interesting! I’d say they definitely add more dream elements. Or surreal elements. Whatever. Check them out:

I’m pretty pleased with these. The option of altering negatives is a good one, because I was able to make the photos that I didn’t like very much (or just weren’t good compositionally/content/justplainugly.) I’m a huge fan of the ghost sequins and the inverted Lisa Frank stickers. The former looks straight from some bad acid trip.

Well, now I have a new hobby. Oops.

I have an assignment for next week where I have to think about how I’m going to alter the negatives while I’m shooting- so, I’m shooting to alter. Pretty pumped~

If you have access to a film scanner, try this out! You can use just about anything. I used nail polish, glue, tape, a hole punch, thread, I used a needle to scratch at the emulsion, and colored pens and sequins. Oh, and a fortune from a fortune cookie I’ve been keeping around for probably more than a year now. I’m not a hoarder.

So, yeah. Happy Shooting!

 

P.S.- Fun story about the ghost one. When I was little I had really awful nightmares, so my mom got me a dream catcher. It worked for a while until one night I had a really awful nightmare. When I woke up the next day, the dream catcher was in pieces on the floor. Spooky.

Dream Theme

Last night I was feeling crafty but I was sitting at my desk and my chair was just so comfy and getting up was the equivalent to scaling Mt. Everest I just kinda grabbed what was within reach and this happened:

I played around with my extra prints. I highly suggest you try this sometime, because it was really fun. The top one I used nail polish- pretty cool, huh? Check out your local dollar store or Poundland or wherever you live that has the equivalent of a dollar store and invest in some cheap sparkly nail polish.

These are definitely following my dream theme (hey, that rhymes!) I’d say they are even more dreamy than before… I wonder what else I can do in the future?

I’m filling up another dream roll this weekend, so that should be fun. I’m looking forward to exploring this motif further.

Happy Shooting!