My family trip to Miami got canceled due to the huge snow storm in the tri-state area. I decided to come home for a week to clear my head. On the plane ride home I jotted down some notes for things I have left to do for this project...due in one month...and wow is this list LONG.
I also have some notes from last week, including notes I took from Melissa Allison's visit.
This week was very productive- I met with a lot of different people and received great advice on how to move forward with various aspects of my project. I also worked on some potential book covers and spreads, and had another interview with Jay.
I had a great meeting with Mark Nielson to talk about the presentation of my work in the gallery. I presented him with a few ideas, and he really loved the idea of having a tent as a space to house the sound and book. He reinforced the importance of having the tent be very large scale so that people will want to enter the space. I asked him his thoughts on having the tent outside and immediately he thought of putting the tent on State Street during opening night. He said we could place the tent on the parking spot that is in front of the gallery. Since the tent would only be present on opening night, he said I could also have a space in the gallery to show my book, a few images, and a set of headphones to listen to the sound piece. I was so excited after this meeting!
I have always loved this one photo I took of the camp meeting back in November. I love how the silhouettes look from the outside of the tent. Having a tent installation outside would allow me to paint a similar picture.
On Wednesday I met with Adrianne Finelli, my “Home” studio professor, about ideas for presentation (20 min). She brought up great ideas for my project, as she is very familiar with installation work. Adrianne loved the idea of using an actual tent to showcase the images & sound. I asked her thoughts on different ways to present the collaborative images (sewn on to the tent, sprawled out on a table, hanging from ceiling, etc.), but she really thought a book was the best option. It is a more intimate way to view the sequence of events leading up to the snow storm.
I also met with Patrick Young (30 min) to go over advanced Photoshop techniques to make the most of the disposable camera images. He was so helpful and taught me different tools to use to improve the detail on my images. Although I am very familiar with Photoshop, he taught me specific techniques that are specific to CS4. I asked him to show me the maximum size I can print these images without losing much detail. After some experimenting, we were both very surprised to find out that these disposable prints can be blown up to 17x22 and not lose very much detail!
I also went to Stephanie’s Sound & Story Class yesterday (3 hours) and got great feedback from Melissa Allison, a radio producer. It was a really great experience. She had some suggestions, including to cut down the piece by 1 minute, and to rerecord the intro so that I am closer to the mic.
Last night I met with Jay (1 hour) because I wanted to be updated on what is going on with the tents being forced out. He also told me great news-he is checking out apartments to rent. The best part of the interview was when I asked him his advice on ways of presenting the work. He loved the tent idea and even offered to help set it up for the show.
I created mock layouts for my book & book covers (3 hours) and got helpful feedback from Franc on these ones in particular:
I played around the book titles "Inside my tent looking out" because that is what Jay wrote once as his caption. I also thought about “without a home, with a camera." During critique it was suggested I flip it to say “with a camera, without a home.” I like how that sounds. As far as a favorite book cover, everyone liked the full page bleed image "inside my tent looking out", as it does not give away the other photos, yet still has a powerful presence.
I also went to the library to research ideas for installation (2 hours).
I also met with Megan Levad to talk about my news article. The meeting went very well and I am looking forward to cleaning the article up and sending it out to Ann Arbor News in the upcoming weeks.
More book layout designs.
I also would like to record the voice mail messages Jay has left me; I could possibly play that in the gallery/tent.
I want to go find a tent over break! I will be searching for the perfect blue tent that will have a nice presence outside.
Artist Ksubi created an installation inspired by "the hand built shelters of the homeless people of Tokyo’s streets. The installation Home honey, I’m hi! reflects both the Japanese obsession for material comforts and our desire for a simpler hassle-free existence."
I am testing out different book covers for the collaborative series. I'm playing with how prominent I want the image vs. text.
NOTE: the black boxes are not borders, I just threw it on there to show page size.
For the book's intro...I think the dialogue Jay & I shared when I asked him to participate in the project is strong. Instead of describing the project in first-person perspective, I am thinking of writing out the dialogue instead:
This week a lot of time was spent thinking about presentation (5 hours). I also spent time putting the final touches on my sound piece (2 hours), writing the AA News article so I could send it to Megan Levak (4 hours), and reworking my thesis (4 hours).
Since we are meeting with the gallery coordinators next week, I want to be confident in my presentation decision so I can get their feedback. In all of the options, I am confident in the fact that I will create a small book of the collaborative series (with about 25 images), so that the viewer can see all of the images in a complete series. I have a lot of technical work to do on the collaborative series in Photoshop to make the images look completely sharp and crisp in color.
These were the following ideas I presented to the small group critiques on Tuesday:
Option 1: Presenting 8 large images from the collaborative series with Jay, as well as presenting 3-4 headphones to listen to various sound pieces. The book of 25 images will also be on display.
This option's is very clean and simple, which is very similar to the way I work in graphic design. This presentation is the most approachable. Yet is it too safe?
What the group discussed: Some of the group members felt this was the best option because of the clean design and liked the fact that the images were blown up. However, others felt that people would hesitate to put on the headphones.
I like the idea of listening to the sound pieces, while looking around at the large images. Many people can view these images at the same time. However, does it transform the viewer into a new space?
Option 2: I came up with the idea of interactive zippers. Since Jay always talks about struggling with zippers and his longing for doorknobs, I thought this was an interesting solution. I would place the photographs on wood and cover them with blue tarp and a zipper. The participant would have to uncover the image by opening the zipper. The book of 25 images will also be on display, as well as headphones to listen to the sound piece.
What the group discussed: Everyone really liked this idea because of the interactive quality. However, everyone also agreed that realistically, there are some serious technical issues here. How do I actually go about constructing this? How do I make this not look sloppy? How do they uncover the image in its entirety?
Option 3: Tent Installation. I place a large tent on the floor of the gallery, to create an interesting space for the viewer to enter. From the outside, the tent looks like an ordinary camping tent. Once you walk inside, you hear the voice of Jay as the sound piece is going off. Crates will be placed around the large tent so people can sit and listen, and view the collaborative series book (there may be four or five copies of the book if I do this option).
What the group discussed: In my small group, everyone agreed this was the most promising solution because it completely transformed the space. All of a sudden, the viewer is surrounded by voices and imagery.
I think this option is exciting me the most. I can play with lighting in the tent, and have large lanterns around the tent as this is what the homeless have been using for lighting. Maybe I can even place this tent outside of the gallery on State Street on the opening night. Seeing the shadows of participants inside the tent might be interesting. I can also play with various sounds in the tents: his voice from the doorknobs sound piece, ambient sounds of the highway going off, his voicemail that he left me yesterday how the state is taking down the tents, etc.
This idea allows the viewer to play an active role in the experience by entering a new space. Ultimately, the issue of homeless will not be solved unless there is active participation by society, so it plays off that idea as well.
There are some technical issues with this, as the tent needs to be very, very large. I don't want viewers to hesitate entering a cramped, crowded space. I want to invite them into the experience.
What do you think of this idea? Any help would be very useful. I really want to go with an idea and run with it. If I choose the tent option, I can spend all break picking the perfect size tent.
I am meeting Jay this weekend to interview him about what has been going on with the state forcing them to leave the area (see last blog post). I want to ask him what they plan to do, what his next steps are, how close he is to getting an apartment, etc.
I am also meeting with Megan Levad tomorrow to go over my writing piece. I have also e-mailed Patrick Young about help with advanced Photoshop techniques.
I am going to start working on layouts for my book as well.
Before break, I would love to have picked a direction for presentation. Any advice/opinions/suggestions on type of presentation you think is working best would be very helpful!
This week was spent putting the final touches on the audio piece. I worked with sound for about 15 hours this week.
I worked on editing the piece so that the word "doorknobs" isn't so repetitive. I cut out about four "doorknobs" in total. I typed up a new transcript for the sound piece; I am going to include the audio transcript in the second draft of my thesis.
On Friday I recorded the sound piece's introduction in the V-Room. For this first attempt, I tried to sound professional, but it ended up coming out monotone and unnatural.
I listened to "Talk the Copy" a podcast recommended by Stephanie. In the hour and a half podcast, Marilyn Pittman teaches you how to be a better storyteller.
Not only does she give great advice, but she is also a comedian and is absolutely hysterical. I took some notes on the podcast:
After listening to her advice, I realized just how monotone I sounded. The best advice from the podcast was to say "Well Marilyn..." right before you speak. For example, "TODAY IN THE NEWS..." sounds much different than "Well Marilyn, today in the news..."
I recorded a new introduction yesterday and it sounded much better; however, I still was unhappy with it. Last night, I spent another hour rerecording the introduction, and I think this last piece recorded is the best one (see last couple of blog posts).
I spent about an hour today listening to previous submissions to the Marathon of Homelessness. I am submitting my piece tomorrow.
I really enjoyed working with sound for the past 6 weeks. I want to continue perfecting the piece before the show, and I also want to work on other elements of my project in the upcoming weeks. I think I may put the sound aside for a week or two, so I can come back to the piece with completely fresh ears.
What is next?
I want to put together a week-by-week plan for the next 7 weeks. I'm also going to put together some visual solutions for how my work might be presented in the gallery. The goal is to have a few options to show the class in critique on Tuesday.
I am planning on writing up a draft of the AnnArbor.com article so that I can send it to Megan Levad by Saturday.
I also want to talk to Patrick Young about the collaborative photo series. Some of the pictures seem murky and not a crisp black; I want to find out about different Photoshop tools & techniques I can use to make the most of the images.
I have a strong interest in creating a book that works with the images I present in the gallery. Maybe I will present 8 large images of the collaborative series in the gallery, and on the side, have a book that encompasses all of the 35 images. These are things I'd like to discuss in class on Tuesday. This way, I can have somewhat of an idea of how to go forward with the presentation, and then perfect the technical aspects of the project.
The sound piece is due in a few days. I have been testing out different introductions in the V-Room at the Duderstadt. Over the weekend I recorded an intro but it sounded too monotone, and Stephanie agreed. I tried to have more personality in this intro.
I am planning on putting the final touches on this tonight and tomorrow, and sending it to the radio Friday. Any last thoughts would be very helpful!
I need to go back & delete the last 24 seconds, because it is just silence. But the total length of the piece is 4:01.
This week I worked on refining my sound piece (10 hours). At this point I think I can fully recite the piece by heart.
I met with Stephanie and Katherine Weider for about an hour on Tuesday; we listened to the piece a few times and discussed ways to improve the piece by including highway sounds and switching up some parts of the narrative. I also wrote out a transcript of the piece so that I can get even more detailed feedback about exact phrases and words to edit.
I recorded car sounds again yesterday, which much better success. In order to block the sound of the wind, I stayed in the car and cracked the window open. Stephanie mentioned trying “sonic punctuation”, in which I place sounds (of a car passing, for example) in between places where Jay pauses.
Working with sound is really exciting—I initially thought that adding highway sounds to the background might lessen the value of his voice; however, I think it is starting to add more depth to the piece, and really places the listener at the scene.
I also had a meeting with a writer from AnnArbor.com about an opportunity to write a piece for the paper, which is extremely exciting.
I also met and interviewed Ted, the artist who burns images onto wood. We had a nice 40 minute interview. I haven’t listened back to the piece yet because I have been working closely on the “doorknobs” piece. When I met with Ted, he happened to have with him some pieces he was currently working on. I snapped these shots quick with my camera phone. This first piece is a stick, about 3 feet long and one inch thick, but the detail on the stick is impeccable!
This is another piece he had with him- a portrait of a family who commissioned him to create this:
The highlight of my day today: I rented high-quality headphones from the Duderstadt. Seriously…………I have never heard sound in this way! What a difference quality headphones make!!! The guy at the Duderstadt recommended this one pair for $30 and I bought them online today because I was just very excited. So excited that I spent an extra $10 for 3-day shipping. Goodbye iPod headphones…
Also want to say that today’s Penny Stamps lecture by the architectural designer was great. I loved when he said that his architectural firm doesn’t throw out any work that gets turned down by clients, because even if a particular architecture plan isn’t fit for the current situation, it might be the answer for a project down the road. I think that is true for all artists’ work.
The sound piece is due next Monday. But I am flying home next weekend for my nephew's baptism because I have the honor of being the godmother! So really, I need to finish this by Friday.
What is next?
Making the sound piece concise! Cut back Jay’s words.
Writing an intro for the sound piece
Recording an intro for the sound piece
Make sonic punctuation smoother
Test out different ways to begin the doorknobs piece