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Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

Lucy and Deep Anatomy

In Uncategorized on 24 February, 2010 at 12:16 pm

There was a fabulous broadcast of This American Life available as a free Podcast this week through i-Tunes. The theme was “The Parent Trap” and it was all about how parents, in trying to raise their children in their best effort, can end up setting a trap for and undermining their children. The second part of the broadcast was of especial interest to my work, as it was about “Lucy” the chimpanzee. I had heard of Lucy before, but this episode was of especial interest, as it detailed what happened to Lucy after the finish of Maurice Temerlin’s book Lucy: Growing Up Human: A Chimpanzee Daughter in a Psychotherapist’s Family. Definitely an amazing story, though with a quite unhappy ending.

During Lucy’s years growing up in her human family she learned to:

eat with silverware,
communicate through use of 140 words of American sign language,
dress herself,
flip through magazines,
sit in a chair at the dinner table,
brew and serve tea,

Lucy also lied, which was previously thought to not happen in species other than humans.

You can download the Lucy episode of This American Life here.

So this story made me think about the artwork I’m creating on a very similar theme. I’ve been feeling very frustrated with my previous idea about putting the puppets on big human arms. I think it creates too much of a feeling of human supremacy- definitely not the idea I’m going for. So despite the two weeks making casts, learning to make casts, buying wax and materials, I’m going to discard that idea. I think it’s ultimately ineffective.

In a previous post I put up some working images of fused photographs from “real” pictures of animals mixed with the puppet “idea” of the animal I have made. In the past days I’ve been using different photographs to do this project again, this time with high-resolution photographs from books that I manipulate. This creates a real sense of the lack of identity that visual images give animals. Since we have no sense of the animal in photographs, no sense of identity, no relationship between the self of the human animal and the other animal. So these works do achieve a sense of how other animals are visually misrepresented in human animal society. What I need to focus on now is the part two to this idea which is how can I exhibit the similarities between the other animal and the human animal?

I have an idea for this second part. I want to focus on the deep anatomy of animals that I represent, and show how it’s only our superficial anatomy that is really of a difference… this reflects that time-old saying “beauty on the inside”. I also want to incorporate with these images stories of how the animals I’m depicting use tools, have specialized functions, communicate, use fire… whatever it is that they do that draws them closer to the human idea of what makes us “uniquely” human.

I see now that I’ve made figures which illustrate what is wrong with our visual relationship with other animals, but I haven’t yet juxtaposed this with what could be a right way to handle a visual relationship with animals. In exploring the deep anatomy of other animals in contrast to humans, and through an exploration of volumetric line to depict the form I hope to move forward.

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Michael Krueger’s Fecal Face Blog

In Uncategorized on 17 February, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Check out Michael Krueger’s guest blog on Fecal Face about his trip this past January to Scotland. Michael mentions a couple of artists from Edinburgh College of Art in his blog, including myself, Jamie Kinroy, and Alexa Hare.

What is Fecal Face?

Fecal Face is a content-rich, comprehensive, multidisciplinary art and culture website supporting the art scene in San Francisco and beyond since 2000. The site greets between 11,000-13,000 visitors a day, occupying a unique niche online and in the “real world,” by chronicling and shaping the contemporary arts scene in the SF Bay Area and beyond. Founder: John Trippe

Michael was in the UK for his show at Glasgow Print Studio Three American Artists and also to hold an extremely rad t-shirt print event at Edinburgh College of Art. It was great seeing Michael and welcoming him back to Edinburgh!

A big change!

In Uncategorized on 17 February, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I am happy to announce my switch from Blogger to WordPress.com! Please redirect your bookmarks for my MFA page… you will now find me at:

https://kitleffler.wordpress.com

In addition, I have just set up a vimeo account! You can access my profile at:

http://www.vimeo.com/kitleffler

…or just wait to see the embedded videos at this location!

Etchings in Progress

In Uncategorized on 13 February, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Chimp photo-etching after burnishing and inking up demo with Jo Ganter:

Initial proofs of photo etchings posted below:

puppet fusion

In Uncategorized on 12 February, 2010 at 4:07 pm

I met with Liz yesterday and we discussed my prints and the casting idea (I have been constructing the large arms to hold the puppets) and she mentioned that the connection between to social hierarchy and the anthropomorphisis still seemed a bit of a jump. She suggested that I try fusing the puppet photographs with images of the actual animal. So I did some experiments in Photoshop exploring this. It’s important to me that I connect a folk aesthetic to a futuristic aesthetic, highlighting how zoomorphisis could release us from tired anthropomorphism. These experiments are posted on the right.

I also have been working on my printing technique. I have been having trouble with the ink wiping out from my photo-etchings, and so arrange a meeting with Jo Ganter on how to solve that problem. Joe gave me a different type of card to ink up with, to actually get ink shoved way down in the etching crevices. She also showed me hand-wiping, which she said was a fairly traditional technique of wiping a plate. Hand wiping works well with etched surfaces that have multiple layers of imagery, rather than a simple line etch and plate surface. This has worked a lot more effectively. I also burnished in parts of the plate to bring out some highlights in the face of the chimp. I’ve been trying out all these techniques just on the chimp plate, so I can focus on getting the image just right. I also decided to use just standard brown-black ink instead of mixing my own ink so that the finished prints will have all the same tone. Joe also mentioned not using easy-wipe and instead using the Caligo extender, because easy-wipe she says has a tendency to yellow over time. So these have all been very helpful bits of information. I’ll put up images of theprints and evidence of the changes made in my next post.

I also received feedback from Neil last Friday. He mentioned that I need to further analyze my research, chasing up the full picture
in some places… this was most specifically evident in my Us & Them game, which as it’s based on Mafia has very specific social roles for each player. Mafia is a metaphor for Russian social roles, and once Neil had mentioned this I saw the large gap in the research! A key sentence in his feedback is as follows:
For example, you could think of where you stand in the cultural wars – what might your approach have in common with cultural determinism / soft data? http://deimos3.apple.com/WebObjects/Core.woa/Browse/mit.edu.1300580170?i=1350473400

As for chasing up the gap in Us & Them now, I think I’m ready to move forward from that idea. My feedback from CVCS also included:

You have two ways you can go with this, either towards a deeper consideration of game theory (e.g. Actor-Network Theory, Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations and all that they influenced, cybernetics, etc.) or towards the more metaphorical and associative area of ‘becoming animal’ (Gilles Deleuze, mainly French Theory + perhaps a bit of museology). http://members.optusnet.com.au/~robert2600/fbacon.html

I find the more metaphorical and associative area of ‘becoming animal’ far more attractive theory-wise so I’ll be exploring that area. There is something political in the games-area that I’m hoping to counter-step.

Neil also mentioned the theatrical in my work during our tutorial, and the history of “memes” in Scotland. I think this could be a refreshing area to look into… further research needed here. Neil also mentioned John Byrne’s “pop-up” book that was used in the play ‘The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil’ (1973). I went last Saturday to see this at the National Library as it’s currently on view. I really enjoyed the 2D/3D nature of the book, and it was beautifully made, despite being constructed on cardboard! An image of the pop-up book with John Byrne is posted below: