Leveraging the people and places of Boston for inspiration, students in the English Department's "Ethics in Documentary Film" course grapple with the challenges and questions raised by creative work.
No Man's Land
No Man's Land is an exploration of irresolvable and un-relatable spaces - the dark cavities that populate the city. My interest in this subject began when I was living in Beijing and witnessed its renovation and the subsequent ambiguities of land usage that happened as a result. When I moved to Chicago in 2015, I was intrigued by similar issues, and I believe my explorations could have been undertaken in any number of urban settings. The phrase no man's land is often understood as undetermined territory that stays unoccupied and suffused with fear and uncertainty. I am interested in representing how structured intentions coincide with perplexing functions that exist in the urban landscape, as well as how those uncertain functions impact the human experience. The qualities that I look for are inaccessibility, uncertainty, deficiency, even brutality. In my photographs, I utilize natural and artificial light, as well as plant life and weather conditions to emphasize the character of these places. Ultimately, the work speaks to the tenuous relationship we have with the built environment and our attempts to reconcile the often-dysfunctional elements within the urban landscape.
Michael Eden is a maker whose work sits at the intersection of craft, design and art, exploring contemporary themes through the redesign of historical, culturally familiar objects utilising digital manufacturing and materials.
An MPhil research project at the Royal College of Art allowed him to explore how his interest in digital technology could be developed and combined with the craft skills that he had acquired during his previous experience as a potter.
Through this he investigates the relationship between hand and digital tools. He is particularly interested in how the tacit knowledge and sensibility to the 3 dimensional object, developed through extended ceramic practice can affect and influence the approach to the creation of objects using digital technology.
As a member of a unique generation that has bridged the digital divide, he firmly believes that he is able to contrast and compare life before and after the invention of the personal computer. For Eden it is a matter of choice, as life at the beginning of the 21st century has furnished makers with a wider choice of tools, materials and processes with which to realise ideas and concepts. All have their place, the new does not replace the old; the key is to make appropriate use of them.
My prints are meticulous and technical; this tight precision encourages the viewer to look closely. They are primarily black and white. The lack of color allows graphic content to be dominant. The imagery is composed of complex, impossible interiors with a strong perspective foundation and traditional approach. Visually, they are dark in tone, filled with organic textures, and geometric patterns. The spaces are abandoned, empty, forgotten rooms that are devoid of life. The elements have deteriorated these areas, making them confusing and mysterious, yet inviting at the same time. They do not exist, and they cannot exist in any time period.
I am a non-fiction photographer. Photography is a direct and immediate way for me to document the present for future reflection. My work is heavily inspired by the documentary work of the Farm Security Administration and the National Endowment for the Arts supported survey photography of the 1970s.
Maps, data, and geography play a significant role in guiding where and how I point my lens. Rather than seek out decisive moments, I look to subtract the element of time from my work, making photographs that communicate a universality of experience within a given local rather than the specific.
I frequently interview photographic subjects using open-ended,anthropological questioning practices in order to elicit organic,primary source perspectives. Interviews play a significant indirect and direct role in my photographic practice, with excerpts often presented alongside images.
My artistic point of departure comes from the gesture of observing others in order to explore myself, pushing the limits of documentary photography and representation with a continued exploration of the medium and using alternative forms of storytelling, I like to combine in my work the duality of the one who finds and the one who creates, pointing out the inefficiencies between what we hold to be truth and what the medium of photography purports to examine, my stirring amalgamations of fact and fiction are built on finding subconscious truths lurking just beneath our veneers.
Photography is also a tool for me to make sense, reorganize, and understand the world. I use it to explore therelationship between a place and its history, between people and their environments and between my world, my family, and myself.
The choice to work with photography (vs. painting, drawing or any other medium in the visual arts) lies in my recognition of this medium as "reflecting reality" but it never stays "real". The ability to alter the "real story" and create an alternative interpretation and narrative of an existing event is what attracted me the most in this medium. Sometimes, I find pictures to be more interesting than what they actually reference: Life itself.
I believe that the greatest achievement of a photograph lies in the thin space between the ability to remind us of something we care about and to teach us something new.
Of the many different projects I have pursued in the past fifteen years, these motifs and methods of approach have been consistent in most of them and informed my decision of what and how to photograph.
The most essential thing I have learned in Lodz, where I was studying photography, is how to combine and employ many different art techniques in order to take photographs. The moment I discovered that art is the most significant component of my pictures was crucial. I understood that creating, modifying some things is really important element for me. It's kind of giving them a new life, new character. To achieve desired and intimate form, color and light is not sufficient so I attach this artistic component.
Through the pictures I show stories and share some of my observations, however, they are not explicit. Within images I always try to keep some kind of secret so that spectators should embark on an interior journey to find answers.
I currently work with photography video and performance. I try very hard to be a licensed fool and have a burning desire to explore beyond our paradigm.
In my work I use self-portraiture and automated performance to explore the ideas that I'm working with. I describe automated performance as a free flow
of thought translated in to action, inspired by ideas of free association developed by Sigmund Freud.
According to a new thought of interdisciplinarity of the Bauhaus, Nina Röder combines parameters of theatre with the medium photography. Her conceptual photographs concentrate on narrative image spaces and show (especially build up) rooms or places filled with a performative interpretation.
The conceptual content of Nina Röders work reflects on the examination with different aspects of constructing identity and the topic of mental determination. Her photographs argue with influences on the developement of identity, such as the family background and its historical and provincial aspects. Other works are rather examinig a self-constructed identity constructed through performative acts.
Inspired to find the cause of his springtime allergies when he moved to Ohio from California, for the last 3 years Francis Schanberger has been collecting parts of trees, scanning them and printing them in the historical Vandyke Brown process.
Nineteenth century naturalists like Sir John Herschel, William Henry Fox Talbot, and Anna Atkins recorded their research in photogenic drawings. Some 170 years later Francis has returned to their photographic investigations. Francis's images invoke memories of his initial struggle to call Ohio home.
My work stems from an interest in nature, science, and living systems and I believe whole-‐heartedly in arts capacity to enrich the way we see, experience, and understand the world around us. My primary focus is sculpture installation and I work to create immersive environments that invite viewers into imagined biological systems. It can often be hard to tell if the forms in my work are healthy or harmful growths and an important undercurrent is an interest in the human manipulation of living systems, particularly advances in bioengineering and experiments that involve combining or altering the basic components of nature. I see this frontier as fraught with both exciting and unsettling possibilities and while each work is imaginative, I hope to encourage viewers to consider the shifting nature of the world around them.
My work engages in subverting accepted and expected modes of feminine behavior by questioning the etiquette of the mundane. Much of my work places invented functional objects in a domestic context, and assigns sexually provocative implications to ordinary household routines. Paired with installation and interactive performance, my ceramic work re-contextualizes highly specific functional forms that have been forgotten, replaced, or improved upon by modern technology, generally to the aid of the modern homemaker. Centering on issues women regularly face regarding societal expectations, personal identity, and self-sacrifice, my work presents elements of craft, etiquette, and gender as seen through a sardonic lens. It is my intention, through this work, to both satirically illustrate the challenges I face as a woman and actively engage the viewer and participant to consider their role in perpetuating or shifting the dialogue around feminism today.
Objects become charged with meaning, history, sentiment, and the authority to tell stories as I rowdily rummage through thrift stores, dollar stores, hobby stores, and hardware stores seeking objects and materials, whose usefulness has been exhausted or underutilized and await a new imagined life. I carefully handpick and catalogue objects and materials that are familiar or boast a degree of promise and beauty to me. I put objects and stories together piece by piece, relentlessly tinkering with objects and ideas until they fit and work in a way that is very mine. After all, I am the boss of them. Narratives, both personal and adopted third person, slip into and then take over the work. I am attracted and magically repulsed by the insertion and "standardized
personalization" of remembrance and celebration feted in kitsch and souvenir vernacular. I beg these ideas and objects to buck-up; acknowledge and engage their own artificiality and hidden agenda of astute cute.
Things will start with an undigested emotion or an idea that has to be worked through, making has become a way of understanding, a place to store things, perhaps a way of joining the inner experiences with outer surroundings. It is the difficult complicated emotions that interest me, the things which we like to keep concealed but which have nevertheless come to light, and that perhaps sit uneasily in our civilized world. I look to find a rhetoric, a means of articulation, for what I am trying to say whether in the everyday occurrences or in museum collections, books and my own photographs. I start searching and collecting, trying to find a face and a body for the invisible and unarticulated, and in doing so I look for different materials to create its texture. Many found objects are included, things that I may have come across whilst walking - that which lies underfoot, a stone between paving slabs, or a seed fallen from a tree. These are then absorbed and find a place in the material world of the sculpture.
The driving force behind my work is to create an alternate world that comprises excerpted and fragmented narratives from personal and cultural memories, fables and natural history. Through understanding and manipulating raw material or chemicals, I strive to create forms that reveal not only my ideas but the characteristics and history of the medium itself. I have worked exhaustively with a variety of traditional medium; printmaking, ceramics and metalsmithing. Each medium also denotes a specific way of storytelling. My printed works on paper function as proposition and contemplative manifestation of the invisible order of the universe. They are composed of geometric forms inspired by magic charts and mandalas juxtaposed with renderings and acid washes that resemble nebulas or alchemy. I am also creating a series of fantasy landscapes in clay that installed in the gallery suggest a garden setting. I want to explore the Garden as a mysterious, paradisiacal enclosure that transcends time and disorder. Through creating collections of fictitious monuments and artifacts, I am composing the history of a mystical world in a non-‐linear manner by suggesting its existence and decline. Grew up in Macau, a colony of Portugal on the brink of its dissolution and then an immigrant in the United States, the anomic nature of history and culture and the nostalgia for collective memories have caused me to be drawn towards nature and the utopian. By building an encyclopedic body of work that is pantologic and objective, I would like viewers to engage in their own imagination and wonder for the inexplicable and unknown.
Clay is a material that has been mythically linked with physical embodiment for millennia and across myriads of cultures. It can implicate a hairless, fleshy landscape and emulate the skin's life-glow. As clay dries, it takes on the delicately withered patterns of the aging body. Its mutable nature and transformative properties allow for a process through which Frame seeks transmutation.
This work takes into account the 20th century psychotherapist Paul Schilder's writings in The Image and Appearance of the Human Body. He theorized that the body image is in continual flux, and stressed its mobility, flexibility, and fluidity. He emphasized the changing nature of the body image and stated, "It is the continuous build-up of a shape which is immediately dissolved and built up again." The plasticity of clay enables Frame to transcend the boundaries of her skin. By manipulating her physical borders, she performs a protean identity.
Darien Johnson is concerned with how the absorption of information through digital media defines a person's notion of reality.
Stemming from an awareness of continually altered states of perceptual consciousness, Darien's work represents the entanglement of human cognition and digital processing. By acquiring and manipulating visual information, he acts as the human element while directly engaging in the process in question. The digital compositions are then china painted onto porcelain forms, which are manifestations of the seemingly fluid movement of human cognition.
Filtered through the lens of art history, the natural sciences, literature, religion/mythology and contemporary mass media, my artistic inquiries explore the idea of wilderness and how it has changed from being a tangible, albeit romanticized, place--for example, Renaissance depictions of a utopian Garden of Eden or the mysterious and untamed vision depicted in Hudson River School paintings--to an even more distorted fiction or myth taking form in artificial and virtual realities. This myth has a powerful affect on our fragmented perception of the environment and our place in it. Throughout history we have striven to dominate and exploit "wild-ness" for our benefit, while at the same time art has been employed as a means to translate, analyze, and reconfigure our idea of nature. My recent pieces combine various perceptions of the natural world, ranging from non-objective, scientific views to Judeo-Christian ideas of mankind's dominion over "every living thing that moveth upon the earth" to pagan views of natural occurrences as codes or messages to be deciphered. My work fuses Italian Renaissance painting, 17th-century Dutch still life, 19th-century scientific illustration, old collections in natural science museums, with a twenty-first century aesthetic informed by photography and mass media.
Focusing on the continuum of harmony and conflict in which humans exist within the natural world-its plants, animals, landscape, and weather-and the self-centered way in which we define and categorize nature based on its usefulness, I have been re-reading and analyzing Shakespeare's frequent and varied references to nature. This research informs the imagery in my most recent etchings and lithographs, and has even changed the way I approach the creation of a piece. The tug-of-war between chaos and balance that is the hallmark of Shakespeare becomes a part of my working process. Through the use of multiple layers I strive to visually communicate the constant back-and-forth between abandonment and control that is not only the literal process of printmaking but is also a metaphor for our relationship to nature.
In my work I examine the systems of logic and order that we use to enforce perceptions of structure. Our interactions and conversations with these systems often inhabit polarities of fact and fiction. These spaces of actuality, memory, imagination, and paradox describe the nuances of our experiences. My investigation into duality, and the often difficult to define spaces that are formed in the "in betweens", is partially due to my history as a first generation American. From an early age I experienced living within two worlds (languages, histories, cultures), and realized the distinctions formed by specific spaces. I spoke my native Estonian in the privacy of home and family, while English was reserved for public situations. This blueprint of delineation keeps me firmly grounded in between, mapping out both sides, simultaneously as a participant and a record keeper.
The source imagery for my current body of work is borrowed from silver and gold-plated decorative objects from the 17th to 19th century. The original history of these objects is of only anecdotal interest to me. I am primarily interested in these objects because of the patterns that adorn them. I digitally isolate elements of ornamentation which then become the basis for making large- scale installations as well as editions of single prints, painting in gouache and artist books.
For my installation projects, I create extravagantly ornate environments using the low-tech process and materials of screenprinting. I treat screenprinting as a precise way of painting, placing color next to color to create images which have the illusion of three-dimensional form and metallic sheen. I make large editions of prints which I use as building material to stage environments which play with the conventions of ornamentation and pattern.
I construct fabricated visual spaces and forms that are in many ways, ambiguous; encouraging the viewer to discern order by means of their subjective reasoning. We, as humans share many physical commonalities, such as organs, muscle and bone structure; we also share our surroundings. Despite this, on a perceptual level our personal understanding of our world is something that can probably never be shared completely or understood fully by another being. It is personally inspiring, to consider the unique and exceptional realities we all create daily.
Monika Meler was born and raised in Poland and immigrated to the United States at the age of ten. Her work examines the immigrant experience and the desire for a place that no longer exists.
The images in her prints explore the Poland that only exists in her mind, as the country has changed beyond recognition since her departure. She uses images that reference architectural structures, her father's elaborate gardens, and her mother's rich collection of textiles. Printed in many overlapping layers, these images repeat, change direction, and dominance. All of these actions mimic the actions of memory.
Mari LaCure's interest in particles and formations stems from the idea of reducing something to its basic elements in order to understand it better. In her drawings Mari layers and juxtaposes images of both large scale and the minute to set up harmonious relationships between different structures. The microscopic forms are inspired by atoms and molecules, cellular structures, and veins; macroscopic imagery extends to weather patterns, tree branches, constellations, and galaxies. The interaction of many different delicate materials in her work encourages the viewer to experience a heightened sensitivity and awareness to the visible and seemingly invisible in the world.
We are many, and Emcee C.M. is just one of us. The work we do combines large-scale public, social and collaborative event-based projects with a more internal process of self-reflection through fiction, storytelling, and filmmaking.
The work we do concerns all of us, we, people. We are alive, working and playing. We have our personal and our general struggles. We are trying to understand the anxieties that freeze us in place, and celebrate our power to overcome them. If our work is how we define ourselves, then our life is work, our work is life, and it is our life's work. Work describes what all of us do with our time when we are actively engaged in living. To do work is the basic activity of being alive. This is the starting point: whatever else gets incorporated into a specific project, our work is always about work.
My work has taken me in many directions; however, I have always had a love of materials and our heritage. I like the challenge of working on site specific locations and trying to create a concept to marry my idea with place. I also like the challenge of creating a solo show where works within the exhibition feed off each other, and while pieces work in their own right, when put together they create a crescendo. Sometime the material within the solo exhibition can vary from bricks, to glass, wax, text, drawings, ceramics and video. When the work begins it gathers its own momentum and I find that I have to follow its direction which can be exhausting, but, at the same time, somehow liberating.
The exploration of human relations and their social context is central to my practice. I'm particularly interested in working with disempowered communities facing social, class and/or economic injustices. After identifying a specific problem in a particular community, I begin the process of engagement. As I submerge myself into the local, I then start drawing parallels with the global; narratives generated by individual voices recurrently mirror other voices in different micro-societies around the world that are not necessarily related with one another. These invisible lines that link one story to another, to another... become the source of my research to produce work, in an attempt to have a better understanding of human behavior, thus parting from an understanding of the individual voice. Whether the final product of my projects becomes a sound or video installation, a collaboration, a shared activity for the community to take part...the climax of the process remains in the possibility of inviting each individual and their voice to participate as a medium that has the power to encourage other voices and other voices...and other voices, to make a contribution towards change.
On its bend toward justice, the arc of history is indeed long, but it's also liquid, subject to change. This fluidity of historical truth leaves it open to revision and manipulation - blurring the line separating the right or the wrong side of history. My work stands in this temporal river momentarily redirecting the water, where history, culture, economics and politics float.
My underlying process is physical, below the surface - an excavation of memory from sediment,bringing artifacts to the surface - and then, a reconstruction.
In fact there is a term in archeology known as anastylosis, defined as: the archeological reassembly of ruined monuments from fallen or decayed fragments, incorporating new materials when necessary.
This is very close to a description of how I see my work, except that I often do this process in reverse. Taking monuments, myths, histories, culture, I break them down into fragments, incorporate some new material (from the present or imagined future) and put them back together as a new,constructed
meaning, imagining different outcomes and parallel narratives.
The success of my work thrives on the interaction with new communities and environments. Through a careful investigative method involving the gathering of regional materials, native plants, local stories, architectural landmarks and historic research I have focused on the creation of site-generated works of art that illuminate the unobserved in our day to day surroundings and the challenges facing our environment.
I have developed an interdisciplinary practice that incorporates a wide spectrum of resources and techniques. I am intrigued with the process of creating a controlled environment where the work organically develops and changes over time. This form of artistic creation represents the constant state of entropy we live in, and how the delicate characteristics of memory and time can both erode and enhance our interpretations of experience.
With each new project I lean towards a minimalist approach. I focus on exploring the formal use of light, color, pattern, space and time - by interweaving manmade, natural, and living materials to create a sense of elegance out of the simplest of gestures. My intent is to evoke a visceral encounter that comments on the compartmentalized preservation of Nature and History, while planting a new awareness of the tenuous relationship between ourselves, nature and the built environment.
crystal am nelson is a civically engaged, multidisciplinary artist who works in social practice, curation, photography, video, performance and installation in order to activate under-articulated histories and alternative subjectivities.
She regularly collaborates with other artists, often to perform happenings that position artists as service-providers or cultural docents to the public. Another aspect of her practice includes creating site-specific interventions that are in direct response to not only the history and geography of a location but also to its position in the contemporary sociopolitical landscape.
At the center of Drew Ippoliti's practice is an interest in the vernacular language of tools and containers, using a traditional, skill-based approach coupled with examinations of history. Drew generates objects and installations rooted in craft, concerned with how the individual relates to the mass.
In 2009 he was awarded a J. William Fulbright Fellowship to China to study Ceramics and Architecture along the ancient Silk Road. For the last two years, Drew has remained in China, constructing an international practice of lecturing and making work at various universities and residencies.