Saturday, February 28, 2015

voice and cliche?

Although I do like to experiment at times (like most artists), I believe I do have a "voice" in terms of visual composition (like most artists)... and, of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, methinks. It is an interesting topic for discussion and it reminds me a lot of when I was younger (my college years, for example) and listening to lots of music. When a band like Santana or Yes or Led Zepplin would come out with a new album that was "different" than previous albums, I was not too happy. I wanted to hear "their sound" (their cliche sound). I was so "bad" back in those days, that I would not go see Yes, for example, because when they played certain songs in their live shows, they were not "note-on" compared to the studio version of the song. I wanted NO variation. As I make my journey through collage, I am struck by the tension between experimenting with new forms, perhaps, and creating works that seem to be "re-hashing" previous successes. When I came across this vintage image of Vesuvius and the ruins, I was drawn to it and absolutely knew I would be creating a piece with it.
I also knew that it had the potential to be reminiscent of my previous "Day of The Invasion" pieces. I was drawn to create a piece in that style partly because I enjoy doing it and partly because I knew it would look cool and people would likely respond positively to it. So instead of worrying about doing "something new" in terms of different style, I just indulged myself and enjoyed the evening. As my fellow collage artist and friend Kyle Riecker said about this piece on FB, "this is signature Steven Specht". I agree. But is it my "voice" or is it simple "cliche" Specht? I'm not too concerned about it, really. Maybe it's like Santana writing a new song in the style of Oye Como Va...

Political postcard

I was running out of time this year to get a postcard piece done for the Annual Wish You Were Here exhibit of the National Collage Society. And like most artists, I hate to work "under pressure" (although I must say, it really motivated me to get downstairs to my work area). It's been prohibitively cold here in central New York State. After blowing the fuse twice, I figured out how to get two space-heaters working at once win my "studio". SOoo, I enjoyed a full night of play and work last night. After all sorts of sketches which were not satisfactory, I suddenly pieced together what would come to be this final product. It's more blatantly political than most of my work, but I like that. For anyone not familiar with this issue, it probably wouldn't surprise you that a company like Coca-Cola has production facilities in India and that there are issues of exploitation of scarce water resources (both in terms of use and pollution). Once again, the corporate abuse of the environment and local peoples is astonishing! One of my former students spent a summer in India doing a human rights internship trying to fight corporate power.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

tedious progress

I am making some progress on the QR piece... but it is tedious work. I hope it pays off...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Fresh Saturnalia Cocoa"

My good friend and fellow collagist Anthony Morgan owns the wonderful Black Gryphon restaurant in Elizabethtown, PA. Anthony is truly a friend of the arts as he features artists' works in the restaurant and charges no commission on sales. We have offered a number of "Dinner & Collage" events for patrons and the check presenters at the restaurant are all collaged by he (and me) and the staff. He is now having various collagists create place mats for his guests. Here is my second placemat (I posted my first on December 14, 2014)...

Monday, February 9, 2015

quickie TED talk

This is a "must see" for anyone who uses old books as a source of artistic material...

Sunday, February 8, 2015

technological "approval"

I have started placing elements onto the grid that I made (see previous post). It has become an interesting project in a number of ways. First of all, it is extremely "tedious"... but not really in a bad way (does "tedious" necessarily connote something negative?). It's time-consuming for sure; but I enjoy working on it. I find that the time it takes to listen to an entire CD seems to fly by (flow?). But here's "the rub" with this piece: I will not know if I have been successful in completing the piece until I try to "scan" it with a QR code reader. It will take dozens of hours to "see if it works".

Is it necessary for QR codes to be in black-and-white? Or can they be created with dark and light contrast "cells"? BTW, IF YOU KNOW THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION, PLEASE DO NOT SHARE... I would rather go through the process of finding out via this collage project. If I am successful, then that would mean I will have created a piece which will end up "referencing itself" through my blog and will become an interactive piece of work within the optics of a piece of machinery and the information matrix of the internet. I would assume that I am not the first one to do this... but I'm loving it nonetheless.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

ambitious projects

I have been busy recently (and of course, I am not the only one who is busy... and "what's new"?). Just got back from another conference late Sunday night. The conference was for the Southern Humanities Council and was held in Athens, GA. What an absolutely wonderful group of folks! They are the most open, supportive and stimulating group of academics I have ever been around. I did a talk about Joseph Cornell's artwork and the theme of "bubbles" (related to his work -- a la "Soap Bubbles Sets" and his life and spiritual views). I also read some of my original poetry. It was a great time! I always come back from that conference re-invigorated and ready to produce and create. The problem is, I have had an excruciating sinus headache all week and so have been getting "business-y" stuff done, but not much else. Today I am starting to feel a little better, so I am posting. In addition to doing some "regular" collage work (I hope), I am also embarking on two pretty ambitious projects. Firstly, my guitar is fully prepped and I am ready to begin to place elements down on it. I am a little bit concerned about the actual elements that I will be using, however. I was thinking of putting down a background layer of musical notes and then working "up" from there. But, I don't want the finished piece to be too "cliché" (i.e., with musical notes). I think it would look nice; but will it look too kitsch? We'll see what emerges. The second project involves a 32 x 32 matrix. That's OVER 900 cells into which I will place individual elements. I will withhold telling you what the matrix is all about until I finish the piece. Anyway, looking forward to getting "back to the table" now that I am feeling better!