I'll start with some of the other stuff that I've been working on this week first, however. The past two weeks were kind of difficult for me to judge my progress. I was sort of coming into this residency "off the couch" so to speak. The vast majority of my artwork and art supplies are still sitting in a container either in Brazil, on a ship, or in the US just waiting to be delivered (with no word from the moving company with regards to it's frustrating status). So the work that I've been doing the past several months has been limited to marketing, applying for grants / fundraising, and attending a few live drawing sessions with a local group in Bar Harbor that have been quite productive. So getting back into the groove has been one of my challenges here.
Seemingly going off topic here, but not really, one of things that I've discovered, however, is that platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo just aren't that good for me. They work in certain circumstances, and I've had success with them and will use them again when appropriate, but I'm not really a one-off project kind of artist. Much of my work is on-going, so I moved to a platform that would be more in line with how I actually work. That platform is Patreon, which is a monthly crowdfunding platform that allows me to have on-going subscribers that match my work. My link is here, and it just became active last week. At the very least I'd love to get your feedback. If you're willing to participate, then you can do so for as little as $1 per month or as much as $40 per month. Obviously rewards vary according to your level of participating.
I have made some progress on the secret work of art, too. And that photo is here to the right. If you haven't guessed, I'm working on a sculpture that will be made of beer cans. The key point of the sculpture is how the media, in this case beer commercials, influence our identity. In every country I have ever lived in or visited, beer commericials are essentially the same in two ways: 1) they are overly machist and; 2) they are bluntly nationalist. In a country like the US, where our media grossly fails us with regards to educating we Americans on international issues, nationalist beer commercials actually do try, and are effective as are most ads using the same formula, to shape us as "Americans". This sculpture, or at the very least this part of the sculpture, is the first step in a larger project to create a work of art that addresses this issue of identity in the media. So be sure to follow its progress after the residency. I'll be continuing the follow up of this project on Patreon starting in February. (and yes, I'll be doing more updates on it the rest of this month here on this blog)
Finally, the exciting bit about why residencies are so important. Look, artists are not lazy people that just sit around talking, drinking beer, and doing nothing all day. Those discussions are extremely important in the process of making art. Ideas are shared, manifestos are proposed, and art is created by the motivation of these artist networks. If I hadn't come to Lisbon then I never would have created the below video in collaboration with fellow resident Daniel Gawronski of Australia. Daniel is a sound artist. His method is incredibly interesting. He goes out into nature and finds natural objects that are aligned in such a way that musical notes can be extracted from them.
Portugal has a particular style of music that's quite famous called Fado. It uses guitars and mandolins and is usually quite somber in tone. There was a famous Fado singer who actually lived right across the street from the gallery named Amalia Rodrigues. Daniel took samples of her music, both the singing and the guitars, and plugged these sound bites, so to speak, into the musical scales that he created from the trees. The result is the musical composition in the video below. Before you listen to it, however, I want you to understand that this is more expiremental art than it is music. I think it sounds awesome, especially when you consider the the process he went through to get to that point. And he definitely makes for someone to follow because his art is typically very natural and locally specific.
Where do I come in? Well, Daniel really just had the music. He had a video that went with it, but the video went better with another sound composition he made at the same time. So I went into the room at the gallery where he was presenting the composition and filmed it using a reductivist style. Reductivisim is pretty important in my work overall. It's not the most important theme, but it definitely shows up in my stronger work. Reductivism, in relation to me, takes the visual area and reduces it down to the most important aspects. The painting of the church at the top of the post is an example of this, and I use Reductivism to eliminate the "noise" that the media creates around us. The results of the video were strong enough that we decided it was worth using as a collaborative piece. I'll be submitting it for exhibition in the US on his behalf and he'll be doing the same in Australia on my behalf.
In short, it was the most exciting moment of the residency, so far. I never expected it, I never even thought of engaging in sound art such as this (even after he explained it to me when we both first arrived), and BOOM! there it is - a direct result of artists just simply being around each other. Residencies work, and I have you to thank for helping me to get here. We named it after the residency program where this collaboration was inspired.