Monday, October 15, 2007

sketch_Space vol. 1

I think my "sketchspace"--or whatever we end up calling the damn thing--will be built at my UW web site:, but seeing how confused I am on how we're to proceed with it at the moment, I'm going to settle for some bloggin'.

The specific assignment this week is several-fold:

1) REFLECT ON THE CONCEPT OF THE "SKETCHSPACE": My understanding of the sketchspace is that it is to be a web-hosted "environment" essentially, that serves as both workshop for the artist and document for the public. Process and product are to be one in it, hence art-research (a phrase which I'm actually really starting to like, if for no other reason than a purely aesthetic one: I like how it sounds, all badass and such). While we are expected to conduct our art-research through the medium/ia that the artifact is engaged in, the space itself must be a meta-medium (isn't that what the internet is, a medium that encompasses all media? Other than a series of tubes, of course...). It must be versatile: able to host the development of a project of any one or number of media, but once hosted, able to accommodate only those media engaged. A meta-media space that can transmute into a media-singularity, any media-singularity, and host such media exquisitely, as if the space was designed for only that media. To my mind, what this means is that the space has to encompass the different media I use in my ideation and creation processes. To wit: notebook/sketchbook, blog, video, stills, prose, a Google/wiki bar for quick searches, and audio-notes log. Not everyone uses all of these, some don't use any, so the space would have to be mod-able to fit the artist's own personal tastes. I think the most important thing though, is that it really needs to be convenient. The best thing about a notebook is it's backpocket convenience. The nice thing about a blog is that I can ramble on and on and work-out all of my thoughts. The nice thing about peers is being able to bounce ideas off of them. The nice thing about video is that it's the thing itself. And so on. If one has to manage this many different media, or more, I can imagine the temptation to get lazy and cease collating all of the data is quite apparent. So convenience, accessibility, clarity, are my primary concerns when it comes to how I would organize such a space. The first image that comes to mind is of a 3D octopus, similar to how we were taught to draw character traits in junior high lit classes. Character in the middle, with all of their traits springing off in various directions around. I'd imagine the hub of the site being the artist's name with their past, current and future projects springing off in 3D space around them. The user would click on whichever project he desired, and the octopus would morph from the artist to the project, with all the various media involved in the creation of it now replacing the projects in the tendrils.

This still leaves several problems: how to incorporate the tangibiles: notes, sketches, etc. short of manually scanning them in one by laborious one. Also, how to make the media itself, say video, dominate the art-research process.

This last question is the one that gnaws at me. Am I overthinking the sketchspace? Is it as simple as "doing" instead of "thinking about doing"? Probably somewhere in-between.

2) to establish an appropriate webspace where I will both document my art-research process, as well as build the space. Check, on that one.

3) EXTRACT FROM YOUR PROJECT/CRITIQUE SEEDS FOR NEW WORK AND DOCUMENT THEM IN THE CONTEXT OF STARTING POINTS IN YOUR SKETCHSPACE: It's really difficult to proceed on this step without answering some of those questions I posed in the first part of the assignment. But I suppose if there were a place to start, it would be in the critique of my project (uh, maybe like it says to do?). The critique was of "a product of my environment" and it was a pretty interesting one (read: harsh). The kind of critique that reminds me why I wanted to do DXARTS in the first place. It was essentially a critique of the incongruity between my Big Ideas for the piece and the piece itself. Noel railed on my artist's statement for being a series of post-rationalizations, which isn't entirely valid, but the reason he perceived them as post-rationalizations is 100% valid: they aren't there. The artist's statement isn't so much a post-rationalization, as it is a post-vocalization of pre-production intent. Of course, the fact that I'm the filmmaker has blinded me quite a bit (moreso than I'm comfortable with, really) to the flaws in the piece. I think what was most interesting about the critique is that it's completely different from the critiques I got in 452 when I first presented the thing. Rachel gave me a "whoa", Jim who I respect a lot (even though the bastard doesn't return my emails now) thought it was "the best video" I'd done in the class, and Noel's initial critique amounted to: "good cinematography, good editing, sound not so good, needed to be more drawn-out at beginning". We exchanged a few emails on this after class last week, but I think its interesting that he gave me one kind of crit, mostly positive, but constructive when negative, on his first viewing, and on the second totally ripped the film. As he said, he felt that ripping me the second time around would be good for me, whereas he may not have felt that way the first time around. If nothing else, I think it illustrates one of two things: the versatility of image-meaning (not necessarily my film's though), or the versatility of critical-perception. Probably somewhere between the two.

Either way, Noel was right. Bottom line: it was good for my soul. Unexpected, a little shocking, and stung the mane a tad, but it raised the bar for the class and for my motivation to improve. It's one less video I have to weave in my laurels, and now I don't think they can support my weight were I to rest on them. Thank Buddha!

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