Digital Art is Art.

(See my previous post for a bit of context here.)

Since I’ve been sans shop/studio and focusing on finishing up our house remodeling, I’ve also felt the need to create some ART. Decided to make use of my iPad Pro once again to produce some pieces of graphic design/2d art. One thing I really appreciate about the iPad is the flexibility it gives for interaction and body position; sitting at a traditional desktop and using the mouse causes me debilitating pain after just a couple hours at this point in my life (old). It’s weird, since I can spend 6 to 8 hours at the business end of a 4 inch grinder with fewer downsides. Dunno, maybe those two items are somehow mysteriously linked?!?!?

Anyway, here are some things I’ve been making:

The process is simple, but complex, in that it involves producing gobs of iterations for each image (sometimes more than 20), then tweaking, adding filters and masks, then stacking them to create blends. The packed-circles effect is accomplished with an app called Percolator, which lends a unique geometric flair to each piece. It’s a workflow that I find both thrilling and relaxing, as it includes elements of surprise and whimsy coupled with ruthless decision making. I’ll often look up at the time and realize 3 or 4 hours have flowed past in blissful concentration. I do struggle a bit with finding value in the work, but I’ve been working on that:

“The amount of labor involved in the creation of a work of art has absolutely no bearing on its aesthetic value.”

This is in response to my self-doubt as to the validity of my digital artwork. I’m actually struggling with the concept of aesthetic value vis-a-vis the method of said work’s creation. Somehow, the feeling that my sculptural work has greater value than my digital work is blocking me. It recalls the days when I was carving, and the contrast in material costs to bronze casting was having undue impact on my pricing. Neither the cost of the raw materials nor the labor involved should influence the apprehension of the value of a work of art. The cost of the canvas and paint to Van Gogh mean nothing to the collector who spends hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire the painting. A computer or other digital device is no different than a paint brush, or chisel, or welder, or table saw: it is a (hopefully skillful) means to an end, and that end is capital-A “Art.”

(Thinking about Art in terms of product and price is another mental sticking point for me, but that’s a subject for another day.)

Interwoven: Installed!

Interwoven – INSTALLED!

Ran down to Little Rock on Sunday/Monday with Interwoven in tow. Stayed with new friends Mike and Marty, then got up Tuesday morning and bolted it down to the base. As usual, the City Parks crew were a huge help, and have become some of the best art handlers/installers in the country. I love the bridge as a backdrop: the piece was at least partially inspired by the multiple bridges across the Arkansas river, and their riveted, industrial aura.

See below for some more photos:

Weaving Interwoven: The Beginning.

Now that I’ve bent some tabs, the actual assembly can start. First steps are to figure out which part goes where; I’ve employed a letter-plus-number system cut right into the metal to try to simplify this process. Seems to be working OK, but ascertaining “front” and “back” on a form without them is somewhat problematic.  It’s just a matter of playing “who’s your neighbor” and keeping track of those relationships. I divided the form up into 13 “modules” consisting of the sheetmetal surrounding each hole. Beyond planning, the actual assembly is aided by the use of these little doodads called “Clecos,” which are spring-loaded temporary rivets that hold things in position until actual rivets can be added. Pneumatic riveter for the win. (I “love” “using” “quotes,” apparently.)

Interwoven: Fabrication.

Once the virtual model is finalized and I have all the surfaces flattened and laid out, the files are sent off to Wesco Laser to be cut from 14 (main body) and 7 (base) gauge 304 stainless steel. Now I get to try to turn this:

Pile of stainless wanting to be a sculpture.

Into a piece of public art.

Oh, and remember those tabs I talked about? Here they are, ready to be bent and employed to hold the whole works together.

1200 wee tabs, flat, wanting to be bent.

Trying something new(ish).

I have been utilizing the welding process in making my sculptures for 30 years.  It is a straightforward, effective method for joining metal together—but there are some downsides. Biggest of these is the warping that occurs from the adding of heat; second is the aesthetic requirement of dressing the welds. Grinding and finishing out the weld beads and the associated discoloration around them (chasing) is time-consuming and, frankly, painful. I’ve experimented in the past with alternative methods of joining parts, like here:

“Breakfast with Tiffany”

I thought I’d try using rivets to assemble a larger piece, and “Interwoven” seemed like a great candidate, as warping and chasing out the welds on this beast would be bad. Very bad.

This did end up translating into many, many more hours of tedious design time on the computer—but that’s the price for ART!!! I placed over 2000 paired holes into the model and designed a simple tab to span the seam where two parts meet.

A note for the geeks: this shape was generated parametrically with code in the Grasshopper plug-in for Rhinoceros, and is based on the famous strip of Mr. Moebius. The chief challenge here is determining just how to go about realizing this mathematical form; there is no “front” or “back” and the the inner edge becomes the outer, and vice versa. Add to that the way the “faces” weave through each other, and you have a real head-scratcher on your hands/brain.