Well, it's high time for another sporadic update on my creative endeavors. While much has changed since my last post and I am long overdue for an update on my thesis progress, I can with certainty say that it has been a very busy year full of events and excitement that have lended very few opportunities to accurately and succinctly sum it all up. BUT with an MFA exhibition looming at the end of April, here it is.
For a while now, I've been interested in virtual bodies; that is, bodies that are translated from physical space into virtual space. Over the summer, I was projecting that my research would become focused on queer relationships as explored within technologies, mythology, and online communities. Additionally, I was (am) extremely invested in explorations of cyborg bodies (bodies transformed by technology) and our relationships to virtuality. I began a series of experiments with a technology called Bevel3D: a small laser scanner that attaches to a mobile device to create 3D selfies. Because of the limitations of the scanner, scans are full of holes, disfigured, and are easily manipulated into unrecognizable or nonhuman shapes.
After a series of 3D software explorations and 3D prints, my research was beginning to become more invested in virtual representations and face-to-face communications mitigated by technologies. With a focus on virtual networks, my new proposed research began to take form as a series of faces that reflected my own social network in a matrix.
So here we are... deep into the realization of a giant sculpture. The project aims to manifest a kind of exploded social network that is intrinsically mine. The content includes interviews with my family, friends, associates, colleagues, roommates, and my partner over face-to-face video communications like FaceTime or Facebook.. While the captured videos of my social relationships are full of liveness and familiar gestures, they lack much of the depth and intimacy we experience in a face-to-face interaction. My aim in this project is to project that familiarity and liveness onto a physical presence, the 3D carving of my face, to give the virtual bodies physicality and depth in space.
What will it look like (good question)? I plan to build a sculpture wall of CNC carved faces and project, with a projector, the living recordings of a sample group of my own social network. Returning to my old nemesis and closest confidante, the CNC, I am manifesting 45 tiles carved in my likeness as the wall where these virtual faces are projected. There is much more to be done of course, with each face requiring an incredible amount of time to carve, paint, and complete and the matrix where the tiles are housed constructed, painted, and suspended in situ. Additionally, I will be recording the interviews of a total of 45 (or more) relationships to complete the liveness wall. All in all, there is much to be done that I am completely, happily, and wholly consumed by for the next few months.
It is an exciting moment, to be sure. The dates of the exhibition are the 27th, 28th, and 29th of April at the University of California, Santa Cruz's Digital Art Research Center (website link and Facebook event to follow). Additional happenings surrounding the project and thesis exhibition will follow in updates, as I'm sure the excitement will only continue to grow as we move forward. I am so eager to finalize this project and realize my research!