The Art Assignment, my favorite educational Youtube channel, posted their last “assignment” video: Whitescapes. Artist Odili Donald Odita asked questions about what whiteness is (in both a color theory way and a construction-of-race way). While I watched the video I took photos of my work space: my walls, white board, plate, and even the Youtube background were all different shades of white (if white even has shades). As you can probably see on this blog, I have been doing a lot of photography for local live music; a crash course in color theory, since performances usually happen in low, artifically colored lights.
I took comparison photos of my white items as they originally appeared (in relative darkness), then with the flash, then with “lights on.” The blue tone of the computer screen stayed the most constant. The flash made my walls look almost rosy, the lamp light turned everything yellow. The blacks of the computer body, board frame, marker writing and tabletop were similarly challenged (but not as much).
The video touched on reality/naturalism a little bit… there are a lot of scary articles around about the effect of light bulbs and computer screens (and even carpented corners) on our psychology. I also keep getting questions about “natural” treatments for serious autoimmune conditions over on the EN advocacy blog (as if vitamin pills grew on trees, or could treat lupus). And I thought about the faux-natural sterile wood, desktop succulent aesthetic. And who profits from fads. It was a good exercise.
Yesterday marked the first “deadline” (I can’t even say it without adding scare quotes) over in our Extra Credit facebook group. We took a vote and decided to do Odili Donald Odita’s Whitescapes assignment, and have been posting what we’ve done over there.
What I especially appreciate about this particular response, is how easily the artist pivots from work/life/youtube, to making art. It’s not a hard and fast dividing line, but a simple “I am watching a video at my desk, and now I’m making art.” This is one reason why I like this particular assignment so much. It’s about art as part of your lived experience, and about the way you look at the world already around you.
The Art Assignment!
I made two art assignments in one evening bike ride today. I did Kim Beck’s surface test and Boundaries with Zarouhie Abdalian.
I set off on a bike ride to photograph boundaries between three towns (total of two boundaries). These towns all basically look the same but have what some people considerer to be a huge difference -it isn’t! The first town is inhabited in majority by francophones, the second town is quite bilingual and the last town is a very high majority of anglophones, so it’s town borders but also linguistic borders. I didn’t make it easy for myself but I tried anyways!
Honestly my favourite of all is the top work, the rubbing of an engraved plaque on a monument dedicated to Acadian settlers. It is both a rubbing and has a very clear dividing line right down the middle. It separates the french text from the english text. So basically I could have just done this one thing and called it a day. I like that I didn’t get too much of the words because I didn’t want it to be too clear as to which is the english side and which is the french side.
The second photo is of an actual floor rubbing as per Kim Beck’s instructions. This was taken from the platform where the monument to the Acadians resides. The planks have been cut to the shape of a big star in reference to the contemporary Acadian flag.
I took pictures of some of the locks that are attached to the bridge that roughly designated the seperation point between two towns. Being able To find some that were in french and some in english is highly representative of the meeting of cultures that happens in this region, as this border. I had planned some interventions of my own to designate these bordera but when I got there I prefered working with what I found to any modifications I had had in mind.
The last photo is at the bridge that separates the bilingual city from the majority anglophone city. I have to admit that I took a lot of pictures that I didn’t like and that I had a hard time figuring out how I was going to make something artistic but that also worked with the idea of borders. I chose this picture of the bridge that links both towns because of the graffiti. It obviously says “four” as in the number 4 but I am francophone so I was reading it in french. In french that word can mean three things: oven, fuck (fourre) and stuff (the third explains the second). My experience in this space with the linguistic confusion is what attracts me to the photo.
Ooh! When I was returning from my ride and I passed the first border again, there was a strong shadow falling right in the spot where I had estimated the border! So that was nice.
I’m definitely ***really*** into that first rubbing. It is rocking my world. I could have just shown you that one but where’s the fun in that?
The beauty of assignments colliding. I think the first two images would make a good pair.
And the last Boundaries photo is really wonderful.