DESIGN AS AUTHOR
A series of watercolor sketches inspired by a two-week artist residency at the Sam D Hamilton Noxubee NWR in Mississippi. "Controlled Burn" uses a birds-eye-view as a way to imagine, from the outside, a controlled forest burn. Controlled burns at Noxubee are used as a way to clear understory and restore Loblolly Pine forests back to their original state. By opening up the forest, removing understory and encouraging more vigorous growth the forest becomes more desirable habitat for historic residents such as the Red Cockaded Woodpecker.
I am a lifelong graphic designer. Anyone with a deep design practice eventually looks to Japan. Japanese culture has strong ties to calligraphy, typography and storytelling. My own work is about mapping the visual culture that surrounds commuting and the roadside/railway space, and telling that story in a visually poetic way.
This work was create in Tokyo during the summer of 2016 Several of my past projects have explored the visual culture associated with the commuter corridor surrounding roads and trains in the US. My motivation to work in Japan is the vibrant commuter culture that exists around trains and train travel. Specifically, I am interested in visually mapping the Yamanote commuter line and mapping it in a conceptual manner.
In de Certeau’s Railway Navigation and Incarceration he discusses how train travel creates a speculative view of the passing world. The train becomes a “tireless shifter” constantly creating and destroying the landscape as the train passes. My work in Birmingham, AL references this speculative view of signage, advertising, designed fiction, commuting and trains.
My work is influenced by a wide-range of artists and writers. I find inspiration in the work of Julie Mehretu, William Anastasi, Eugene Atget, Gaston Bachelard and Michel de Certeau. This inspiration comes from a shared experience of documenting something that is lost. As a southern artist, working in Alabama, I am surrounded by spaces that are imbued with feelings of loss, nostalgia, regret and longing. The marks I am collecting are ephemeral in nature and the abandoned condition in which many of these marks are found, confirm and expound the damaged narrative of the southern condition.
This is a series of a self-authored train station posters that celebrate the excitement of one of the man-made wonders of the world, the Yamanote commuter line in Tokyo, JP. The posters focus on four of the twenty-nine stops and are further overlayed to create two big maps that merge the ring that encircles Tokyo.
Japan and the US have a unique history of cross-culturalization. US culture is transformed within the Japanese context, and Japanese culture is transformed within ours. Both cultures have strongly held beliefs in the value of work, industry and commerce. I believe that the infrastructures created by these values, (e.g. trains, signage, commuting and public spaces) are a common ground where I can use semiotics, mapping and personal exploration to tell a story about the commonalities that both cultures share.
This story is inclusive. Commuting, public transportation and the public spaces that surround them are a common experience. Documenting this shared space will allow the viewer to gain a deeper understanding of Japanese visual culture, and in doing so, reflexively examine the visual culture that surrounds the world in which they live. This work allows me to create self-referential comparisons that can build understanding between Japan and the US.
COMMUTE is a mapping project inspired by the subway pocket drawings of William Anastazi. My interest in process as a driving force behind creation is a powerful part of my interest in process-driven projects.
Center the pen . Write all text possible . Full duration of commute. Don't look at the drawing . Approximate location.
FOUND is a process-driven project, based on my COMMUTE project, inspired by William Anastazi's mapping drawings.
RULES: Record walk from garage . Every 70 steps . Record what is at my feet .
Keep record in order . For 14 days in and out. * mapping a walk from the
stephen o’connell center to the school of art and art history
With Dori Griffin
TEN gives form to an interview with Dr. Hall, a bee biologist working to genetically engineer mite-resistant honeybee populations. The biographical narrative emerges through a sequence of ten removable panels which engage the viewer in the same physical actions as the story’s subject – removing and replacing the standard number of frames per hive to uncover meaning. Designed and built in collaboration with colleague Dori Griffin.
COLLECT: I lived in Fort White, Florida for over two years, passing through it twice a day on my commute to the University of Florida in Gainesville, where I was studying and working. During that time, I became increasingly aware of the ebbs and flows, and patterns, of that commute. As a graphic designer I began to incorporate my observations into projects. In many cases they became the subjects of my projects. I noted changes in visual density that marked out the trajectory of that journey. Typically, I experienced a commute made up of long stretches, a stoplight here, a sign there, punctuated with the sense of arriving into something more, a town, a shopping area, but never quite a destination. Oddly enough, type, color and signage seemed to cluster here and there in-between those destinations of home and school; the way bits of paper might collect in a fence. I became increasingly interested, not in the destinations that marked my arrival, but those quieter spaces, spaces like Fort White which seemed to grab on to passing vernacular and hold tight, spaces I will call “in-between.” Fort White is one of those “in-between” spaces, little more than and intersection which, over time, through the action of everyday activity, accumulate or grow a volunteer visual culture. My use of the term “volunteer” is my own, and signifies that it is not a plan but process which results in an accumulation of visual material. I began to view that accumulation or action of the everyday, as the daily buildup of the visual evidence of a space in use. And through that visual evidence began to build a narrative based on my observations and interactions with the space.
The commuter space. The beauty in the everyday.
The space in-between. A visually poetic map.
I have since moved away from Fort White and do not pass by on a daily basis. I no longer get the reading that comes from that serial viewing. The action of the everyday is still at work, but the transformations are harder to see and the overall effect of that landscape in transformation is lost to me as I pass through now.
Fort White and the road passing through it are two spaces forever dependent on each other for identity. It is in that third space, the one we experience while moving through Fort White, that we experience what de Certeau calls, “the pleasure of seeing what one is separated from.” In that “cutting-off” we are able to “access the random thoughts, insights and speculations” that creates a deeper emotional experience between us and the space called Fort White.
Exploration = Process
In “Poetics of Space,” Bachelard discusses the creation of space, particularly how space is created through the action of living, in the nest and the shell. I was able to draw my own ideas about the visual space of Fort White based on his ideas. I saw Fort White’s own space being created in much this same way. Actions of everyday life contributing to the physical appearance of the space called Fort White, a visual culture created daily, almost organically as a sort of deposit of commerce, living and use.
In “Writing Degree Zero” Barthes writes about getting back to an elemental truth that is untouched by our expectations, being able to experience text and image without the frame that media and our own experiences place upon the landscape. I was also intrigued by what he calls the inter-text, the way we are able to connect to text and image through our own life experiences. And I see in my work on Fort White a sort of inter-text that the viewer can experience on a personal level.
Exploration = Process
This project explores the visual culture of Fort White by defining the idea of the “everyday” and how it acts to cultivate the spaces in-between destinations. In the creation of visual culture, the everyday is a process–a slow continuous formation which happens through the very act of living. In his book “The Poetics of Space,” Gaston Bachelard writes about how the bird’s nest fits the shape of its body, that “the form of the nest is commanded by the inside.” Bachelard quotes Michelet, “the instrument that prescribes the circular form for the nest is nothing else but the body of the bird.” In this same way the visual culture surrounding Fort White is created through the everyday use of the space by the “body,” the people that use the space of Fort White. This “everyday” activity creates a visual culture that is accumulated, layer upon layer, so it is a build-up, a patina that speaks about the process of life as much as it does about the local culture. The body in direct contact with the space, a rubbing or forming of the space. In this way, the everyday is not a static plan or design, but a living, growing entity–a process carried out by those who use the space. The overriding forces at work have more to do with what is economical, what works immediately, and what satisfies a need.
Type in the world.