Nuit Blanche turned out to be far more work than I had planned for, but that extra work is now paying off. Over these past few days, Brad and I have been reworking ‘Take a Picture’, creating a new series of invisible images for people to look at. As far as the technical aspects go, we definitely over-engineered our design. That decision is making “Take a Picture: Phase II” go a lot faster than Round 1. In the past two days, we’ve managed to accomplish what took us one month last time around.
The first part of Take a Picture revolved around three main points:
The novelty of invisible paintings that were visible only to digital cameras.
The contrast between what initially looks like a lazy showing of blank canvas, and the bold image on a camera’s display screen,
And finally, we used some cheeky humour: smiley faces, winks, peace signs, and several other emoticon-inspired designs.
Now that we’ve shown the project to the public, we no longer have that novelty factor to rely on. Recycled jokes get old fast, so rehashing the emoticon idea is something we want to avoid. If we want to continue with this series, we need to go somewhere new with it. For part two, we are using points of light to create minimalist geometric abstractions. If all goes according to plan, these new pieces will be on display very shortly.
In the mean time, this new-found efficiency and productivity in my collaborative work means that I have more time to spend on my own personal work. I’ve had quite the productive week. I managed to crank out three medium-sized pieces in my ‘Urban Landscapes’ series.
After my July show at Open Gallery, I had a lot of people asking me, “what’s next? After this show, what are you going to be working on?”
I didn’t go into the show thinking it would be seen as a sort of retrospective showing of the ‘Urban Landscape’ series, but that seems to be what people got out of it. I was getting the impression that my friends were trying to politely suggest that it’s time for me to try something new. But I still believe that there is more territory for me to explore in this Urban Landscape series, and I don’t want to give up just yet.
I try to do at least one thing differently in each piece. But I also keep at least one thing the same: size, technique, palette, etc. When I run out of new things to introduce, the series is over. I find that by working in series, by keeping some things consistent throughout the body of work while tweaking others, I am able to learn far more about what works and what doens’t work in my paintings. When I work on a bunch of one-off paintings, I’m not able to do these comparisons. I only have a group of disconnected pieces. When working in series, I can line up all the paintings, and pick out what I like, what I don’t like, and apply that knowledge to the next batch of paintings.
I’ve been doing this for about 5 years now, and when I look back at the work I was producing a year ago, and compare it to what I’m working on now, I can see the difference. When I look back at last year’s work, if I don’t feel embarrassed by it, I know I’m not pushing it far enough, and I’ll have to work harder.