From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Art Hack

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In general language, a hack can mean someone who doesn’t know what they are doing (who hacks where they should cut skillfully).  A hack job is a roughly done one.  On the other hand we also say “she just couldn’t hack it” when we mean she could not do the job successfully… which implies that a hack is a kind of success- perhaps a marginal one.  Amidst the computer geeks who surround me now it means other things.

In common knowledge of computer geeks hacking is breaking into a system.  But among geeks, a hack can also be a brilliant and unorthodox solution.  Something outside the books that may be held together with the equivalent of duct-tape- rough but functional.  Sometimes it is something that cuts through pages of code and does the same thing with two lines in a way no one has thought of before.

In short, for geeks a hack is a surprising solution outside of conventional solutions that does the job. There is even a website called Lifehacker that offers such short cut ideas on everything from wiring to parenting (with a healthy dose of programming hacks).  I rather like the geek definition.

I’ve often thought of assembling a book of art hacks- favorite tricks from a variety of artists).  For today though, I can report that my art hack of creating a foam form using a fabric mold and expandable foam was a success.  There are things I would do differently (ex: the latex worked but stretched so next time I’ll do an outside layer in denim to hold the form true), but on the whole I have a basic form I can carve down a bit and shell with fiberglass and epoxy.

I ended up using safety pins, cord and clothes-hangers to hang the form upside-down in order to fill it.  I’ll have to do a second pour (the stretching took up some of the volume that would have brought the foam to the top of the mold), but the process is a good one.

I find that for every new type of piece I do I’m creating a new process somewhere along the line.  I think the readiness to do that is probably necessary to creating truly unique work.

For those of you just tuning in, this form is for a full-sized figure sculpture.  I will cover the finished foam form in fiberglass and epoxy, hollow it out, give it vents and house the projector in it.  The projector will project up through the neck, hit a single-surface mirror and shine out through the mask and eyes of the glass head.  The figure will be wearing a white 1880’s gown.  Pictures of the other parts in progress are up in previous posts.

Written by Mary Corey March

May 1, 2010 at 4:40 am

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