From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Archive for the ‘Binary’ Category

Access- methods in progress…

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Wonderfully excited.  A little break was all I needed, and then I reached for the idea tap and it’s pouring.  I just had a very productive conversation with my husband over lunch where I suddenly fleshed out the material and action for the new Access piece.  I have been wondering what my final MFA project would be and I’m pretty sure this is it.

This  is the first new piece that I think does many of the same exciting things which Identity Tapestry does while being very much it’s own piece.  There are technical hurdles and budgeting to sort (all the actual art arrangement and content aside), but it’s totally in reach.

Sometimes just working out my ideas aloud to another person is all I need.  Feedback at this stage is very tricky and so I’m careful who I talk to and where I let the conversation go.

In the case of my husband I always know that I can get the most cutting edge tech.  He can tell me what is currently possible, and easily visualize and potentially execute what might be a step beyond that.  The idea I’m working with is well within current tech, but methods and options are a question and he can generally answer things off the top of his head a a few moments of looking up details.  I hope to drag in another friend with certain specialized tech skills… we will see.

My husband is also awesome in that he understands how I think well enough that I don’t need to do much filling-in for him to get what I’m after.  In early stages I don’t like to fill in detail.  I draw my initial sketches very loosely to let the process inform the piece.  What happens in explaining skeletal ideas to other people though is that they look at me like I’m insane.  Those are almost always the best pieces.  When they are done, they make sense when experienced and I can better explain them.

There is a danger though in explaining something too much early on- the process needs to be part of it.  Part of the steam for the process is a little bit of ambiguity.  If you are just executing something that won’t surprise you then you feel like a manufacturer.

So… I will get to work out and test the details of the physical component of the piece.  There is a lot to do.

More feedback about ideas and experience of access or lack of it from you are extremely appreciated!  Please comment in the previous post or email me!


The exciting things

Written by Mary Corey March

June 23, 2013 at 1:39 am

pixels emerge…

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wednesdayWell I finally got to the fun part of the weaving!

It seemed like whatever could go wrong did, but now that it’s going it’s looking just as I hoped, even better in some ways.  The textures are fantastic.  Sadly the LEDs have not arrived (one month late!) so while the piece itself will make it into the at the Diego Gallery Sunday (Interwoven Connections- Contemporary Fibers) it is unlikely that it will have the lighting element aspect of it operating yet.  For this show it will hang free the way Binary Girl does, creating a shadow.  Soon, though It will have a glow through the fiber optic parts of the warp, giving a glow to all the white in the image.

I am really looking forward to that show.  The reception will be Tuesday 5-7 with an artist talk at 5:30.

It’s funny, when I’m actually close enough to weave I can’t really see the image, but in a photo it’s incredibly clear.




Written by Mary Corey March

April 25, 2013 at 8:45 am

Digital Warping

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IMG_5712There is no sign of the many yards of silk ribbon I hand-dyed for the weft or the last skein of white cotton for the warp.  Today was one of those days that all the little things go wrong… until I finally got the materials sorted out and started work.  That makes everything better.  Warping is so meditative.

The first layer of warp (the up and down bit you weave the weft/across bit through) is mostly in place now.  New yarn arriving Wednesday to finish that.  The optical fiber comes next, then some near-invisible mono-filament for structure.  Then some loo/warp setup-stuff, THEN I can start weaving.  I don’t think I can really hook up the LEDs to the optical fibers to get them to glow until the whole thing is woven.

I was testing the optical fibers again the other night.  They are meant to only pass light from one end to the other without you seeing it out the sides.  By abrading the surface you get a side-glow.  If I abrade any single fiber evenly the whole way the light won’t make it- it will go dark in the middle, so what I’m going to go for is an almost rainfall-like effect- individual fibers abraded differently.  The tricky thing here will be that I will have to apply all the abrasion before actually seeing any of it lit or woven, so I will only see a slightly more opaque bit to tell me where the light will be.

I have mountains of concept behind this work, but as usual I’m reluctant to talk publicly about it while the work is in-progress.  I want to hear people’s experience of the work before telling them what I think is important or what my intentions are.  A lot of it in this piece is about the meanings within the materials and their history, and the methods employed to produce the piece- drawing from a painting, digitization, cropping, weaving.  The image itself is around the 6th version of same.  Days and days of work and artistic decision-making have gone into a deceptively simple derivative image.

In other news tomorrow I’ll be meeting with the other artists in the show I organized for the Diego Gallery at SFAI (selected by an outside jury).  Interwoven Connections– contemporary fiber (April 28th-May 4th).  So far so good.  Four awesome women (Dara Rosenwasser, Jacqueline Buttice, Heather Jones and myself) working at the intersection of fiber, photography, chemistry and technology.


Written by Mary Corey March

April 9, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Graduate Open Studios

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studioGraduate Open Studios at SFAI is just around the corner.  Come see what me and everyone else is working on.

April 20, 12:00–5:00 pm

Map (you want to take the entrance on 22nd St, not 3rd St.)  It’s on the Second floor and includes all bays with orange doors.  I am in studio C7.  It’s in bay C (one of the nearer bays on the left, studio is in the back right corner).

If you come visit you may well find yourself incorporated into an artwork.  I usually use Open Studios events for their steady stream of people who can feed into my work, so I am often alternating between hosting my studio and actually working.  Also, I can’t stand being in my workspace looking at anything unfinished without working on something!

In BWAC’s Wide Open4

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weaving strippedThe Binary Girl just got accepted to BWAC’s Wide Open4 show.  The juror is Carrie Springer,  Senior Curatorial Assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

Exhibition Dates: May 11 – June 16, 2013 weekends 1-6PM.

Opening Reception: Saturday, May 11, 2013 from 1-6 PM.

I had Identity Tapestry’s 3rd iteration at BWAC’s Wide Open2, where it won best installation when Nat Trotman (curator at the Guggenheim) was the juror.  This time there were 1747 submissions and this was one of the 100 chosen.

I have to say it is a relief to have a small piece in a show for once.  No crazy packing, no huge shipping fees, no me getting on a plane with bags of materials to install on site… just a non-fragile item in a small package!



Written by Mary Corey March

March 23, 2013 at 1:31 am

to the wire…

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weaving stripped

Here she is as she should be.  I went through and stripped the wires at the ends.  It’s a little surprise for people who don’t realize at first that she’s made of computer cable.
I really like her hanging like this.  Originally I had her confined to a laser-cut acrylic frame-thing, but this is better.  In the right light the shadows will be great.  I’m also happy with the ragged edges- more organic vs/ digital play there.

If you haven’t seen this before, she’s the first of a new series taken from a previous series of “Binary Drawings”.  I sketched old master’s paintings in tiny 2-inch spaces, roughly, scanned them into the computer and worked them through a rather long process until I got a binary image that I was pleased with.  I was exploring how humanity still comes through layers of interpretation.  This new series takes a selection from those portraits (and new ones) and is woven.  As a fiber artist it made so much sense to me to translate them into weaving, but the surprising thing for non-weavers is that the loom was the first binary computer.  The old punch cards of old computers are based on the punch cards that created patterns on Jacquard looms.  In this case I’m extending the exploration of translating humanity into the digital world as it is now- bite-sized selections of subject matter.  I also love the art/craft/tech juxtaposition- methods of communication and expression, utility and beyond utility.  There is also the play against what is “woman’s work/art” versus a “man’s work/art”.


In completely other news I am doing what I’ve wanted to do for years and going to see the northern lights.  I’m headed for the Arctic Circle, first Norway and then Sweden this Thursday.

At first I had planned on continuing this series while on the road (plane, train, bus…), but the wire wasn’t going to ship in time.  In the midst of travel preparations I came across a new idea coming out of two or three long term back-burner ideas.  It will come out of the journey and is something I can pack easily into a small bag.

The tech part of it I’m scrambling on though- it involves printing on Belgian linen and possibly organza, which I ordered immediately.  Thankfully the manufacture is very nearby and very helpful.  I should be able to print it in the SFAI lab on Tuesday morning and have Wednesday to adjust things as needed.  I LOVE the printing lab at SFAI!  I can’t wait to print on this fabric!  I will be stitching through it…  more I won’t say… the piece is very lightly in my brain and nailing it down now will kill it.  I’m so glad I have real art to work on during the trip!

Written by Mary Corey March

March 11, 2013 at 10:27 am


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My next project is a 5′ x 3′ binary weaving with a warp in LED-lit optical fiber/paper-silk and cotton  and a black silk ribbon weft.

threadcount sortedOften to make something (particularly sculpture) you need to build something else to create the finished object: a mold, an armature, scaffolding, a pattern, a digital file, etc.

For my next new piece, it’s a frame loom.  And to make this loom with a 16 per inch thread count I need to drill 8 holes every inch for 5 feet and put nails in each hole.  Double that (top and bottom).  Then double it again, because my warp (the vertical bit you weave through) is made of both natural fibers and optical fiber.  To separate the optical fiber and give it space apart from the other fibers to put it together heat-shrink couplings (to attach them to the lights) I need a few inches distance… so another row of nails.  It comes to a little over 2600 holes and nails.  Why drill?  Well, as you can see in the test loom (left), when you don’t drill, the wood splits, and the loom breaks.

The image to the left is the finalized thread-count and materials composition after some tests.  I will use the black and white squares to create an image, just like in the  previous (smaller!) Binary Drawing turned-weaving.

IMG_4055Right now I’m nearly halfway there with drilling (you can see some corrected mistakes on the left row), but a few more holes to go on this board.  I have to space out the drilling to avoid RSI in my hand and arm.

I’m getting a shocked reaction from a lot of people in the program about how much work I put into my art.  They are used to conceptual artists using lots of ready-mades (they buy it in a store or find it in an alley).  Ready-mades are fine if that’s part of your actual concept, but I have to say it seems lazy if it’s not.  If your idea has value, you should make sure the thing is exactly what it should be.  If I don’t know how to make something when I have an idea, I learn.

Written by Mary Corey March

January 4, 2013 at 3:40 am