From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Archive for the ‘tech’ Category

Pulse Project

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I’m finishing up my sound installation.  componantsI can already see a richer, deeper version of this piece.

The base of this one was a very elegant instant hack.  I got one of my daughter’s clear play dough (not the brand, but the thing) containers where the dough had dried out utterly and cleaned it out and did some strategic trimming.  Perfect!  it looks like it was made for a base.  I was able to use some of the vellum from my other project as a diffuser for the base as well (which will also disguise the wires).  So fast, so perfectly neat.IMG_3778

The audio files are all converted and ready.  The pulse meter has been a bit on the evil side and we’re replacing it with a new one which should arrive today.  The air does not have a pulse of 220.

On the whole, so far so good.The show is open to the public Wednesday at the Lab with the actual opening on Thursday evening.

Written by Mary Corey March

December 4, 2013 at 12:19 am

Collecting Stories

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An interesting venture indeed.  So I’m determined to not just ask friends (easy), but it was clear early on that this was a much more difficult kind of participation than I’ve ever asked from people before.

I’ve been going around the city on my normal rounds- the yarn store, the playground with my daughter, the cafes, the hardware store, art supply store, etc. and collecting stories about “an SF moment” from people in and around those places for the sound piece City Pulse (San Francisco) going up in the LAB.  Thepiece involves collecting little San Francisco Moment stories from people in the city. I then take their pulse and

I left the story collection towards the end because I was more worried about the technical and sculptural aspects of the piece and I thought the participatory part would be easier.  No.

tools tools fabricThe microphone looked like a taser to some people- very threatening.  The pulse meter seems to be equally threatening- medical devices are just scary.  This is a huge barrier if handled badly.  I almost wan to crochet them little wooly jumpers to make them more approachable.  Something about fabric instantly tools fabricdisarms and comforts cold technical devices.  I started carrying both these and my extra batteries in a little transparent cloth bag and that actually seemed to help (transparent process, softer, easier to get to quickly, etc.).

In “Write Me for Art” it’s so approachable, so soft.  I generally give them to people after they’ve seen me embroidering for a few minutes.  Then I can explain the project to someone clearly interested already.  This one is so much less visual at this stage that it’s harder to get people to engage.  Getting participation becomes and art form in itself.

It’s funny, so far the stories seem to circle around the Haight, the Castro, and random naked men (even when I’m taking the stories in other places).  There is something about the Castro and the Haight that say SF more than anywhere else.

I’m excited about getting the piece all together and seeing it up and running.  This is so different from other work I’ve done in terms of materials, but very close to the heart of my work generally.

…and for tonight, more embroidering a landscape of San Francisco!

And for tonight… more

Written by Mary Corey March

November 30, 2013 at 8:23 am

social fabric

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photo(7)Write Me for Art continues… I tested out a new fabric for the machine text today.  Or tried to.  Funny how sewing machines can cause sudden fits of swearing.  Embroidery machines are another level of complex, and therefore a lot more obnoxious (especially when many different people work on them and do who knows what to them each day).  That said, I think the fabric is a perfect fit for the project.  Second round of text-size adjustments.  I still don’t have single correctly printed statement yet, but I think I’ve found the right size, embroidery method and fabric.  Whew!

Mail for the project trickling in most days.  I love it.  There is something so wonderful about getting actual, physical mail.   I have postcode-stamps from New York, San Francisco, Vermont, Portland Maine, Iowa, Chicago, and France.  So far just French and English, but I’m hoping some of my Spanish ones come back (I did  some instructions in Spanish and handed out a fair few.  I think I should make a Chinese one for passing out here because That would cover the three most spoken languages in SF. So many statements!

One thing that has surprised me is the similar feelings that people chose to share- even with less than fifty so far there are some distinct trends.  The hand embroidery goes slower now that the semester has started but I’m pretty pleased with the results so far.

In other news it seems like I have an exciting commission piece coming up in the summer- a new Particapatory Installation that will take place over the course of years.  So exciting!  It’s wonderful when you are so on the same page with someone that you don’t even have to ask the question “am I willing to sacrifice my artistic integrity here?”  Something I tend to say No to as a rule.  I’m flexible and good at fitting ideas into harmony with mine, but outright against I won’t do.  This project is exciting enough to be a little distracting, but knowing it will be there waiting for me in the Spring is a wonderful feeling.

Written by Mary Corey March

October 7, 2013 at 9:01 am

Let it go

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let it goThe latest two in the “Write me for Art” project.  It’s coming along in stolen moments, but it is coming.

The writing is from responses to questions I asked sent in to me by hand or mail in each person’s own writing.  If you want to participate, follow the link.

The other half of this project is computer-mediated.

Written by Mary Corey March

August 20, 2013 at 10:35 am

Write me for art: first letters…

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IMG_2993A few days ago I got my first mailed-in responses to the Write-Me-for-Art project.  I am nearly done hand-embroidering  the envelope of responses from the hospital, so I’m glad!  I also got an installment from a friend who brought me an envelope full of responses from a party.

I’m enjoying the variety of ways and kinds of responses I’m getting so far.  I’ve passed on the envelopes and instructions to friends and family in Chicago, Vermont, Maine, and Iowa.  I’ve passed the out personally in SF, New York and New Hampshire.

I try to do a large variety of people- age, occupation, location, style, culture…  I sought out a cousin who is more on the right-wing NRA type side of things because I do want a VARIETY of voices and if I’m left to the people I’m likely to see of talk with in the places that I would normally go that just won’t happen.  I’ve been stopped waiters, check-out counter folks, taxi drivers, riders on the bus, people in the park… so many different kinds.

If you want to be included in the project follow the instructions here. Please note the “handwritten” and “less than twelve words” parts!

There will be a tech component to this piece as well… coming.

The “Access” piece is still turning in my mind, but I’m putting it on the back burner until I finish this iteration of Identity Tapestry.  The “Write Me for Art” project is absolutely intended to be done in the between moments.

Written by Mary Corey March

August 16, 2013 at 12:31 am

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