Letting Go.

For the past month, I’ve been hoping I wouldn’t find myself writing this post. However, after four weeks of technical consultation, today I received a text message that made my heart sink.

All of my digital media has been lost.

A major component to my digital studio is my external storage device. I use a product called Drobo.

Drobo
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A Suboken Project Special Report

We hope you can join us on November 25th, 2013, at the Palm Desert Community Gallery for the opening reception of a two month solo exhibit featuring The Suboken Project’s: The Cartographer’s Dilemma and In A Place: Coachella Valley.

The exhibition runs from November 25th through January 21st. Gallery hours will be from 8:00am until 5:00pm Monday through Friday. Calista and I are hoping to organize a couple of artist talks during the show’s run for anyone interested in touring the exhibit with Suboken (that would be me), and share in a conversation about the process and themes featured in both projects.
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There’s A Man Down, In A Place!

 

This past weekend, Calista and I went out to capture a few new images for In A Place. Little did we know just what sort of experience the weekend had in store for us.

Over the past two months, I’ve been testing the new camera, taking updated and new In A Place photos. Part of this process was about comparing some of my older lenses and lens attachments with the new camera. My excitement was centered on the large increase in megapixels the model has compared to my older camera. Outside my never ending curiosity in exploring the IAP concept, there’s a new development for the project that calls for new images, a development that will be detailed in a future post.

In_A_PlaceThe first location we visited was Big Bear, California. The days were sunny and the snow was clean. I had shot in the snow a couple times before, Mammoth Lakes and Mt. San Jacinto, but wasn’t very excited with how the images turned out. I think only one of those images ended up in the art book. With the new camera, I was determined to land some better shots.

In_A_PlaceDuring this shoot, I noticed a change in how I was addressing the picnic table scenes. I tried to focus on taking images right at the miniature level. As proud as I am on how the older collection of IAP images have turned out, quite a few photos look like aerial photography. This time around, I was eager to get right down on the ground (in this case, the snow) and create/capture the illusion of a full scale picnic table.

Once we arrived back home, I didn’t hesitate to transfer the images to the computer. I was extremely pleased with the results, not to mention relieved with the quality of the higher resolution.

In_A_PlaceNext stop on my list, San Francisco. Calista and I spent a week in the city, visiting many of the original locations of IAP as well as discovering a couple new scenes. This trip also allowed Calista and I to tour some print houses and get a better handle on how to print and display a select group of IAP images for gallery and home spaces.

In_A_PlaceAs usual, the San Francisco trip was a huge success in capturing some great IAP images. We have tentative plans to return to the city in September to take more pictures.

Back in the desert, I started seeking out specific places that I wanted to return to, re-shoot some older shots with the new camera. As it has been during the entire project, some of those locations no longer exist. These situations remind me to pay attention and appreciate the little everyday moments, for “the now” may be ephemeral. So soak up as much of it as you can.

In_A_PlaceIAP locations that are the most susceptible to severe change are places where the images relied heavily on blooming plant life. As mentioned in earlier posts, we live in a resort centric community and landscaping is an ever changing aesthetic. When new plants and flowers are planted along the streets and sidewalks, it is best to take advantage of those scenes for IAP as quickly as possible.

This past weekend, some strikingly vibrant flowers were on display along a stretch of Highway 111 in Indian Wells. This length of the highway cuts between two large resorts, and there are no commercial buildings in the area. The highway is also flanked on both sides by long winding sidewalks and lots of trees. In regards to the IAP color palette, natural blues and purples are rare to come across in settings fit for miniature picnic tables. These flowers along the highway were the perfect answer to fill in the lack of those two colors.

So, Sunday morning, Calista and I set out to get some shots of those flowers, turn them into official IAP scenes.

After surveying several flower beds, I found the perfect location for the shoot. Calista and I compared several tables to decide which would fit in best with the landscape. After selecting the old weathered red and white table, I cleared the spot of debris, placed the table, laid down and started snapping shots.

Calista stood nearby, looking for alternative IAP locations. The sun was warm. The traffic on the highway was steady but not heavy. And, after about five minutes, a car pulled up and parked next to us. Keep in mind that there are no designated places to park along this section of the highway, although there is a bike lane. We had to park down the street in the city hall parking lot. I didn’t feel like I was on display, but it was odd that the car chose to park right next to us. The only concern that I had in that moment was whether or not the car would be in the shot I was taking.

The car then pulled away, but was almost instantly replaced with a new car parking next to us. Realizing how unusual this situation was becoming, Calista walked closer to where I was. The passenger rolled down her window and held out two bottles of water. She was concerned that I had passed out on the ground! She asked if I was okay, and offered to call for help.

I quickly explained that I was simply taking pictures of the flowers, and Calista thanked them for stopping to see if we were in trouble. With a smile of relief, the passenger said goodbye, and the car pulled away.

Calista and I realized that the first car was probably equally concerned, and chances were that many of the cars driving by might also assume that I was in need of medical assistance, laying there on the ground.

I laid back down to try and quickly land the shot, but it was already too late. Just as I adjusted the focus on my camera, Calista let out an “Uh oh. Here comes a cop car.”

The officer pulled up and got out of his car. A friendly yet concerned Officer Colsari of the Indian Wells Police Department walked over to check on us to see what the situation was. I stood up, dusted off my shorts and Calista and I explained what we were working on. Officer Colsari informed us that someone had called in and reported that a man was on the ground and that someone was giving him CPR! He added that the paramedics were already in route. No sooner had he said it, a fire engine and ambulance drove up on the other side of the street. Officer Colsari waved them on, and Calista and I apologized for all the confusion. I formally introduced myself and shared some of the details of the IAP project. Calista even handed him a business card and invited him to check out suboken.com.

Satisfied that all was well, Officer Colsari drove off. I returned to getting the picture, although my diligence in quickly getting the shot was certainly heightened.

Our faith in humanity restored, confident that I had taken some great images for IAP, we wrapped up the photo shoot and walked back to the car. Of course, as we approached the car, I had my traditional IAP face palm moment. I should have asked Officer Colsari to pose with me for a blog picture!

IMG_1943s IMG_1945s In_A_Place

Is The Osteodontokeratic Hammer Built Or Grown? part 2

A five or six month hiatus can move by pretty quickly. I tend to have three or four projects going on at the same time. The summer months, as hot as they are, can be the perfect time to focus on some of these other projects.

Trapped inside a heavily air conditioned apartment, I focused on producing my fifth album, Three Sides of the Same Coin. With the summer sunshine in abundance, I set off to non desert locales to find more In A Place scenes. IAP benefitted twice that summer since I was also focusing heavily on the layout of the art book. Sherry Wisener joined the IAP project as the book’s editor. By the time the fall colors started to arrive, In A Place: An Art Book was finished.

During the summer months, four of the five ODK hammers were packed away in a foam lined cardboard box. I kept one out so that I could figure out a method of displaying the final sculptures. The finished hammer was sturdy, and I thought two stands would look nice supporting each sculpture.

Enter Barrett Hoffman.

Barrett and his wife Rhea are close family friends of ours. Barrett is a skilled and inventive metal worker. Barrett also has an avid interest in my creativity. So it didn’t take any convincing when asked if he would like to help with the project. He had me draw up a few sketches of what I wanted, and about a week later he had crafted some solid yet aesthetically appropriate metal stands for the hammers.

IMG_0751It was great to finally display a finished ODK Hammer on the book shelf. However, when I was setting the sculpture on the stands, I discovered something that made heart break. A tiny hairline fracture had formed near the seam where the lower handle joined with the neck bone. I carefully applied pressure to see if the hammer was loose at the joint, but nothing budged. As I examined the sculpture further, I found two more fractures. I had no clue as to what would cause the cracks to form. Concerned, I went to check on the other four hammers that were packed away. Yup, all five hammers were damaged.

My initial assumption was that when the pre-baked core went through the cooking process a second time, the shape must have warped. This could explain why the surface layer would develop the fractures. I thought that the sculpture needed a stronger core solution, something that wouldn’t allow the clay to warp during the baking process.

IMG_0851Using a metal core, a length of rebar perhaps, should be strong enough. I again turned to Barrett for help. He cut and shaped several pieces of rebar based on a template I drew of the overall profile of the hammer. I built up the core layers of the sculpture over the top of the rebar. After baking this core, I then applied the detail layer, just as I did before. With the rebar serving as the new core of the sculpture, the new hammers were absolutely sturdy. The added benefit was that I no longer needed to caution people how fragile the sculptures were.

Yet, after a week, the fractures started to appear again.

I put the ODK Hammer project on hold for several months. I needed a break, and Calista and I were gearing up to launch the In A Place Kickstarter campaign. It felt good to focus all my attention on the Kickstarter page. I was excited to put my work out there for a larger audience to see. However, once the clock started ticking down on the campaign, I needed a distraction to keep me from obsessing over whether or not the funding of In A Place: An Art Book would succeed. (spoiler alert: it didn’t succeed)

One night, not long after the Kickstarter ended, Calista and I had invited our friends Emily and Jonathan over to see the new house. As we toured them around, we spent some time discussing the ODK Hammers, three of the hammers were on display over the fireplace mantel. Emily and Jonathan both have significant backgrounds in science. Jonathan knew immediately what was causing the fractures in the sculptures.

Put your science caps on, friends. This is about to get real.

The cause of the fractures had to do with the coefficient of linear thermal contraction. Those of you who guessed this earlier in this blog entry get a gold star. To put it simply, I was cooling the clay too fast. Jonathan read an article describing the importance of creating a cooling schedule when baking ceramic products multiple times. The consequences of not developing such a schedule would cause the clay products to fracture, just like my hammers.

IMG_0842Armed with knowledge, I came up with a strategy that would bring the temperature of the sculptures down gradually, about twenty-four hours longer than I had previously been cooling down the sculptures.

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And…

 

 

 

 

 

It worked!

 

 

 

 

The next hammer I created didn’t have, nor does it have any hairline fractures at all. It even survived being shipped from Palm Desert to San Francisco without any damage.

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Throughout the entire process, the look of the ODK Hammer has been constantly refined. The current iteration will likely be the definitive design. Slight variations such as skin tonality, hammer length, unique details of the antler-claw and even small hair follicles will remain. However, the overall profile won’t vary too much. This is due to the design of the conceptual skeletal system that I developed to make the ODK Hammer seem even more organic. More on that in part 3.

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Pushing Forward With New Places

Here’s the latest on In A Place.

I’ve been hunting near and far for a photo lab who can offer great quality digital prints while complimenting the In A Place project’s budget. And, I’m excited to say that I think I’ve found a great lab to help produce the limited 8 x 10 first series prints. Bay Photo Lab in Santa Cruz California is a name that has popped up from several different sources, and I’ve ordered an evaluation print to see how my images fare with their services. If the test print meets the quality I’m looking for, expect to see the first 24 prints available around mid January. My plan is to only produce a small run on the prints though, 15 copies of each image, numbered and signed.

Sheila Menzies, one of the outstanding supporters of my In A Place Kickstarter campaign, has been incredibly helpful in finding an alternative solution for self publishing my book. One of the leads she sent my way may turn out to be an excellent solution! ArtBookbindery.com has put together an appealing quote in producing an exclusive 50 book run of In A Place at a great price. There will have to be some minor format adjustments, but all of the content will remain intact. Once Calista and I iron out the budget details, I’ll post an update on the book’s availability. I would love for the book to go on sale at the same time the prints do, but we’ll have to wait see. At this time, there are no plans to run another Kickstarter campaign for the book.

Yes, it’s true. I now have a brand new camera! I’ve been pouring over the owner’s manual and testing out the different lenses. Over the next four weeks, I’ll be taking the camera and the family of miniature tables out to hunt for some new images. Some of these images may even make it into the book! I expect that some will certainly be added to the print series.

But wait, there’s more! I’ve decided to produce four acrylic paintings based on In A Place scenes, taking me back to how the whole project was first conceived. I’ve already pulled the four images that I think will be satisfying to render with paint on canvas, and will post images as soon as the paint dries.

Now, if I can just remember where I stored my painter’s cap…

In A Place featured at Kickstarter.com

Here’s a quick reminder that there are only 20 days left for my Kickstarter.com project, In A Place. Since launching the project, I’ve been receiving some great feedback on both the art book and the project as a whole.

Within the project’s first week, Kickstarter selected In A Place as a Staff Pick on their website’s blog. During the second week, Janice Kleinschmidt from Palm Springs Life interviewed me for an article she is writing for the December Art + Culture publication about local artists turning to Kickstarter for funding and exposure. Janice and her photographer Elena RayAntaratma even followed me on a photo shoot documenting how I create an In A Place scene. And, I’m excited to announce that Debra Mumm’s Venus Studios in Palm Desert has already offered to host our Southern California launch.

One of the biggest questions I’ve been getting is “How does Kickstarter work?” I’ll defer to the Kickstarter experts to explain:

“All-or-nothing funding? Every Kickstarter project must be fully funded before its time expires or no money changes hands.”
… thus, taking the risk out of this fundraising event for everyone. If my Kickstarter project is successful, I’ll have enough money to print and ship the books. The fun part is that I can also spice up the deal with great rewards such as original artwork that’s directly related to the In A Place project. Please note that backing a Kickstarter project requires an amazon account for payment. This protects your credit card information and makes it really easy for anyone who already has an Amazon.com account. Should the project fall short of reaching its goal, no one get’s charged a single penny.

A huge thank you to everyone who has been supportive of In A Place. It has been quite an adventure putting this whole project together, from building miniature picnic tables, to photographing the scenes, to designing the book, and finally offering copies of the book for everyone to own. This is our big chance to make this book available, so please tell anyone who you feel might be interested in buying a copy of In A Place about my Kickstarter project.

Thanks again!
Suboken

In A Place @ Kickstarter.com

During the six years that I’ve been collecting images for In A Place, I have crafted twenty-seven miniature picnic tables. A few of them have been modified several times to give them a stronger presence in the book. Some haven’t survived the many adventures that I’ve subjected them to.

It’s time to give the miniature tables their moment in the spotlight.

Media Attention!

I have some great news to share!

Last Thursday, September 27th, Janice Kleinschmidt with Palm Springs Life Magazine interviewed me for an article to be featured in this December’s Art + Culture publication! We talked about my artwork and creative process, plus highlighted my experience launching and promoting my In A Place Kickstarter project. The interview even followed me on a photo shoot in downtown Palm Springs where Janice and her photographer, Elena RayAntaratma, were able to observe first hand how I select a scene and set up a shot for In A Place.

I am extremely grateful to Janice and Elena for their enthusiasm for my project. The whole day was a fantastic experience to share with them!