Discovering a Visual Shorthand: The Making of The Cartographer’s Dilemma

The Cartographer's Dilemma

The Cartograper’s Dilemma

I’ve written how hesitant I am to explain the art pieces I create. However, this past year I have become more comfortable participating in conversations about my work.

While being on-hand during the hanging of the current show, I enjoyed a spontaneous conversation with Abel Floris, owner of Desert Signs and Graphics, and the artist responsible for creating the vinyl lettering for the exhibition. He was curious about my process; in particular how I came to create The Cartographer’s Dilemma (TCD). I summed up the amount of work that goes into each TCD sculpture into a few sentences. I wasn’t trying to be deliberately coy, I was simply eager to hear more of his thoughts on the pieces currently hanging in the show.

After my brief answer, however, Abel replied with a comment that arrested me with enthusiasm. I can’t recall his exact words, but the gist of his comment went something like, “…and just like that, you came up with the idea for the piece.” It wasn’t just the explanation on the concept behind the artwork that he was looking for, but the journey behind reaching the final presentation!
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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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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

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.