Build up

Thinking further about the idea in the last post…

What if I were to embed a thread to cut the text out of a plain sheet of paper, then wheatpasted it up somewhere with a “pull me” note on the end of the string? There’d be no indication of what the text/image would be before the string was pulled, it would rely on the interaction of a passerby to reveal.

I’ve been wanting to work on a kinetic type project for a little while, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do exactly (beyond move, but that’s a constant in my life). Today, I figured it out. I realized that I wanted to work on this hands-on as much as possible (computers make it too easy, I want a challenge). I’ve been wanting/planning a project involving a roll of paper and a song for a while, where the words are cut into the paper and “pop up” as the paper rolls/unrolls. But that would involve building an apparatus with a sort of blade to get under the cut words… and basically isn’t quite what I want.

But it did give me the seed of this idea. I want to take a large sheet of paper and score the text into it, as well as a path through the text (or perhaps fixing a thread behind the paper so I can direct things properly).

When that’s done, I’ll pull the thread/start the tear and film the progress. I expect that the text will rip out along the score lines, and probably then some. That’s what I’m interested in: The tears that I can’t predict.

Now I just need to find the time for this. (Also, this is probably explained horribly. But I just need it to trigger a memory later on when I get the chance to work on this.)

That “c” is making my eye twitch, but you get the idea.
Currently trying to decide if this is going up in the shop or if I’m already scaring folks away with the “Mine, Not Yours!” uterus print…

That “c” is making my eye twitch, but you get the idea.

Currently trying to decide if this is going up in the shop or if I’m already scaring folks away with the “Mine, Not Yours!” uterus print…

I’d probably make more money out of my society6 shop if I drew pretty things and Gandhi quotes and such. But then I’d probably have to actually go to therapy, and it’s more fun to just draw it out. (For the record, this part one of drawing “enthusiastic consent”, because this is how I deal with that Rape 101 Kickstarter campaign.)

stenciled snow

Say you were getting snow and high winds from a predictable direction. Do you think you could set up a stencil and control the snowfall enough to create intentional designs? A snowdrift that spells a message, for instance.

Maybe the day after a storm that dumps mostly powder, or using a snowblower on a very light powdery snow. I might have to try this. I wonder how large I should go?

Winter and Summer Type Experiments

Massachusetts had the first blizzard in a couple years last weekend, and there’s so much snow I want to do something with it all. Something typographic.

So I’m thinking of cutting black plastic into letter shapes and laying them out on top of the snow, pinning them down. The idea is that the sun will melt the snow under the plastic faster than the uncovered snow. Alternatives are to use different color plastic to play with the rate of snow melt.

Another approach is to create a sort of mold in the snow and use it to create letter-shaped icicles. Perhaps this could work with gravity and the snow melt from the roof—hang thread to guide the snow melt down into letter shapes, allowing it to freeze into those shapes over night.

Even with all the snow, it’s hard to forget it’s mid-February and planting season is quickly approaching. Apparently, you can shape the produce of certain plants (cukes, pumpkins, watermelons, etc) using a sturdy mold put in place early in the growth of the fruit. The most common applications seem to be to grow square produce, and Mickey Mouse shaped pumpkins… but why not letters? What about letters with counters? Could I construct those letters from two halves?

fingerprints, friction ridges, and the possibilities

I have a bone to pick, and it’s that there are so many possibilities for amazing artwork that never gets made because of a lack of access to the proper materials and equipment. Maybe I just want more science with my art. (Though I’ll be the first to admit that my sciencing is at best armchair science, and even that’s pretty generous.)

Anyway. The reason I’m a little miffed about this is that I’ve been mulling over fingerprints for a while and a couple project ideas that have to do with them.

When I was about eleven, I cut off part of the tip of my left index finger. It was an embarrassingly stupid accident, and it altered my fingerprint irreversibly. Before the accident, my fingerprint was an ulnar loop, as all of the digits of my left hand are, but ever since, it’s a whorl (excepting the huge chunk of scar tissue). 

Lately, I’ve been wondering about intentionally altering my fingerprints. Would it be possible to “design” a fingerprint? Not just change it, but to alter it in such a way as to guarantee an outcome? Could I have letters instead of whorls, loops, and arches? 

With some research, it seems like it *might* be possible, but also seems like it’s something that hasn’t been done before. It would involve creating a mosaic of the tissue and glands on my fingertips to form the letters, which HAS been done (pretty much only in an illegal setting—people altering their fingerprints to evade law enforcement), but it’s the ability to predict the outcome and get fine details that seems near impossible. I might have to investigate further, if I can figure out who to talk to that would have answers. A plastic surgeon? Someone within law enforcement?

Alternatively, the research has pointed to a way around this: Faking the fingerprints using latex. And considering my objective is to attain a realistic looking PRINT, and not necessarily a realistic looking finger, then this method might be the way to go (even though I am still curious.) I do always tend to lean more towards actually doing something instead of faking it (aka I’d rather take a photo of a situation than photoshop it), but in this instance, I suppose using liquid latex would be a suitable alternative to plastic surgery of questionable legality.

Second idea: Equating the friction ridges that comprise a fingerprint to the ridges that make a vinyl record functional. If you listen closely while you run your finger across a surface (for me the one that caught my attention was a somewhat coarse fabric), there’s a tone. The distance between the ridges is not constant, allowing for variations in tone as it moves across the surface. Would it be possible to “play” someone’s fingerprint? Would there be any chance of a recognizable tune in a naturally occurring print?

I’m thinking the best way to investigate this matter would be to take a three-dimensional scan of fingerprints (thus the rant about access to equipment: Where does a broke art girl get access to this sort of equipment?) I think the next step, to prove the hypothesis, would be to input the scan into a program that would convert it into a sound file (I’m going to guess that this sort of program must exist within the recording industry, though I haven’t yet researched what it is and where to find it) and ensure that what results from multiple sets of prints isn’t just indecipherable white noise. I don’t expect my fingers to play “Mary Has a Little Lamb”, but I would hope for a notable difference in sound between my fingerprints and yours.

If that stage is successful, I would then take the scan and create a large 3D print (oh, why do 3D printers need to be so expensive?!) in a format that could then be played on any standard record player.

This could then tie into the idea of deliberately altering fingerprints: If you can indeed get a recognizable and distinct tone from different fingerprints, could you then go backwards and “design” a finger print based on an audiophile? Could I have it so my middle fingerprint would play “Yakkety Sax” if pulled in this manner?

Much research to do. And no, my mad scientisting won’t go so far as to homespun plastic surgery. I’m not that great with a needle, anyway.

(The best source on detailed info regarding fingerprint alteration and the mechanics behind how natural fingerprints form is a study done by Jianjiang Feng, Anil K. Jain, and Arun Ross

Shirt designs and collaborating with awesome people.

One of the groups I’ve been working for/with for the last six or seven months on various projects has tasked me with designing shirts for them. The project is coming close to wrapping up the sketching stage, and I’m so excited for it! The most recent meeting was just last Friday, where we discussed the three sketches I’d put together for them, and they chose my personal favorite of the three, but with variations. These are closeups of two of the sketches (the one on the right is what was selected):

The variation will be to add color to it. Now, this is all for one of my favorite local bands, so they’re not exactly rolling in cash, and I try to keep the work I do for them at the lower end of the cost scale, and usually that means I’m trying to limit the number of screens or figuring out how they can take charge of the production themselves, which is what was decided for this project (they’re super motivated and excited to learn how to do things like screenprinting and blockprinting if it means their merch will be that much better)

We’ve determined that in addition to the text and pattern above, there’s going to be a silhouette off to one side (none of us really want this to be the standard “logo in the center of the chest” deal, we all want a wraparound) that will be stenciled with spraypaint. In addition to this, in the silhouette, there’s going to be some block printed symbols (which we’re still discussing the details of).

So we’ve decided to do a screen for all of the black line work, and then we’re discussing three different ways to get the color in. One way will be to determine what colors and where and burn screens for all of them, etc etc. The traditional multi-color method. The second option I gave was for them to print the black line work and do the stenciling, then go back in and handpaint the color where and how they want it to appear. The final option we discussed was to do the stenciling first, but also create a stencil in the same shape as all of the black line work, and then stencil in pops of various colors behind that, then print the black line work over it all. 

Obviously, this is going to require some researching and mostly testing/mad scientist-ing, which made me and the folks I’m working with very very giddy and excited for this entire project. I’m just so glad to work with people who want something so unique that they’re not afraid to get their hands a little dirty to do it. And that they’re willing to let me throw ideas like this at them (without even flinching, at that!)

Very very soon, I’ll start posting some of the process of the mad scientist-ing portion of this. I expect that my fingers will soon be an array of colors from my experiments! Onwards!

The webs we weave

Current project is working on some merch design for one of the most exciting bands I’ve encountered in a long long long time, and has been a roller coaster of ideas being great until they get on paper, then they fall flat. I finally gave up on the approach I was using and seem to have some success working as normal (I was trying to do something in a style that isn’t natural to me, and now I need to learn it, but it will take years of practice.)

Anyway, before nodding off the other night, I had a great idea for this project involving sheer fabric and string. But that’s not the bit I want to talk about. I want to talk about the other ideas that stemmed from that one.

Maps. I love maps. And I started wondering what it would look like if you were to stitch road maps onto sheer fabric. If you could cut away the fabric and be left with a lace map. How different road maps would be from, say, waterways or some other map of natural features.

Or mapping public transit in Boston. I heard once that the trains generally go east to west and the busses go north to south, but I can think of many exceptions to this. What would the result be if it was stitched out without any other information? Would it be obvious that it’s a myth? How big would it have to be? Could I include markers for stops and transfers? Perhaps instead of being a straight map, it should be an infographic one. I could use ridership data to rank the lines and make the more heavily used ones bolder and thicker. Would anything become apparent from that?

I know these are things that could be done easily on paper or screen. But I really love the idea of physical infographics and taking that sort of thing (which I always think of as the cold side of design, though it’s not when it’s done well) and reintroducing it to art and aesthetics.