Sunday, November 16, 2008
You'll Always Come Back; An Album
"Presented to Sallie Dutton
by her Husband,
So reads the inscription on the title page of my grandmother's photograph album. The cover is blue velvet, with a design, now worn of its gilt, of flowers, butterflies, and a dragonfly sun. For the most part the photographs, of the Cundiffs primarily, (her family), had fallen out of the fancy decorated pages. Now they're in a stack. There's no way to figure out who was where. But for today, I'm not looking at it to find chronology, narrative, identity, or relationships between characters - I'm framing my response too, responding mainly to the album as a source of design.
The designs are not only worn by time, but also by my digital processing. This is sketchbook work, so I haven't sweated the details ~ "low resolution" as they say, so little is very resolved here. I'm just poking around, wondering how these patterns and shapes appear once you're the size of the people inside the frames. What would it be like to paint one of these things tall enough to step through?
The combination of plant forms and geometric designs gives an immediate impression of time past. Fanciful and conventional at once ~ I'm trying to see the connection between this kind of work and my own; could I bring myself to put a twining stem together with a geometric medallion? I wonder why my grandfather chose this album as a gift, surely he thought it looked good - but maybe she told him what she wanted...
Once the scale of the design elements is in flux, their fantastical qualities come into relief, at least to my eyes. I think I could reconstruct the drawing of the dragonfly from the tiny veined wingtip that remains, but as it is, it looks like a velvet fossil. Perhaps the best way for me to connect with what I'm seeing in this album is consider these images as sketches for sets.
I've thought of having Voice X (the orisa of crossroads) be a digital DJ who could make, via digital projections, any image in the bank appear on any wall of The Old House at any scale ~ of having a holographic spring in the center of the playing space, pouring out images of the past in their most contemporary form. Would that hodge-podge mixture be an equivalent to the design of this album - with digital disintegration standing in for decay?
Here's one of the chronomaps I'm using. The red border encloses Pete's lifetime. The 4 colored lines moving through the measures of decades are the event lines for the lives of my grandparents, Pete and Charles. I've placed an acorn on the time-cell of the album's presentation ~ Xmas 1896, 3 years after my grandparents got married.