These are some images from my second quarter review. If you want to read, then read, if not, just look at the pictures.
In my first two quarters in the Ohio State University Master of Fine Arts program, I have found myself diverging from and also extending particular aesthetics and working ideas that I touched upon during my undergraduate work at UC Santa Barbara. My current body of work consists of two (possibly three) distinct subject matters that I have been exploring in various media and materials. I am a firm believer in the idea of trial and reworking as a process in my art. I would not consider any of my works up to this point either “finished” or completely failed. I am aware I do not have all the answers or necessary research to realize my work in pointed directions. Instead, I feel like I am constructing a broad visual vocabulary from which to pull while expanding upon the concepts I am now basing my work from as well as investigating new possibilities.
In my first group of works I have been examining the crotch. While this idea originally began as an exploration into a personal protest to explicitly sexual works seen in my undergraduate art program, it has since changed into a probe of my own crotch through differing degrees of ambiguity and male/female relation. I began using thrift store bought pants as a material to make what I would call crotch pillows or pillowcases. With these pants, I would cut the general crotch area out and sew it to a backing fabric to create the “pillow case”. The backing fabrics were usually flower patterned and like a micro-suede. These would then be stuffed with fiberfill material to give them volume. The shapes of the pillows varied from one-foot squares to normal sized pillows cut from size 58 pants. I have been arranging these pillows in different ways to emphasize or deemphasize the crotch part of the pants and to see how the physicality of the materials shifts.
From the completion of several pillows I began to explore my own crotch through a series digital photos titled Crotch Culture. I wanted to see what my “bulge” would look like in different pants that I own. These digital images are compositionally cropped from the belt line to just below the crotch line and form a horizontal triptych placed at eye level. These photographs were very versatile as I would move them closer to each other and turn them on their sides so they would look more like a landscape.
My latest piece in this group is a video titled Trying On a Pair of Jeans. In this video, I filmed myself trying on different pairs of jeans with a frame similar to that of Crotch Culture. The video is edited down to fifteen seconds of footage, and slowed to twenty percent speed. A clip from a song from my music collection was then added to the video and the video is looped with a different song for each time the video plays. Up to ten different songs were used in this manner. After shooting the footage for this video, I have become interested in the brief moments I would touch my crotch to feel how well the jeans fit. Slowed down to twenty per cent speed, this action becomes a sensual almost soft-core pornographic movement alluding to touch and physicality. This small clip is just a fraction of a fifteen-minute event that happens in the closed quarters of a dressing room.
My second piece, which I consider to be separate from my study of the crotch, is based on the process of knitting as a physical, kinetic energy being produced from the action of pulling yarn from a spool. This action is realized in an installation in which a hand built wooden chair with an attached hand crank is placed and facing the corner of a room. The chair and its placement in the room are essential to the piece. It became important for the installation to give a mood of isolation and physical density. The hand -crank has spooled yarn that is unwound when more material is needed to knit. The cranking action then pulls and spools other strands of yarn attached to the crank that are spread throughout the corner connecting to the wall by way of hand-carved wood fairleads. These strands connect to pre-knit pieces that are unknit by the pulling action of the hand-crank. The presentation of this piece thus far is realized through an edited video that shows different views of a performer operating this machine and knitting. I am experimenting with different ways of presentation from live performance to a video presentation. I see this work as the first in a series where different compositional and situational set ups are used to activate a space. Right now, constructing a coherent piece with a consistent language throughout (materials, line, composition) that can stand on its own without the presence of a performer is a facet of its progression. I am currently doing research on social structures and models that will hopefully drive my work forward with a more pointed impetus.
A loosely related project I started three weeks ago is a piece that involves stripping down OSB (Oriented Strand Board) plywood sheets to pieces that are ten inches by two and three quarters inches in size and laminating them together to form solid blocks that measure approximately twenty inches by nine inches by thirteen inches. The size of the initial strips of wood was a purely aesthetic choice of proportion and the resulting size of the laminated blocks was made in a similar way. I have developed an exact process to go from a single sheet of plywood to the final laminated block and execute the different steps completely before moving onto the next in order to maximize efficiency. The resulting blocks are then stacked, so far in a column. I am exploring a pure and simple construction method through a repetitious process to create a more monumental physical object. I see myself continuing to build these blocks and using them as a material to arrange or use in different constructions and different concepts.
All images and ideas © Derrick Velasquez 2007