I had a great and productive meeting with Michelle Hinebrook today. She’s not a thesis advisor but I thought I would benefit from her perspective so I asked her to take a look at what I’m working on. She thought I should feel comfortable to go further into abstraction and be limitless at this point. Every question I’m asking myself at this point is precious because this is the work that will carry me forward into my career. Given the topic I’m on now, I couldn’t even cover it in a life’s work. There’s just that much you can do. The visual explorations of our surroundings are limitless, and my approach has been very open-minded and experimental. She made me realize that I should feel more comfortable showing process and talking about the questions I have.
What is my question for Bruce Mau’s visit tomorrow? He’s coming to give us all a short crit and I’ve decided to show him some of my process work for thesis. Using my shape abstraction tracings (from a previous post) as a jumping off point, I started sketching a series of symbols to organize the visual language in our surroundings. I’m interested in the legibility of the city and the mental map that lets us remember a place and navigate through it.
I paired the symbols with phrases from Jane Jacobs “The Life and Death of American Cities”. I thought the language from the foremost urban planning critic would give the images a new context, bringing into light the neighborhood character that is in constant flux. All of these shapes are images taken on Rivington street.
The next phase was taking these images further into abstraction to get to the absolute simplest form. I still haven’t gone far enough into abstraction, so I can do a lot more. This was a really fun process of seeing where the shapes led me, listening to “the yes or no of our material” as Anne Albers said.
Here’s my question: I’m working a lot with abstraction, and I’m exploring it’s communication value. Do you think complete abstraction communicates in that the viewer can insert themselves into what they are looking at? Richard Tuttle is an example of an artist that works with abstraction of the simplest shapes, and I see cityscapes in them. Someone else might see something else, so in that way does it communicate a message in it’s simplicity?
I have abstract maps that I created today as well (need to think of a better word than map), and I will post them tomorrow with the feedback from the crit.