Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Words and Music

Well, I can only apologise for the photography that follows, but I did promise a virtual exhibition, so here goes:

With these fracking 10-week/3-week terms we're given now, I devised a cunning plan for my students. I proposed that we spend 6 weeks playing loosely with letterpress, just printing stuff that took our fancy (mostly woodtype, because there's no real time to set chunks of small type with four-hour classes), and then 4 weeks playing with the results. After the hols (i.e. now), they were to come up with the goods, which would be publicly displayed until assessment time, and the leftover few weeks would be spent just skillin' up on a few bookbinding techniques in class, so that they could spend their out-of-class time finishing those essays and major projects that the other people in their learning lives were demanding (I remember this time of year well from my student days).

And they did it. I lost a couple of people along the way, some for good and some who just wandered back in when they were ready, and who came with their work ready to mount. The theme of the project was MUSIC. Remember that these are students from all over the school, who are doing the class as an elective, so they range from Ceramics major, to Textiles, to Photomedia, etc. Here's what came out of it:

Music exhibition
This is the overview shot. The case is in the school library, which is a great spot to be in this time of year for obvious reasons. I'll walk you through from left to right.

Window 1
Window 1: Jenny (top), Angela (bottom left), Trillian (bottom right -- I really love saying that girl's name. She's just happy she wasn't born a boy. She handles the reaction from HGG fans like me really well).

woodtype scarf
Jenny discovered that letterpress works on fabric (although a warning -- the fabric has to be absolutely flat, and sometimes the grain of the fabric can mark the woodtype), and ran this chiffon scarf over her set type. It looks fabulous. You can see in the overview shot above that she printed a singlet, too.

Jenny CDs
She also made these CD 'chapters' that combine her printing with fantastic industrial fabric swatches that we were given. She also bound a hardback book with a lot more of her printing inside. She's fallen in love with traditional bookbinding.

Musical chairs
Angela loves origami, and the way she can make books that move. She's a ceramicist; I don't think ceramics get to move very much, although I think the bookmaking has made her think about that issue. These are her 'musical chairs'. The chair on the left is a 'title' chair; the middle chairs are attached to each other in a chain, and the two on the right are separate individuals.

Book in progress
Trillian is a very capable person generally. She hasn't finished her piece, only because she wanted to make something I hadn't taught her yet (cased bindings), so she's going to make it next week, and in the meantime we chose one of her lovely page spreads to hold the spot. She's working with her letterpress and mixing it with digital text and images, plus making a binding that from the start will be falling apart, like so many hearts in songs. Should be fun.

Window 2
Window 2: Suse (behind), J (in front).

A detail of Suse's 'Rhythm' piece. You can see the whole thing above. She's a musician herself, and takes music very seriously, so this was an exploration of actual rhythms and how they correspond to word length and size.

guitara 1
I took photos of all three of J's 'guitara' pieces, but the middle one didn't come out -- you can see it above.

guitara 3
Each one uses a found box, with a hole cut in the lid and rubberband 'strings', and then he's played with his printed matter, folding and cutting it to interact with the boxes.

Window 3
Window 3: Poppy Malik (top left), Libby (top right), Beatrix Cottonmouth (bottom left), D. Carnac Edwards (bottom left). As you can see, I have a number of students already working on their artistic identities (not that I can talk).

poppy diamonds
Poppy did some lovely letterpress, using sentences that were like little short stories, but she didn't use any of it here. She likes making her 'little pretties' as she calls them. These LPs are paper diamonds of typed drafting film. Each diamond is a typed dream. And glitter. This year the print workshop is full of glitter and the sound of typewriters :)

It hurts my ears
I haven't done this one justice. It's a hard one to reproduce, because there are layers of text in amongst the sheer curtain fabric. Libby calls this 'It hurts my ears'; other lines include 'squawk squawk' and 'it would not stop'. The fabric is held together with a piece of retro gold crochet thread, and the whole lot is suspended from a hook on the side of the cabinet. It makes me think of a hanged parrot created from the remnants of some granny's sitting room.

Something about this one really appeals to me. The text inside this book object, printed on white cotton quilting fabric, says 'Inside a bed of bone' and the inside ball says 'soft red muscle thumps'. Letterpress on cloth with red wool and thread. The things Beatrix makes are often very sweet with that edge of macabre.

Moustache Remnants
And lastly, this one is called 'Moustache Remnants'. I love the way he's made 'rooms' from his book, which is bound with a figure-of-eight stitch so that it can bend in all sorts of configurations. He's added some textile pieces, which seem to act like prayer rugs in the rooms. I don't know if he thought of it this way; I hope he has or will. Each line is a line of a song, and they were originally set and printed as letterpress, but he's then photocopied the words and reprinted them...

Moustache remnants (detail)

So there you go. Lots of interesting thoughts and deeds. Next week we're making a cased-in binding (a hardback book) and the week after, a clamshell box, and then the teaching year is over again. Where does it all go?


fifi said...

In a state of bliss just looking.
You are obviously an inspiring teacher.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely fantastic. very creative and thought provoking. I especially love the work of J's and the origami pieces. love it!

Poppy Letterpress said...

Ooh lovely work. It's wonderful seeing such different applications of printing!

genevieve said...

I am just getting to the place where I can simply look and enjoy, rather than constantly berating myself for not being able to do it too!
thanks so much for getting the VE together. Your students are special, and so is their wonderful teacher.
Beautiful, as always.

Em said...

Thank goodness you teachers feel the same as us students! Only 2 weeks left though, hurray!

I saw this display in the library yesterday and *loved* it. Tell your students they've done a great job! I particularly like the CD inserts one, and the diamonds.

lisa said...

Awesomely creative stuff! And a great post, thanks for sharing.

sexy said...
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