related documentation




Tunnel Installation
I thought this was very effective in transforming the space. All the different elements were integrated together to create a cohesive and new sensory experience. I would love to see more and long-term transformations of space like this at the U.

Even this wasn't your desired final product for this project, I thought it was great to see the stage of the process. The joints were fascinating. This is something I have pretty much zero expertise or knowledge in, and I thought it was accessible and interesting. Would love to see what comes from the continuation of this project. And I love the idea of a solar powered creature that lives in a space and moves itself, expanding on the personality that it already has.

Lichen Shirts
The stitching and pattern on these were very interesting. Although they don't seem functional (yet), I liked them as a sculptural display and thought they had an interesting form. I agree with Diane in that I would have liked to see them on a different hanger. The plastic didn't jive with me. I loved the site you chose to display them. The lighting was great and I enjoyed viewing them with the back drop of clouds.

I thought this was pulled together really well. The layering was a good choice. The discs themselves were very interesting and allowed me to imagine them as various living organisms. I would love to see it as a piece that hangs from the ceiling!

Hydroponic Curtain
This is amazing. I love the idea of making gardening and fresh food accessible to people in urban areas. This is a creative and beautiful way to make that happen. It is esthetically great, functional, and with lots of possibilities moving forward. I am interested and excited to see how you all continue with this piece. I think there are a lot of possibilities. Holler if you are looking for additional collaborators or even help during construction!

Breath Visual
I thought this was a beautiful look at the way breath influences vocals. I loved the integration of mediums, from traditional photograph print to the layering and incorporation of life. This is very personal to you and I thought the presentation was intimate and effective. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Death Shroud / Burial Ceremony
From the tone set of this through the end, I thought this was a beautiful ceremony. I thought you were sensitive and effective in looking at the subject of death. It was wonderful to see how you incorporated the GFP, lighting, shroud, and performance/ceremony. I think this piece could have been enhanced through less directions during the ceremony (maybe only in the beginning) and to have it be more a mock ceremony. I love that you opened up the space to share and participate during the ceremony.

Christy Newell handstand observations


I love doing handstands. I am not great at doing them and have a strong desire to improve. I decided to monitor myself doing sets of 10 handstands over time to see if I observed any changes. These observations were made about one week apart from each other. In between observations, I continued practicing handstands.

1st observation:
seconds with both feet off the ground
1.7, 1.3, 2.4, 1.8, 3, 2.4, 1.6, 3, 3.3, 2.8
obs 1.tif

2nd observation:
2.5, 1.8, 2, 2, 2.6, 2.5, 1.4, 2.9, 2.6, 2.7
obs 2.tif

3rd observation:
3, 2.5, 1.8, 3.1, 2.4, 2.7, 2.7, 2.5, 2.8, 2.8
obs 3.tif

4th observation:
2.5, 2.8, 2.7, 2.8, 2.5, 2.2, 2.8, 3.5, 2.7, 2.9
obs 4.tif

5th observation:
2.3, 2.3, 2.7, 2.6, 2.6, 3, 2.4, 3, 2.6, 2.6
observation 5.tif

6th observation:
3.2, 2.8, 2, 2.6, 2, 1.9, 2.4, 2.3, 2, 2.8
obs 6.tif

I found that my earlier observations had more variation. As I continued practicing, I improves slightly with time in the air, but the biggest difference was in becoming more predictable.

Slime Mold :: Update


I thought I would post a quick update on my slime mold project now that the semester is over. It is a project that I want to continue, but it is also one that I need more time to conceptualize and to write up (in poetry form) before seriously executing the visual component.

I think I am attracted to the wordplay between "sublime" and "slime," so I've been reading up on the sublime as a concept (or have been, prior to the always mad rush that is the end of the semester). I also think the weird ways in which slime mold functions--taking on different states, sharing nuclei, growing in systems--can be related to the sublime in various ways. Especially the morphed, weird post-modern iterations of the sublime that can be found in The Sublime (Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art), which I've been using for ideas on things to read related to the subject (in regards to "the subject," pun intended).


I also think I learned a lot from the project we did at the end of the semester--a project that I'm really happy with. I was thinking about doing some time lapse with slime mold, but I wasn't sure how to execute it (I had downloaded some software and so on). So, at some point I threw out the idea to my (awesome) group members that we should maybe try something with time lapse. I really didn't know enough about what was involved and I was playing around with it (with little success). Anyway, we ended up making the "Subterranea Project" and I feel like I learned so much from it--I can't wait to get back to incorporating some of the things I learned into my own work.

At some point my slime mold samples got too contaminated (even the original sets of petri dishes I kept on the side as backups), but I did start doing things like dye both the agar and oats with food coloring before growing the mold...

Here I colored, dried, and ground the oats (to use in text stencils):

photo (1x).JPG

I also colored just colored whole oats:

photo (2x).JPG

[I would post some of the growths from these, but I was vaguely obsessed with learning DIY sterilization at the time, so most of my "infected" attempts did not get photographed... I think I'm going to try ideas that "intentionally infect" in the future so I have to worry about this less]

...I also keep trying new sterilization techniques (I haven't executed some of these yet, but I did manage to pick up a pressure cooker and steam basket to use as a DIY autoclave). Once I have some poetry/text written that gives me ideas in terms of what to include in my mold experiments, I'll order some more mold.

I got the idea to dye the oats from this book (which is awesome):


I also picked up a copy of Jane Blocker's book What the Body Cost (that she presented on earlier this semester, so I suspect this class is infecting my practice in all sorts of ways). I had seen the book before (since I took a class with her), but I had no idea how much it overlapped with some of the stuff in my previous book--which includes a series of "somatic portraits" on petri-dishes. Given that I want to use the Slime Mold "stuff" as an extension of my previous project (and that I want to include more bodily samples, etc), it seemed like an awesome place to get some inspiration. I've been enjoying reading it and thinking about how I can better conceptualize various body parts in relationship to the poetry/visuals that surround them textually within a book project. I was also thinking about the Cell Storm project and how that pulled the micro up into the macro level in an interesting way--which is also something that I'm interested in thinking about (and I think my ideas on it have matured through the work that Kate, Sara, Christy and I did for our project--especially in terms of thinking about how to execute a project related to it).

Anyway, I won't dwell too long. But I'm interested in what other people think they'll pull from the class going forward?

Sara Nichol presentation summary


When I presented my work in class, I focused on the shift my work has taken toward more involved conceptual processes in each art object and away from simply photography. I also discussed ideas for future projects which I hope to conduct out of my house using the domestic scene as a source for disturbance and performance.

Sara Nichol response to presenters


As I review the speakers that we've heard this semester, the ones that I continue to be inspired by were Carl Flink and Jane Blocker. I work with Prof. Blocker quite a bit and respect her very critical approach to investigating the body and performance.

Carl Flink impressed me and inspired me to work collaboratively. I respect how he strives for specialization within his field, but challenges who and what that specialization can be used for. I appreciated his willingness to instruct us on the how he and his team conduct experiments and involved us in that process.

Sara Nichol observations


I decided for my biological body observations to monitor myself. What I wanted to do was to monitor myself on two different levels: memory and movement. At the beginning of the semester I was in a major transitional state as I moved houses and adjusted to my new living space. I noticed patterns in how I moved around the city and how sites like school, work, the bus, and errand routines dictated where I went. I began to try to recall days of the week and exactly where I went, and what paths I took to get to each place. I printed out a map of the city and traced each day vellum.




My hope was that I could amass a large collection of days of the week that looked the same, thus establishing a visual routine reflecting the daily routine. I also was focused on the conceptual notion of the routine and how moving disrupts this. I figured I could use these drawings as a sort of "guide to feeling at home away from home." When I move to another city, I would retrace these steps in the new environment and attempt to create a routine by dictating route. The vellum allows such that the images can be layered on top of each other which could serve as a my overall area of accessibility in the new living location.




Project Statement

Every breath is unique: a change in shape, a change in flow, a change in purpose. Whether conscious or unconscious, no two life-giving breaths are the same, and the potential and power inherent in each one to nourish ourselves and the life in our ecosystem, and to breathe life to text and song is what led me to explore the breath cycle.

My intention for this piece was to explore breath as it relates to singing classical art song. Humans have evolved to make noise and communicate through refined speech. Song is a form of heightened speech, but some might argue 'unnatural' in the way we train our bodies so particularly for breath efficiency and resonance. After more than 15 years of training and performing in this arena, I am personally biased in feeling a naturalistic form of expression through this type of singing, as the habits of my training have made this art form second nature to me.

Every musical performance, like a breath, is unique in time and space and intention. A performance brings life to the abstract musical symbols on a page and nourishes not only the musician's self-expression, but gives life to the poet's words and the composer's notes, coloring them with the intelligence of our understanding of the music, trained into expressing the songs via our bodies and intellects.

I was curious to observe how we singers take breath in, and then spin a phrase precisely over a measured amount of time, still allowing for flexibility and vulnerability with each release. Using a stopwatch, I timed each of my inhalations and exhalations (including full sung phrases) while singing a variety of French songs. Then using a compass, I charted them onto a sort of continuous circle, the inhalations being the bottom half of the round (as if descending into the body), the exhalations and sung phrases on the upper half (as if emanating from the body). I wrote the corresponding poetry for each phrase on the breath line which represents its duration.

The result was a visualization of how an in-breath to sing might enter the body in under a second, but the resulting sung phrase could have a duration more than twenty-fold. This is not only a testament to breath efficiency in classical singing, but gives a sense of looking at the text suspended above the breath lines, hanging almost timelessly in thin air. The phrases are intact only as individual musical phrases, the lines of poetry crisscrossed and jumbled from their original form. Particular words are thrown into relief as peaks of phrases over a background of semi-circular flowing lines.

In continuing to explore these images of breath cycles, my partner and I took high-tone, photographic (self-)portraits singing and breathing. Wishing to incorporate images and ideas generated from our collaborative class discussions on plant life - specifically moss, which spreads and inhabits an area very gradually over a lengthy period of time - I digitally processed a black and white image of myself to totally obscure the facial area (as in a silhouette), while leaving the focal point of the photo - my throat and chest - in grayscale. I then layered this photo, printed on a transparency, and top of the head cut off, with the breath cycle visualization from singing Debussy's setting of Paul Verlaine's "C'est l'extase." I used dark green sheet moss and bright green reindeer moss to illustrate a sort of life-giving breath emanating from the open mouth of my silhouette, spilling over the sides and crawling up the top of the frame.

One element of the final visualization that I did not consciously intend to evoke, but which emerged nonetheless for me in layering these images together, was the feeling of vulnerability ("baring one's soul" per se, here in the naked throat and chest and the transparency of the photo) in trusting breath and body to carry a well of emotion and meaning via text, and the simultaneous chill of the professional realm in the absence of eyes to tell a story.

Below, I am including my first breath chart experiment for Reynaldo Hahn's "À Chloris" as well as the French text and English translation of Verlaine's "C'est l'extase", which I used for the final project.

2012-01-24 IMC biological body.jpg

C'est l'extase langoureuse,
C'est la fatigue amoureuse,
C'est tous les frissons des bois
Parmi l'étreinte des brises,
C'est, vers les ramures grises,
Le choeur des petites voix.

Ô le frêle et frais murmure!
Cela gazouille et susurre,
Cela ressemble au cri doux
Que l'herbe agitée expire...
Tu dirais, sous l'eau qui vire,
Le roulis sourd des cailloux

Cette âme qui se lamente
En cette plainte dormante
C'est la nôtre, n'est-ce pas?
La mienne, dis, et la tienne,
Dont s'exhale l'humble antienne
Par ce tiède soir, tout bas?

It is the langorous ecstasy,
It is the fatigue after love,
It is all the rustling of the wood,
In the embrace of breezes;
It is near the gray branches:
A chorus of tiny voices.

Oh, what a frail and fresh murmur!
It babbles and whispers,
It resembles the soft noise
That waving grass exhales...
You might say it were, under the bending stream,
The muffled sound of rolling pebbles.

This soul, which laments
And this dormant moan,
It is ours, is it not?
Is it not mine--tell me--and yours,
Whose humble anthem we breathe
On this mild evening, so very quietly?

Cistern Project Statement and Documentation


Cisterns can be either natural or man-made water reservoirs. Geologically, they can be visually breathtaking, but they are often phenomenal acoustic spaces as well. They house hardy species of flora and fauna, frequently including insects, bacteria, and sometimes extremophiles. These spaces, while cold and damp, can be very inviting and offer a feeling of revitalization for human visitors.

Our group was inspired by this type of space in attempting to recreate a similar feeling in the tunnel between Ferguson and Anderson Halls on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota. This tunnel is naturally very resonant and, since it is temperature controlled, very cool and slightly damp. These characteristics already give the tunnel a cave-like ambience, but the space feels very sterile and perhaps unnatural as is common with institutional utilitarian spaces. Our challenge was to alter the space in simple, non-invasive ways that would call to mind the natural elements one might experience in a cistern and subtly draw attention to the suffocating anonymity of the space as it normally is. We also wished to create an opportunity for people to interact and experiment with sound in the space. In order to accomplish these goals, we decided to focus primarily on enhancing and manipulating interactive sounds in the space, while changing the lighting through various means.

To affect the sound in the tunnel, Joey began by performing a spectral analysis of the space. He used this analysis to create a program using MAX/MSP which enhanced the natural resonance of the space. He also created a combination of water and animal-like sounds which would play periodically. Once a visitor entered the space, any noise he or she created would be picked up by a microphone and relayed back using various processes and delays. We hoped that the sound would serve two functions: 1) the tunnel would sound like a cistern when no other noise entered the space and 2) a person's realization that s/he had the ability to affect the sound in the tunnel would create an element of surprise which would hopefully encourage further experimentation.

Lighting was equally as crucial to the space as sound. We found that theatrical lighting gels covering the existing fixtures would dramatically change the feel of the tunnel. We tore various shades of blue, purple, brown, grey, and black lighting gels and layered them to create mosaic coverings which might resemble stained glass or perhaps recall natural crystal formations.

Next, Peter designed and welded cages for housing three video projectors which could be hung from the air ducts in the space. He found and distorted short videos of a stylized moving fluid and projected them onto the walls and floor of the tunnel. Julie created three light-refracting fixtures using glass prisms which we hung in front of each projector to diffuse and throw the light from the projected images in various ways.
Finally, we covered a large painted mural of the University mascot with vellum and white adhesive vinyl to minimize the potential negative affect of the mural on the atmosphere we were attempting to create.








Hidden Growth: Subterranea


Here is a link to our project documentation website:

--Kate, Sara, Christy, Aaron