road-tripping the end of the world

Latest

bookbinding – end papers and casing in (the once and future king)

The book is finished being “bound” and all ready to be “decorated”. I attached the end-papers today and “cased in”, ie; mounted the block in the case. It looks pretty good. Here’s some shots along the way.

After much debate I chose this cream, black and blue art-deco-ish endpaper, here’s the paper before trimming along with my template:

DSC_0674

DSC_0675

 

 

Endpapers trimmed folded:

DSC_0676

 

 

I used the method from the aforementioned videos http://youtube.com/#/watch?v=glbe_fDpCiU for gluing the papers, essentially by overlapping them a little less than a centimeter, and placing a sheet of paper as a mask to glue off of. A roller would be preferable, but I don’t have one, so I’m using little foam painting “brushes”, the cheap disposable kind.

DSC_0677

 

 

The book block, ready to take the end paper, and the endpaper attached:

DSC_0678

DSC_0679

DSC_0680

Once positioned I used a bonefolder to smooth out the attachment edge. This is a messy book block so it was a bit scruffy, I had to re-trim the endpapers after the fact.

The book block, positioned and ready for gluing – I placed a sheet of parchment paper undernead the end-paper to both avoid getting glue on the book block while gluing:

DSC_0681

DSC_0682

I glued beneath the mull and binding tape first, and then over top of both, before securing the end-paper in place on the case.

DSC_0683

A clean sheet of parchment/grease proof paper was placed between the case and the loose leaf of end-paper, to avoid any transfer of moisture from the glue as it dried. Then, while not necessary, I decided to place the book for a time – again, protected with parchment – under some heavy books, since my book block is pretty wonky:

DSC_0685

 

And an hour later, all finished and ready for me to make a mess of the cover:

DSC_0689 DSC_0690

 

I’ve found the cover is easily marked, likely because of the type of leather I used (which isn’t the ‘right’ leather), but as the book is meant to be worn and look aged and possibly bloodstained or possibly dirty or it’s really hard to tell what happened to it … I think it’ll work well. The next step is stamping in the title and “decorating” it for its final role as a prop … well, and the writing that goes inside.

Starting to enjoy this a little too much!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

book binding: signatures and making the case (the once and future king)

Woefully un-updated, a few pics and notes on the book I’m binding for a prop for some future work.

Previous to this – undocumented, because I’m forgetful – I sewed the signatures together (the bundles of folded paper that make up the body of a book), and ‘aged’ them by soaking the whole sewn unit in a vat of tea. It was a bit of a gamble – a few pages tore in the drying process, which took the bulk of a week – but it eventually dried and came together nicely when I glued the spine. Here’s a few pics of the signature block:

 

DSC_0666

 

DSC_0667

 

DSC_0668

 

 

The effect was fairly good, enough of an aged appearance without looking overly stained. It’s a bit rippled but nothing that can’t be worked with – I guess the real test will be once some handwriting goes inside. We shall see!

I was unable to photograph the process of making the case, the glue was drying way too fast, but hopefully the pics will show some evidence of the process. That being said – I wouldn’t be redundant in over-explaining anyway, as it’s easier to link the fantastic video I use as a guide to this process:

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=glbe_fDpCiU

DSC_0669

I used a soft hide leather for the case fabric, really the wrong material, too thick, but improvisation is definitely a factor here and it had the texture I was interested in. Proper davey boards for the cover boards, and some simple paper to help line the spine. Neutral ph glue, although I’ve heard wallpaper paste works well.

DSC_0670

The corners are a tad messy but it’s meant to have the appearance of being hand made, and a little sloppy at that.

The case dries with the signature block inside as a bit of a guide, and that’s where it’s at now. A few pics to show the almost-finished product:

DSC_0671

 

DSC_0672

 

DSC_0673

After it dries, I’ll put on the end-papers and mount the block in the case. And then it’s down to ‘decorating’

This is the first post I’ve made from my ipad. I’m curious to see how much of a disaster it is.

Edit: horrible. Just horrible. Didn’t include most of the images, all of them uploaded tiny, bits of code mixed in with the text. Manually fixing it on my computer was equally bad. When did WP go downhill this way? ugh.

collected

The McMaster Museum of Art has generously purchased two of my works from The Jacket Series above (I have donated the third), and I am supremely honoured and very flattered to now be represented in their permanent collection. The collection at the McMaster Museum of Art is extensive and uniquely diverse; their collections of German expressionist works is almost unparalleled, coupled with an equally impressive archive of impressionist and post-impressionist work, not to mention their contemporary acquisitions, both Canadian and international.

I felt spoiled and privileged to study undergraduate art at a school with such a tremendous resource available to art students, and have always been impressed by the museum’s persistent presence and vision in both the University community, that of Hamilton, and the art community of Canada as a whole.  It’s a huge personal honour to have been “collected” by them. And a personal thanks to Carol, Julie and Ihor and everyone else at the Museum that made this possible and helped the process along!

planning focus points and readability tests

This will be pretty dry and technical but some of my former students found this useful and perhaps someone else will as well!

The composite method I use for piecing together large-format prints with a high degree of detail relies heavily on planning out what parts of the ‘scene’ will be in focus and where the crucial areas of interest lie. This is also a distinguishing factor and plays into the conceptual creation of the image, and why a single frame (for instance, from a large format 8×10 film camera) won’t achieve the same effect – fundamental to the ‘readability’ of these images themselves is the rather neurotic control of depth of field and focus across the composite frame. This allows for a ‘flexible’ depth of field that can be essentially deformed across the image, allowing the simultaneous sharp focus of several elements at once that wouldn’t normally be possible with a single-frame image.

The second work I’ve planned for The Once and Future King is tentatively titled “The Impact”, and it’s just easier to copy and paste the narrative description from the proposal here to give a sense of the final product:

The Impact (Reunion: Prologue)

On a dark rural road in Ontario, the wine-red Jeep of one Randall Carter is found abandoned, door open, several large stacks of books balanced on the seats. Carefully folded on top of the books was found a military uniform, embroidered with Carter’s name and a series of unidentified insignia. The Jeep was discovered by Carter’s boyfriend, Charles D. Ward, after Carter’s protracted absence prompted Ward to retrace the route to Carter’s residence. Ward claims he found the Jeep by following the sound of music on the radio. The combined weight of the books was found to be 167 lbs, which coincidentally was approximately Carter’s own weight prior to his disappearance.

Instrumental to the work will be the ability to “read” a lot of the details of the “stuff” piled into the Jeep – literally read the book titles, but then also a lot of the signifiers and symbols present in the rest of the ephemera spread throughout.  So the first function of this test shoot is to map out the focus points / depth of field across the scene, and make sure that everything that needs to be in focus, is in focus. The second function is to test the viewing angle with respect to the composite – rudimentary at this point cuz my tripod head sucks – but because we need to be able to see “inside” the Jeep the angle of the shots, and the Jeep with respect to the camera, is somewhat crucial and does complicate the composite somewhat.

Last, the test generally brings to light unanticipated problems with the shooting/composite process, and gives me a sense of “what I have to work with” – just how much detail I get straight out of the camera under uncontrolled conditions without any post-processing. As such these images haven’t been touched and a few look a little dark or desaturated for a few reasons I didn’t anticipate. Learning!

Anyway, some fairly large images and such follow, so click below to read the rest.

Read the rest of this page »

underground(s)

I am not often a fan of “urban exploration” (ugh … “Urbex”) photography, but I tend to think that’s more because of the culture than the photography itself. Which, admittedly, seems like a conflict of interest, because half my work is staged in similar areas, but anyway, coming to a semblance of a point: Sticky Sounds, musician, photographer and fellow H.P. Lovecraft fan made a connection with respect to urban exploration photography I hadn’t put together myself for some reason – fear of the unknown connected to the thrill of supernatural horror“.

Somehow this sentence and the Lovecraft connection transformed a lot of Sticky’s photos for me, but what I appreciated more was the context he gave his work (to follow), specifically in the exploration of Manchester’s industrial past:

“The industrial revolution brought great wealth to the city, but hand in hand with this came unparalleled poverty and squalor for a large part of the population. These people were nothing more than cattle for the greater good. A new underclass destined to live in a new kind of hell. The fires of this hell burned and smouldered in the red bricks as smoke billowed constantly from the dark satanic mills. The unbroken, monotonous rumbling of the looms filled the air and mingled with the heat of the steam. The city was a giant machine and its inhabitants reduced to units of labour, small expendable parts of the whole. Not so much a city as an assault on the senses. Overcrowding was chronic with whole families living in single rooms, and little or no sewage works for most of the nineteenth century. The only refuge that most of the poor would ever know from the hardships of their everyday life was found in alcohol. Their anger often expressed itself through violent crime, from domestic violence between husband and with to the youth gangs, or ‘scuttlers’ who ran amok on Manchester’s streets. When you look at these past extremes of the city it raises the question ‘what does it mean to have a life?’ These people remain in Manchester today, in it’s red bricks and the canals that run like veins through the city. As do all inhabitants who come afterwards, we are all Manchester, all serving the beast.” (from http://stickysoundsdotnet.wordpress.com/manchester/ )

Needless to say I quite enjoy the tying of a supernatural horror to the concept of the monstrousness that is the Industrial Revolution. In a coincidental parallelism, I started reading Metro 2033 today, which discusses a similar black unknown in the monstrous labyrinth that exists below the Moscow Metro, unmapped tunnels left over from the equivalent industrial revolution, long forgotten, another source of that preternatural fear of the dark. Speculation in the novel exists as to the true origin and function of these tunnels, hinting at the specter of menace they represent in present-day.

Sticky Sounds, from (Hidden) Manchester: http://stickysoundsdotnet.wordpress.com/manchester/

Read the rest of this page »

finally, part 3 (D800E video)

Completely randomly the first video I shot with the D800E ended up being for my brother, who was making a short tutorial on shaving with a straight razor. Even with my completely noob technique and generally terrible focus the footage looks rather pretty. My brother did a great job putting the video together from my scrappy camera work, bonus points if you spot the curious dog:

finally part 2 (my new D800E)

After a couple years of waiting and planning, I’ve finally acquired my new camera: a beautiful, very definitely intimidating Nikon D800E. Google will tell you about the differences between the D800 and the D800E, likely accompanied by all manner of delightfully dramatized arguments shifting to one or the other or neither … the fact is the work I do is probably perfectly suited to a camera with this degree of optical resolution, and I’m excited!

I’ll be posting the results of some “readability tests” for some preliminary planning for The Once and Future King soon, but meanwhile, and much more interesting, the first dozen shots directly out of the camera, no processing, no nothing – the dogs of course (btw, this is also with my new 50mm 1.8 G lens):

 

backdrops

A good friend of mine invited me out to her family’s house and land, to scout some locations for the new work. They have a man-made dark forest on their property, it’ll be quite the backdrop for one piece. These jpegs are slightly crappy – for some reason the dark areas don’t transition well to jpeg format – which could foreshadow some printing issues, but let’s hope not.

… ok having viewed these on a number of computers now, they really do vary wildly. By and large they look like shit. Hurray!

the once and future king: prologue

The exhibition proposals are finally going out for this body of work. I seem to function at a snail’s pace these days in developing work, but it actually feels like all the pre-production conceptual crap is up to snuff and I know what I’m going to do. The first work is all but finished, and can be seen in a previous post: https://mattsparling.com/2011/10/31/new-work-the-dismemberment-of-a-shoggoth-the-once-and-future-king/

This is the current state of the “artist statment” for this initial group of works, to which I’m referring as the “Prologue”:

The Once and Future King (Prologue)

Referencing T.H. White’s portrayal of Merlin as a being who experiences time backwards to normal reality, “The Once And Future King” serves as makeshift-title for a large body of work documenting a series of strange, seemingly unconnected events whose causal mechanisms exist outside of normal time and space. While privileged to the ‘effects’ described by these images – the disappearance of a student from an abandoned Jeep, the gruesome aftermath of a monstrous invasion of a residential garage, a paradox of a time-travelling book –  the ‘causes’ of these events seem entirely unknowable to us.

Playing with the compression of time on a narrative scale, the characters stand in the moment, posing, perhaps with pride, as if in foreknowledge of the future-historical significance of their present context, a hypothetical “spark event” for a cataclysm yet to come.  The prophetic mode here references, inversely, the truism “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”; within these narratives, history has already predetermined a far-flung future disaster, and while the immediate causal mechanisms of these bizarre, random events is unknowable, the certainty of their eventual impact becomes quite monstrous.

Staged in lost and unknown locations scattered across rural and suburban Southern Ontario, these stories occupy vague landscapes situated in a nether-space disconnected from recognizable geography, constantly familiar, yet existing anywhere, at any time, and nowhere simultaneously.

I’m starting some of the preliminary technical work (ie; camera angles, feasibility tests, set construction) for a work called “The Impact (Reunion: Prologue)”, although the repetition of “prologue” there bothers me and there’s a third title to a group of works called “The Ballad of Randall Carter” … and then another grouping simply called “Reunion” …. all grouped under The Once and Future King … I am disorganized.

Anyhow, here’s the narrative fragment that’ll accompany the work and serve as a ‘public’ description, and it explains why soon (well, weather permitting), this blog will be inundated with me taking photos of my Jeep from odd angles filled with books:

The Impact (Reunion: Prologue)

On a dark rural road in Ontario, the wine-red Jeep of one Randall Carter is found abandoned, door open, several large stacks of books balanced on the seats. Carefully folded on top of the books was found a military uniform, embroidered with Carter’s name and a series of unidentified insignia. The Jeep was discovered by Carter’s boyfriend, Charles D. Ward, after Carter’s protracted absence prompted Ward to retrace the route to Carter’s residence. Ward claims he found the Jeep by following the sound of music on the radio. The combined weight of the books was found to be 167 lbs, which coincidentally was approximately Carter’s own weight prior to his disappearance.

 

Abject apologies for the lack of updates here. Also, if my former students of this past semester would like to lend me permission to post some of their work here, drop me an email, you guys were great.

finally

My new camera is announced:

http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/microsite/d800/index.htm

Sample images:

http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/dslr/d800/sample02.htm

… I’ll be getting the D800E. Perhaps I’ll ramble on the subject later. Thank you nikonrumors.com!