Artist Statement, Bibliography, and Sibling Work

17 November, 2010

In both the thesis preparation process and in the context of this recent video piece, I've been working on articulating my artistic project and the various influences, references and ideas around it. This post will be a brain dump of the results of that process.

First the "artist statement". This is meant to communicate what drives my work in as brief and clear a format as possible. It's what you would find on a one-page takeaway sheet in a gallery after seeing my work:

My work explores the use of special effects as an artistic medium. I am fascinated by how special effects techniques cross the boundary between images and the physical objects that make them: miniatures, animatronics, motion control photography, 3D rendering, physical fabrication.

I frequently use this medium to examine the cultural history of technology, a history that is intimately tied up with the evolution of these techniques themselves through their common roots in an encounter between the military industrial complex and the counterculture at midcentury.

Next is the "project proposal" for my thesis. This will be increasingly fleshed out in the next few weeks as we reach the end of the thesis preparation process and start work on the actual thesis. It includes some of the background that drives my thesis ideas and the beginnings of an outline for how I will achieve them. Here it is as it currently stands (I'll probably post a revised draft in the next few weeks when it is officially "completed"):

The mid-century American techno-cultural movement which created the personal computer and internet industries is beginning to enter history. As the internet grows towards ubiquity, the ideas, artifacts, and culture of the small group of people involved in this movement become massively influential on the larger society.

It is time for an art that addresses that history, an art that will tell its story, explore its material forms, and investigate its way of seeing the world. This art should use tools of representation appropriate to the mid-century technological milieu as well as contemporary tools sympathetic to its aesthetic and descended from its ideas.

Both the personal technology that surrounds our daily lives and the special effects tradition of image making arose from an encounter between the military industrial complex and the counterculture at midcentury. Hence the techniques and methods appropriate to representing this material will derive from special effects movie-making

These techniques/media include:

  • special effects
  • interactive electronics
  • networking
  • rapid prototyping and fabrication
  • motion control
  • miniature photography
  • 3D modeling

Further, I plan to approach producing the project as if it was itself a special effects-laden hollywood blockbuster, dividing the process into pre-production, production, and post-production phases. This methodology will force me to focus on the structure, clarity, and strength of the storytelling elements as well as the technological developments. This semester I've made great strides in the pre-production process; some of what's listed below in that area, I've already written about here before, clearly.


  • story work, character work, set design, and effects proof-of-concept
  • much of this work has begun this semester but it will continue for the first few weeks of next semester
  • this process will end with a full production schedule


  • building the sets and materials for a series of sculptures (3-6)
  • organized into 1-2 week chunks based on medium and material
  • producing whatever video and digital content is necessary for the pieces


  • combining the materials into final pieces
  • editing and refinement
  • finish and details
  • last 4-6 weeks of the semester

Next is the bibliography. Some of this is reading I've already done, some is stuff I intend to read over break and during the actual thesis process. I've organized it by area: Computer History, Art, Special Effects.

Computer History:


Special Effects

Another exercise from the thesis project was to list keywords we associate with our projects. This is part of the process of examining theaesthetic and intellectua terrain immediately surrounding our project. Here were mine:

  • movies
  • special effects
  • phantasmagoria
  • pepper's ghost
  • technology
  • history
  • history painting
  • miniature
  • monument
  • narrative
  • counterculture
  • psychedelia
  • projection

And, finally, here's another link dump, this time of links to artists, films, and other aesthetic work relevant to my project. The idea here was to find the "siblings" to our practice: people and groups who make work that has a family resemblance and maybe even a bit of sibling rivalry.