Tag Archives: Medium

Artist Feature: Allison Spence

Allison Spence

What interested me most in those frames was how the video–the digital eye–reproduced them. A machine doesn’t have the same preconceived notions of what a body looks like. It doesn’t see it the same way we do, where in a confusion of limbs we always pick out what is intelligible to us.

– Allison Spence

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

AS: I grew up in South Florida, but I very recently moved to Los Angeles, via San Diego where I attended graduate school. I swung from palm tree to palm tree.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AS: To me, Reflection refers to a kind of information processing; whether it is a mental reflection (memory) or the reflection on a surface of an image or group of images, say with a mirror. Either way, Reflection is affected by its medium—by the perception of that medium. One’s memory of an event, for instance, is influenced by their position (physical/emotional/political/etc.) within that event. Or, if you think of fun-house mirrors, the same applies. We laugh at the reflections in a fun-house mirror, or they disturb us, because they do not conform to the views we already hold of our own bodies. But I think all of these reflections hold a kind of truth, even if they are sometimes considered just pale imitations of what they reference. Who is to really say for sure, though?

I think Response fits snugly into Reflection in that it is born out of a similar type of processing. But Response comes from the sum of a number of reflections, or experiences. In other words, there’s math involved. But because of all the different variables, it is easier to think of Response as a closer measure of the subject than Reflection. Like this interview versus the picture of me it starts out with.

Allison Spence - mass 6

Allison Spence – mass 6

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AS: Well, a lot of the work that is pictured here is from a recent series of paintings, which used as its subject split-second frames from highly compressed Youtube videos. They’re bodies, groups of bodies. The specifics of who they are or what they are doing don’t really matter in the long run. What interested me most in those frames was how the video–the digital eye–reproduced them. A machine doesn’t have the same preconceived notions of what a body looks like. It doesn’t see it the same way we do, where in a confusion of limbs we always pick out what is intelligible to us. We will always see the arms, the legs. Machines don’t always do this, and instead they’ll reproduce the limited information that they are given, like colors, values…there’s less separation, the boundaries blur, become masses. I like to think that maybe the machine sees something that we cannot, that this kind of collapse happens sometimes. The idea fascinates me.

Allison Spence - Big Mass

Allison Spence – Big Mass

Then, of course, I reproduce these moments in paint, and I bring with it all of my own baggage, all of those painterly considerations, color theory, all that junk. It becomes twice removed from its source. I’m responding to a reflection, in a sense.

Allison Spence - mass 4

Allison Spence – mass 4

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Javier Blanco

El estudio de Javier Blanco se encuentra en una calle estrecha empedrada en el Barrio Gótico en Barcelona, un barrio histórico y energético. Andabamos en el barrio un día durante nuestro viaje a España el verano pasado cuando encontramos el estudio/tienda/taller en el que se ve las varias obras y piezas en escultura, dibujo, y diseño gráfico del artista. Después de una charla inicial optimista en su espacio llena de bienvenida, volvimos unos días después para hablar más con Javier de Reflexión y Respuesta, su trabajo, y las experiencias de su vida. Nos sentamos en el cuarto interior y la discusión resultante, que se presenta debajo, muestra su perspectiva reveladora acera del arte y interacciones interpersonales.

Javier Blanco’s art studio is located on a quiet, narrow cobblestone street in the historic and energetic Gothic district in Barcelona. We were walking through the neighborhood one day while traveling through Spain this past summer, and came across Javier’s studio/shop/workspace featuring his various creative works in sculpture, drawing, and graphic design. After a great initial conversation in his welcoming space, we came back a few days later to talk further about Reflection and Response and Javier’s work and life experiences. We sat down in Javier’s office in the back room of the space and the ensuing dialogue, recorded below, showcases this artist’s engaging and enlightening perspectives on the arts and interpersonal interactions.

Javier Blanco

Para mi el arte desde principio es una forma de reflexionar. Hay una frase en el catalá que es “hago mi obra porque me ayuda a pensar a sentir a entender el mundo en el que vivo.” Es una manera de entender. La ciencia formaliza el conocimiento mediante una formulación matemática. El arte lo formaliza mediante una forma estética pero es conocimiento en definitiva. En este proceso de crear esculturas es en el que de alguna manera voy reflexionando acerca de como entiendo el mundo como entiendo las diferentes cosas, no solo el mundo también las relaciones interpersonales.

For me, art is, at its core, a form of reflection. There’s a phrase in Catalan that says: “I make my work because it helps me think, feel, and understand the world in which I live.” Art is a form of understanding. Science formalizes knowledge by means of mathematic formulas. Art formalizes aesthetic forms, but this is knowledge, by definition. The process of creating sculpture involves some form of reflecting on how I understand the world, how I understand different things – not just the world, but my relationships with other people.

– Javier Blanco

Para empezar con algunos puntos básicos, de dónde vienes? Dónde estás?
Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

JB: ¿De donde vengo físicamente o de dónde vengo emocionalmente?

JB: Where I come from physically or emotionally?

Los dos.

Both.

JB: Yo nací en Barcelona y sigo en Barcelona. Bueno he vivido en Canadá en Toronto pero durante un año académico pero mayormente  (he vivido) vivo siempre en Barcelona. En principio empecé a hacer cosas así a un nivel artístico ya a partir de 20 años cuando por un casual fui a una escuela de diseño y arte y bueno me pusieron a dibujar y en el primer dibujo que hice dije joder eso es lo mío y hasta entonces había sido muy mal estudiante. A partir de ahí me apunte a bellas artes, estudie bellas artes paralelamente hice aquí un diseño para la escuela en que utilizaba el vidrio. Contacte con el socio amigo de un tío mío que trabaja vidrio – mi tío tenía un taller de vidrio – para poder hacer esta pieza que había yo diseñado. Entonces me asisteron me ayudaron a hacerla y me dieron el contacto de la escuela de vidro donde fui y estuve haciendo los estudios de vidrio parallelmente a los estudios de bellas artes y la especialidad de escutula. La misma escuela de vidrio me dio una beca para estar un año en Canadá en una escuela en el Sheridan College hacieno el programa de diseño y arte en vidrio y a la vuelta estuve trabajando un tiempo en la escula de aqui, preparando y haciendo los talleres de fotografía y también luego de professor de esutula de vidro y de diseño en vidrio.

Con lo cual mi trayectoria siempre ha sido el trabajo del arte y en concreto escrutura del vidrio pero ahi si que es verdad que es donde un poco esta mi dualidad o no un tema en el sentido en que hasta que punto me considero o me consideran artista en vidrio siempre de alguna manera para mi por más que he trabajo mucho con él y en principio conozco y entiendo bien casi toda su técnicas no todas y no deja de ser un material es un material como hay otros. Entonces a la hora de hacer arte lo trato como tal. Cuando me interesa el vidrio como material lo uso, cuando me interesa otro material uso otro material. No me considero artista en vidrio porque no necesito que mi arte se exprese en vidrio. Se puede expresar y de hecho se representó durante tiempo en todo tipo de material contanto pues con como un color de la palta un pintor usa.

Para mi cada material tiene una personalidad propia y evidentemente está diciendo una cosa no concreta pero si está surgiendo con la cual el significado de una pieza por el hecho de ser un material o una mezcla de materiales es uno u otro. En este sentio me limito, si quiero hacer solo vidrio me limito. Las  piezas que son en vidro son las que llamaron major más la atención. De tal manera que por parte de interioristas, de arquitectos , este trabajo en vidrio es lo que de alguna manera me han venido a reclamar mayormente y el estudio mio que es de arte y vidrio durante bastantes años estaba dedicado bastante a hacer encargos para casas particulares para organismos oficiales para diferentes sitios así como incluso trofeos, no sé hay una lista de clientes. En el que normalmente me han venido a buscar es la facultad de vidrio. Quiero decir con eso que yo utilizo muchos materiales pero profesionalmente quizá se me busca en esta faceta de vidrio más que en otras. Doy que actualmente eso durante los últimos dos o tres años ha cambiado y los 10 años anteriores estaba haciendo especialmente encargos de vidrio.

Actualmente no es tan asi sino que estos encargos para arquitectura para el interiorismo han bajado mucho y me han dejado la oportunidad de empezar otra vez de volver otra vez hacer piezas más personales digamos con lo cual me estoy dedicando últimamente más a hacer piezas quizás de pequeño formato quizá más fáciles de asumir porque me interesa que el estudio sea más dinámico yo como un punto de interés que tanto en vidro como no en vidrio siempre he tenido este hecho de llegar al público. No me interesa excesivamente el arte como objeto elitista sino que me interesan mucho los procesos de poder llegar a todo el mundo. Por lo tanto como es escultura ya iniciada la acción no es escultura interactiva donde quizá no era necesario comprarla por parte del público porque no tenía necesidad, pero si que me interesaba que el público participase y me gusta la idea de que el público en esta escultura se exprease se disfrustase jugase con ella incluso los niños hacían cola para subirse pueden subir en ella. Esto ha ido variando y actualmente loresuelvoo de otra manera. Lo resulevo mediante el diseño de manera que el arte se funde en esta pieza que utilizas y lo resuelvo también mediante la pequena pieza de diseño escultura, diseño muy personal que es más fácil por parte de todo el mundo de poder comprar de manera que si me interesa que no solo una elite pueda comprarlo.

JB: I was born in Barcelona and I still live in Barcelona. I studied in Toronto, Canada for a year, but for the most part I’ve always lived in Barcelona. I started working on my own artistic projects when I was 20 years old, when, by chance, I was attending an art and design school. They put me in a drawing class, and after I made my first drawing I realized “wow, this is me!” – up until that point I had been a really bad student. From then on, I registered for fine arts classes, and studied fine arts while also producing a design for my school, using glass as my medium. I got in touch with my uncle’s business partner who worked with glass – my uncle had a glass workshop – in order to be able to make this piece that I had designed. So they helped me make the piece and they gave me the contact information for a glass art school where I went to study glass work, alongside my studies in fine arts and sculpture. The glass art school gave me a scholarship to study in Canada in a glass art and design program at Sheridan College, and when I returned to Spain, I worked for a while in the school here preparing and facilitating photography workshops and, later, working as a professor of glass sculpture and design.

Thus, my trajectory had always been working with art, specifically glass sculpture, but the truth is that I encounter this duality in the sense that where do I consider myself – or am I considered an artist – working in glass, and though as much as I’ve always been involved with glass in some form or another and understand the vast majority of glass techniques, it remains one material, an art material as any other. So when it’s time to make art, I treat it as such. When glass sparks my interest as a medium, I use it, or when other materials spark my interest, I use other materials. I don’t consider myself a “glass artist” because I don’t need my art to be expressed only through glass. It can be expressed and represented through all types of materials, as with the various colors on a painter’s palette.

For me, every medium has its own personality and conveys something non-specific, but suggests something and the meaning of a piece can be based on the fact that piece is made from one material or another. In this sense, I would limit myself if I only worked with glass. Glass pieces have become my most popular. This glass work is what has drawn interior designers and architects to my work, and for many years, I dedicated most of my art and glass working studio to producing commissioned work for specific houses, organizations, or various other sites – there were a lot of different clients. What they would usually seek me out for was glass work. What I mean by all this is that I work with many different mediums but professionally I’m known more for glass work than anything else. Granted, this has changed a bit during the last two or three years, but for 10 years prior to that, I was primarily producing commissioned glass sculptures.

Right now, I have fewer commissions for interior design or architecture projects, which has given me the opportunity to get back to creating more personal pieces that I’m ultimately dedicated to, creating pieces that might be on a smaller scale, or might be easier to take on because it’s important to me that my studio is dynamic. I’ve tried to make it a point to work as much with glass as with other materials, always with the goal of reaching an audience. I am not particularly interested in art as an object of the elite, instead what attracts me are the various ways to access the world [through art]. As far as this [one specific] project is concerned, because the sculpture had already begun, it’s not an interactive sculpture that I needed to market to the public – instead, I was hoping that audience participation would lead to public expression and enjoyment, and kids even lined up to play on the piece. I explored this theme and now I deal with audience participation in another way. I now focus on participation by making pieces that aim for public interaction and use and I aim to connect with a wide audience through small design pieces, which makes them easier to consume for a greater number of people – which is the whole point of making art accessible beyond the elite.

Blanco Studio Arts and Glass (Barcelona, Spain)

¿Qué quiere decir “relfexión y respuesta,” y cómo se mete esto en tu arte?

What does Reflection and Response mean to you, and how do you locate those ideas in your art and sculpture?

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