Sunday, March 18, 2012

Recent Work: Red Lipstick Project

I've recently embarked on an investigation of red lipstick. It began when I decided to start wearing red lipstick every day to see how it would affect my daily mood/experiences, and snowballed into a video project, which I'm still in the middle of compiling. I started out with the idea of recording myself performing everyday actions while wearing the lipstick, in order to document the aesthetic transition that occurs once red lipstick has been applied (if/how connotations shift, if/how behavior is adjusted, etc.), and then decided that it would be richer to ask many people to experience this with me--I asked people I know to record themselves 1. applying red lipstick in a mirror, and 2. performing some mundane activity involving their mouth, and then to send me the footage. I've received 10 contributions so far, and am still open to accepting more. I've been keeping track of my personal thoughts/feelings about the experience in a document I'm calling Red Lipstick Reflections, and a few of the current participants have contributed their thoughts as well. It has been and continues to be a really fascinating experiment.

Here's a draft of the video (hope this works...):

And some stills:

Chris Sucking Lollipop
Me Drinking Beer
Rick Shaving
Danielle Peeing

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

3/12/12 Critique

Me: The audio in the installation is coming from a dream archive I've been keeping since 2007--I've started using it as a way to access myself through personal material. Imagery in the photos is from a 1938 dating guide for single women--I kissed them, scanned them, and blew them up. For the video, I asked people to film themselves applying red lipstick and performing an action--it's a rough copy.

JW: What about the paper form in the installation?

Me: My original idea was to write out the dreams and incorporate them physically into the structure. I built the structure to be this interior space inside another interior space--sort of a parallel to my internal dream space, and once I had it, I decided a sonic environment would be better than directive text.

SPW: Is this the way you imagine the video being installed?

Me: No. Ideally, each vignette would have its own screen

SPW: Organized how--cube, circle, stands?

Me: Something like the Isaac Julian piece at the ICA--surrounded by screens, sometime the images sync up, with choices of where to look. It's been frustrating to have to put it together this way--one sequence

AL: Are you editing them more to focus on the lips?

Me: I haven't cropped or edited them--part of the interest for me was seeing how the people I asked would frame it for themselves--they're not directed

SD: In your previous work, you're creating an aesthetic. What is it like to now be pulling together found images/ other people--a given aesthetic.

Me: Initiating something and then responding to what I get. Embracing my impulse to archive, record, organize--different approach. Only way I could think to make work.

SD: What's your relationship to "archive"

Me: Impulse to record what might matter, organization. The dream archive was never intended for anyone else/ to be shared, but I wanted to make something personal, and it's the most personal thing I've got

SD: Most artists have an archive of some form--hoard images to have an archive that nourishes the work/ feeds us. It's different when that archive actually becomes the work

Me: Investigation of that impulse/ what it's about--initiating and gathering community

SD: Why this action (applying lipstick)?

Me: Thinking about red lipstick as a social signifier--personal experiment: wearing it to see if it changed my mood/day. It did, so I wanted to open it up to more people to explore the relationship of the gesture/material--if the context/associations changed when it wasn't just me

SD: But you're still aestheticizing them--you're not asking them to wear it all day and write about their feelings/experience.

Me: I didn't want to impose it on them...

SPW: What does it signify socially?

Me: Glamour, beauty, power, sex--that's how it's sold

SPW: Interesting to choose video as medium because cinema is used in the same way. History of application of red lipstick

MS: Interesting to see people choose to apply lipstick in the bathroom--very private space

SD: If you're really investigating, you should be skeptical of your own responses to social norms/ tropes--really break things down/ let it expand, rather than stay within agreed-upon response/tropes. The color red is a powerful color in general (if you're walking in the woods and you see something red, you stop to look at it--danger, poison, etc.)--maybe that's why it's come to be used as cultural signifier

Me: Yeah. I want to talk about those tropes and why they're agreed-upon/ expected

SD: That's a trope too, of art language--re-examining the historicized perspectives of eras like the 50s with our "updated" viewpoint. Why not use current source material?

Me: I want to talk about them because they're not in the past, actually. I guess I just like the aesthetic of these better than Cosmo. When I printed them off the Internet, I pinned them up on my wall and just had them there for weeks, not knowing how to approach them, but knowing that there was something worth talking about. Binary thinking still exists--absurd, but serious (funny and bad)

AL: Others experimenting with red lipstick seem not to go to what you're talking about--it seems more like they're approaching it on the level of a daily routine thing.

Me: That's why I wanted to open it up, so it wouldn't just be me obsessing/ my biases.

SL: Want to see more--more imagery incorporated (billboards, etc.). Keep thinking of the form of the lips--Man Ray. Loaded icon. Don't feel the irony in the kiss photos

Me: I didn't feel ironic doing it

SPW: There's more sincerity

Me: Yeah, it's also just beautiful as well, so it's confusing/complicated for me

SD: Important to not just have the work reinforce original conceptual phase. All you say is trope--binary thinking. History of feminism--second generation using against itself. Could it also just be beauty of form?

GC: You need to be the one photographing them

Me: I didn't want it to be just me directing

GC: But this ends up being a collage of what you think looks good together anyway

Sean: Have you made any discoveries?

Me: It's hard to say--I think a lot of people were mostly anxious about filming themselves.

JW: Can see attraction in this. Your clip is totally different--you know what you want. The rest is just pulling together of the group. Yours is most effective. Go after it more clearly. Look at Marylin Minter's video--painting from combined materials--slipping, sliding, visceral attraction/ simultaneous repulsion--all comes from orchestrated video. Installation: house-like, room-like. I went in in the middle of a dream, and stayed through the end of the narrative--that minute and a half was very evocative--I could tell that it was something personal. Relation to you but not to others. Driving at something more forceful. Clearly pushing toward something. Drive at that much more. You going after what you want to say. Strength and conviction.

GC: Color choice. Look there at the image of those 2 lipsticks. Your choice to wear the yellow with the red and the white background--you are conscious about color in a way that those you've asked to participate might not be thinking about those compositional elements. Care less for the bottle image--we've all seen that. But the movement in the eyes in the mirror, or the other sequence when the hair cuts the image straight through...

DF: Disagree about the bottle--yes it's phallic, but when do you ever look at someone like that, just drinking

TF: Long term project, but will be worth it

SPW: Agree with JW and GC--you doing this thing. Sympathetic gesture. The connection of all of these pieces is you as a performer. Cinematic, subjected, appropriated. Not ironic/ agree with SL. Performing to it. Sexualized symbol. Reading dreams and giving people a space to retreat. collecting and performing--desire to re-situate/ document performance

MS: Might not hurt to think about how others arrange their moments (Internet)

GC: See this as bigger impulse. Very Eastern

AL: Confusion coming from involving more people. Think Cindy Sherman--self as perpetuation. What if you were embodying these things. More interested in self--more investigation of self

SPW: Always fail to embody the other as self

TF: Like lipstick as common denominator. Getting someone else to read your dreams could be just as effective (people hearing it wouldn't know). The acoustics of that room are so particular--what if you moved it to a different space. Keep exercising that. Think about focusing the video vs. open call

SD: You're using an aesthetic/ visual approach--own it. It comes through more in the choices you're making with the stills. Aggressive aesthetic action vs. inclusive editing system.

KM: Thinking about your paper pieces last year--flimsy/ fragile. Now this paper piece with igloo-like shape. Audio hard to understand

Me: Echoes/ muffled somewhat through the speaker

Joe: Like the mystery in that