To prepare for Pilchuck, we started coordinating times when we could work together, so that the residency could lead to deeper work together. Alex is based in Philadelphia, Helen in Madison, Wisconsin, and Lika and I in New York City. Here is the schedule that I drafted, and that Helen added to. Alex and Lika were less responsive and I needed to call them to fill out the schedule for them.
ROUGH 2015 SCHEDULE
column research/amphora/lens research/tech drawing by—feb 20
Sat the 13th—Alex in NYC (Sunday is good too)
March 10–13—I’m in Philly
April 27–May 13—Pilchuck
June 2nd-8th—we work together in NYC? 4/5/6/7 8–11, 11–12, 12–3 (end by 5)
late August, early Sept—Madison? (before Sept 9)
When we got together in person, we had a huge brainstorm session, to think about how our individual interests, skills, and readings could support our collective research and a group show about one topic. I wrote it down in a shared, digital document.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF THE @ SYMBOL? The amphora has followed the following transmutation: from quantity (vessel of terracotta) to accounting (@mphora in ink script) to identity (@ in vector graphic) ????? to memory / sleep (in X) ??????By Viewing format Web/Installation/PresentationBy relationship to the @ Historical/Present Speculative/FutureBy Collaborator Collective US/Alex/Caroline Helen /Lika
CW: What should we make next?
A VIDEO of HAND LAPPING showing an amphora, cut in half, and ground down to a polish with grit on sheet glass (a process called hand lapping).
5x5 GLASS FONT which materializes the experience of reading vector graphics through pixels on a screen.
- 1.GLASS AMPHORAE at 1:3 scale of the historic Dressel 20 from the Roman empire.
- 2.A BLOW MOLD which is also a sculpture; in this case, the blow mold is also a section of a Roman column.
- 3.A VIDEO of HAND LAPPING showing an amphora, cut in half, and ground down to a polish with grit on sheet glass (a process called hand lap- ping). The grinding process itself turns the glass opaque, hiding the amphora until the grit is fine enough and it comes back to a polish. The sound of this action becomes the audio for another video project.
- 4.A PRINT of HAND LAPPING showing the image that is created after an amphora, cut in half, and ground down to a polish with grit on sheet glass (a process called hand lapping).
- 5.COINS with the @ on one side and an amphora (the Dressel 20 amphora) on the other side. One coin is a circle. One coin is a square shape that functions as a slide for a slide projector.
- 6.A PRINT of COINS with the @ on one side and an amphora (the Dressel 20 amphora) on the other side, blind embossed into paper.
- 7.5×5 GLASS FONT which materializes the experience of reading vector graphics through pixels on a screen.
- 8.A series of prints that illustrate the words used for the @ symbol in a variety of languages.
- 9.A sculptural garment for glass- blowers, made of kevlar.
- 10.Clothing for sleep.
- 11.A clothing hanger which is a level.
- 12.A video of glass amphorae on the beach at night, with a full moon, and waves gently rolling over them.
- 13.A neon @ symbol inside an amphora, at the actual size of the Roman vessel used for transport.
- 14.A blob of glass hangs on a laptop, magnifying the screen.
- 15.A website is made with a font that is 5 pixels by 5 pixels. Glass must be used to magnify the screen.
- 16.The @ symbol unrolls to become a sleeping person like o___ . This mimics the process Helen Lee uses to make the @ handles of the amphorae in hot glass.
- 17.A sleep app which incorporates all of the objects and proposals here, to lull people to sleep.
- 18.The amphorae are shown in a glass tank filled with water and sand. One side of the tank can be frosted to display a video projection.
- 19.A shipping crate which doubles as an exhibition display case. The case holds: glass slides for slide projection during lectures, a blow mold for workshops, and an amphora that results from the blow mold.
- 20.A newspaper which lists all projects that could have happened. This becomes the folded, wet newspaper used by glassblowers to shape hot glass.
- 21.A lecture using a slide projector and glass slides. The glass slides move through the spectrum of visible light, as the slides themselves are colored glass or create prisms.
- 22.A sleep hotline that you can call.
- 23.An amphora on a bedside table is a speaker for a recording that lulls you to sleep. Perhaps it is linked to the sleep hotline.
- 24.A wall text where the periods in each sentence are physical spheres/ magnets on the wall. One period is added to the wall to coincide with the sinking of one bowl into another in a large water-clock (clepsydra), like Caroline Woolard’s water clocks and Helen Lee’s glass periods on the floor and Helen’s project I miss the little ding at the end of the line.
- 25.An audio recording of clicks on a computer or phone, similar to Helen Lee’s project of fingerprints tapping.
- 26.The pupil of each person in the portrait is a square. Audio from tapping.
- 27.A recording of the amount of the distance an email travels, made in collaboration with Jonah Brucker-Cohen.
- 28.A video of yawns, and a performance that encourages yawning. Caroline has always wanted to do this project.
- 29.The installation when seen in plan view is the @ in the pixel font.
- 30.The sound in the space is amphoric, made by blowing over the mouth of a glass amphora.
fig. 8-12 Diagram showing the evolution of the Oberaden 83, Dressel 20 and 23 forms. After Berni Millet, 1998.
fig. 8-13 Roman Amphorae, Dressel 20 D rawing at 1:10 scale, after panella, 1973 Penny Copeland.
fig. 8-14 Rendering for the smaller, affordable, 3D printed ceramic version of Countermeasures: Water Clock, 2018.
fig. 8-15 Countermeasures: Water Clock, 2018, 3D-printed porcelain and water, 8 × 2 × 2 inches. Photo by Levi Mandel.
Later on, we talked about the projects we liked the most, and could actually get done, and figured out who was doing what using a spreadsheet.
insert page 523-524
fig. 8-16 The smaller, affordable, 3D printed ceramic version of Countermeasures: Water Clock, 2018. Image by Herman Jean-Noel.
From there, I wrote about our process, to thank Pilchuck for supporting us, and to prepare to create a proposal for exhibitions in New York:
We, like most research-based artists, believe that artwork tells us more about the time period when it was made than about the author of the artwork. Another way to say this is to ask, “What forms are available to any artist, and where did they come from?” We were interested in the technologies, materials, and cultural conditions that allow individual expression to occur and then be displayed and understood as art. As Marshall McLuhan said, we believe that “the medium is the message.” We did this research to understand the histories of the forms, materials, and art contexts that we are drawn to, and to understand how our project will be received by non-artists at this moment in time. The Hauberg Fellowship at Pilchuck allowed us to explore glass as the material through which all digital communication occurs.We wanted to link everyday experiences with glass screens on smartphones to the history and future of studio glass, so we started looking for connections between the medium and the message, between glass and email. We started reading. I found an article about the history of the @ symbol, made popular in MoMA’s acquisition of the mark, and realized that this year marks the 45th anniversary of the use of the @ [at] symbol in email, but at least the 480th anniversary of its use in mercantile accounting, and the 3000th anniversary of the standardization of the shape to which merchants initially referred. Doing more reading about the shape, I read that amphora is translated to mean “carried on both sides.” We read that @ is called “monkey tail” and “snail shell” and “ear” and much more descriptive things than the “commercial at” in other languages. We studied the amphorae classification systems used by archaeologists, and made a blow mold of the Dressel 20, a standard shape used to transport olive oil during the Roman Empire. Amphorae were as common as the @ symbol is today, used in such quantity for transporting goods that one landfill in Rome is made entirely of amphorae. We decided to make a blow mold of the Dressel 20, to make murini that mimic the pixels of a computer screen, and to make an object that hangs over a computer screen, among other things. It is our hope that our research will be felt materially, so that people who see our work have a sense that they have seen these forms before (likely in a museum of natural history and on their smartphones), but suddenly we have made these conventional experiences strange enough to notice and question. We are still exploring the final presentation of the project, but we know that Carried on Both Sides will reference or take place on sites important tothe history of the meaning of the @ symbol: (1) a twitter account, (2) a mercantile script with flourishing a’s from 1536, and (3) glass school demonstrations with blow molds of the Dressel 20.Without the Residency at Pilchuck, our project simply would not have happened. We live in different places and are very busy, so we would not have been able to spend the time together that is necessary for a trusting and experimental collaboration. The Residency includes 24/7 access to studios, kilns, a cold shop, and a print shop, all staffed by incredibly generous and skilled technicians. During this time, Helen Lee was able to cut sheet glass and to fuse it to make every letter of the alphabet for murini that will mimic a computer screen, and to print a series of lithographs based on the word for @ in other languages. Alexander Rosenberg was able to make a video that reveals the iconic shape of the amphorae while hand lapping glass, and to cast silver coins that I designed. I was able to make 16 sheets of fused glass which will be used in frames of images from the history of the @ symbol, and to make blind embossed prints of the coins Alex made.
I fell in love with the collaboration, and wanted to find institutional invitations to honor our work. After Pilchuck, I applied to many residencies and exhibitions for us, with the help of Alex and Helen, who sent images, image lists, and edits to my writing. Helen and I went back and forth to refine the writing, and she made floor plans and helped with the administrative work. We were given a short residency at UrbanGlass. This unusual residency came about because our application was not successful, but we got an email back from the Director asking if we would be interested in some kind of short usage of their facilities.
Subject: UrbanGlass residency
January 15, 2016
Hi Helen, Caroline, Alex, and Lika,
Hello from UrbanGlass! Thank you so very much for submitting an application to our recent residency call. A jury comprised of artist Jessica Julius and Shannon Stratton, Chief Curator, Museum of Arts and Design, sat down and evaluated proposals and unfortunately did not select yours for the program.
That said, they felt it was a very strong proposal and suggested that we find out if there is a way that UrbanGlass might support the work in some other way. So I am writing to investigate!
A few questions: do you have a sense of what amount of time in the hot shop would be most helpful? Are you interested in a specific quality of glass (our student furnace uses cullet). And finally, do you have dates in mind?
Thanks again for your interest in this. Looking forward to seeing what might be possible!
All the best, Cybele
647 Fulton Street Brooklyn, NY 11217
I did my best to find a gallery for us to show the project. I asked lots of people if they knew of spaces, and I asked my friend Maya Valladares if she would be open to organizing an event with us at the Met, where she worked as an Assistant Educator of Public Programs. Here is what I wrote to her:
Subject: bold question
February 14, 2017
I'm writing because I have continued to make the amphora/@ project that I wrote to you about two years ago, and it will be featured in a documentary by PBS/Art21 for New York Close Up this summer. More info is here:
and a video in progress is here:
I would love to do a public workshop / lecture / event at the Met, but I have no idea how or if I could ever propose this to you or someone at the Met. Is there any chance for this? I know this is a bold request, but you have said such nice things about me on FB that I thought I would be bold and ask if you can help me figure out how to approach the Met.
Wondering what the process is,
Maya wrote back:
Caroline you may always ask any question. I think the best fit for this may be artists on artworks, and I wonder if March might be the right month; there are a few possibilities. I'll check with a colleague who currently oversees this program and she or I (using the fancy met email address) will circle back to you asap. Let me know next week if you don't hear anything? Thanks for asking!
The event was planned at The Met for July 28th, 2017. After asking friends about how to meet gallerists, a colleague of mine at the School of Visual Arts, Jim Clark, who I taught with in MFA Fine Arts, introduced me to Lesley Heller. This is what I wrote to her, after he introduced us:
Re: Introduction April 30, 2017 Thanks so much Jim, and hello Lesley,
I would be honored to meet with you in the coming weeks, to talk about this project I'm working on, and about my hopes for the ways we might work together. Please suggest two days / times to meet in person or speak on the phone.
The short story is:
Art21 is making a documentary about a project I've been developing with two master glass blowers for the last two years, but the venue we were going to be in fell through last minute.
I would be so grateful to film an interview about the project in your gallery around June 6th (the date is somewhat flexible) and to discuss the possibility of working with you to present the project there in 2017 or 2018, if it is a good fit and if your schedule allows.
After my first meeting with Lesley, in person, she seemed interested in having a show with us. This was a huge deal as Lesley Heller is a for-profit gallery, and we were all used to working in nonprofit exhibition spaces, including artist-run spaces and museums. Lesley typically sells work from every show, and told me directly that our work might be a bit too conceptual for her collectors, but that she was open to giving it a try. In May of 2017, she confirmed the show.
It opened in November of 2017, and by that time, we had been accepted (via an open call application) to a show at the Knockdown, and I had been invited to do a show at LMAK. Suddenly, we had more exhibitions than we had ever imagined, and we needed to make more work. We decided to call each exhibition an “encounter” to link the exhibitions, from one space to the next, over time.
fig. 8-17 Installation floor plan created by Helen Lee.