Thursday, December 08, 2005

Material Drawings III

Scene of future site of "luxury housing," being created out of the crumbling remains of an inequal society. The amount of patchwork, holes, and various remants on the side of the left building I find fascinating. Drawn from a photograph, black cinders added in middle ground.

While I was creating this peice: I came upon the idea to further it by documenting an unseen but integral part of its creation: the materials I used. Having used about 30 different materials, and consequently deeply explored large swaths of territory, I decided to make drawings of each location I found a material, and then actually put a peice of the material in the drawing. All of these would then be put onto a large backround, with maps showing locations of each drawing. As it turns out, this whole idea got maimed by my allowance of it to become a project for the art school I attend; specifically, the arbitrary dealine that was imposed cut down the amount of drawings, along with the quality of presentation.
With that, I ended up actually just arrnaging these on a board, and even lying about locations to make them fit (because no one could correct me), all for a grade. Maybe sometime I'll get back to it, and really try and make a peice out of it, but for now, these are 11 drawings with varying degress of success. Each contains a material(s) that correlate to some part of my recent iraq peice. Early drawings were taking about 30 to 45 minutes, later from 45 minutes to 1:15, to thier benefit. All were made with 4 charcoal pencils, along with the assitance of a blender. I rarely erased, except for one major screwup, other errors I either ignored, accepted, or worked around. Some of these were done from photographs, some from memory, and some from basic sketches of the scene. None were done at the scene, though with warming weather, I would've preferred too.

I have to a say that in this drawing I feel like I caputed the mood of the scene, even though it is from a photo. The light polluted sky, the large, empty lot, the beaten dumpster, the patchwork all over, along with lighting, seems to create the haphazard destruction, absurdity, uneasiness, and curiousity I felt and saw when there. This is simply another warehouse being gutted, with a rag I found in the foreground.

This is from the same site as the top-most photo, though from the rear of the property, and at night. I did a quick sketch of this composition, more like an outline, and redrew it later into this heaping pile of concrete, brick, metal, trussing, grating, wood, plastic, and stone. Apparantly, a building used to be here! This pile made some interesting sounds, with all its wavering metal for the wind. When the luxury housing comes, this water tower, along with a isolated, tall smokestack to the right, will likely be retained for advertisement and for "history." No one in the luxury housing will likely ever even know what the building their living in used to do, nor what its closure means to thousands jobless and billions worldwide suffering the consequences of global capitols pillaging, instead, they'll see an imposing, but castrated smokestack, and think "there used to be a factory here, how odd", whilst moving on aimlessy through an unfilling life threatened with the ever-increasing tide of instability.

This is a small, nearly square building that houses what I beleive was a boiler for electrical generation, though as usual, nothings really conclusively showing that. The inside has the normal appearance of an abandoned building: as if a tornado had just hit it, but left the strucure unscathed. Regardless of how sad, scary, depressing, and repulsive this place was, with its astonighing disorders, remants of homelessness in the form of liquor, porno, and wearied clothing, it provided an excellent source of materials. The cardboard of one soldiers face was made from the flaps of several boxes, stained in different shades; the rust poles of the barren shacks were made from the rust I got from here, and the folding, whirling draperies of other shacks were from the paint chips I scraped off one of the boilers.

Material Drawings II

Though barely noticible in this photo, theres a shred of yellow rag between the rail and the step ladder. I used a photo for this drawing of a large, flat industrial district, where streets are nearly always flanked by additional paved areas with unused railroad tracks. Many of these unused railroad tracks go to unused buildings, or another variety that results in nearly the same economic impact- refurbished. In this area, refurbished means sculpture studio, art gallery, storage, or apartments. Whichever, the loss of jobs is scarcely reduced. The building to the left is used for industrial purposes, but like almost everything, it like its really used. Looking at this made me remember another interesting trait of these areas: entire blocks of fenced in feild. When I see them, I think odd, but sometimes I actually forget that they mark the place where something used to be, that their not arbitrary, undeveloped but owned property.

Here the empty field is shown in all it's fenced, overgrown, and trashed glory, drawn from a picture I took. All the cloth of my peice, primarily for the soldiers uniforms, was found by riding my bike slowly down streets like this, gazing constantly at the grabage-strewn space between the crumbling road and fencing/building. Among this trash I found the wide variety I needed, be it the yellow cloth in the top picture, or the whites and greys in this. It may seem odd to do this at night, but I got the idea for cloth (which really solved a problem) at night and wanted to get it. It's not like anyone is around these terribly eerie and depressing landscapes anyway, the only mammal I saw was a bunny.

From memory, I tried to recreate the extremely helpful dumpster next to this classic industrially designed building thats currently being gutted. I really like the drawing, but if the goal were accuracy, I found out later when looking that the tag is several block away, not even on a billboard, and without arrows, that the backround building is several blocks another way... but, I don't consider this an error of much importance. If I were to fabricate the entire condition I so constantly depict, I think that would be a greivious error:

As for materials, leaning against the building is the 4 x 8 peice of plywood I used as a backing for the iraq peice, in the dumpster are smaller, stained pinkish peices of wood I used in the faces, along with crumbled brick for the same.

Material Drawings

These are what I consider the flimsiest of the drawings.

This was done from memory, and I think suffers a bit in composition. I actually drew the wheels on the closer end first, and then realised that its near impossible to put a trailer into a loading dock backwards, and how little sense the drawing therefore made. But, in retrospect, how much sense does it make to leave a trailer, wood, an enourmous building, and more unused? The material I found from this scene was the peeling stripes of paint, which I used in the Iraq peice as market stall curtain.

This was the first drawing in the series, and its weakness is merely a testament to the progression that comes from doing 11 drawings successily in a similar manner. The way I put the material, peeling paint and rust, back in the drawing, is also pretty terrible... I used it in the peice on some faces and buildings. This scene is of a small building in the midst of unused parking lots covering the unused railroad yards they replaced, sometimes without taking out the railroad tracks. I actually picked up some glass and decayed cardboard like substance here, but found them of no use.

I actually sketched this onsite, at night, as I was rummaging through this scene of devastation for the materials for the wall on my peice. I found them here- I was expecting to use the plentiful bricks, but I found that the mortar from in between the bricks makes a much more accurate and lighter (though still something like 70 pounds) wall. There is some of that in the lower right of the draw, but it barely comes off in this photo. So, what we have here is me on a plateau of crumbled wall, looking down upon more demolition, a pond of filth, and a large, seemingly unused (I cite the foliage for that assertion) building. I drew this from the very simple and hurting sketch (no light where I was) and that may be part of the reason its so poorly done. I could go back and fix things, of course...

An abandoned tank farm, probably with around 7 of these huge, wide cylinders. Here I found some white paint peeling of the wall, as shown in the left of drawing. Before this, I had never seen an abandoned tank farm, nor imagined the possibility, considering the use of oil is always on the rise. As shown in another post, this isn't even the only one in the area, another serves now as a junkyard!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Decay of American Capitalism

(click to enlarge)

I did this drawing/painting in early 2005. I started with black and white acrylic paint, forming the basic shapes, and then added color pencil on top to really make the image. I like the effect, I think it really helped this look like a dreary, winter, northeastern day. The winter asthetic seems so fitting for subjects such as this.
The subject is a long-unused factory, located in the chain of decayed industry that forms the northeast corridor of the United States. Last time I checked, and probably for the last 20 years, it has been occupying two entire blocks, half with overgrown lots, and the other half with crumbling architecture. It is situated between other similar landscapes, and oddly, right next to residential, working-class neighborhoods. Without a doubt it provided the majority of the jobs for the nearby rowhomes, and its closure surely had an of the living conditions that can be seen throughout the area. It stands today as a monument to the contradictions of global capitalist economy: In the time of construction, factories like this represented the surperiority of american manufacturing with thier efficiency and modernization. But, in the unrelenting drive for profit, efficiency is not determined according the existing, widespread infastructure of a given area, rather, it is subject to the ever-changing working conditions of the world's masses. In this context, the established, relatively modern and efficient network of manufactuing in a given economy, for example the U.S., is easily abandoned when worker's in another country can be exploited to a higher degree, such as in hours, benefits, health, and safety. The seemingly ridiculous pattern of constantly shifting complicated production from region to region across the world, devastating communities in the wake, is an inevitable product of an outgrown system of world economy: capitalism.

Snow, Ice, Waste, Decay

I usually have a hard time taking strickly nature photos, but this was such an interesting little scene I think it worked. A freind and I spent about 30 minutes throwing even bigger icicles into rocks in an attempt to get a shot of the breaking, but it was cold and that was tricky.

Under a stone railroad viaduct, this average pile of junk from a demolished industrial site suddenly becuase interesting as the drops from 50 feet above coated the scene with ice. I recall it being maybe 15 degrees out, and having to warm hands in the car after mere minutes of photography.

I'd like to make the assumption that the tailings and filth, forming both what I was standing on and huge piles behind me, and coming from an enourmous, closed iron mine nearby, are the reason that these particular trees are dead while others are not. But, of course I don't know.

One of these winter days where its mid-afternoon and you feel like its going to be dark far too soon. The building on the left is one small part of a massive steel mill, and while I don't believe it was unused, it was certainly underused. I'll come back to the details of the mill in a later post that has a drawing of it.

Some Winter Utilities

A sudden change in the weather has compelled me to shift my attention to winter shots. All of these, along with nearly everything I'll post for a month, will be older pictures from my former place of residence.

There was a period of months last year where I had a fascination with water towers, resulting from the revealation that they exist. That may sound silly, but they were surprisingly hidden. When I stuly began to understand that profit was the underlying force of most every aspect of our society, it provided a completely new and far superior way of analysis the world around me; when I realized that water towers are enourmous, well hidden, and sometimes beautiful structures that exist in the most absurdly obvoius places, I visually looked above roofs and trees in a different way. Sometimes, what I found made me laugh, like this looming, but peaceful thing that exists right next to these houses, nearly invisible, but dominating the landscape.
While the previous water tank was simple, yet pleasing, this one is more of a behemoth. I love the massive, oval shape, with its thick ribbs heading towards pillars, and how in the end, its painted a beautiful sky blue, and simply holds lots of water. I took the from a construction site, as evidenced by the excavator "frame"
When I was going through old photos, I selected this one, but looking again a few minutes ago, I wondered why. The lattice work growing larger and closer is a little interesting, maybe, but to haphazard for what I usually like. Then I saw what it was: that beautiful , land-bourne cloud of steam rising from the cooling (towers?) of a coal-burning powerplant.