Tuesday, October 31, 2017

An Awkward Gift is the Best

My last entry was tangentially related to what I’m writing here. It’s a follow-up of sorts, an update. In my last entry I wrote about how I often give images of my face to people. Sometimes I mail these and sometimes they’re given directly to someone. I’ll hand it to them or just leave it in their mailbox without any warning. Rarely do I know what becomes of these items. I’m pretty sure one my friends recently left something I made for them at a public place while I was still with them. There’s nothing better than that feeling when someone opens a package and has the look of “What am I going to do with this” on their face. Some get the joke (if there’s a clear one) and others are confused.

I’ve become infatuated with the idea of the “awkward gift.” Giving something to make another person completely unsure of how to respond. Those sorts of emotions seem a lot more lasting to me. A pretty picture is a pretty picture, they’re everywhere. In effect I’m saying, “Here’s this piece of shit, figure out what to do with it.” I’m giving someone a burden in the shape of “art.” I often imagine there is a negotiation of what to do with it. Do they think of my feelings and put it up somewhere in the house (not a public place) or do they say “fuck that” and hide…or throw it away? I tend to give these sorts of gifts to people who get the joke or who are kind enough to think about what to do with it. If they’re kind then the “awkward gift” has worked. I have plenty of friends that if I gave something like this to would look at it and say out loud “what the fuck is this” and then toss in the trash. That’s no fun; no real emotional terrorism has been negotiated there. The ones that get the joke and laugh are fine, but the ones who have no idea why they’re holding this thing in their hands, are the true targets. Who knows what mail-artists think?
Me, Dillon, Me.
One person I’ve really enjoyed giving these things to is my nephew, Dillon. He gets it, or at least knows that it’s a joke and wants to play along. He’s a good sport even if he isn’t sure why he’s getting another (there’s been a lot) collages of my head. Periodically I mail him my visage or give him one or two or three as a Christmas present. It’s great fun to me.

Recently I had the Tuttle Twins make a bunch of canvas prints of my various creations. Mostly these were designed to make me a little money, which was the case for the most part. I also had them to print a simple digital creation of my face with the word “Hey” at the top. These were only meant to be given as a present. I had four or five of them made.

Obviously I gave one to my nephew. I presented it to him in a parking lot, which seemed appropriate. I painted the frame a horrible yellow color which made it even more difficult to look at. It’s an image that’s impossible not to notice. Even the image I used of my face in a horrific scowl was meant to make the viewer uneasy. The “hey” at the top seemed like a nice neutralizing affect. “Hey, this is ugly” I thought the image might say to the viewer. When I looked at the thing I giggled, so why wouldn’t other people.
I hand the image to him (along with some coins in a jar) and he laughs. He even says that he has the other ones I’ve given him up in his room, like on the wall…displayed. This I didn’t believe but I loved it. In my head I imagined a friend coming into his room, looking up at the collages of my face, and asking “What they hell those are for?” How could you explain them, and if you could explain them, then what is the other person thinking.

“Oh, that is my uncle” my nephew might tell this hypothetical friend.

“Why does he send them to you?”

“He thinks it’s funny.”

“Then why do you have them up?”
Me on the wall.
I’m agitating from afar. I’m inserting myself in conversations that I shouldn’t be in and I like it. If only I can figure out a way to make my eyes follow the viewer as they move throughout the room. Since he’s calling my bluff I have to step up my game. I obviously need to go much, much bigger. I can only win this when my sister says “no more!” Game on.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

I'm Ready For My Close Up



A picture of my face taken in my office, monochromed, and then printed off in various contexts.
Periodically I make printed copies of random images. I print these off in groups of ten or fifteen. Often these are modified analog collages, things that I have scanned myself or been posted online by a fellow mail-artist. If it looks interesting I’ll add it to a folder on my thumb drive and then play around with it later. So often I end up putting them in monochrome and then mixing them with other collages to make a super collage. Sometimes I put them in monochrome and then add tons of clashing colors in Microsoft Paint. Sometimes I print them off on peculiar paper I find at thrift stores, anything that isn’t the standard white. The more color the better. I really like using children’s instruction books to print on. Often these are the same size as a standard piece of paper so they’re easily ran through a regular printer. I also like old paper with stains on them, pieces I find laying around school in hallways or pulled from the trash, and the exotic. Transfer sheets are great and so is carbon copy paper. Odd and out of context are ideal.

If I have a few minutes here and there, I’ll print something out. I’ll then take those copies home and organize them into categories. There’s the add and passes, the random bits I cut up and put into envelopes, and the purely psychotic. While looking through my digital files that I print from and what gets printed off, I notice a pattern. I have a lot of printed images of my head floating out there. It seems that I might have to explore this subject matter at great length.

A few images of my face stuck together with other collages. I then print these off and mail them.
Honestly, I don’t use my face in mail-art because I’m that self-involved. I don’t do it because I think I’m particularly attractive. I’m not really here to promote myself or my artwork since I’m not that ambitious about it. I’ve always made the things I’ve made, and if someone gives a shit, then I’m happy with it. If they don’t care then they throw it away. At best, putting my face into this equation might change how they interact with the object. I can only imagine someone looking at one of these prints off, my face staring right back them, and then they throw it away. Do they chuckle right before it goes into the recycling?


I made an ADD AND PASS out of my face. This one is completely done by Roberto Scala. He lives in Italy.  
Using me as my main model (that is a weird sentence to write) takes away any potential victim. So many of the things I make have a comical tone to them. No one can get but-hurt if I use my face in a context that is silly or satirical. Since I don’t mind being made fun and no problems being put into a social context, then the sky is the limit. It’s nice to be able to control the quality of the image and the pose. At some point in the future I’m going to have a long modeling session with a photographer friend. I’m going to pose in a variety of positions so I have more to work with and it’ll be of better quality.

A bunch of me with a "sexy" message. I made these into "sexy" stickers.
It’s normally just my head that I use. Almost all of the pictures have been taken in my office at work, against my door. I’ll find a few minutes and have an idea for something. I’ll take the picture on my I-phone. I then save the image, monochrome it, and then wait for an opportunity to put it into another context. So often I mail these images of my head printed on to strange people to my friends with absolutely no context. I have no idea what my close friends (I send these sorts of things to about twenty people on a regular basis) think about this. Maybe they expect it? I don’t know what my mail-art friends think about it either, but they’re used to more craziness, so I doubt they think much at all. It makes me laugh so I send it off.

Recently I’ve stepped up the sending of my face to a whole new level. I had a bunch of 16x20 canvas prints made with a crude image of my face, and a word on top. I’m going to paint thrift store frames and hand them out to friends. My goal is to see who will actually keep the image up in their house and where. I’m daring them to put the thing up.
My face, old monochromed collage mixed in, digital letters, hand painted, and stickers glued on a bingo card.
 

Made With Susanna Lakner

The work resting on what looks like a very comfortable couch. I made the faces on the right and sent them as postcards.   A few m...