Saturday, March 26, 2011


We're doing a unit on collaboration in my painting class. This week's homework is to do some research about artists who work in collaboration.

I first heard about McDermott and McGough (mostly McDermott, actually) in the "Beyond Time" episode of Radiolab. They are nineteenth-century dandies who happen to live in what most people perceive as twentyfirst-century New York. I was attracted to the story initially because of McDermott's bizarre speaking voice. I was glued to the radio listening to this cartoon character have the beginnings of a meltdown because of the sheer terror that the concept of time brings him. I wasn't laughing because I can relate, I am scared too.

Then McDermott's name popped up in our painting text, In The Making. One of the interviewed artists mentioned being involved with McDermott and the Dandy movement. I volunteered to do some research and report my findings, and here are some of them.


I watched this and for an instant I believed there was no McDermott, and that I was watching another Crispin Glover brand video hijink, a la "Clowny Clown Clown". There is a Gloverlike sensibility and anarchy to their lifestyle- the three would get on famously, or despise each other- but McDermott and McGough are very much individuals. This film clip plus the Radiolab clip, sums up the dandies' thoughts on time.

They're obsessed with the past, they live in a self-created late Victorian age, their art is inextricable from their life. They make a lot of stuff.

Their website, their Temple of Art, is divided into painting, photography, sculpture, motion pictures, drawings, and editions. Most works have two dates- the one they assign, and the year it was made in 'mundane time'. Interestingly, not all of it looks Victorian. They have produced comic-book inspired work which they date from the sixties, '30s film-still inspired paintings, and an interesting mirror installation which seems, for them, strangely modern. It's tricky to divine whom their audience might be. Looking at the work I feel they must be making it for themselves, and anyone else who wants to view it is welcome. Clearly these are not gentlemen who fret over what the world thinks of them.

McGough and McDermott have been working together since about 1988. I like the work they create but it's really the story that has me interested. I work from anachronism and history, but I don't think I could live it like this. And I don't know if I could collaborate so extensively with someone for decades- though outside of my academic work, I am often collaborating with my partner on crafts. McDermott and McGough are puzzling to me, and I think that's exactly what they want.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Project Proposal

I have been ruminating on some of the Prof's words... to make the art we'd make, had we only a day left to draw. To examine our obsessions.

I have decided it won't work for this project. My head is currently an unproductive and dismal place- not one I'd recommend getting inside.

So, for project three, I will be taking on the alter ego of Mark Twain, man, myth, cultural construct. His obsessions include the idea of identical peoples, role-switching, nostalgia, and criticism. He is a good alter ego because he is a badass, and because he is his own alter ego anyway-- born Samuel Langhorne Clemens. My Mark Twain will be as much a fiction as Mark Twain's Mark Twain. He fictionalized himself, he has been Disneyfied, he has been censored, yet he is a part of American consciousness.

So how to make a body of work from this. I will start by making some collages exploring the ideas of twinness, role-switching, Americana, Folk Heroes, and the 1800s. I will craft some narratives using these and other themes to create a Mark Twain for myself, for 2011. The final product will be a series of drawings that function as postcards from the Universe MTwain2011 inhabits.

Well that doesn't make any sense at all.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fabulous Thunderbirds


Comes from this.

Do I need to find another story quite so specific to make something successful?
It seems like in anything I do, the research is my favorite part. I am just learning how many forms research can take, and it is exciting. Reading can be research, but so can taking photos and - apparently- so can going to Renaissance festivals. And of course, listening to Radiolab.

In fact, Radiolab's home page currently features the "Help!" episode, which I think anyone in advanced drawing would get a kick out of. Specifically the second half of the show which deals with sourcing inspiration, working with your ideas. Just listening to it kind of motivates me.

One of my favorite quotes- and I think I read it in a CBT book, not even anything to do with art- is "Action Precedes Motivation". For me it is terribly true. You don't want to do a thing until you already have done.

And seriously, check out that Radiolab episode.

Friday, March 18, 2011

To Do List (Weekend)

I have to find something I care about enough that i need to make art about it. Otherwise it's just going keep feeling like toil.

What a busy weekend, ahead.

I miss making things like this.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Blogging a Blog

Hello infinite plane of the web. Can I have this part for myself?
Space is not an easy thing. Perhaps it will be easier to make some out here than it is to do so in my home or my head.