Alison Walker IA

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Ideas and Art Spring 2012

Ideas to Expand On

Photogenic Drawing on Cotton/Paper

I am currently in Historical Processes, and our first project is using the technique of photogenic drawings. What I like about this process is that you can create either photograms, or make negatives using either a pinhole camera, or doing Camera Obscura, like Vera Lutter. I'm debating between utilizing this process to create images on large sheets of paper in a camera obscura, or creating images/patterns on large swaths of muslin to make clothing/sculptures out of. The awesome thing about this process is, like in photograms on regular photographic paper,is that you get a wide range of midtones if you leave the paper in the UV light for the right amount of time. I've also been working on a Camera Obscura project since the beginning of this past fall term, and as much as I feel I've honed in on my ideas about it, I still don't feel like I've gotten exactly what I want out of it, and this process would be another way for me to view my work in that arena.

Using photogenic drawing to create large images using camera obscura for use in fabrics or for large images.

Seeing it in 3 different senses


When either the images of the clothing is on display, waft in dark room smells to add to the experience. This includes the smell of salt, lemon and fixative. Start the show in the dark, so the most prominent sense is that of smell, before the audience can even see the images/clothes.


Just like the "Alcoholic Architecture" bar that had a mist of gin and tonic, I think it would be awesome to have my audience go into an enclosed space with my images surrounded by a fog of salt water and lemon that they can "drink" in. It won't be salty or lemony to the point of stinging eyes, but it will be enough to taste it, as if the audience themselves were being soaked in a lemon-saltwater solution that closely resembles the process that the paper goes through before it is brushed with silver nitrate.


When out in nature recording my images, I could also be recording the sounds of the world around the camera obscura. When in the space, the sound will be on a continuous loop to give the feeling of actually being outside with the image, as opposed to being inside. Possibly even coinciding with this, the images could be displayed in walk-in black boxes that allude to the camera obscura, and that each space has it's own sound scape and image.

This idea has evolved into making a camera obscura room. What I am drawn to about camera obscura is the alternate world it creates within a space. In my photography, I want to be drawn into a different world and a different space. Most of the time, I want to be taken outside of a city or a space occupied by humans, and into a world in which people are not the central focus. I have been thinking about making a camera obscura in a thicket of trees so that not only are you in a specific place, a place with physical trees, but then the viewer gets the projection of the world outside of the trees projected onto the trees and the room.

This project now becomes more of an installation piece, instead of a finished product. The idea is to get it so that people are also taken away by this new world within the trees that becomes created. In the readings from this past week, I found that creatively, I am a maker and a teacher. This project speaks to the teacher in me. Camera obscura is hard to explain, but once it is experienced, it is easier to understand. And the experience is really what draws me to the work. In the case of camera obscura, I'm not drawn to the making of the image, or the production of work, I am drawn to the actual visualization and changing of the room I have created. I am drawn to seeing how people react within the room, and how they engage in this new space.

In this room, I would still put up light sensitized paper against the wall that takes in the image. The difference would be that the sensitized paper would now not only be catching the image of the outside, but it would be catching the interaction of people with the light within the space. It won't be immediately obvious that the paper on the wall of the space will be taking a picture, so the people will interact with each other and the light within the room against the walls. The trees will also create shadows that become part of the images, so the finished product will be more of a recording of an experience than an image for image sake.

Paper Dresses

I am also currently taking Fashion Modernism, and am trying to figure out what I'm doing for the first project. I came across Madame Gres' dresses in one of our first readings, and remembered how much her work inspired me last semester when I was working on Angels in Amerca. When I first started thinking about utilizing her work as inspiration, I thought about making a quilt that represented her work on a sort-of 2 dimensional level. (It would actually be 3D because it's a quilt, but... it wouldn't be able to be worn is what I'm getting at.) But then I had this idea to use newsprint instead of make all the folds. So, again, they'd be more or less 2 dimensional, but instead of using fabric, which a dress is already made out of, I thought creating a sculpture/collage would be a really interesting way to go about showing the lines and quality of the dress, while thinking about clothing outside of the box. Our readings for that class had talked a lot about how Nature wasn't beauty anymore, and what is natural is that fabric is made out of clothes, so deviating from that made sense within the Modernist movement.

Folding paper in the pattern of dresses to represent Madame Gres' creations in a sculptural, less 3D form.


Make a music roll for a player piano using the "mountains and rivers" of the foldings as spaces and holes to create a musical piece based on my paper sculpture based on the Madame Gres dress.


Instead of making the dress out of paper, why not make it out of pasta. Fold the pasta, and coat it in either marinara sauce or ala vodka sauce to create color variation in the "dress". And then the "viewer" (or eater) can "deconstruct" the dress by eating it, making it not beautiful anymore, but still staying in the natural, because it is edible.


Instead of having the dress be made out of paper, make it out of glass, and set it far away from the wall in an enclosed space. Have a glassblower blowtorching the dress from behind, so that the viewer gets to watch it melt while feeling the heat of the flame and glass. Then the piece will end up as a completely different form.

I looked back at the mind map of this idea, and thought about what I was doing. I don't find this idea that appealing, but there was one thought that I found in the mind map that I thought was interesting. "When unworn, are flat". I created a new mind map around this idea, keeping clothing in mind the whole time. The map ended up having a lot of weird death themes, and I found some other words that I ended up liking. My idea has more shifted into making a quilt that uses clothing as its basis. Not in the sense that I cut up these shirts and make them into square patterns, but I actually use the clothes in their original form, and create a stacked effect, as if there are many people in a crowd.

The words I was drawn to in my map (which will be at the bottom of this explanation) were: people, longing, together, crumpled, outfits, underneath. These words evoke this necessity for connection and companionship, and quilts, to me, signify a bringing together of people. Not only are quilts used to sleep under, but also for picnics, which are sometimes community affairs, and for snuggling under while watching a movie. Quilts are usable art, and are there for, used by people. Quilts have a heritage, and are like heirlooms in the sense that they can be passed down in families, or through friends. Quilts evoke belonging and a sense of past that alludes to comfort and a common belonging.

Mind Mapping and Idea Process

My creative process is pretty limited, I think. I get an idea, and I start doing, making, drawing, whatever it is. My process and the way my brain works isn't normally in the conceptual realm. When I have an idea, it's either do-able, or it isn't. When it isn't, it's something I don't have the tools yet to know how to do, and I put it on the back burner for when I do get those tools. If it's do-able, I pretty much just try to do it when I have the time. Like this weekend. I bought some fabric right before I left Seattle at the end of FWT, thinking I would make a shirt out of it. I finally had some time this weekend where I needed to be in the costume shop, pretty much waiting for laundry to be done. In my free time, I drew and image of what I wanted to make, cut the fabric, and made a shirt. This is what makes me feel like I am more of a designer than an artist. I create usable, wearable things, and the only way to fully realize my ideas and where they want to go is by doing.

Also, how I get the ideas is normally a visual process. For example, the shirt I made this weekend. I just saw the fabric in the store, and knew what I was going to do with it. Its screamed "tshirt" to me, and I listened. Sometimes, images or dreams or poetry does the same thing. There's a click, and a thought, and I have to run with it. If I think to deeply about the idea and try to push it in the early stages, it just gets muddled and lost. I have to start doing, or give myself a break from the idea, before I can push it to new heights.

My creative process: I am very aware of the world around me. I am an observer. I have horrible hearing sometimes, and have a hard time processing conversations or aural stimuli, and am constantly trying to compensate for these lack of communication skills by taking in the world around me. I go to parties and become the fly on the wall. I watch the interactions, I listen as closely as I can to the conversations around me, and just drink in what is going on around me. I listen, I watch, and I take it all in to process out later. This is the beginning of my creative process. The observer in me observes the world around me, and then when I am in a lone moment, sleeping (dreaming), or forcing work out of me for class, these moments of observation come back to me, and I begin make connections. From these connections, I create art and work that becomes more an amalgam of things I want to see in the world, and a kind of response to everything I see. I decide from there where to go, and what form of art would be best to present my vision and my communication with the world I am responding to. I begin to make, I am a Maker, and the best way for me to process through my work is to create, instead of sitting and thinking. My thoughts won't come out unless I start making. Once I start creating, I normally follow through the process until it is completed. If the completed process isn't what I wanted, I either start over, and go back and go over what I have "finished". I won't know if I like something until it is done. Done, in a sense, means that I've taken it to where I thought it would go. Sometimes at the end of that, there is more to go from, and I continue towards a new "end", and sometimes, what I have finished just isn't right, and is then scrapped.

Where the Project is Now

This project has gone through a lot of transformations. From the beginning, it evolved into making a space in nature that people can enter into, and interact with the camera obscura, while not realizing that the walls that they are looking at are actually developing the picture before their very eyes on cyanotyped white sheets or paper.

The problem with this is that I am not a builder, and this is iteration is still in the dream mode. I very much like this idea, and would someday want to pursue it, but as for now, it's a little unachievable.

While I was thinking about doing the above project, though, I thought about doing a pinhole camera test with the cyanotyped paper. I realized that this couldn't be entirely a test, because what was interesting about my initial idea was the people interacting with the light, and that being documented within the building on the developing paper.

But the more I thought about the pinhole, the more it still sort of had the same feel as my original camera obscura idea. Except a little opposite.

What I'm thinking about doing is making pinhole camera's out of everyday things in a room, and again, using cyanotyped paper to capture the images. With these everyday objects scattered around the room, they will pick up a panoramic image of the room as if from their own eyeline, along with the movement that goes on in the room. The finished product would be not only a display of the panoramic image over time, but of the objects themselves, and how "they see the world" they live in.

"Jo Babcock" did a project sort of like this, but instead, he took objects, turned them into pinhole cameras, and took images of things that were related to the objects. I am more interested in how people keep objects in their rooms, and how those objects interact with their day to day lives. At this point, it is a departure from making 2 different worlds into one, but the project is now moving into a different world, a world the way objects see it.


week one

In the Making had interesting ideas about how to go about coming up with ideas for art. I think I gravitated more towards Julian LeVerdiere more than William Kentridge, just because his process within himself seemed more well thought out in writing. I highly admire Kentridge's art, but the study of his work seemed to be looking more at his work and the history around the TRC rather than more of how that caused him to do work based around it. LaVerdiere seemed to want things to come from his art, he wanted to inspire exploration and creativity. With Kentridge, I wasn't quite sure about the process and the outcome. It wasn't clear that it was an external source of inspiration, mainly because he seemed to be the one in turmoil. But maybe that is where I am confused. Isn't everything external also internal because if it is something we notice, don't we internalize it and make it our own? So isn't LaVerdiere external as well because he is pulling from the history of exploration?

The Eureka Hunt had some really awesome insights. I think my favorite thing about this reading was the fact that it pretty much said you should sleep, take naps, relax while you're working on projects. I continually have to make excuses for myself to sleep, and now I have a great new one. By letting my brain relax, I am turning on my right brain after using my left one to the point of exhaustion. I've also thought about playing more brain teasers to awaken my right brain more often after using my left brain so much. So I recently found a rubix cube and am now trying to figure out its patterns and things before I go to sleep. We'll see how that works out.

week two

Is Lateral Thinking Necessary for Creativity?

This was the last reading I read, and after the other 2, it seems to make sense, but also to confuse. Weisberg is claiming that all you need to be creative is to be intelligent. Ok, I guess that makes sense. It's hard to be creative when you see the world from a very narrow point of view. But that still has its problems. You can be smart to be creative, but you aren't necessarily going to be creative if you're smart. So, in that case, with the lateral thinking, if you're smart but not yet creative, lateral thinking could be a good way for someone to start working on their creative side. So what de Bono says isn't wrong, and what Weisberg says isn't right, it's just a matter of the way you look at the process.

The Ecstasy of Influence

I loved this reading. It really helped with what was going through my mind last week with the external and internal influences. Lethem made everything sound like external influences that are internalized and then thrown back out into the ether as internal influences. The whole plagiarism idea was very interesting. Plagiarizing his whole article pretty much really threw home the fact that everything we think about, write about, create is really taken from somewhere else and used in our own work, and called "original". Also, whenever he talked about a Dylan song, I turned that song on and tried to pick out the lyrics that he had written down. It's hard! I wondered how he figured out all those little pathways from one reference to another to another. Really well done.

Cracking Creativity

Thinking productively instead of reproductively makes sense, but I got stuck in engineer jokes when I read it the first couple times. My dad is one of the smartest, technologically creative people I know, and he makes all these jokes about engineers solving problems by "returning to a previously solved problem". This is working reproductively. But it obviously does work in some cases. But I also guess I don't like the wording. Productive/reproductive. If you're working on solving a problem, aren't you trying to be productive? And reproductive just... I don't know. I understand why it works, but...

Anyway, the reading was interesting. Changing the way you look at problems by considering the way the problems are worded is a really awesome way of dealing with issues. And being open to new trains of thought by not being encumbered to stick to one path makes total sense. Being an artist, you do get caught up, sometimes, in working straight, and when you can't make it through a wall because it's too high, it's hard to see that it isn't to far to go around the wall in a creative manner instead of trying to rip it down with rubber chickens. I wish that he gave more tips about how to see those different ways of looking other than telling you that there are other ways at looking at problems.

week three

I had a hard time with this reading. I know, up front, that you said it was based more towards companies trying to get their staff to be more creative and think outside the box. I, personally, felt a little more boxed in. He would explain "different" ways of mind mapping, but they would end up all looking mostly the same. The only different one was the lotus blossom technique, and that one was so rigid, with all its little boxes. He kept also saying that language confines the creative mind, but in all the mind maps, language was being used. There were almost no numbers, definitely no drawings, and no photographs. How are you supposed to expand outside your the language part of your brain while mind mapping, when you need language to define everything you are saying in your mind map? It was very strange, and a little frustrating...

week four

Creating a Life Worth Living

I really enjoyed this reading. Going through this class, I have been having these crazy ideas that I'm on a completely different artist planet than everyone else in this in this class. But with this reading, seeing that there are so many different kinds of artists made me feel a lot better. Reading through, weirdly enough, I was the first two Lloyd talked about. I'm a maker and a teacher. Some of the things she said in the maker section that I felt most drawn to are, "They value craftsmanship and material creation over abstract conceptualization... For makers, the central act is the complex moment of touching, moving, working and thinking... They are interested in the process of making for its own sake, they also derive great joy from observing the work evolve before their eyes." Also, in the teaching section, she talked a lot about communication, and wanted to lead without being in power. These really spoke to why I do my art, and why I so enjoy teaching what I love. I love giving people the tools to enjoy the things that I enjoy, and letting them find what excites them in art.

The Artist's Mentor

Number 1, this reading made me want to punch something. I think I would have enjoyed it more had it been just a conglomerate of "inspiring" quotes. As it was, trying to create a paper out of a shit ton of quotes just seemed silly and ridiculous. The flow was awful, and some things that were said were so unnecessary. But, yes, there were some good quotes that I did enjoy. Like, "When you start working, everybody is in your studio --- the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas --- all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you're lucky, even you leave." Seriously how I feel when I'm in the darkroom. Or Just working on photography in general.

Journal Entries

week one

week two

week three

week four

week five

week six


Abelardo Morrell Abelardo Morell

Madame Gres Madame Gres

Vera Lutter Vera Lutter