Critique Collective

Critique Collective is your source for information and interviews about emerging and established contemporary artists.

David DiLillo’s Documentary Investigation of Nick Drake’s Hometown

David DiLillo’s multimedia artwork has been included in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Calumet Photographic, Anthology Film Archives, Museum of the City of New York, State of the Art Gallery in Ithaca, Bottleneck Gallery in Brooklyn, Art Takes Times Square, Liverpool Lift-Off Film Festival, on SICTV, and in a wide variety of other galleries, festivals, and publications. He also works as an art instructor and as the Co-Founder/Co-Director of Aquehonga Cinema, a Staten Island community film series. During his interview on Critique Collective, DiLillo illustrates his recent trek to Tanworth-in-Arden, where he documented the town that cult-music icon Nick Drake lived in. Further images of DiLillo’s artwork can be found on his website.

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Three Hours From London; Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire

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Three Hours From London; Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire


Paul Weiner:
When did you originally find your interest in working as a multimedia artist?

David DiLillo:
The exact point in time is hard to pin down. I’ve been shooting photographs since middle school and drawing long before that. I’m immensely lucky and proud to come from a family of photographers and painters on both sides. They taught me that visual art is not only an important act of expression but also a form of preservation. I grew friendlier with a slew of diverse artists during my time in school and beyond who fiendishly got me involved in film production, sculpture, humor illustration, and other mediums. I love creative collaboration, but I also have an often-overwhelming amount of interests and passions, so I try to have my hands in many projects at once.

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Three Hours From London; Wilmcote Station, Warwickshire

Paul Weiner:
Who is Nick Drake, and how has his music impacted you?

David DiLillo:
When a close friend first showed me Nick’s music years ago, I devoured it obsessively only to find myself continually rediscovering new layers up to this day. Nick Drake was born in 1948 in Burma and grew up in Tanworth-in-Arden, a small hamlet in Warwickshire, England. His music never gained the recognition or visibility he desired, and he was eventually stricken with depression. Nick mysteriously died from an antidepressant overdose at the age of 26.

You can read a lot about the details, either known or rumored, about his tragically short life, about how he didn’t quite fit into rigid British norms of the time. What speaks to me most is this: Nick had an almost mystical ability to communicate timeless meditations on love and nature, and I’m one of many who deeply relates to his thoughts and struggles. But I believe he was just trying to share his mind and heart with others in the best way he knew how. His music never gained the audience and response that it deserved, and he was eventually overcome with depression. His lyrics shifted between cryptic psalms and beautifully descriptive accounts, and his guitar style blended English folk, American blues, and even Eastern tonality later on. Nick’s fragile music and words of romance and universal connection have consistently given me new eyes to see myself and the world.

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Three Hours From London; Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire

Paul Weiner:
Do you consider your Three Hours from London series to be a documentary, narrative, or more conceptual sort of project?

David DiLillo:
The phrase Three Hours from London comes from one of Nick’s darker songs about escape. Interestingly enough, it took me about three hours by train to get to Tanworth-in-Arden from the English capital. When I stayed in the village, I solely listened to Nick’s music and shot without a strict objective in mind, which was a bit non-academic and liberating. I was writing, too, but the series is a very personal visual journal of sorts. It can act as a narrative if certain lyrics of Nick’s are paired with particular images, and it can act as a documentary piece about the town and surrounding areas. I shot in black and white to evoke the time in which Nick lived, though – to use another of Nick’s lyrics, a time of no reply. By visiting Nick’s final resting place, I had the chance to bridge the chasm of decades and feel like I was meeting him.

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Three Hours From London; Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire

Paul Weiner:
I like the idea of trying meet a dead artist and experience the town he lived in. When you were in Tanworth-in-Arden, did you meet and discuss Nick Drake with any of the locals or was this more of an immersive experience of everyday life in the village?

David DiLillo:
I spent a large amount of time hiking the area in solitude, unplugged from most technology and my common distractions. I attempted simply to observe and document what was around me – the shades of leaves in the afternoon, the sounds of children playing in the distance, the brushes of wind from the hills. My immersion seemed sacred, familiar, and rustic all at once. It reminded me of Nick’s songs of isolation. This wasn’t a negative feeling but more a type of connection with the graves and green pastures and people around me. In a strange and welcoming way, this demystified the idea of idolizing a musician whom I’ll never truly know and instead helped me to deepen my understanding of him as a young man who lived a vibrantly creative but far too short life.

I was also completely warmed by meeting and talking to those who lived and worked in town. They were brilliantly and immeasurably kind-hearted, open-minded people. Many patrons at the inn heard my accent and might have assumed that I had come to visit Nick Drake, the singer buried among their many other loved ones and friends. One day, in the cemetery, I met a man sitting on a bench close to me where his wife and he used to sit together. He was there in remembrance of the woman he’d spent most of his life with, and I felt as if I were remembering a man I’d never met. We spoke for a long while, and it was a bond I’ll always cherish.

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Three Hours From London; Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire

Paul Weiner:
Are there any particular songs that you used as inspiration?

David DiLillo:
Beyond “Three Hours,” the song “From The Morning” was especially resonant with me. It’s the final track on Nick’s third and last album released during his lifetime, ‘Pink Moon,’ and its lyrics are engraved as the stark epitaph on his tombstone: “Now we rise / And we are everywhere.” Nick’s music is poignantly spiritual, but there are recurring, naturalistic element and motifs without adherence to one single denomination of faith. I interpret this line as a beautiful and hopeful vision of the constantly cycling energy in this world, reborn again and again.

From a different angle, the song “One of These Things First” paints a very stark and grounded image of regret. It’s a perpetually fascinating song. As the litany of paths not taken and responsibilities unmet grows, Nick’s somber words float over brightly swung major chords and piano rolls. I view the piece as an admission and apology to those whom Nick might have neglected while still being an enlightened and wise acceptance of the choices he actually made. I sincerely relate and try to reach this awareness.

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Three Hours From London; Warwickshire

Paul Weiner:
Were you at all surprised by what you saw in Tanworth-in-Arden?

David DiLillo:
I felt like I had been there before in an old dream. The English Midlands are not unlike the hillsides of eastern Pennsylvania, but the newness of the scents and sounds gave a unique and raw experience. The passing of time, or my perception of it, surprised me. The days seemed long but ethereal and illuminated. I was rendered stunned by the emotional impact that one individual artist’s work and life could have on me, and I was taken aback by a town not frozen in history on the countryside but, rather, breathing with lives and stories that come and go.

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Three Hours From London; Warwickshire

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Three Hours From London; Warwickshire

Paul Weiner:
Was this series shot digitally or with a film process?

David DiLillo:
I shot with my father’s Canon AE-1 and used black and white film. I nearly forgot to request that the rolls be checked separately at the airport, an important reminder for all other picture makers and photo takers who still travel with film. I was also collecting digital video footage, but it was important for me to use an older process to shoot this project because of the investment of time and care required. There’s the inherent risk of not knowing the look of images taken until much later, but I put trust in my knowledge with the process and in whatever outcome I’d end up with.

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Three Hours From London; Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire

Paul Weiner:
Has your project with Nick Drake affected your way of thinking when creating new works? Did you learn anything about your own practice either technically or conceptually throughout this process?

David DiLillo:
Going into the project, I knew it would be important for me to present the area around Tanworth-in-Arden from an observer’s point of view. Since then, I’ve tried to take the many creative influences I have and make work that can be seen as a reinterpretation of inputs instead of representation and reflection. The isolation of the project and the trip also had its significance and place, but I think I’ve become more drawn to collaborative work in any medium; exchanging ideas with others has become invaluable to me. And I’m still learning to focus less on how a photograph, or any other creative pursuit or piece of art, might fit into the greater whole of an outlined project and more on how I can best genuinely express my own thoughts through art.

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Three Hours From London; Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire


Please view David DiLillo’s work on hiswebsite and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

ADAM SZYMCZYK WIR WOLLEN NICHT ZUR DOCUMENTA 14

A protest broke out surrounding the dominance of Documenta, a prominent art exhibition that takes place every five years in Kassel, Germany. Adam Szymczyk has been selected to be the artistic director of the Documenta 14 exhibit, and an ever-growing group of artists is protesting in refusal of recognizing the legitimacy of any institution that is large and dominant in the way Documenta is. I have interviewed representatives of the protestors in German and translated the interview to English. For more information about the protest and a list of participants, visit the WIR WOLLEN NICHT ZUR DOCUMENTA 14 website.

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Paul Weiner:
Wie viele Menschen sind in ihrer Gruppe?

How many people are in your group?

WIR WOLLEN NICHT ZUR DOCUMENTA 14:
Wir sind keine feste Gruppe, sondern eher eine Zusammenrottung, eine Koalition der Unwilligen. Zu einem festen leuchtenden Kern von Künstlern, die sich persönlich kennen, sind andere Künstler hinzugekommen. Sie sind angeflogen gekommen wie Motten zum Licht. Und es werden immer mehr werden, da geteilt wird, was wir finden. Einer unterschreibt, dass er gegen die Documenta ist, ein anderer findet das ebenfalls und will auch dagegen sein. Am Ende sind alle dagegen und keiner mehr dafür. Das ist das Ziel.

We are not a fixed group but, rather, a rioting assembly, a coalition of the unwilling. Many artists have joined our solid, luminous core of artists who are personally acquainted. They fly to us like moths to a light. And there will be forever more artists who will share what we find. Once one signs on that he is against Documenta, another will find that he is likewise against it. In the end, everyone is against it, and there are no more in favor. That is the goal.

Paul Weiner:
Warum protestieren Sie gegen die Documenta 14?

Why do you protest against Documenta 14?

WIR WOLLEN NICHT ZUR DOCUMENTA 14:
Wir protestieren natürlich nicht im gewöhnlichen Sinne, denn Kunst und Protest sind wie Feuer und Wasser. Aber wir haben eindeutig etwas gegen Dinosaurier! Und die Documenta ist so ein Saurier. Der größte Dinosauerier von allen. Und alle fahren zur Documenta hin als würden sie eine Zeitreise machen, um die Welt der Dinosaurier zu bestaunen. Sicher sind da gute Kunsterlebnisse dabei und es gibt einen Erkenntnisgewinn. Aber um genau so einen Erkenntnisgewinn geht es uns auch. Wir hüpfen einfach als HomoSapiens durch die Dino-Kulisse mit einem gelben Schild, auf dem steht: Wir haben eine Theorie über euer Aussterben! Wir müssen einfach dagegen sein, denn Aufgabe von Künstlern ist es, gegen alles zu sein, was zu groß ist!

We, of course, do not protest in the ordinary sense because art and protest are like fire and water. But we definitively have something against the dinosaurs! And Documenta is one of the dinosaurs, the biggest dinosaur of them all. And everyone goes to Documenta as if they are going back in time to marvel at the world of dinosaurs. Certainly, there are good art experiences there, and it is a learning experience. But we are also creating a learning experience. We simply skip as homosapiense through the dinosaur world with a yellow sign that says, “We have a theory about your extinction!” We must be against it because one task of the artist is to be against everything that is too big!

Paul Weiner:
Wie denken Sie über Adam Szymczyk?

What do you think about Adam Szymczyk?

WIR WOLLEN NICHT ZUR DOCUMENTA 14:
Zugegeben, Adam tat uns anfangs leid. Er hat da dieses riesige berühmte Tier an der Leine und alle wollen mit ihm sprechen und ihn zu irgendwas überreden. Alle wollen einmal in ihrem Leben für 100 Tage auf den Rücken des Dinos klettern. Was für ein Stress! Da haben wir zunächst eigentlich nur gedacht, wir entlasten den Adam und sagen ihm gleich von vorn herein dass wir nicht wollen. Dass er nicht mit uns rechnen braucht. Sie sehen, es hat eigentlich sehr harmlos begonnen, so kampfeslustig waren wir erst gar nicht. Aber es hat sich alles hochgeschaukelt, was soll man machen. Adam Szymcyk hat nämlich wie viele andere versucht uns so hinzustellen, als wollten wir uns an die Documenta anbiedern. Wir kennen diesen billigen Trick natürlich, so seine Gegner für sich vereinnahmen zu wollen. Wir wissen es ist nicht vermeidbar, Teil von dem zu werden wogegen man ist. Doch das juckt uns nicht, es macht uns nur entschlossener. Es gibt ja keinen anderen Weg. Wie sollen die Leute sonst erfahren, dass man dagegen ist? Man muss es doch laut sagen, damit alle bescheid wissen! Und Adam sagen wir ja auch, er soll es nicht persönlich nehmen, schließlich geht es bei allem nicht so sehr um ihn, sondern um den Dinosaurier. Der Dino wird ihm und allen Künstlern seinen Stempel in den Lebenslauf stempeln und fertig. Aber wir finden den Dino schlimm, denn aus Sicht vom Dino sind sie alle komplett austauschbar. Ganz besonders Adam sollte das wissen und uns dankbar sein, dass wir ihn warnen. Wir gehen davon aus, dass er selbst die Documenta noch absagen wird, weil er das erkennt.

Admittedly, we feel sorry for Adam. He has this giant, famous animal on his leash, and everyone wants to talk to him and persuade him to do something. Everyone wants to climb into his life for 100 days on the back of the dinosaurs. What a stress! So we actually initially thought we would just relieve Adam and tell him right from the outset that we do not want anything from him, that he does not need to bargain with us. You see, it actually started very harmless. At first, we were not so belligerent. But it was all taken more seriously than that. What can you do? Adam Szymcyk has namely portrayed us as many others sought, as if we wanted to curry favor with Documenta. Naturally, we know this cheap trick to monopolize your opponents. We know that is not avoidable. Still, that does not affect us. It only makes us more determined. There is no other way. How else would the people know that we are against it? We must say it loud so that everyone knows! And to Adam, we also say he should not take it personally. After all, it is not so much about him as about the Dinosaurs. The dinosaur will stamp his resumé and that of all the artists. But we think the Dinosaur is bad because, from the perspective of the Dinosaur, everyone is completely interchangeable. Especially, Adam should know that and thank us for warning him. We expect that he himself will cancel Documenta because he knows that.

Paul Weiner:
Ist Ihre Koalition gegen andere große Kunstausstellungen oder nur gegen die Documenta?

Is your coalition against other large art exhibitions or only against Documenta?

WIR WOLLEN NICHT ZUR DOCUMENTA 14:
Bevor wir uns missverstehen: Wir sind gegen alles was zu groß ist. Das muss kein einzelner großer Dino sein, wie die Documenta. Das kann auch eine zu große Summe von Dinos sein. Nehmen Sie zum Beispiel die Flugsaurier. Für sich genommen sind die nicht so groß, aber der Himmel ist so voll von diesen Biestern, überall diese Biennalen, Triennalen, Quadriennalen, Festivals, Kulturveranstaltungen, Wettbewerbsausstellungen, Kunstvereine, Privatmuseen usw., die Sonne kommt kaum noch durch. Das Angebot ist so groß, die Künstler wissen gar nicht, wo sie sich zu erst bemühen sollen, um eine Absage zu bekommen. Oder einen Stempel. Dann die Tyrannosaurier! Wir haben vor kurzem noch überlegt, ob wir sie noch schnell gegen die Documenta eintauschen sollen. Larry Gagosian und sein Imperium, die Art Basel, die Armoryshow, eigentlich die ganze Liste… Und wissen Sie was? Sie wussten schon davon und haben uns gesagt, wenn wir öffentlich machen, dass wir nicht zu ihnen wollen, dann kommen sie in unsere Ateliers, nehmen uns unsere Werke und verkaufen sie! (lacht) Im Ernst, das klingt zwar erstmal nicht schlecht, aber es hätte den Grundgedanken, den wir hier vertreten sofort untergraben. Denn wie soll denn ein bloßer Gedanke verkäuflich sein? Der ist doch nicht dasselbe wie unsere Kunstwerke! Sie sehen das Problem. Etwas zum Werk zu machen und zu verkaufen das alle für eine antikapitalistische Moral halten, wirkt einfach ein bisschen zynisch. In so ein Fahrwasser wollen wir gar nicht erst geraten und da kommt uns die Documenta gerade recht. Sie ist ein Prachtexemplar mit einer gewissen Pflanzenfressermoral. In ihrem Magen befinden sich fast alle Probleme unserer Zeit. Ihre Gestalt repräsentiert für uns das umfassende Dinosauriertum. Und sie lebt sowieso schon in ständiger Bedrohung. Wenn wir sie angreifen, befreien wir uns von jeder Moral. Super! Was Besseres kann uns als Künstler gar nicht passieren.

Before we are misunderstood: We are against all that is too big. That does not need to be a single large Dinosaur like Documenta. That can also be a sum total of Dinosaurs. Take, for instance, the pterodactyl. On their own, they are not so big, but the sky is so full of these beasts, of all the biennials, triennials, quadrennials, festivals, cultural events, competitive exhibitions, art clubs, and private museums that the sun barely comes through. The proposition is so large that artists do not know where they should aim only to get a rejection letter. Or a stamp of approval. Then there is the Tyrannosaurus! We have recently considered if we should quickly trade up from Documenta: Larry Gagosian and his empire, the Art Basel, Armory Show, actually the whole list. And you know what? They already knew this and have said, if we make it public that we do not want them, they will come to our studios, take our work, and sell it! (laughing) Seriously, that sounds not bad at first, but it would immediately undermine the basic idea we represent.Then how could a mere thought become marketable? That is still not the same as our artwork! You see the problem. To work to make something and to sell it all as anti-capitalist morals seems a little cynical. We do not want Documenta to just come in handy. She is a fine specimen with an herbivore’s morality. Almost all the problems of our time can be found in her stomach. For us, her figure represents the entire Dinosaur’s world. And she lives in constant threat. If we attack her, we rid ourself of all morality. Super! What better can happen to us as artists?

Paul Weiner:
Was ist die Funktion des zeitgenössischen Künstlers? Sollten sie nicht versuchen, ein Teil der großen Kunstausstellungen oder des großen Kunstbetriebes zu sein?

What is the function of contemporary artists? Should they not seek to be a part of the large art exhibitions or large art world?

WIR WOLLEN NICHT ZUR DOCUMENTA 14:
Wir wissen, es ist absolut überflüssig Teil von etwas Großem sein zu wollen. Genauso wie eine Funktion haben zu wollen. Das ist auch nur so eine billige Art von Größe, gegen die wir vorgehen. Kunst hat nämlich keine definierbare Größe und erstrecht keine Funktion! Und wenn der Künstler eine Funktion hat – ich kann mich da nur wiederholen – dann ist es nur die eine: Dagegen sein! Wenn nötig, gegen alles. Je mehr man in den meisten Fällen dagegen ist, desto besser. Nicht nur gegen einen zu großen Betrieb, zu große Ausstellungen und jede Form von Vereinnahmung, auch gegen sich selbst zu sein ist wichtig! Jeder Künstler sollte das regelmäßig probieren, besonders wenn er sich für einen ganz großen hält. Wer sich und alles andere nicht mehr überwinden kann, beginnt Kunst zu machen, die langweilt!

We believe it is absolutely unnecessary to want to be a part of something big, just as it is to want to have a function. That is also only a cheap way to feel big. So we fight it.  Art has no namely definable size and no function! And if the artist has a function, i can only repeat myself – that it is only one: to be against! If necessary, against everything. In most situations, the more one is against something, the better. It is important not only to be against a overrated artscene, too large
art exhibitions, and every form of usurpation, but it is also important to be against yourself! Every artist should try that on a regular basis, especially when he thinks he is really big. Anyone who can no longer overcome begins to make boring art!

Paul Weiner:
Wie sollen Künstler ihre Arbeit in der Öffentlichkeit präsentieren?

How should artists present their work in the public?

WIR WOLLEN NICHT ZUR DOCUMENTA 14:
In der Öffentlichkeit? Am besten gar nicht. Denn die Öffentlichkeit, und damit meinen wir natürlich die breite, ist tot. Sorry, aber es sieht ganz danach aus. Wir sind nicht so dumm und erklären die Kunst für tot, sondern die Öffentlichkeit! Unsere Kunst lebt wie Sau, während die Öffentlichkeit Gott spielt, also tot ist. Doch es gibt immer einen Ausweg! Wer leben will, schließt sich uns an! Und das ist jetzt keine Werbung, denn wir missionieren hier nicht. Das ist so normal wie ein Apfel, der vom Baum fällt, wenn er reif ist. Stellen Sie sich Marie Antoinette vor, die war auch so ein Saurier. Sehen Sie? Es wird bald so ziemlich jeder – nicht nur wir – gegen alles sein, was zu groß ist. Man wird erkennen: auch das Große ist austauschbar. So austauschbar wie die großen Werbeplakate in der Öffentlichkeit werden bald auch die großen Ideen sein. Die großen Titel, die großen Imperative. Die Öffentlichkeit selbst wird verschwinden. Die Documenta und unsere Aktion werden in Zukunft nichts bedeuten. Die Bewegung ist einfach da, im Grunde auch ohne uns. Wir setzen nur eine Wegmarke. Und es wird übrigens die erste Bewegung weltweit sein, die keine Symbole mehr braucht. Sie wird überhaupt nicht den Charakter von Größe haben. Die Kunstwerke hingegen werden dort gezeigt werden, wo einzig die Künstler es für richtig halten . Die Kunst wird darüber lächeln wie die Mona Lisa. Die ja übrigens auch nicht groß ist.

In public? At best, not at all. Indeed, the public, and by that we of course mean the general public, is dead. Sorry, but it looks to be that way. We are not so stupid to say art is dead. We say the public is dead! Our art lives like Hell while the public plays God as if he is dead. But there is always a way out! Whoever wants to live agrees with us! And that is not advertising because we are not on a mission here to convert anyone. That is so normal like an apple that falls from a tree when it is ripe. Imagine Marie Antoinette! She was also a dinosaur! Do you see? It will soon be pretty much everyone – not only us- against all that is too big. It will seen: even the great is replaceable. Soon the big ideas will will be as replaceable as the big advertising posters in the public, the major titles, the major imperatives. The public itself will disappear. Documenta and our actions will mean nothing in the future. The idea will be there, but without us. We only set a landmark. And it is, incidentally, the first worldwide movement that needs no more symbols. This movement will not have any image or character of greatness. The artwork will, however, be shown there and kept only in the way the artist sees fit. The art will smile like the Mona Lisa. She, by the way, is also not big.


Please view WIR WOLLEN NICHT ZUR DOCUMENTA 14 online and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

Woodturning with Roper

Michael Roper is a woodturner working Denver, Colorado and while teaching at Red Rocks Community College. His woodworking involves the creation of many vessels, many of which are hollow forms. Roper has worked with wood as a carpenter and woodturner for over twenty years. Roper’s wood pieces can also be found for sale on his website at http://www.roperwoodturning.com/.

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Ants Marching; ambrosia maple hollow form, 7″ x 4″


Paul Weiner:
How did you first get involved in woodturning?

Michael Roper:
I started woodturning in August of 2007, when I started taking classes at the Red Rocks Community College school of Fine Woodworking. After being a carpenter for almost twenty years, I decided I wanted to be a furniture maker. In the process of making furniture, I found that I like making the parts more then the whole project. Woodturning is very quick, and fits my personality perfectly.

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My Arborist Sneezed; box elder burl, 12″ x 10″

Paul Weiner:
What is your favorite kind of object to make?

Michael Roper:
My favorite things to make on the lathe are hollow form vessels, which is basically a vase or any form where the opening is smaller than the vessel. It takes years of practice to safely remove the wood inside of a form without going through the wall. My latest venture in hollow form turnings are my multi-axis hollow forms. This turning is done on two different axes so that the mouth of the vessel is not in the center of the top.

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Madrone Multi-Axis Hollow Form; madrone burl, 3″ x 3″

Paul Weiner:
Tell us a little about the physical process for starting your woodturning pieces.

Michael Roper:
I like to find pieces of wood that speak to me. What I mean by this is that I look for special pieces of wood that include burl, highly figured, curly, and crotch woods. These particular cuts hold the highest value and produce stunning character. I work with local Front Range arborists to get the pieces I am looking for, which is nice because I get to handle the pieces from the time they come down off of the tree all the way to the finished piece.

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spalted mango, 5″ x 5″

Paul Weiner:
Do you consider yourself a craftsman, fine artist, or somewhere in between?

Michael Roper:
Labels are a hard thing for me. When people ask what I do, I usually tell them I make stuff. Woodturning is my main focus right now, but seven years ago, it was making furniture, and five years before that, it was building homes. I don’t know what I will be doing in the next five years. I have recently started taking pictures, and I am really enjoying photography, but I would also like to explore ceramics at some point.

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Natural Edge Flamed Box Elder Burl Goblet with a Cocobolo Stem; box elder burl and cocobolo, 17″ x 5″

Paul Weiner:
What is your favorite type of wood to work with?

Michael Roper:
My favorite wood to work with is box elder burl. It grows locally on the Colorado Front Range. It has spectacularly tight grain, and sometimes you can find pieces with red streaks called Flaming. The difference in the colors between the flame and the creamy white of the burl make for some amazing looking pieces.

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Picasso Never Did That; bonsai root burl, rosewood, flamed boxelder burl, and spalted pashaco.

Paul Weiner:
What is the best part of teaching woodturning?

Michael Roper:
The best part of teaching woodturning is the look on a student’s face when everything clicks and comes together for that perfect cut. Woodturning is not as easy as it looks. There are a lot of things you need to know to get the perfect cut. Tool rest height, tool angle, and wood speed all play a big part in making a perfect cut, and it takes many hours in front of a lathe to learn and understand these things.

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flamed box elder burl, 1.75″x 1.75″

Paul Weiner:
It’s great to hear that you’re working in a variety of media. What have you been focusing on with your photography?

Michael Roper:
I started learning about photography because I didn’t like the way other people shot my woodturnings. The pictures would come out overexposed or blurry, and that just didn’t work. So I did the trial and error method for a long time. Then I decided it was time to take photography more seriously, so I took a few classes at the Denver School of Photography, and it was the best thing I could have done. They helped me to understand my camera, which helped me to take much better shots. All the shots on my website were taken by me.

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Volcanic; walnut vessel on a carved lindon base

Paul Weiner:
Do you have a preference for working with local materials?

Michael Roper:
I wouldn’t say I have a preference for local woods, but, as an environmentalist, I like using woods that would otherwise be thrown out or ground up for mulch. Most people don’t realize how diverse the forest is on the Front Range. When people think of Colorado trees, they mostly think of pine trees and aspens. Really, there are many more like walnuts, elms, sycamores, box elders, and russian olives just to mention a few. I do love working with exotic woods when I can find them.

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Life After Death; champion cottonwood natural edge vessel, 7″ x 7″

Paul Weiner:
Do you consider your woodturning creations to be decorative?

Michael Roper:
I do both functional and decorative work. My bowls are both beautiful and functional for salad or candy and nuts depending on the size. Being an amateur writer, I also turn a lot of pens. I like the feel of a fine writing instrument in my hand when I’m writing stories or descriptions of my work. Now, my hollow form vessels are decorative art pieces. They are not that functional, but they add an element of wood to any room they are in.

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Aliens Landing; front range ash hollow form sandblasted and painted, 7″x 7″


Please view Michael Roper’s work on his website and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

Sharon Holck’s Experimental Alcohol Photography Process

Sharon Holck is a photographer from Hawaii who is currently working in New York City in pursuit of a BFA at Pratt Institute. Her current body of work deals with photographing bars using long exposure and various alcoholic beverages for processing film. More images of Holck’s work are available on her website.
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Paul Weiner:
In your recent Pick Your Poison series, you are using various alcohols to process your film. What has been the most interesting formula so far?

Sharon Holck:
So far my favorite formula has been where I used Arrogant Bastard Ale and Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale that was heated up to 103 degrees. Before that, I had been using beers like Stella Artois and Yuengling, which are milder beers that created only slight color changes in the negatives. When I chose the Arrogant Bastard Ale and Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, which are 7.2% alcohol and decided to heat it up to the same temperature as the developer, it created smokey effects with a blue or green hue.

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Paul Weiner:
Are you aiming to send a particular message with your examination of bar culture?

Sharon Holck:
This project is still very much in the works so I haven’t quite figured out the message I want to send. Originally, I set out to create an experience through photography that one may have while he or she attends the bar by having the series start off with very static, straight images just like our vision is when we begin the night and then gradually go into the more abstract images to symbolize drunkenness.

I feel a connection between photography works as a medium and how alcohol affects our judgment. Photography is made to where we believe things are true, but, in fact, when you study it, you can find so many other stories behind an image. An image that may be thought to be true can actually be a lie. Alcohol, in the same sense, clouds our judgment and can make things be looked at in different ways as well as make people make choices they may regret later on. They can also remember things differently or not remember things at all.

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Paul Weiner:
Are your photos ever staged or are these photos of events as they naturally occurred?

Sharon Holck:
It’s a balance of both. There are some portraits in the series where I have asked people to sit still for a minute for a photograph. Then there are some who approach me and ask for a portrait, and I let them choose whether or not to stay still or move. I will also occasionally set up still lifes with wine glasses or beer bottles on a table. I’ve also once asked for a bunch of people to dance for me.

The more abstract ones though aren’t really planned. I look for a space that has interesting light or objects in the image, and then I will keep the camera straight for maybe half the exposure. Then I move the camera around to get light trails and help to abstract the image.

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Paul Weiner:
When you go to these bars, are you going only as an observer or as a participant who is interested in documenting your own experience?

Sharon Holck:
I think I’m more of an observer. I like people watching and make things out of what I got in the moment. For myself I even don’t like getting drunk and it’s only happened once. So a lot of what I’m making is taken from that one experience or from what I hear from friends.

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Paul Weiner:
This seems to be a process that is unique to film photography. What are some of the challenges of working with film in the 21st century?

Sharon Holck:
It’s definitely a lot more work. There aren’t tons of places that sell the film, and sometimes they don’t have it in stock. Then bringing this large camera into a bar setting where it’s dark is really hard to focus so there are times I’m not sure what I’m going to get. But I think that’s part of what makes film so intriguing. Something you may think you see will come out different, either better or worse but still different then what you thought.

Another hard thing is processing. At first, I had a place to send my negatives to, but I couldn’t get the effects I wanted in the post processing, so I had to learn how to process color myself and buy the chemicals and equipment.

I think really the only other issue I find is the cost of film being so expensive. 35mm is easy cause you get so many exposures for four dollars, but shooting large format where it’s ten pictures for $43 is a bit of a struggle when you’re maybe only getting 4 images out of each shoot. But I love the detail that large format gives, and it really makes me stop and think when I shoot. I love the medium. I think I would be too wild working in a smaller format.

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Paul Weiner:
Which photographers do you find the most inspirational?

Sharon Holck:
Keith Carter is very influential in my life. His story and photography helped get me out of a rut back when I first started college. I still share his work with others whenever I can.

I also love Ian Ruhter for his use of wet plate photography and using a van as his camera.

I also like other photographers like William Eggleston, Thomas Roma, John Divola, and Todd Hido to name a few.

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Paul Weiner:
Many of your most dynamic photos incorporate a sense of repetition probably because of your use of long exposure. Why did you choose to use a long exposure process in this series?

Sharon Holck:
It was both planned and limited to not being able to use flash. In general, I don’t really like using flash. I’d rather use the natural ambiance of an interior to light itself, so I had already planned the exposures to be long. Then, when I went to the bars, they would tell me they would rather me not use flash.

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Paul Weiner:
Have you ran into any interesting characters during your bar photography trips?

Sharon Holck:
Yes! I have good relationships with two bars in particular right now. Both are very friendly, supportive, and interested in the project. Many people approach me asking questions and are very intrigued to see me working with a large camera instead of digital or some other small, handheld camera. I’ve met many artists, musicians, bartenders, and, recently, someone who works at an art museum. To hear her opinion was very interesting, and it gave me a lot of things to think about for the future.


Please view Sharon Holck’s work online and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

Evoking Suburbia: Corey Dunlap

Corey Dunlap is an artist working in mediums of installation and sculpture. He received a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston through Tufts University in 2013 and attended the New York Arts Practicum in 2013. Many of his recent works involve the arranging of objects from suburban settings. Many of Dunlap’s recent works are also made in collaboration with his partner, Bradley Tsalyuk. Additional images of his artwork may be found on his website.

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The Hot Stones Are Never Rough; massage table, silicon rubber, plastic, hot stones, 2013, collaboration with Bradley Tsalyuk.


Paul Weiner:
What are some of the most common themes in your recent work and how do you evoke them?

Corey Dunlap:
My primary focus is the mutability of the body, and I often employ a variety of techniques in order to facilitate that investigation. My research is intuitively structured, and it combines a collage of subjects including self-help culture, domestic identity, Flow Theory, virtual object hood, and multi-stable awareness. Currently, my work engages with corporeal objects which diversely confront both an optimistic and deprecating sense of self. These suburban objects derive from a culture whose desire is to better the self through the body, fluctuating on a scale between exertion and relaxation. I am interested in presenting these objects within a virtual-like setting. In this way, the viewer is allowed to engage with the physical structure of the object through a projected avatar body. I find the absent body to be a poetically rich subject.

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Cognitive Decline; commercial chaise lounge, play sand, casters, wood, 2013

Paul Weiner:
Many of your recent works are in collaboration with Bradley Tsalyuk. How does working with a partner impact your work?

Corey Dunlap:
Bradley and I have been partners for three years and have worked collaboratively for about a year. Our collaboration developed organically by finding overlaps in interests and expanding those interests through dialogue. We have worked in close proximity to one another for so long, and, therefore, it is often difficult to determine where an idea or technique originated. Because we also have a personal relationship, we are able to more easily challenge and push each other in an honest and direct way. Working collaboratively allows for multiple perspectives, and I feel that our independent work has strengthened through this intimate exchange.

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The Hot Stones Are Never Rough; massage table, silicon rubber, plastic, hot stones, 2013, collaboration with Bradley Tsalyuk.

Paul Weiner:
Tell us a little about your process for creating The Hot Stones Are Never Rough. Why did you choose to use the materials you used?

Corey Dunlap:
The Hot Stones Are Never Rough started while we were working with a flesh-like silicon rubber called Dragon Skin. It is a fantastic material. We had been playing with it independently and testing what forms could be created. Bradley had wanted to make a work that drew from spa culture, specifically hot stone massages. We were both attracted the sculptural gesture of this activity, which allows the body to be layered between the table and the stones by way of gravity. We were interested in taking the humor of this arrangement and skewing it into a surrealist replication, which ultimately produces a type of horror. We wanted the body to be represented through an economy of forms in order to highlight what we found to be so interesting and absurd about the activity.

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Weslo Pursuit E 25; custom printed banner, elliptical bike, electric motor, Corian tile samples, 2013, collaboration with Bradley Tsalyuk. An electric motor is attached to a Weslo Pursuit E 25 eliptical bike allowing it to continuously run.

Paul Weiner:
You mentioned your use of suburban objects. Suburban life certainly seems like a major motif in contemporary life. What do you think makes an object suburban?

Corey Dunlap:
I think most people are drawn to the idea of suburban life. It’s romantic and utopian. Most first world countries have some type of suburban area, but none to the extent of America. Like many people, I grew up in this type of community. I have always been attracted to the inherent messiness that underpins this otherwise pleasant environment. For a long time, my practice has abstractly employed a method in which the ideal or innocent is somehow contaminated through various means. Often, the objects I employ come from suburban spaces and are then acted upon to produce this type of multi-stable meaning.

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Weslo Pursuit E 25; custom printed banner, elliptical bike, electric motor, Corian tile samples, 2013, collaboration with Bradley Tsalyuk. An electric motor is attached to a Weslo Pursuit E 25 eliptical bike allowing it to continuously run.

Paul Weiner:
As a young artist, do you feel that there is much energy in the art scene today?

Corey Dunlap:
The internet has provided an unending stream of artists accessible through one’s fingertips. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by how much work, good and bad, is being produced. These days, it is expected that an artist has a website with documentation of their work, statement, resume, etc. The accessibility of it all provides an enormous amount of energy. In addition, I think a lot of people are grappling with technology and the internet as sources of content, and they are producing very intriguing works. There seems to be a lot of energy in this community, though I have my own apprehensions about it being used simply as a novel medium.

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Vision Board; metal, leather, polymer clay, magnets, printed image, 2013.

Paul Weiner:
What are you working on right now?

Corey Dunlap:
Right now, Bradley and I are working on a collaborative sculpture and photographic series. We have constructed a large half circle arch made of plastic tubing that is covered in sheer orange fabric. It closely resembles a sunset or sunrise. We plan to take this form to various outdoor locations and construct a simple illusion in which the sculpture sits directly on the horizon line. Lately, I have been thinking about minimalist sculptors like John McCracken and Craig Kauffman and their ability to transcend the body’s physical form. Independently, I am working on some flat, wall-mounted sculptures which are constructed from cotton padding and fauve leather. These forms draw from soft-play designs and gymnastic equipment and will be used to construct a space in which other objects exist.

Paul Weiner:
With taking your collaborative sculpture outdoors, you’re bringing art outside of the gallery setting. Do you ever find the dominance of white gallery walls to limit your artistic experience?

Corey Dunlap:
For us, taking these sculptures outdoors is dictated by both the limitations of the space available to us and what we deem appropriate for the project. The typical white wall gallery space often serves as a blank, non-specific space where artwork can exist independent of any specific context. In this way, the gallery setting can enhance the work. I think about it as a type of virtual space where anything can be called into existence. It is likely these outdoor sculptures will be photographed and subsequently exhibited in a gallery. Though these sculptures will exist in a natural setting during their making, this is just another element which informs the overall work.

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Fuck Me, Silly. fluorescent light, stuffed toy rabbit, wood, marble contact paper, 2012.

Paul Weiner:
Do you usually use found objects in your work or are these objects created or bought specifically for your sculpture?

Corey Dunlap:
All of the above. My process doesn’t necessarily start with an idea and then move into the physical. Sense can come after. The main elements of the works are usually created or bought specifically for an idea in mind, but sometimes I will find something that strikes a chord with my intuition and build out from there. I find it helps to collect an object first and live with it for a while before I dissect it. It’s like a puzzle in that way.


Please view Corey Dunlap’s work online and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

Multimedia Black and White Imagery by Richard Borashan

Richard Borashan is an interdisciplinary artist working primarily with black and white imagery. He is currently pursuing an MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Borashan’s work has been featured in a wide variety of galleries in California including White Gloss Gallery, Gallery Godo, the CCAA Museum of Art – Rancho Cucamonga, BANG Gallery, and at a 2010 UNICEF Invitational Show.

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Untitled (Anna) ; charcoal drawing on paper


Paul Weiner:
What are you working on in your studio right now?

Richard Borashan:
Right now, I’m doing a back and forth thing between some large-scale drawings and sculptures. It’s pretty typical that I work on a few different things at the same time, and I try to keep it that way. It helps me keep a big picture state of mind while I work through so many different mediums.

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No Title; silkscreen, ink on paper

Paul Weiner:
Describe the various processes you have used to create black and white images over the past few years.

Richard Borashan:
Each work starts with a similar foundation. I develop a concept and then go digging through my archives of source material to see what type of imagery would be a potential fit. It’s pretty much the equivalent to filmmakers going through all of the locations they’ve scouted. Once I have a few picked out, I decide which medium would be a good fit and take it from there.

If the imagery is being translated into a drawing, then I usually just stick with charcoal or graphite and paper. If I’m working with print, then it’s either with silkscreen or a basic laser/inkjet printer. Video is a tricky one because I haven’t played with it enough yet, but the couple videos I’ve made in the past have been either with a DSLR or a VHS camcorder. I’ve been dying to shoot on some 16mm and Super 8, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. The sculptures I’m working on now are a mix of found objects, enamel, and, potentially, some sort of resin coating. I’m still working it out. Each of the above mediums has a unique process to it as well. There’s definitely a lot of different things going on from beginning to end.

Paul Weiner:
What do these works mean to you? Are they more conceptual or narrative?

Richard Borashan:
I try to find a balance between the two. The conceptual aspect of the work is very important to me, but I also like creating the opportunity for a viewer to construct their own narrative and be involved in their own way. I spend a lot of time thinking about how each of the works interacts with one another and what kind of environment they create when viewed together. They all have their own individual reasons for being created, but I also think of them as contributing to a whole. I like the idea of smaller things making up something bigger.

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No Title; silkscreen, ink on paper

Paul Weiner:
Many of your pieces have very similar aesthetic qualities regardless of the medium you use to create them. Do you try to create some kind of ambiguity as to how you’ve created these images?

Richard Borashan:
Actually, as far as how they’re created or any formal decisions, I’m trying to accomplish the exact opposite of ambiguity. The mediums I choose for each work are chosen for specific reasons, and they are very much part of their conceptual makeup. As far as the content and meaning behind the images I use, those are things I prefer to leave more open to interpretation.

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No Title; laser print on paper

Paul Weiner:
Where do you find inspiration for your art?

Richard Borashan:
In general terms, just things that are out in the world. That’s the main reason why the appropriation of images is important and why I don’t really work in abstraction. I’m more interested in dialogue with what’s already out there rather than only being confined to art itself.

To be more specific, I use culture, society, movies, music, the internet, books, and really anything that has to do with people or any form of media. All above the above play major roles in my practice. I watch a ton of movies, like, at least 4 or 5 a week, sometimes more. Right now, I’m obsessed with classic horror films and classic texts from Shakespeare, Machiavelli, Homer, Hitchcock, Kubrick, etc. I watched Nosferatu again the other day for like the third time this month. I can’t get enough of them.

Paul Weiner:
I like the idea of cultural images and objects carrying meaning through appropriation. Could you name a few of the places where you’ve appropriated the subjects in your images from?

Richard Borashan:
Over the years, I’ve amassed an archive of at least 20,000 images and counting. They’re spread out over a few external hard drives. A majority of them are from the internet from google image search, blogs, yahoo news, or whatever. I’ve also scanned books, magazines, and newspapers and taken screenshots from movies and documentaries. I’ll take anything from anywhere. I’m a digital hoarder to the maximum degree. I’ll save anything that catches my eye for any reason, and, when the time comes to start thinking about using something for a work, I basically go shopping through my database.

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A Moment in Time; laser print on paper

Paul Weiner:
Why do you feel compelled to draw some images while a print, video, or sculpture might be more appropriate for another image? Give us an example of a specific image you have made and why you chose the medium you did for that piece.

Richard Borashan:
It all comes back down to the conceptual aspect of it. I’m extremely detail-oriented, so things like mediums and titles are just one more opportunity to contribute something to the work. Even when I leave a work with No Title, it’s for a specific reason. The larger silkscreen pieces I’ve made more recently worked better with silkscreen because I wanted the feeling of vintage or nostalgic photographs for each work. A lot of the blemishes and accidents involved with the process really allowed me to get that specific aesthetic, whereas something like drawing or laser printing them wouldn’t have accomplished the same thing; believe me, I tried. The heavy amount of technical process involved also created a lot of distance between the artist and the work, which I felt was important for them.

On the other hand, the images I’m working with right now are being turned into drawings with the intention of doing the opposite of the silkscreens. I’m trying to eliminate distance between the artist and the work. I’m not using any tools other than the actual charcoal and paper, and I do all the blending and details with my fingers. The images I’ve chosen play with the relationship between romance and tragedy. The classic idea of a very hands-on artist putting everything into his work is a very romantic, and potentially tragic, notion. It feels very fitting.

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Supermodel Death Dive; laser print on paper

Paul Weiner:
What is the ideal forum for viewing your work?

Richard Borashan:
Actually, I’ve always thought it would be interesting to have my work displayed in a situation where the aesthetics were a complete contrast to how the work was presented. The drawings and some of my other works have a clean presentation, and I could see them shown in a really beat up abandoned building or something. And since the silkscreens are usually assembled hastily with masking tape all over the place, I can see them in a very sterile environment. Or, you know, there’s always the good ole white box gallery we’ve all come to know and love.

If possible, I’d like to give a shout out to my people, the Time Base crew. It’s a small group of us who get together bi-weekly to discuss and critique time-based and new media work. If anybody is in the NYC area and would like to join, check out timebasenyc.tumblr.com. This has been a ton of fun Paul, thanks a lot.


Please view Richard Borashan’s work online and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

Bernardo Morphs Automobiles and Living Beings into Sculpture

Bernard “Bernardo” Corman attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and studied at the Johnson Atelier in Mercerville, New Jersey. Bernardo’s sculptures are in the collections of many celebrities including Elton John, Stephen King, and members of the band Blondie. Many of his works incorporate anthropomorphism with the combination of cars, animals, and humans. Bernardo’s sculptures can also be found on his website.

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Paul Weiner:
How did you come up with the idea of blending cars with various animals, such as the fish in your Carp series?

Bernardo:
One of the first times I combined a natural entity with a mechanical one was in the early 90′s. I did a piece that I came to regard and describe as a retelling of the classical Centaur story from Greek mythology. In my version, a somewhat macho male morphs into a motorcycle instead of a horse. Prior to this piece, I had combined a car with the torso of a woman; I was influenced by a Magritte painting for that one. Like all of my best ideas, the image of the motorcycle/man just sort of popped into my head or swam up from my subconscious. I’ve always been a big fan of Surrealism and agree with the principle that some of the greatest ideas are the ones that occur naturally. I’ve had extremely vivid dreams and odd stream-of-consciousness type visions throughout my life, but most of the time I can’t manage latching onto the things I see or else it’s so complicated and personal that it would be impossible to translate into a visual medium. Being part of a certain age group also brought me into contact with various, shall we say, cultural type influences that left lasting impressions.

The goldfish idea was a similar process. I was working in my shop, and the image of a car-fish popped into my head. I made a small sketch and filed it away. About half a year later, I was in a library and found a beautiful photo book about Chinese goldfish. As I looked at the pictures, I remembered the drawing I’d made and realized that these fish with their long, flowing tails and fins and strangely mutated heads would make the perfect expression for that idea.

I didn’t actually set out to create an entire body of work like this, but in mid-career retrospect I can see that all of my best ideas and pieces just tend to naturally fall into this category.

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Paul Weiner:
How did you find yourself creating a massive bronze cast of a Cadillac morphed into a cornered shape?

Bernardo:
One very early piece of mine was a Caddy going around a corner. I called it CaddyCorner, and it had been influenced by old Tex Avery cartoons I used to watch as a kid where cars would twist and tiptoe around and things like that. One of them was seen by a person in a gallery setting who got hold of me later through some odd back channels. The people who contacted me were very secretive about who this guy was, but he did end up buying one of them from me along with another popular early piece called Big Ass Buick, which involved a car morphing into the obese rear end of a woman.

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I had been working for another local sculptor, making molds of his life sized portraits of fallen service personnel and felt confident about making larger things, five to six foot things anyway. By this time, I’d found out that my client was a well-to-do Kuwaiti businessman, so I screwed up my courage and sent an email suggesting enlarging CaddyCorner up to five or six feet. Lo and behold, I got a letter back saying he liked the idea and asked if I could make it life sized? I was pretty bowled over, but I knew I could do the job since the foundry I had been getting my work cast at had been making monumental-sized work for another nationally known sculptor.

After lengthy negotiations, we settled on a price and I started working on it. It took a year and a half to complete and involved lots of stages and processes. One stipulation was that he wanted to sit in it, so I had to engineer a hidden seat in the back. I tried to do as much of the work as I could because I wanted to feel like I had truly contributed to the piece. I made molds of actual car parts, carved foam, chased bronze, and did many other things as well. I was extraordinarily lucky to have landed the job, and I learned a great deal about my own field of art working on it. Because of its odd size and shape, a custom crate had to be built around it so it could be shipped overseas.

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Paul Weiner:
Your work has been collected by celebrities like Elton John and Stephen King, but your prices remain in the low hundreds in your recent Carp series. Are the prices low because of an art for all kind of philosophy or just out of market demands?

Bernardo:
A little of both, I suppose. I wanted the maximum number of people to have some of my art, so I priced them accordingly. The Carp are really one of my most accessible and popular projects. I used to think of it as my pet rock project, if you remember those. The great thing about the internet is that you can find an infinite number of items to look at and buy, which, unfortunately for makers, creates a sort of hyper-competitive market. I price the Carp so that people making choices can look at them as being both cool and attainable.

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Paul Weiner:
Do you aim for your art to evoke a sense of humor?

Bernardo:
Yes, for sure. Always. I think there’s definitely a real absurdity in a lot of things, especially the human condition, and I have tried to tap into that feeling kind of in a larger, cosmic sense. I don’t necessarily think having some underlying humor in art is a bad thing. Life is absurd, and sometimes the only appropriate response is laughter. I’ve tried to capture that essence in some of my work, sometimes to the point of perversity.

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Paul Weiner:
How has your style of craftsmanship evolved over the years?

Bernardo:
Well, my technical skills have certainly improved over time. Spontaneity can be a harder thing to achieve when you have technical skills. For me, the most fun and creative part of the process is roughing out the clay. All of the most basic creative decisions, for me, get made at that point. I do like to start with an idea or clear sense of what I’m looking for and work towards that. Once the model is roughed out, it becomes a matter of putting in the time and effort to achieve the level of detail I work up to. The devil’s in the details as they say. Once the clay is done, it really becomes rote. There’s various ways of making molds and casts and stuff, but by that point it really is a matter of going through the motions. I do always try to do the best work I can when I build molds and make castings. It’s a point of pride. With cast art, one step leads into another; when I’m sculpting, I’m thinking about the mold making. When I’m making the mold, I’m thinking about how the casting is going to work. If you do a lousy job in one phase, the next one’s going to be that much harder to accomplish.

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Paul Weiner:
Tell me a little bit about your favorite cars.

Bernardo:
Gee, I don’t think we have that much time! So many amazing cars have been built over the past hundred or so years. Obviously, I have a super soft spot for 50s cars. They were heavily influenced by the aircraft design of the day, especially at GM where Harley Earl ruled the design department. It was the ‘Atomic Age’ and everything was so heavily science fiction at that point. The concept cars from that period are even more outlandish and bizarre. It was actually a copy of a picture book about them (Dream Cars by Jean Rodolphe Piccard; Orbis 1981) that got me interested in doing automotive type art. A friend of mine brought it over, and that was it. I was hooked.
There are two cars from that period that really do it for me. The first is the Buick Lesabre concept car from 1951 and other is the sister car to that one that was designed and built at the same time called the XP-300, also by Buick. Those cars really set the tone and were extremely influential throughout the rest of the decade.

There were some stunning cars built during the 1930s in France by Bugatti and Figoni et Falaschi. The cars from that time are regarded as some of the most classic and elegant ever built, Italian sports cars, the list goes on and on really: motorcycles, vintage trucks, you name it. If it has wheels and an engine there’s probably something worth admiring about it.

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Paul Weiner:
Tell us a little about the physical process you use to create Carp.

Bernardo:
I start by perusing pictures of the Chinese goldfish. For the first set, I was working out of the book I mentioned, I had gone ahead and got a copy for myself. After that, I try to decide which model of car I’m interested in. I have a lot of reference material as far as 50s cars go. So then I set up a small armature for the clay and get started. I try to keep both parts of the piece going along at the same pace. I move around, bringing everything up to a level of detail that I’m satisfied with. Detailing the car is a place that demands quite a bit of precision and concentration, also putting the ridges into the fins. It’s small, tight work, and it demands a lot of attention.

As I mentioned before, the part of the process thats most pleasurable for me is roughing out the clay. During that part, I make all the most creative decisions about how the piece is going to look ultimately. After that, it’s just having the patience to do the work required.

Once I’ve made the mold of the clay, I’m ready to cast some up. I use a two part plastic that is commercially available and a pressure pot to ensure I don’t get air bubbles on the surface. Once the piece is out of the mold, there is some minimal chasing, and then I paint them. For me, the Carp project was revelatory as far as color is concerned. As a sculptor making bronzes, I felt my palette was somewhat limited by the chemicals that are available. Greens, browns, black and white is what is mostly used. There are a lot of techniques to achieve different kinds of surface effects such as mottling, stippling, brushing, spraying, etc, but not that many color choices.

When I had the first set of goldfish, I was kind of like, “whoa..now what do I do?” so I went out and bought an airbrush and taught myself how to use it. It was just a real joy to explore all kinds of different colors, combos, and painting techniques. Lately, I’ve been trying to replicate natural coloration motifs like exotic birds, tropical fish, and even zebras. I really love that part of the process.

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Paul Weiner:
When did you first find yourself interested in cars?

Bernardo:
I always thought old cars were cool. I can remember when I was a kid looking at the front end of an old car and thinking it looked like a human face. Anthropomorphism is a principle that found its way into some of my work.

Really, though, the biggest shift for me happened when I was exposed to the concept cars from the 50s and 60s through the aforementioned book. I was just so knocked out. First I thought, “these are like rolling sculptures”. Then I thought, “these would make fabulous sculptures!” I spent a lot of time studying the design trends and styling techniques from that time. I did some designs of my own, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by what I’d done. Prior to the cars, I’d done a number of pieces in a style I had christened Pop-Surrealism. I loved Pop Art and also Surrealism, so I coined the term to describe my own work. Yeah, yeah. I know. I am actually taking credit for that phrase. True story, though.

Anyway, at some point, I realized I should combine my interest in old cars with what I had been doing previously, and that’s when I started producing the Pop-Surreal automotive castings. And the rest, as they say, is history.


Please view Bernardo’s work online and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

Eerily Uncanny Portrait Paintings by Caroline Green

Caroline Green is an artist working in the Pacific Northwest. Green’s recent paintings have exhibited at Gallery Zero in Portland, Oregon and in various venues throughout the Northwest, and they have been published in Studio Visit Magazine, Catapult Art Magazine, Tribe Magazine, and a variety of other outlets. She is currently dealing with motifs of medical equipment and portraiture, and much of her artwork is available on her website.

Caroline Green_Just a tickle

Gallery Night October 2013


Paul Weiner:
How did your Humanoid series come about?

Caroline Green:
The Humanoid series is a combination of my early works, Admiring the View in 2008, and an experimental series consisting of a saturated color palette and silhouettes. In Admiring the View, I used a limited color palette consisting of a variety of earthy tones, which helped to set the mood to the overall pieces. The content was, to some, rather dark. It was heavily influenced by medicine and the interactions and observations of people that surrounded my life, hence the title of the series. These works are a type of record of my life up to that point. After working on this series, I wanted to create something totally different, so I began to experiment with color and different techniques. I focused more on enhancing my palette and cleaning up my lines. I essentially combined the two concepts. Keeping with the medical theme and introducing brighter colors and silhouettes of various creatures, the Humanoid series was born.

Caroline Green_Recession

Paul Weiner:
Where did your interest in medicine come from?

Caroline Green:
It began at a very early age. I have struggled with my health ever since I was born. I have been in and out of doctor’s offices and hospitals either as a patient or as an employee my whole life. The fear that people get of doctors and such was never really there for me. It was replaced early on with intrigue. My first position at a hospital was when I was sixteen. It was an internship in an OR as a perioperative assistant. From there, I worked in several other areas of hospitals in several departments. In my mid twenties, I worked essentially as an underpaid and unofficial anesthesia tech in surgery. I was not certified, nor did I have the official title, but I performed 99% of the duties.

Myself standing next to my work

Paul Weiner:
You mentioned that some people see your artwork as being dark. What emotions do you associate with your work?

Caroline Green:
I think they are curious and somewhat comical. People are usually puzzled or disturbed by these paintings, and those people usually don’t have knowledge of the world of medicine. People can be frightened of the unknown, especially of medical equipment when they have no idea what it’s for or how it is properly used. But, by working in the medical field, I have become comfortable with the human body and the medical supplies. I think these paintings can invoke a wide array of emotions and thoughts to the viewer. One of my favorite things about these pieces is the feedback. I have heard all kinds of different insights as to why and what these pieces are trying to say.

Caroline Green_Empty Hope

Paul Weiner:
Your recent work strikes me as a kind of mix between pop art and impressionism. Which artists have influenced your work?

Caroline Green:
The Humanoid pieces were inspired from my previous works. When I began back in 2008 I was pretty much fresh to the art world. I had painted a few time before but I was still trying to find my artistic voice. My very early works were all over the place, both in style and technique. It seemed impossible for me to even attempt at painting in the style of all the artists who I truly loved (Dali, Magritte, and Escher). I tried playing around with the brush until I found something totally comfortable, something that just came so naturally that it didn’t even feel like I had to try. I could complete a piece with ease in just a few hours. The very first of these pieces was The Yard.

you and me and the tumor makes three

Caroline Green_Jens Leg

Paul Weiner:
What space would you ideally present your work in?

Caroline Green:
It depends on the work. The Humanoid series is very large in scale and has a very vibrantly saturated color palette, so not only would the pieces need to fit the style of the gallery, but the gallery would have to be able to fit the work physically. It can be rather difficult to find locations that can and would also like to show these pieces. These paintings were first shown at Gallery Zero in Portland, Oregon, a gallery that is a rich red color from floor to ceiling. Since then, they have traveled around town a bit. Ideally for the Humanoid pieces, I would want them to be shown somewhere accepting of alternative contemporary paintings. They have been rejected more times than I can count because of their unusual content.

My pet portrait works are always displayed in pet shops and animal clinics. The Admiring the View pieces are also a challenged to find places to hang, not because of their size but because of their content. The rest of my work is pretty easy to place. I have shown work around town in dozens of locations including galleries, shops, restaurants, and pop-up art shows.

Caroline Green_Rossi_16by20_80USD

Paul Weiner:
What are a few of your favorite materials?

Caroline Green:
I like just about anything I can get my hands on. I love acrylic because of its versatility and easy clean up, but I prefer the maneuverability of oils. Spray paint has a beautifully soft, even effect great for eliminating brushstrokes. I also love to use painter’s tape. It keeps my lines clean and saves time. Occasionally, I will play around with other mediums, but I think my favorite thing is actually my glass palette. I had the window repair man cut a piece of my car’s windshield out. He even sanded the edges for me. I love how the paint slides around, how easy it is to clean up. It is the best thing ever.

CanYouSeeMeNow-CarolineGreen

Paul Weiner:
Tell us a bit about your physical painting process.

Caroline Green:
The physical painting process for the Humanoid series was somewhat taxing. The pieces are a good size, so it’s not like I could just sit there or even just stand in one spot. I was very active in the creation of those pieces. At first, the task seemed quite daunting. I was intimidated by the size of the great, white canvas, so I painted as much color on it as I could in the first day. I washed over all the white. I didn’t want to see a single dimple of white. I sketched out the main shapes and added a couple colors. From there, I built up the painting in layers. I was trying to focus on the painting as a whole rather than treating it in sections. Once the first painting, Can You See Me Now, was complete, I felt this huge since of relief and accomplishment. I now prefer to paint on a larger scale.

Caroline Green_Malfunction

Paul Weiner:
What are you working on in your studio right now?

Caroline Green:
I am currently involved in several projects. I am getting ready for another group show at one of the galleries I am a part of, People’s Art of Portland. I am working on wearable merchandise, something that I hope will appeal to more people. I just began a fourth series that will focus more on aesthetics. I will be combining the techniques I have learned with the last two series and applying them to scenery. I am also collaborating with another local artist on a new project that is very exciting. Of course, I still take in commissions of pet portraits. In between all of that, I create smaller experimental works to try to grow as an artist as much as possible. These are, of course, only things going on in the studio, so I tend to keep very busy. There is always something I want to try. There are always more ideas in my head that I want to get out than I have time or hands for.


Please view Caroline Green’s work online and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

Laure Nolte’s Interdisciplinary Art Practice

Laure Nolte is an emerging artist currently working in Berlin. She studied at Camberwell College of Art in London and Canada’s NSCAD in Halifax before receiving a BFA in painting and drawing from Concordia University in Montreal. After art school, she briefly worked as a fishmonger. Born in 1986, the young artist has created art in a variety of mediums from painting and sculpture to video. Her artwork can also be found on her website.

The Cutting Room 7


Paul Weiner:
How did your Fishmonger series come about?

Laure Nolte:
Fishmonger happened because I worked as a fishmonger for a year after I graduated from art school. I spent a lot of time in the cutting room processing fish and developed a fascination with the organs that were generally disposed of. I was using a vacuum sealer for the processing of fish, and I started experimenting with composition using the disembodied fish parts. The series emerged quite naturally from there.

The Cutting Room 8

The Cutting Room 10

Paul Weiner:
The Fishmonger series strikes me as a critique of the way we treat animals we plan on eating. Was that your intent?

Laure Nolte:
Fishmonger was not intended to be a critique of how animals are treated. For me, it was an exploration of the human condition. These compositions are metaphors for the human body, for the most part a very female body, for example, Petal or Womb. Each of these pieces is a part of myself, my past self, and, inevitably, my future self.

The Cutting Room 12

The Cutting Room 2

Paul Weiner:
Describe your process both conceptually and materially for Ritual #7.

Laure Nolte:
Ritual #7 is a chronological development of drawings over a one hundred day period. It’s based on Rule 7 from the composer John Cage’s list of rules for students and teachers from the Merce Cunningham studio in New York. I decided before I started the series that each work would be the same dimensions to maintain some sort of visual consistency and that I would draw mostly from observation. I use whatever materials I think the drawing needs, for the most part charcoal and ink, but also nail polish, ripped out pages from a book, and blood.

P1010327

Paul Weiner:
Did working on Ritual #7 help you learn anything about yourself? It seems like this kind of work would leave a lot of artists trying to psychoanalyze themselves and why they draw what they do.

Laure Nolte:
I began Ritual #7 because I wanted to find out what would happen when I worked without fail everyday. I knew that in doing this, I would be facing myself through my art practice in a way I hadn’t before because my studio practice prior to Ritual #7 was almost bulimic in nature. It was a binge and purge cycle, which actually worked well for me throughout art school, but I also ended up being afraid to work when I felt too vulnerable. I realized that I would be exposing myself in Ritual #7 , weaknesses and all, depending on whatever human thing I was dealing with or going through at the time of the drawing. Ritual #7 is maybe the most honest work I’ve attempted. I’ve learned a lot doing this series, particularly that sometimes it takes drawing through a few layers to get to something poignant. It takes patience to go deep and also knowing what battles I need to push through and let go of.

P1010447

Paul Weiner:
Did you ever find yourself wanting to give up on or restart a drawing in your Ritual #7 series?

Laure Nolte:
I have definitely wanted to give up on drawings from Ritual #7. And I have. I have allowed myself to give up on a drawing, maybe three. It was a last resort situation, but a necessary one. For the most part, if I am not satisfied with a drawing, it means I need to try again. But the drawing I am unsatisfied with still has importance in the series. It brought me to where I needed to be. I know when I need to revisit the subject matter, but I give myself some space in between. Redoing drawings has been an important part of Ritual #7 because I can literally see the evolution that has happened by going back to something and pushing it further, understanding it more.

P1010280 copy

Paul Weiner:
Between all of the countries you’ve lived in, where did you feel like artists were most respected?

Laure Nolte:
Since I began pursuing art seriously, at eighteen, I have always been connected to institutions, art schools that have strong communities of artists. These communities thrive on mutual respect and support for one another. I feel grateful for that. I’ve studied in London, Halifax, Montreal, and I’m currently living in Berlin, but I have to say that NSCAD University in Halifax had something really incredible going on with the students and teachers when I studied there. It was magical.

P1010452

Paul Weiner:
As an artist who has worked in a variety of mediums, from drawing to sculpture and video, which is your favorite?

Laure Nolte:
For me, like for many artists, each medium has its own reason and purpose. I make an intentional decision depending on whatever themes I am working with. Painting has been a great love of mine for a long time, but we’ve had a tumultuous relationship. Painting destroys me a little bit, but I let it. Stepping up to a canvas is like stepping up to an unforgiving mirror. Painting is what gives me the greatest adrenaline rush and the greatest frustration. I am fascinated with sculpture, especially mould making. There is a specific language to sculpture, as with each medium, but sculpture is very material. I’m obsessed with Louise Bourgeois. Her career is by far one of the most important ones of the 20th Century. She just knew. Sculpture is very exhilarating, mixing strange toxic chemicals, building structures, discovering new ways to use materials, found materials, producing moulds, and spray painting stuff. You have to use your whole body when you are dealing with sculpture. It’s all encompassing. It’s provocative. And you can create anything, anything in the world you want. There are no boundaries. When you figure out how to make it happen, it’s just the best feeling.

P1010448

Paul Weiner:
What have been some of the most defining times in your career as an artist?

Laura Nolte:
My defining moments always happen in the studio. The studio is where you are free to roam in and out of the underworld. When I was in art school, I always pushed myself to extremes. I would bring a bottle of red wine and work all night in the studio. I would paint until I had nothing left in me, and go outside for a cigarette, having given up completely. Then I would suddenly realize what I had to do next and go back in with a second wind and make it happen. That’s when the real breakthroughs happen. Showing work can be rewarding, too, after long periods of work. It’s always amazing to see my work installed and well lit. But the studio is where it’s at.


Please view Laure Nolte’s work online and “like” Critique Collective on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/critiquecollective.

Tutorial on Databending and Glitch Art

Databending and glitch art are intriguing new media art processes that rely on editing the underlying data composing digital images, videos, and sounds to create something new. Conceptually, databending presents opportunities for artists to exploit the imperceivable systems that control the digital world. While glitch art might sound like something only for hackers and the most computer literate people, tools are showing up all over the internet to help everyone make glitch art.

Here’s how it works:

Save an image as an uncompressed file such as .bmp, .raw, or .tiff.

Uncompressed image files contain more detailed data than compressed files such as .jpg extensions. Thus, uncompressed files have more data available to edit than compressed files do, and your image is less likely to completely break when corrupted.

Converting a .jpg to a .bmp, .raw, or .tiff can be done in virtually any image editing software by clicking either “save as” or “export as” and changing the extension of the file. Here, I am using GIMP, which is a free image editing software.

Click “File” and then “export as.”

In the bottom right hand corner of the screen, click “select file type” and scroll down to select “windows BMP image.” Then add a .bmp extension to the file name and click “export.”

screen 2


Technique #1: Audacity

Audacity is a music editing program, but its effects can be exploited to corrupt and glitch your image files.

Download Audacity for free at http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/.

Open Audacity and click “File” and “New.”

Click “Import” and “Raw Data…”

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 7.52.00 PM

Select your .bmp file.

Set the Encoding to “U-Law” and Byte Order to “Big-endian.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 7.52.44 PM

Select part of your sound wave, but avoid the very beginning (about .25 seconds) because it contains the header. If you edit the header, your computer won’t be able to read the file anymore.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 8.15.09 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 7.53.00 PM

Click “Effect” and select any effect you want.

Here’s my original image:

denver

Here’s what some of the effects look like:

Echo:

denverecho

Wah-wah:

denverwahwah

Phaser:

denverphaser

Invert:

denverinvert

High Pass Filter:

denverhighpass

Distortion: 

denverdistortion

Click “File” and “Export…”

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 7.53.37 PM

Set the format to “Other uncompressed files” and click “Options…”

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 7.53.57 PM

The header should be “RAW (header-less)” and encoding should be “U-Law.”

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 7.54.16 PM

Save your file and open it up to see your new artwork! If you have any trouble opening the new file, try changing the extension from .raw to .jpg

You can also listen to the sound your image has rendered. Most likely, it will sound kind of like this:


Technique #2: TextEdit (Mac) or Notepad (Windows).

Open the file.

screen 3

screen 4

Scroll down at least 1/10 of the way into the file. You should see a bunch of data jargon. The first part of your file is the header. If you edit the header, it will break the entire image.

new5

Now try adding symbols like %, $, {, }, etc. all over the file or copy/paste large parts of the data and move them to new places or delete information all over the file.

 new6

new7

Save the file and open it to see what you’ve created!

Here’s the original image:

tutorialorig copy

Here’s the glitched image:

tutorial


Technique #3: Glitch Art Codes

The easiest way to make your own glitch art is probably to use Georg Fischer’s free glitch editor website, which is available at http://snorpey.github.io/jpg-glitch/. The application is pretty self-explanatory. Basically, there are four levels on which you can adjust your glitch. This process is more intuitive, and you can play around with the sliders until you find an image that you like.

denver-glitched-a96-s9-i26-q61


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