Artist Talk on October 29, 2023 at Sanchez Art Center
First of all, I want to thank Paul Bridenbaugh for his leap of faith in seeing the potential of 3D poetry in "The Cat Killed Curiosity" in last year's Art Guild of Pacfica's member's show. Thanks to Sanchez Art Center and the Art Guild of Pacifica for supporting my poet sister, Barb Campbell, and me – and all the wonderful artists on exhibit here today – and for doing such a beautiful job hanging the exhibition. Special thanks to Linette Morales (Art Guild of Pacifica) and Cindy Abbott (Sanchez Art Center). Also, thanks Andrew Leone: I truly wouldn't be here if it were not for your painting classes at City College of San Francisco where you introduced me to this wonderful community of artists in Pacifica, where I've been able over the years to show my work and grow as an artist.
I'm a visual artist and my sister Barb uses words for her craft, but we've discovered that our creative go-to place is that dynamic zone where left and right brain meet. When you experience our work, you might feel that you're on a tightrope – rocking back and forth in the two sides of your brain.
Each piece in the 3D Poetry series has an exhibit label with "food for thought" on interpreting the poetry and a QR link to my website where you can hear Barb read the poem. Physically seeing, hearing, and interacting with the poems is important part of the work.
I have to admit, interpreting poetry does not come naturally to me and I've learned a lot on this journey with my sister this past year. I've grown as an artist because of her.
When we received the honor of being given the award, we set three parameters for the creation of the set: 1) use Barb's poetry, 2) make it 3D, interactive and made with paper, and 3) have the artwork expand and strengthen the understanding of the poetry.
The 3D aspect of this work – and the 6' of separation – is a critical component of the artwork. I believe art is best experienced in person. Since the artwork changes depending on the viewer's perspective, it is essential that you see it and interact with it. For example, in "Embodied" the vellum strips shift with air movement such as breath and the skin toned bands are like the curves of a body – it's intimate and personal.
In terms of what ties the set together, it's the examining of the threshold where creativity and technology meet (right & left brain again!), the unique experience of being human (vs a machine), and the universal rhythms and cycles of life. Woven into the set are the four elements of matter: earth, water, air & fire - basically what explains the nature and complexity of all matter in terms of simpler substances - plus what could be considered a fifth man-made element: technology that's literally all around us and is impacting our lives daily in very significant ways.
"Digital Fire" is the only artwork that did not start with a poem by Barb. Instead, ChatGPT create a poem based on a prompt and then Barb did erasure poetry, also known as blackout poetry. This is a form of found poetry where a poet takes an existing text and erases, blacks out, or otherwise obscures a large portion of the text, creating a wholly new work from what remains. Also incorporating AI, all but one of the fortune cookie messages was created by Chat GPT. The fortune I wrote is, "Like a free cookies, you will find new technology hard to resist." The portrait for "Emergent" looks like a real woman but was actually created through Midjouney, an AI program and service that generates images from natural language description prompts. What we see isn't always real. It's becoming challenging to identify what is real vs fake. We have entered a time where AI has serious ethical issues. We see this specifically in art in creativity, empathy and originality with questions about the definition of what is means to be a creator when algorithms and technologies are producing what is perceived as original but is actually derivative. More seriously, we see deepfakes (digitally altered images created to spread false information) impacting our perception of serious events happen in our world today.
6' of separation is an ongoing series of 3D portraits that I've been working on since the beginning of the pandemic. I took portraits of people outdoors as a distance of 6 feet from three directions and combined them into one folded piece. Because they are folded, viewers experience multiple expressions of each person. The intent is to consider what's lost when our worlds are consolidated into the flat screens of our digital devices. These eight portraits are a sampling of the set plus a mirrored "me/we" piece in the middle that invites the viewer to place themselves in the set.
With all of the artwork in this set, there's a goal of actively engaging the viewer - whether the artwork reveals itself as the viewer interacts with it or in the simple act of giving free fortune cookies with Chat GPT-written fortunes or free sand dollars to "spend wisely."
Thank you for this opportunity to share with you this work and the ideas behind it.