Off-The-Grid

The following is a descriptive list according to our experience in Albuquerque and the surrounding mountain towns:

  • Abundant Nature
  • Mountainous
  • Endless Sky
  • Funky- think music… not scent
  • Colorful
  • Art-Filled
  • Mystical
  • Cozy
  • Enlivening
  • Dessert-Laiden 
  • Quaint
  • Awe-Inspiring
  • Inviting

We landed in Albuquerque on a crisp, sunny morning after traveling through the night from Austin, TX. Though we were exhausted from the trip, elation quickly replaced our fatigue as we soaked up the sun and 360 degree mountain views. Since check-in for our lodging was after 4pm, we enjoyed a light hike followed by a brief tour of the outskirts of Albuquerque. We can safely say that in the state of New Mexico, beauty and majesty abounds. 

For our stay in the Albuquerque area, just as we had done in many cities along our journey, we arranged a barter deal with an eager Airbnb host. We meandered through the winding and rocky roads of the Sandia's, arriving to a bodacious off-the-grid home nestled in the mountains and complete with breath-taking views. 

(Side Note- if you are planning a trip to Albuquerque, you should absolutely stay in Bryan and Olivia's Cozy One Bedroom Apartment

As artists, we are frequently inspired by our immediate surroundings. Since the mountains were in sight at every turn, we knew with unwavering certainty that the mountain-scape was our next lighting subject. We decided on two light installations- one would take place after sunset, while the second would occur before sunrise- something we had never tried before. 

For our first light work, we traveled to the town of Jemez Springs in the Jemez Mountains. We chose a a popular mountain-scape site with a waterfall and cavernous rock formations. The location was easily viewable from the highway and featured an area to pull off the road.

Jemez New Mexico Lighting

Within minutes of setting up, cars begin to pull off the road. One by one they filed along the parking lane. At one point, there were so many cars lined up with lights on that we were unable to even take photos of the installation. In the case of some, curiosity led them to walk down into the caverns and sit amongst the installation. This was unexpected, though certainly welcomed. Eric, Dakota, and Emma- thank you for your adventurous spirit!

As we already mentioned earlier, our second installation in the Albuquerque area tilted closer toward experimental. For the first time, we set up our light installation slightly before sunrise rather than after sundown. We decided to compose it inside of an old fire house situated on a peak in the Sandia Mountains. 

The simultaneously subtle yet surreal qualities of working with the sunrise were a point of intrigue- something certainly to explore further!

For those that have been following this lighting voyage, you know that Albuquerque is our second to last stop, thus the Kickstarter project will soon come to a close. Although Denver is our final destination and the last official light installation for "Traveling at the Speed of Light," we believe that people want to see more… we would LOVE to keep going all the way to the West Coast. Will you help us continue to make art open and available to anyone in the public who happens upon it?? We are accepting donations in exchange for prints, art books, posters, post cards, and calendars. If you thoroughly enjoy the work we make, THEN PLEASE DONATE TODAY! We will also be launching a Patreon page for any supporters who would like to become long-term Patrons. Our Parteon page will be introduced in our final blog post for the Denver light installation. Stay tuned… and … as always… thank you for your corroboration. 

Keep Austin Weird

Austin, Texas… land of the queer, home of the strange... and birth place to the infamous slogan "Keep Austin Weird." Nestled ironically amidst the mostly conservative state of Texas, Austin bravely boasts a unique identity. A self-proclaimed capital of music (and arts in general), this eccentric town is a well-known hub for creative expression, counter cultures, intellectuals, the LGBT community, naturalists/environmentalists, nudists, and other people(s) who lean more than slightly left of center. Although "Keep Austin Weird" appears as a superficial marketing phrase, this phrase reaches far beyond a slogan and reflects the insteresting dynamics that encompass Austin and Austinites. And.. admittedly, Austin's peculiar, yet remarkable personality played a definite role in our light work there. If Dallas was serene, then Austin was psychedelic… and… of course… weird.

We arrived in Austin on a mild February day to a partially secluded, colorful Airbnb property run by a delightfully laid-back, old-school hippie name Tamara. Although the cabin was quaint, the property seemed vast and whimsical. We counted at least three outdoor chill spaces all equipped  with the ever so crucial fire pit- perfectly curated for the procurement of nostalgic memories. Immediately, we felt this was a fertile space for creating. 

Tamara was open to alternative forms of currency and agreed to barter two nights of lodging in exchange for unique photos of her property and a copy of our art book. Unlike many who are afraid of the uncertainty accompanied by a bartering system, Tamara readily embraced the idea, excited to be involved in something unexpected. Upon meeting Tamara, one could tell that she was a bit of a free-spirit- fun, friendly, and compassionate. It was clear that Tamara unequivocally supported the harvesting of art and creativity- especially in her own backyard. 

So, on this very rare occasion, as the forces of art would have it, we created a light installation that was not public. With the whimsy and eclecticism of Austin in mind, we placed color-blocked groups of lights around trees.

We experimented with color.

Interested in participating, Tamara began to light and place candles and torches in the scene. The installation morphed into the realm of the mystical. As the night wore on, the fire revealed itself as an ephemeral mark-making tool.

We drew with fire.  

The warmth and glow of the fire and lights kept us working late into the night- far longer than we had ever expected.  While we had arrived earlier in the day as complete strangers, by the close of the night, we had forged not only an unforeseen collaboration, but also a highly unexpected friendship. 

Hey… chalk it up to Austin- and the agents of weird!!


As always, we would like to thank you for following along and lending your support to this body of work. We really love Tamara's Airbnb space and want to take this opportunity to highly recommend it to any person(s) planning a trip to Austin, TX.

For more information, visit her profile on Airbnb- A Cozy Austin Cabin

Our travels are slowly coming to a close, but there are wonderful things still to come. Stay tuned for our next blog post- we explore the picturesque landscapes, artful ways, and colorful surroundings of Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

     

 

   

The Myth of Failure

Failure is defined as the omission of performance or occurrence- the lack of success. More often then not, we are taught to avoid failure and to succeed if at all possible. Some synonyms for failure are nonfulfillment, defeat, negligence, dereliction… words all steeped in negative connotation. Quite simply, in the minds of most, failing is loosing. During our time in Dallas, however, failure revealed itself as a positive catalyst towards success. 

We arrived in Dallas with a specific site to light- the Mustangs of Irving (the largest equestrian themed sculpture in the world). As the Mustangs were a specific request from one of our backers, we were hopeful that this equine sculpture would work well in collaboration with lighting- the last thing we want is to disappoint a backer. We arrived in the daylight to a scene of massive bronze mustangs sprinting through gushing fountains. Our hope was to not light the horses, but actually the water moving beneath their feet. Sadly, we soon found out that this sculpture was already very well lit at night. Given that we would not be able to contribute anything of value to the sculpture, we set out to find a backup plan. 

Our next stop was Pioneer Plaza- a park set in the heart of downtown Dallas featuring another massive equine sculpture/installation and a small, but very open cemetery occupied by pioneers and notable characters in Dallas history. We had a vision of what we wanted to see, but when we began to set out our lights, we realized very quickly that we had two problem. Our first problem was the intense light pollution. Along those lines, our second problem was that for a scene this big, we simply did not have enough lighting. After trying many scenarios, we grew continually discouraged and frustrated. We had hoped to acquire 8 very large 135 watt LED lights by the time we had landed in Dallas, but due to back orders with our light company, we did not yet have the lights we needed for a scene as large as Pioneer Plaza. Despite wanting to admit it, we knew this was a failure. We painstakingly chose to pack up for the night and walk away. While we don't love revealing our defeat, we snapped a photo of the lackluster outcome of the installation at Pioneer Plaza- it never really became much of anything other than an orange tree. 

While we were certainly upset by two botched installations in a row, we planned our third attempt with the notion that this failure was leading us to something better. Failure allowed as a chance to experiment and better our work. 

Irving, TX, just outside of Dallas, is laden with canals and vast stretches of pathways for walking. Accompanied by the canals are various quaint bridges. One steel arched bridge in particular beckoned to us- the charm! We agreed upon the bridge as our installation site. For some reason, Monet came to mind … the way he painted water… the way he chose colors that were more imaginative than realistic… the way his paintings are so often serene- like they are a daydream. 

As we began to set up, a wonderful woman and little girl approached us- they appeared to be family, but not mother and daughter. The little girl was very excited. Almost in unison with the woman, the little girl asked "what are you doing with the lights." The little girl loved photography and was hoping that we were creating a viable photo subject. We explained our light installation. The little girl and the woman were concerned about the time because the little girl had to be home by 7pm. When we told the little girl and the woman that it might take longer to install the lights, the woman asked if she could help us. Reluctantly, we agreed to her assistance. We handed the woman a tape measure that had been preset to a little over 4ft. "Could you help us measure the space in between each light?" we asked. "Yes! Of Course," she exclaimed. She measured swiftly and with determination. Helping us to mount the lights evenly, she measured several lengths of just over 4ft.

We exchanged friendly conversation with the woman and the girl. The woman wanted to know why we were doing this work and what it really was. We discussed the ephemeral qualities of the installation- the fact that it was experiential more than tangible. To our delight, the woman supposed, "so, then, you are creating something which does not exist?" "Yes, exactly," we said enthusiastically. The woman then continued to measured another length- we installed the next light. We subsequently completed the installation with vigor and reflected while repeating the steps- measure then light, measure then light. These are the fruits of failure.

We want to thank you all for patiently waiting for our blog posts and for following this project. Your support is so crucial to to the continued success of this artwork and any work we complete in the future! If you really enjoy what you are seeing and experiencing, please consider donating to Knomad Colab HERE.  Austin is next!! Cheers and have a lovely weekend! 

 

 

Abandoned

As we come around the bend towards the finish line of our Kickstarter project 'Traveling at the Speed of Light,' we can say with certainty that we have learned, and will continue to learn, a great deal. We have a far better understanding of what will be successful… and what might fail. We are far more aware of our interests and the geographical subjects that we work with best. And... we probably have multiple bodies of public light-based artwork that will grow out of this cross-country project. 

Our time in Kansas City, MO was brief, but purposeful, as we not only acquired a wonderful new friend, but also found a new and compelling light subject to work with in the future- abandoned and dilapidated structures.  

From day one of this project, lighting an abandoned space was on our radar. Enter Morgan Miller- a fantastic Kansas City based photographer, who also happens to be warm, welcoming, and just plain fun to be around. Morgan heard about our Kickstarter project through a mutual friend's Facebook post and decided to look into it. Then… she donated. We quickly became friends through social media, which led to us orchestrating a light installation at her parent's farm property in Lawson, MO.  

We weren't exactly sure what we were going to do when we arrived, but after scoping out their deserted barn, we knew we had a winner. It was indeed our chance to work with an abandoned space, but in somewhat of a safe, controlled environment. We begin by working with lighting the inside.

Then, we stepped outside.

The outside of the barn was undeniably intriguing- the light seeping through the cracks. The structure suddenly came alive, touting a creepy and mysterious glow. The lights were on, but no body was home. After witnessing the power of the lights bursting through the gaps of the wooded barn walls, we spent most of the night outside!

As of now, we are on the hunt for more abandoned spaces and anticipate this as an upcoming series once our current project comes to a close. Next stops are Dallas and Austin!! Texas… we might mess with you… just a little! 

Something Never Before Seen

On Saturday February 8th at around 7:30pm, we arrived in Yellow Springs, OH (Interesting note- this is the long time home of the very awesome Dave Chappell).

In many instances, we get to a city knowing the exact site we want to work with. Sometimes, however, we give ourselves a few options and then decide once we are in the city. In the case of Yellow Springs, we had two options. Our first option was the Glen Helen Nature Preserve- many people had asked us to light this area and we were quite fond of it as well (lots of great walks were had here). Our second option was not so notable. It was an old, abandoned covered bridge tucked away in the woods. We decided to first scope out this bridge. 

The bridge seemed like the perfect subject for a light installation, except for one thing… the weird late 90s SUV parked on the side of the road. We thought at first that the vehicle was deserted- then- we saw a lighter spark up. Someone was sitting stealthy in the vehicle. With great reluctance, we got out of our van, stared right at the man sitting in the sketchy SUV, and took the short hike in to inspect the bridge. It was pitch black, so we each brought a Light Drop to illuminate the way. We kept thinking, what is this guy doing here?? We arrived to find the bridge riddled with graffiti. The light shining on the graffiti admittedly was pretty rad. The sign on the bridge read 'Old Cemetery Road.' We shined our lights back towards the road to see if the SUV was still there. It was. What was this guy doing here? 

You know that part in a horror film when a group of people make a really bad decision and end up getting hacked up by a serial killer and audience all gasps and proclaims, "why didn't they get out of there?" Well… we didn't want to be THOSE people! So… we left and headed back towards the Glen Helen Nature Preserve. We made it out alive!

We were very familiar with the preserve and thought that a simple nature scene was in order.

We got right to work in a creep-free environment. The preserve is nestled right in the heart of Yellow Springs across the road from Antioch College. Ultimately, we knew this was a better site- not only because it was safe, but also because it was truly more pubic. Thus, we got the opportunity to commune and meet some wonderful new people. One lovely lady was particularly enthusiastic about our work.

Nikki Saadat made her way from across the street and greeted us. We talked for a while and promised that we would mention our conversation and her name. She told us that she was a student at Antioch studying political economy. She also worked for Glen Helen. When asked what her thoughts were on the project, Nikki exclaimed, "I have worked for the Glen Helen Nature Preserve for the last three years. This is unreal… awesome… something I have never seen before!" 


Containing Beauty: Kaleidoscope II

We once found ourselves (during our MFA stint) amongst a private, sizable modern art collection, which focused on art from what we so affectionately call the academic or conceptual art period. There were famous classics from the likes of Ansel Adams, Rodin, Warhol- you get the picture. However, there were also many obscure works. As we toured this half house, half museum, one piece in particular caught our attention. The piece consisted of two gold thumb tacks- something you find at any office store these days- which were carefully placed into the wall. We were told by the collector that this piece came with instructions that explained exactly where the gold thumb tacks should be placed on the wall and how far apart they should be spaced from each other. This… was the art.   

Immediately, our first notion was to look away from the piece and begin to ponder, to analyze, to scrutinize- we had grown accustomed to doing this in art theory and critique classes. What does it mean? Then, we chuckled quietly. It invoked a sort of jocularity. Our biggest conundrum concerning the piece was whether or not it was taking itself seriously. Was this supposed to be highly contemplative or were we simply supposed to see the senselessness in it all- how silly and academic art had become? Though this was a piece of "visual art,"  we found ourselves looking away, trading quick glances/smiles, and thinking… what complete bullshit! Here, the power of the voyeur was stripped- there was really nothing to gaze upon… no beauty to behold… just a vicious cycle of analysis and contemplation. Is this art? Or, is this art theory?

In the past few weeks, while continuing across the country, we have found ourselves in many conversations centered around the topic of beauty's place in art. Is it okay for art to be purely an outward expression of one's inner self- brought on only instinctually and enjoyed innately without explanation? Or… should art make you think? Should it make you retreat into thought- into your own head? Perhaps a little of both? 

While in Savannah, we spoke at great lengths with a SCAD alumni about the subject. He told us that he had instinctively followed the light because he found it entrancing and beautiful and wanted to know what it was. Then, we talked about 'The Painted Word' by Tom Wolfe- a book criticizing the highly academic and elite art world of the 70s. Although this book was written in the 70s, we both agreed that it was still totally relevant to contemporary circumstances. "Why can't you just enjoy art because it's beautiful?," he exclaimed. "Why are we trained to analyze it to death until it becomes literary rather than visual?" We discussed in depth the relationship between the gaze (voyeurism) and the beautiful object. The SCAD student was with a friend. The friend said the same- she too had come to look at our work from across the way-  she just wanted to stare. "We walked over here almost out of instinct," she explained.   

During our time in Cincinnati, we knew two things: we were going to light a sculpture we had once before worked with during our rehearsal phase AND we wanted to focus on the idea of the Kaleidoscope. 

Kaleidoscope is a greek word meaning 'beautiful. If you have ever held one up to your eyes, you understand their intrinsic beauty and mystery. They have the power to incapsulate you in an ever-changing picture with mesmerizing and continually evolving shape and color combinations. The inner workings are simple, but captivating- literally, it's a tube with mirrors and multiple colored jewels.

Since we had previously worked with this mirrored sculpture in Cincinnati, we knew of it's Kaleidoscopic tendencies. Once placed amongst the sculpture's mirrors, our lights became ephemeral jewels… this was indeed a massive Kaleidoscope- a work intrinsically beautiful, commanding the gaze.  

In Light of Flight

Flight… how did we get there? Ingenuity? Curiosity? A yearning spawned by the brutal enslavement of gravity? A handful of stupidly daring and courageous spirits? Quite certainly, these are all collaborating forces that birthed an amazing history of humans in flight. Da Vinci dreamed of flight and illustrated it. The Wright Brother's took first wing. And modern science has nearly perfected the field of aviation and the machines that carry it. 

When we were growing up, members of the Knomad Colab wanted to be pilots at some point or another. We relished the notion of gliding through the air, weightless and unbounded. We wanted to get away, to defy gravity. Honestly, how many people don't, at some point, entertain the idea of flying?  Of course, we did not ultimately become pilots, yet, our intrigue for the subject of flight never fully diminished. Lets face it, the idea that our brains and bodies have the power to overcome nature's limitations, and somehow best gravity, is utterly fascinating (and sometimes terrifying). And... the machine itself is also quite ponderous! 

After a healthy and invigorating conversation with two private pilots in Savannah as well as staying at an airbnb apartment owned by a graphic artist for gulf stream jets (also in Savannah), flight was definitely on our mind as we made our trek towards Navarra, FL. Given that this area of FL, located in the western part of the panhandle near Pensacola, is laden with Air Force bases and air traffic, there was a good chance that the subject of aviation and flight would inspire our light installation. 

As we drove into Navarre, we passed what appeared to be a huge lot full of retired military fighter planes. This lot was a part of the Air Force Armament Museum. The planes appeared outwardly triumphant, yet somehow also neglected, lonely, obsolete. Once, they had proudly served a purpose. Once, they were youthful heroes. Now, they towered massively, motionless, in quiet reflection. Without a question, it is these qualities that drew us to want to literally cast a new light on these stagnant, emptied mechanical creatures. 

As life (some refer to this as luck) would have it, we were in the company of a stellar Air Force engineer- one Captain DeLeon. When he heard of our idea to paint what he so affectionately referred to as "old warbirds" with light, he immediately began working on making our light installation at the Armament museum a reality. We're not going to lie, there was a lot of proper protocol and procedure to follow, but Capt. DeLeon, merciless in his support for this collaboration of flight and light, eventually got clearence for the installation to take place.

We chose first to tackle this monstrous B-17 bomber. The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is highly significant in WWII and regarded as the more important heavy bomber for American Allies during the second  World War. It is also perhaps one of the most readily identified bombers of the WWII era. After over 75 years since it's first flight, the B-17 is now only an icon of the past. Only a few remain in flying shape, while most, like the one below, stand merely as monuments to their previous selves.   

We ended our evening gathered around an illuminated A-10 Thunderbolt II- also know as the Warthog. Once an indispensable tool for providing close air support and withstanding tremendous attack, the A-10 now slowly falls to the wayside in favor of new technology. The fate of this old warbird attracted us, no doubt, to the idea of re-imagining the aircraft.  

Thanks to the United States Air Force's generosity and trust in our artistic intentions, we were granted permission to share these images with you. There are a few stipulations though: 

Not that we intended to, but we cannot sell or take donations for any of the images included in this blog post. Thus, we want to make very clear that these images have not in any way been placed on this site to entice you to donate to our further ambitions. Although we have been given some paper work to fill out in hopes that we can include these images in our Art Book, we are not certain that these images will be approved to appear in the art book. That being said, we hope you enjoyed this rare collaboration. The experience was certainly thrilling and well worth the sacrifice of financial gain. Next stop… Cincinnati and Kaleidoscope II! 

  

 

With Bells On

Last week, we traveled to Savannah, GA in search a light-worthy site. Since we were unable to do our planned light installation in Southern Pines (security asked us to leave our designated site), we decided to do two separate light works in Savannah. We came to this charming southern river town thinking that we would do a light installation in the Bonaventure Cemetery. Instead, we were drawn to bells. 

The first installation was at the Old City Exchange Bell, one of three historic Bay St. Memorials. Believed to be the oldest bell in Georgia, it was imported from Amsterdam in 1802. For close to 100 years, the bell served as a fire alarm, was often used in celebrations and tributes for fallen heroes, and signaled the closing time for stores. Once an important contributor to the hustle and bustle of 19th century Savannah, the bell now stood dormant… only a reminder of what once was. 

Upon seeing this bell, we felt a strong connection to it's current state of neglect. Once the lights came on, people who had never noticed it before suddenly flocked to it. They stopped to read about it's history. One gentleman, who lived in Savannah, stopped and asked, "has that bell always been there?"

Some people didn't even know that it existed!

Our second stop was a one octave set of percussion bells at Forsyth Park, another gem of historic Savannah. Chalked full of lofty trees laced with spanish moss, gushing fountains, and still more memorials, Forsyth park is a main hub for social engagement in Savannah. 

Although the bells were installed with public interaction in mind, it seemed that they were more of a sculpture than an instrument. Our interest in this set of chimes was two fold. First of all, we wanted to use the lights as a catalyst for public engagement with these lonely bells . Secondly, we sought to explore the concept of synaesthesia, the color organ, and visual music.

The idea of light and sound as a collaborative pair is a popular trend in both contemporary visual art and music. However, this is not a new notion. Engineers, artists, and inventors from as far back as the 16th century have been intrigued by the idea of music and light intertwining to create a synaesthetic experience. In the mid-1700s French monk Louis Bertrand Castel created one of the first ocular organs- an instrument with 60 colored glass panels, each with a curtain that opened upon the striking of a corresponding key. In the 1800s, Bainbridge Bishop patented his first color organ, an amazing specimen which projected colored light onto a screen as music was played through the organ. Many others, including Alexander Scriabin, who wrote a synaesthetic symphony titled Prometheus: The Poem of Fire, investigated the connection between light and sound throughout the 19th and 20th century. Today, we explore this notion of synaesthesia to an extreme degree thanks to an abundance of modern visual and audio technology.

Our work, while it did explore light and sound in combination, was not so concerned with the light responding in accordance to sound. Rather, we wanted to investigate the impact of light on people's desire to play the instrument.      

Interestingly enough, one passer by stopped and exclaimed, "I want to hear what the color blue sounds like!" We assigned cyan to the note G and dark blue to the note A. Still, others approached the bells, excited to play. They claimed that the lights drew them to the bells and made them want to play- something they said they did not experience previously. WE even felt more inclined to play these public bells once they were painted with light! So, we did...

Our time in Savannah was brief, but bountiful. Not only is Savannah a city with an abundance of history, but it is also a fertile ground for creating and experiencing art. Savannah, light was here! Now… on to the Florida Pan Handle.

Buried and Burned

As individual and collaborative artists, we have many influences and mentors that help to form and inform the work we create. Recently, an incredible installation artist/arts activist (and our most influential mentor), gave us a piece of their artwork. Usually, when an artist gifts artwork, they do so hoping to have it displayed with care and reverence. In this case, the idea was to split up what was once a huge installation and distribute it to several artists who would hopefully dispose of their given piece in a ceremonial way (or perhaps reinvent it). With this in mind, we chose to hold a symbolic burial and fire ceremony on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay-  ancient waters significant to members of the Knomad Colab as well as our artist mentor. 

Although burial is practiced for practical purposes, there are many symbolic reasons to perform a burial, such as to show respect for physical remains or to bring closure. In cultures that believe in the afterlife, burial is a necessary step towards reaching the afterlife. Still, burial is not always the way cultures choose to dispose of remains. In Hindu practices, for example, cremation is customary. The deceased person is placed upon a funeral pyre until only ashes remain, then the ashes are sent up the river- most likely the Ganges, as it is a highly preferred location for funerary rites and is regarded as sacred water with tremendous healing power. 

The goal for this installation was to hold and stage a symbolic burial and funeral pyre on the banks of the ancient waters of the Chesapeake Bay (you can catch a glimpse of the famous Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the background). 

This ceremony was held not only for the physical piece of art we were given, but also for any intangibles in need of disposal. This was no doubt a form of cleansing in the proverbial ancient waters. 

After dispelling our demons and paying our final respects to a monumental piece of artwork, it was time to move forward.

buried

Now, the journey continues… next stop Southern Pines!  

What's Going on Here?

Last night, while others were nestled in their homes watching the State of the Union, we were on the lawn of the Washington Monument making graffiti… with lights!

Although we didn't watch the speech, we did learn something about the state of our union: When a big, grey (raper-style) van is the only vehicle parked on Constitution Ave. on the night of the State of the Union, EVERYBODY PANICS!!

We announced 15th and Constitution at 7:30pm as our meet-up place and time- completely ignorant of the fact that Constitution Ave is part of the route for the President's cavalcade. As soon as we arrived and began taking out lights, we had a representative from one of DC's many police departments pull up behind our van- they were of course running our plates. (Something interesting to note is that DC has about 28 different police agencies- we encountered police from at least 4 different agencies last night). We approached the officer and explained that we were only trying to drop some art bombs (okay, we didn't say that exactly- didn't want to go to federal prison, but we did explain our project). After giving the cop a brief explanation, he decided all was clear and left. Then another cop pulled up on a motorcycle. He said, "you can't park here." We explained that another cop had just pulled off and told us we were parked was fine. (Still, at this point, we did not fully realize how scary a solitary grey van parked on Constitution during the State of the Union Address really was to the people of DC).

Although the second cop left us with a seal of approval, he was followed still by a barrage of even more police. One officer, from the parks department, asked, "do you all have a permit to be here?" "No," we said half-heartedly, "do we need to have one?" "I don't know," retorted the cop, "I was just curious." Then, after chatting a bit, giving more explanation about our project, and even letting the cops inspect all of our lights and bags, a secret service cop piped up… "let me make this perfectly clear," he spoke with authority, but was kind, "there is absolutely nothing wrong with you being here. You are not breaking any laws by being here. You can be here with these lights and you can make art here!" "However," he continued, "if you don't move this van to the other side of the monument, we will be out here harassing you all night." Another cop chimed in- "yeah, this is just really bad timing on your part. Do you know what tonight is?" "Of course," we all responded, "we thought this was the perfect place and time for us to get a lot of people involved in our project." 

Ultimately, all of the officers were really quite nice to us, despite their initial misgivings. We agreed to move the suspicious van and our lights to the other side of the monument and we even managed to give the secret service cop an extra card to pass along to president Obama. He claimed that he would see him later that evening and would deliver the card at that point. Who knows… maybe the prez checked us out;) Yeah- we know he has a million things on his plate, but maybe he digs art enough to check it out in his leisure time??? 

Needless to say, the cops were completely correct- once we moved to the side closer to the Jefferson Memorial, absolutely no one bothered us. We were delighted to have true crowd participation for the first time in our project. We took advantage of this by having people hold the lights and dance around the lawn with them- we call it a human light show.

…and we left a little message!

DC, we were here… and don't worry, you are all safe! See you soon Hampton Roads!!


Landing Site

Transcontinental, commissioned as part of the the Lincoln Financial Sculpture Walk in Hartford, CT, is a public sculpture by artist Carole Eisner. Inspired by Lincoln's vision of a coast to coast national rail system, Eisner's carefully arched and twisted steel structure certainly invokes a sense of halted industrial progress while simultaneously giving the viewer a feeling of hopefulness.

Transcontinental

Aside from the economic and military advantages of a coast to coast national rail system, Lincoln also believed greatly in the unifying force that a national rail system could bring. While the Pacific Railway Acts of 1862 and 1863 laid the ground work for a transcontinental rail system, the true coast to coast rail network Lincoln envisioned never fully came to fruition. 

Initially, our goal was to light a specific work in the Hogpen Hill Farms Sculpture Park in Woodbury, CT. When we arrived to find the sculpture park on private property with a No Trespassing sign posted, we had one of three options: 1. We could trespass and take our chances. 2. We could try to contact the owner and set up a time to light the sculpture. OR… 3. We could improvise and find an alternative location. While we did contact the number listed for the property, we only reached a secretary, who could not give us permission to enter the property. 

An integral part of our Kickstarter project is that the backers are part of choosing the destinations we light. Although one of our generous backers chose Hogpen Hills as a location, they also selected a secondary location of the Elizabeth Park Rose Gardens in Hartford, CT- thus, we promptly left Woodbury and headed for our backup location- Hartford, CT. We arrived an hour later to a garden very much in hibernation- something we expected given the winter season. While plants in dormancy are quite beautiful and intriguing, the absence of roses swayed us towards choosing a third location. 

Connecticut has a surprising number of public sculpture and Hartford proved to be a fertile ground for the type of sculpture we wanted to work with. Upon finding Transcontinental, we were certain about our need to collaborate with it. The themes of travel and motion in this work created an opening for us to enter and add to the conversation Eisner started. 

We use light in collaboration with pre-existing public sculptures in an attempt to reimagine that work, thus creating  a new work. Landing Site is a reinterpretation of Transcontinental, but in the form of an ephemeral installation. 

'Landing Site' evokes a feeling of futuristic travel, while also addressing the archetype the progressive thinker too far ahead of their time. Dressed in 24 Light Drops with varying shades of greens and blues, the sculpture seems to have traveled from another place and time. Round beams of lights mimic the familiar feeling of traveling by road in the midst of darkness, while the serpentine-like arches of the steel structure suggests a non-linear forward motion.  

Hartford, CT provided a great source for reflection… it is also beautiful this time of year! Next stop- Washington D.C.!!! 

We are Arbors

The human brain is fascinating, extraordinarily complex, and mysterious. Imagine if you will a vast system of tiny stems connecting neurons- allowing you to move, to create memories, to think, to feel. 

We recently read an article in the New York Times about a scientist named Sebastian Seung whose quest is to map the connectome, or in other words, diagram the 100 trillion connections between the neurons of the brain. Seung discusses the ins and outs of the project, but he also shares his struggles as a cartographer of the brain. Mapping the brain to such an extreme degree is meant with much resistance from fellow peers in the neuroscience community. Funding is hard to come by and at the end of the day, Seung admits that mapping even a fruit fly's brain is still ten years away. Still, Seung persists on continuing his project asserting that success is never achieved in just one generation. He strives to live his life in the presence of mystery. (This sounds like a lot of artists we know, including ourselves).

These thoughts of a pioneering scientist made us want to dig further into the visual components of brain maps. We must say, the animated computer imagery is quite stunning. Viewing image after image of the brain's stems and branches made us think about the extensive system of a tree's branches. Now this massive and mysterious thing of nature looked more and more human. The barren winter branches appeared strikingly similar to the extensive system of stems and branches that connect the neurons of the brain. Suddenly, we felt like arbors with the gift of mobility.  

Our first official installation was saturday night at Lake Williams in York, PA. In reflection of the brain and it's aesthetic similarities to a tree's branch system, we chose to light this tree near the lake's edge. 

Although the focus of this installation was focused on the aesthetics of the brain in relationship to the naked branches of the tree, we also couldn't help documenting the stunning landscape created by lighting this pack of trees near the lake's edge. We were fascinated by the inorganic nature of our lights paired with the atmosphere's organic lighting. This appeared to be a landscape of many brains!

BrainLandscape-web.jpg

Stay tuned- we are in Woodbury, CT and will be heading out to the famous Hogpen Hills Sculpture Farm for our next light installation. Cheers!!

 

  

In Absence of the White Cube

There was once a time in our art work when the highest attainable goal was showing in the glorified haven of the gallery space. 

Just as the formally trained musician strives for a seat amidst the organized cacophony of the symphony orchestra, the crux of success for the visual fine artist traditionally lies in the prestigious white cube. Admittedly, for many years, the end goal for our art was indeed the most unattainable galleries of Chelsea, the Venice Biennale, Saatchi, Tate Modern, and so forth. Even with this goal in mind, there was always a little nagging voice questioning whether or not we belonged in the gallery- whether all art had to occupy the gallery space in order to claim legitamcy.

During a period of institutional rebellion, we began using the gallery space to make a mockery of it's authority. Yearning to transform the gallery space and challenge the convention of the white walls, we made large-scale installations that usually invoked a sort of WTF? sentiment in most gallery-goers. 

In one gallery show, with the theme of romance in mind, we created the Romantiplex, in which we partitioned the gallery space into three romance-themed stores. Each store wore a cardboard facade, reminiscent of a child's play house (but contained very adult material). Teddy's Corner had a snarky take on lingerie and sold sexy teddies made only from the hides of plush teddy bears, while Lather's walls were heavily adorned with dildo-shaped glycerin soaps- all for sale of course. The third room was a dingy excuse for a lounge- the worlds smallest night club- where we served champagne to viewers and serenaded them with cheesy violin/viola covers of romantic pop music. The piece was thick with disdain and satire.

In another show, we made five huge sculptures from our old clothes and dilapidated domestic gadgets and paired them with wine. We made tasting notes for each wine, which in reality was also an artist statement about the piece. The idea was to pair wine with art as if it were a dish. 

All of this was done in spite of the gallery space, or perhaps to spite it. Although we were making tangible, sellable art commodities, our true passion rested at the epicenter of the intangible and ephemeral art experience, rather then the collectible art object. Slowly, we turned to light as an art medium. Instead of exerting negative energy to challenge the institution from within, we decided the best method of questioning this authority was to disregard it altogether and take to the public.  

One element the members of Knomad Colab have in common is that we are both terminal degree dropouts… merely months away from attaining the coveted MFA and PHD. Despite the disappointment of a few faculty members, family, and friends, it is the painful decision to withdrawal from the academic world that helped bring us clarity. Simply put, we did not belong in a gallery. 

Only a couple months ago, during our last attempt at a normal, gallery-style art life, we experienced a breath of satisfying reassurance. As we stood in distaste in front of the gallery wall, ogling our work (a large print of some recent light work), we repeated to ourselves… "we do not belong in a gallery."

We now know this- light is our medium and the public sphere is our format for sharing it- for building an inclusive rather than exclusive community around art and creativity. Below is our most recent light work.

In preparation for our Kickstarter project and to relinquish that last bit of gallery-itous, we decided to disseminate our massive collection of art supplies and materials. In effect, we cleansed and simplified our pallet, keeping only light-based materials. A large collection of beads now resides in Flagstaff, AZ. Forty pounds of soap along with a healthy assortment of scents and dyes finds its home in Souther Pines, NC, while bins of markers, pastels, pencils, and a multitude of artist paper share a cozy abode in York, PA.

And now, we are ready to hit the road, live art, and bask in camaraderie.     

Our Kickstarter project, Traveling at the Speed of Light, begins officially this coming Saturday in York, PA. We are asking that people come out, share a moment in time, and experience art by active participation instead of passive spectating. We will keep you all posted on our whereabouts and timing via this blog and through various social media outlets. You can view the map of our route HERE and the calendar/schedule of our destination cities HERE

To hear more about this project and our thoughts on Kickstarter and art, check out our recent PODCAST interview on Funding the Dream, Kickstarter with Richard Bliss. We will also be interviewing about this project with Denver's 5280 Magazine in late January and will share the story with you as soon as it is published. We want to thank you all for making this light installation tour across the country possible and for reading our musings.