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. 

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! 

 

 

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!