Tuesday, November 17, 2009


i will be displaying some new pieces this weekend at a fundraiser/ exhibition for the mustard seed in edmonton.

from their website:
The Mustard Seed Street Ministry is a non-profit Christian humanitarian organization that has been caring for Calgary's homeless for over 24 years. We help meet the essential needs of the less fortunate through food, clothing, and shelter provisions. The Mustard Seed also provides a broad range of progressive and innovative education and employment training programs to help guests regain confidence, find hope, and rebuild their lives off the street. Supported housing, arts and recreation programs, an integrative health and wellness centre, and personalized mentoring provide comprehensive care to our guests, helping restore wholeness and confidence.
look at these images in that context. as always, i'd be very interested in your responses.


Dave said...

I'm a big fan of these, Edward. All of them actually.

The combination of words that are so immediate and often cutting/convicting with imagery that is so limitless, expansive and full of potential provides a powerful juxtaposition. That even in the words devoid of much hope, there may be hope in the fact that those words are not all that there is. They are only a slice of reality, not the whole.
I also like the subtle reference to God through a creation that is still so "other" to most of us. So "alien". And yet so beautiful.

These pieces invite contemplation which is wonderful.

I think "you love God as much as the one you love the least" (I cannot view it and comment at the same time, so my quote is likely off) was the most hard-hitting for me. I also like "all I know is something happened". It concedes mystery, while holding onto a faith. I like that. I'm excited to see these in person, and think they will make a great contribution to Whisper.

techne said...

thanks dave. i appreciate your close reading. people have been responding very well to them. one person i showed them too, right here in the office, was moved to tears by them (collectively, rather than any one piece).

JAAR said...

techne man,

I see your name is actually edward but 'techne' has a ring to it.. Those pics are good. Like lo-fi ed ruscha crossed with evangelistic posters. I wanted to ask where the images are from but I guess it doesn't matter. How are they displayed/ exist in hard format? Are they individual or in sets of 4?


techne said...

thanks JAAR,

before i tell you where the images are from, i wonder if you would be willing to share your responses to them? thoughts? ideas? emotions?

as for display - they're 8"x10" and hung singly, though as a series so they begin to talk back and forth.

JAAR said...

I would have assumed they were from google or something.

I think if you wanted them to be taken seriously you would want to edit the series and maybe even redo the texts. It looks like you used microsoft paint (which i actually use to edit my artworks, no joke). maybe that would alter viewer reactions. I am not sure about the text box-outlines, i guess thats just a formal difficulty with or without.

I think the strongest phrases are:

I'm trying to believe...
We live with the threat...
You prefer comfort...

They've got a mix of subversive potential, personal perspective and 'religious' implications.

but thats just my opinion!

techne said...

1. the images are courtesy of NASA and the hubble space telescope.

2. what do you mean "if i wanted them to be taken seriously" i should "edit the series" and "redo the texts"? do you think they wouldn't be taken seriously as a series right now? why or why not?

3. i wasn't sure about the text boxes either, but it seemed to be a better way of both connecting and separating the text and image (and giving the text a bit more emPHAsis). it's also why i let the frame bleed in and out of the image a bit.

4. the trick with the texts is to play with cliche, metaphor and 'flatter' text. ultimately, the work is about communication (or the lack of it). it is also why i tend to have larger series.

5. i do want the texts to be destabilizers (your 'subversive'), to work as vices from or to different perspectives and to have personal resonances, whether spiritual, religious, emotional, social, etc...

Josh said...

courtesy of NASA to you personally or from their public archive?

When I said 'taken seriously' I suppose i was automatically thinking of art world contemplation in a gallery context.

I didnt read the series as knowingly cliched or lacking in communication, I read it as earnest. 'Wanted soldiers' would work as a piece of art in its own right so I think it undermines the idea of a sequence of flawed communications.

The issue is the space images. They lend power to the phrase 'wanted, soldiers'. But with 'you love God as much as the person you love least' the background image undermines the text-image relationship, making it look like a sunday school poster. Therefore distinctions are introduced not between the various texts, but between the various text-image relationships. I.e only some of the phrases are capable of sitting in front of the space images.

I would like to see where this format went if it was continued.

Josh said...

seriously, having been possessed by the critical art world demons for a while, I personally love them. The images are amazing. It might look great posted on your blog or even a separate page as a slideshow - one image at a time. I'm a computer idiot but its not to hard to do with blogger.

techne said...

J and J,

the NASA source images can be found here: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/index.html

as for the art world -- i actually do show (and have shown for more than 15 years) my text pieces in various contexts: commercial, artist-run and public art galleries. and the occasional fundraiser. the texts i use change according to the context, of course.

i appreciate your thoughts though. sometimes it's difficult to walk the razor's edge of cliche and sentimentality and not go over to the dark side. there's always a battle between my own 'earnestness' and 'inner art critic', and i try to give them both a little sugar...

i hope you'll do some browsing and comment elsewhere as well. thanks for engaging!

Patricia said...

The art is provocative. The images rather primal and the text modern--interesting.

The pieces that interested me most were "this moment has divine potential" the text and image seemed in harmony--"wanted soldiers" the image caught my eye and I would like it better if the text was "you love God as much as the person you love least". This is only because the "you love..." text is so powerful to me that it needs a stronger image.

Over all great work.

Fred said...

Reminds me a bit of Jenny Holzer's Truisms, especially the one that says "living for yourself is vulgar". I think it's an interesting idea, but I'm unsure of the execution.

I think the series would be stronger as a whole if you gave a bit more uniformity to the form of the texts: doing all sentence fragments, or doing all declarative statements, etc.

I might have further thoughts, but that's all I've got for now.

techne said...

thanks fred,

thanks for the comments. i wonder if you could expand on your statement that I think the series would be stronger...if you gave a bit more uniformity to the form of the texts: doing all sentence fragments, or doing all declarative statements, etc.

are you referring to tone or voice, or the positioning (identity? politics? gender?) of the 'narrator'? and is that what you mean by "execution"?

Jack said...

The Hubble images work quite well for this series. less "magnetic" than your collage work, perhaps--these images are about as stock as they come--but that's right in line with what I get as a "message" from your series already.

Have you done any re-purposed (redeemed... hehee) Christmas cards?

Thanks for sharing, keep at it!

techne said...

thanks jack - i wonder if you could clarify a couple of things for me:

what do you mean by "less magnetic"? and could you go into more detail about the connection between the stock images and the "message" from this series?

Shelley said...

HI Edward!
On looking at them again I realized they were meant for the people attending the fundraiser, not the street people. It makes more sense! Yes I like them! It was quite different to see the text and picture background being the whole work. It was more advertisey which was cool, I think the fact that they were at the event was the best part! Cool that these people had art to inspire them to give. Not just a guilt trip.
Whoa there sure were a lot of comments! One guy was totally picking them apart! I like the frames around the text. I think they're necessary. I look at them and visualize painted stokes and altering the background, but Gabriella would say, "Of course you do! You're a painter!" Not everything I can imagine a piece being will make it better. Gabriella has a lot more restraint as a photographer, installation and conceptual artist. I tend to want to layer and manipulate and experiment and play with materials a lot. Collaborating with her on one of her projects is teaching me a lot. She's providing direction, concept and I'm solving problems, and inventing ways to create what she's coming up with, constructing. It's nice to be close together because at 10pm we can phone each other and come over with idea. It is great to be a parting of the thinking process of a work in progress.

Do you see yourself working more with text and single image background now? Will you pursue it more? What now?

techne said...

hey shelley -- thanks for popping by. i'm pretty okay with the "advertisey-ness" of the work. i mean, they're called slogans, after all (that's what i call all my texts regardless of where they're used or how). i'd like to print them large-format (or at least poster size) and play with that even more. regarding your questions:

1. Do you see yourself working more with text and single image background now? Will you pursue it more? for this series, certainly. i will play with it more. i like the directness of juxtaposing the text with a single image. the work functions differently that way. i will still play with the multiple image format as well as collages. and simply text presented on its own and using materials and presentation to shift the text.

2. What now? i'm waiting for word about an ACDI grant for 2 upcoming solo shows, and am working on another grant for professional development (printmaking and bookbinding). i have some work on display at a gallery here in town, and am putting together a couple of proposals for 2011 and 2012. i'm also working on a curatorial statement for another exhibition and a couple of collaborative pieces/ group shows. and working on a public art proposal.

(insert breath here)

say hello to gabriella...

JAAR said...

Who's this guy that was 'totally picking them apart' haha..

I like the slideshow, you see the pictures better. It does put more pressure on the images to have impact though..

I kind of missed the context..these are essentially begging letters aren't they, offer some benefactors something for their money? lots of layers..

question-what do you think would be the result of using original photos (say if you found a space-photographer)?..

techne said...


i'm not sure what the effect would be. i'm not sure there would be any real difference. i'm not sure you can really get away from the 'stockiness' (or iconic-ness?) of those kinds of images. i mean, they're images of the stars. then again, it's precisely because they're celestial images that they will have impact on some level - their scale, otherworldliness, sublimity, etc. the only difference would be that the images might not be available to everyone. and i'm not sure that makes much of a difference in the reception of the image. and i think i like the fact that the images are indeed available to anyone...

the context simply shapes the potential reception of the work. removing them from that particular exhibiting context doesn't mean those references or resonances can't be there, just that they're not foregrounded. i think the interaction between text and image already moves them in certain directions, but it is always possible to tweak them depending on where they're experienced.