Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Joshua Tonies: Epic A

Josh Tonies

This is a subtlely powerfull piece that you can still see in the Everything is Possible group show at Future Tennant, an alternative space run by CMU, downtown. To a large extent, most of that show got lost on me, during the gallery crawl, but this piece, managed to hold it's own. I am not sure how the artist did it, but he transfered a series of drawings into onto micofilm so that they could be run through the simple film reader. The result is a mesmerizing panorama that can be run slowly through the viewer, stopped and speeded up at will. The shots above don't capture it at all. Please see this in person, it closes on October 27th.

Here are some thoughts that Joshua, sent me about the piece. Joshua has work in my flat files.

Epic A was the result of a daydream I had. Having just returned from New York city , I had been visiting family, and during my train ride back to Pittsburgh I was marvelling at the passing landscape from the window of my seat. Having a background in time based media, and a continuing interest in time and its relationship to space, I had been meditating or rather stewing over a way of transmuting the experience I had looking out the window of the train car, at the passing landscape.

While on the train I had though of many possible solutions including making differing types of scrolls, and playing with the physical context in which they could be viewed. The solution to use microfilm came quietly, as I was returning from Carnegie library in Oakland. I had spent the day researching imagery, and had been looking through the stacks as well as the archives (using microfilm viewers).

I have always been enamored with the convention of microfilm, its tangible, physicality. I enjoy the way one can physically navigate the information stream of the film, rotating, panning, raising and lowering the image. I often would go and just play with the machines, dismissing the content on the spools of film, and lose myself in the visual experience of manipulating the information.

In order to create the continuous landscape of Epic A, I employed a variety of working processes, all occupying the same visual neighborhood. The imagery used in Epic A is the result of pencil drawings of propeller planes, paper collages of mountains from grid drawings that I xeroxed and cut and pieced together, and for the cloud information, I enlarged and cropped volcanic eruptions . As a limitation, I choose to use black and white, and focused of line and value. Epic A turned out to be 45 feet long and one foot high.

Epic A is titled as such to imply the first of multiple incarnations ( Epic B, Epic C etc). I plan to gleam and augment new strategies and mutations for future microfilm projects. This working process forces me to develop and cultivate my visual language, and allows me to consider analogous manifestations (paintings, videos and books ) that pull from the reservoir of visual material that I accumulate while making the microfilm scroll.

The Future Tenant Space, has a surprisingly big impact on the scene here. CMU has a very fancy gallery space on campus, that would rank as one of the better exhibition spaces in town, and it certainly hosts some great shows. But, the very act of walling the space off on it's campus creates a huge separation from the city.

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