This capstone project has been one of the best creative experiences of my artistic and collegiate career. It was incredibly difficult and took quite a few twists and turns but once I settled into my concept was able to produce results that I was really pleased with. From the get go, I was intent on creating some form of an inflatable sculpture, I was not entirely sure what it would end up looking like but drew inspiration from artists including Nicole Banowetz, Tomas Saraceno, and Claire Ashley. Each of them utilize a fairly different aesthetic when it comes to the inflatables they create. I believed it was important to create my own aesthetic as well.
Initially I planned to represent the relationship between man and nature using inflatable soft sculpture and acrylic hard sculpture. Obviously this evolved. I had to reassess my progress each week and figure out what was an achievable goal in a ten-week timeline but also boil down my concept into something much more acute than the “relationship between man and nature”. Then, after many conceptual pivots, I finally landed on representing human global sand consumption. This would involve finding a solution to representing the 15 Billion tons of sand we use in the world every year. As far as the creation of my project went, I began by building a series of smaller test inflatables as well as a larger form that was used in my final installation. During nearly each critique the word more was dropped. When I finally discovered that more meant immersion, I began to think of building a space, rather than a sculpture. Which I did by suspending sand within the large immersive space I created. I do see this broader concept that I began with as a starting point for a larger body of work.
There were many decisions I had to make along the way as far as materials and equipment needs. Some of them were good decisions and some weren’t. I knew I wanted to use rip stop nylon from the very beginning, but I did not know nearly how much I would actually need. I ended up being over 60 yards of fabric. Because I wanted some variation in the color of the fabric, I hand dyed all of it. This also allowed me to customize the color and achieve a unique result, rather than buying off-the-shelf pink nylon. The process, which included color testing and formulating, was very time intensive and left my hands stained with red dye for a good portion of a week. I was able to create a base dye recipe using Rit Dye and then could modify it to make it lighter or darker or shaded slightly differently.
Deciding to use acrylic was something that slowed my process down quite a bit, it is very difficult to work with in large forms and I ultimately abandoned using it. Sand, however was what rescued my project, I think it was able to conceptually drive my project further and was a natural element that contrasted the human nature of the inflatable. It was easy to work with and allowed me to pull of a project that was both successful and visually engaging.
For my audio/visual component of the installation, I chose to use projections and a simple soundscape for this installation. I used Adobe After Effects to create the illusion of falling sand which I projected onto the walls of the installation and used stereo speakers to present my soundscape.
The final deliverable was ultimately very successful. I think I created a space that engaged and took people by surprise. There obviously things to improve upon but I think my continued work on the installation before the EDP Expo and potential pop-up show in the Myhren Gallery will allow for me to create an even better iteration of this installation.
I think the overall look and feel of my installation was very successful. The walls and inflatable felt fleshy and organ like. The sand sculptures were very noticeable and almost imposing, they got in your way and made themselves present. I received feedback that the sand that leaked out of them would end up deposited on the participants and that made them more imposing. My projections and sound were what lacked the most though. The soundscape was not layered quite enough and ultimately didn’t sound exactly how sand and a stomach should sound. The sand wasn’t high pitched enough and the stomach sound was almost too realistic and would have been stronger if it were more abstracted. The projections were thrown together very last minute, it was an element that I hadn’t planned on adding until the night before critique so clearly they can use some refining.
Before Expo and any future installations there are quite a few things I will need to develop a little bit more. I want to perfect the outer form of the installation and make it more organic in order to match the inside of the installation. More sand bags need to hang from the inside and more sand filled intestines should hang from the outside. I want to create a sand floor that people have to walk barefoot on to really heighten the sensory nature of the sand. I also will need to further develop the soundscape into something a little more sophisticated. My sand projection will need some work as well but by expanding upon it, I think I will be able to create a deeper more dynamic environment. I want to specifically create a program that animates sand falling, every time someone enters the installation more sand will fall and ultimately create a large pile of digital sand that will accumulate. Considering that there are 7 Billion people on this planet and we use 15 Billion tons of sand every year that would mean roughly 2 tons of sand are consumed for every person on this planet. Every time someone enters the installation I intend for a visual representation of the 2 tons to be represented.