In my own work, I'm interested in how landscape is a cultural construction informed by our own subjective view of the world. When I say "landscape" I mean not only the visible, natural world (sky, water, land) but also those imagined places that inform how we think (the subterranean, the cosmos, fictional settings, historical sites, etc). These assignments are meant to help you generate abstracted places for yourself. They can be used as a way of developing ideas in general and can be interpreted into drawings, installations, texts, or any medium of your choice. Be experimental and adapt the assignments to fit your particular interests.
Book of fiction, pencil, paper, camera, smartphone
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Designed by practicing artists, the Open Studio classroom activities aim to connect high school teachers and students with key ideas and issues in contemporary art. See all of the Open Studio activities.
Assignment #1: Literary Stalker
Choose a book of fiction of interest to you that has never been made into a film. Choose a character in the book to follow, and make a detailed map or list of places that the character inhabits. Draw your vision of each setting, almost like a series of film stills. Try to concentrate not on illustrating the physical details described in the book but more on creating images that capture a particular scene's tone or effect. Do the same scenes look different if you choose to follow a different character?
Assignment #2: Dissolving Coordinates
Take a two-hour or longer train ride outside your city, and choose a window seat. Snap a picture with your camera phone every five to ten minutes, and see how the location is saved in the file (places will change quickly, even if you take photos at five-minute intervals). In between snapshots, look up a Wikipedia entry for each physical location you have just passed, and read that city's description (history, population, demographics, etc.). What may look like a seamless, continuous, and empty landscape from the window will suddenly be filled with all sorts of specific historical facts, coordinates, and odd bits of concrete information. Make an imagined portrait of one of the places. How is your image shaped not only by what you physically saw but also by what you read and imagined of the place?