The proposed installation consists of two elemental materials; oil and water. A life-sized, three dimensional representation of a swan will be created from oil encased within a block of ice (fig. 1 - 3). As the ice melts, a secondary piece is created from the oil and water that pools within a shallow basin on the floor (fig 4 - 5). Cameras will be set up to document the piece in transition. The resulting time-lapsed footage will then be displayed in the gallery to replay the installation's transformation.
Fig. 1. Untitled (Oil Swan Preliminary Drawing 1). 2010. Charcoal, gouache and pencil. 11 x 8½"
Fig. 2. Untitled (Oil Swan Drawing). 2008. Pencil. 11 x 9"
Fig. 3. Untitled (Oil Swan Preliminary Drawing 2). 2010. Charcoal and pencil. 30 x 22"
The Chicago Nature Museum has generously allowed access to their collection for this project. They have several swan specimens in display mount form, one of which they have agreed to loan for use in developing the installation. Three dimensional digital scans of the swan will be collected in-studio. This data will then be used to guide a CNC multi-axis router to generate a replica of the swan. This pattern will be used to create the swan oil form in the ice (fig. 7). For the purposes of this installation, it's of particular importance that the image of the swan not be rendered through traditional sculptural modeling techniques (not romanticized), but instead should be, in essence, replicated and technically precise.
Fig. 4. Untitled (Oil Pool Preliminary Drawing). 2010. Charcoal gouache and pencil. 22 x 30"
Fig. 5. Untitled (Oil Swan Installation Rendering). 2010. Charcoal and pencil. 22 x 30"
Fig. 6. Potential Oil Swan installation layout. Isometric computer rendering. 2010.
Fig. 7. Untitled (Oil Swan process Drawing). 2010. Pencil. 14 x 11"
This installation follows an ongoing exploration of elemental materials. While painting, sculpture and installation function as a visual language, and should primarily work through the visual experience alone, the work should also resonate when analyzed in terms of its conceptual motives. Ideally the choice of materials that comprise a piece should play an important role in guiding its interpretation and internalization. Both the nature of each material and the cultural relevance tied to it are important considerations.
The image of the swan and the use of oil and water, along with its transformation over time, could be interpreted in many ways. This includes issues surrounding the environment and global warming, the current economic crisis, oil and the war in Iraq, juxtapositions of purity and filth and permanence and temporality. That said, the ambiguity of the image remains fundamentally important.