BLOCKS - A Conceptual Art Project
17/09/23 If you are seeing this page it is becausee I have given you the link and you have been invited to watch this project evolve. It will unfold like a blog, but in chronological order. This is my project page for a conceptual art project about growing up in apartment blocks. This page includes and tracks the art making, thinking and planning for this project. I am exploring how a conceptual art project develops and thinking about creative ways to share it. At present I'm conceptualizing thisproject as an on line experience / exhibition - but the works are analogue, so can perhaps eventually be shown in a gallery space. I'm still thinking about purpose and audience . . . You can see the the first three tries at an apartment block aesthetic using monoprinting on a gelli plate. My intention in doing this, from the outset, is to bring this to a level where it can be used as a teaching site for artists who wish to work through conceptual art projects. Here is my apartment block story: I’m conceptualizing an art project. A series. Maybe for ‘online exhibition’ - I kinda like that model. I’m making monoprints, and I’m looking for a subject that is abstract enough to work, but conceptual enough to be meaningful and engaging. The apartment block project is easy enough for me, and accessible for others - so a great first kick at the can. Driving along and seeing apartment blocks always s makes me sentimental. I've been thinkin about doing an art project based on my childhood growing up in an apartment block for a while. The apartment buildings could be represented all kinds of different ways, as squares. So lots of boxes and grids, and the little people everywhere can be in brighter colours playing - or in the windows. For me the whole apartment living this isa kind of ‘dust to dust’ feeling. It’s where I started, and I feel like its where I should end. I am witnessing elders stuggling to find a viable life - those around me are very isolated living in their own homes without really having (ever) cultivated a community. They are lonely and isolated. I imagine apartment living can somewhat mitigate these issues for me as I age. An apartment is especially nice if you have a view, though a lot of rental apartments don’t. The apartment we lived in when I was a kid required me to stand on a chair to ever see out - even on the balcony, until I was about twelve. But, on the upside, we could see the whole world going on below, which is quite fun. It’s certainly ‘big picture’ living! Where we lived, the flight path for ‘Malton Airport’ was within a couple of football fields of our tenth floor window. My friends wanted to come over after school just to get a closeup look at the planes. We’d drag kitchen chairs over to my parents’ bedroom window, watch the wheel wells open and wave at all the little faces in the windows, which we could see better with binoculars. Yes they eventually strayed to other subjects. I used to like looking right into the cars to see the people waiting for stoplights at the intersection below. And you get to know all the little scenes and little people in their little boxes in the neighbourhood below. When you’re walking to school the houses and yards seem so lah dee dah big, but from up top, where you live -and have a ‘God’ perspective - they are all just little tiny boxes. And all as much the same as the apartments in your building are. Fences might give privacy from ground level, but we were omnipotent! They didn’t stop us from observing family barbecues, couples arguing out not the decks and patios, kids smoking behind sheds and so on. And you see things happening repeatedly. You know who has a dog, who always runs back into he house from their car because they forgot something, and what time people go to bed. It’s very fun. You can see traffic patterns and even people patterns. I lived in a building between the ages of 9 and 14 and It was fun. There was a pool where we kids hung out all summer like a bunch of hoodlums, and all year we had our friends right in the building regardless of the weather, so we could play at each other’s ‘houses’ till the last minute and then run up or down the stair to our own supper table. It might be fun to do a series of prints about my happy time living in an apartment building. Maybe just an interesting commentary. I think it’ll have wheels. A lot of times apartment buildings are portrayed as ‘ghetto’ or referred to as ‘the projects’. Some people say “oh you can’t raise kids in an apartment, they need room to run” etc. But of course you can. We ran up and down the stairs and up and down the halls playing chase and hide and seek, and all around the building outside. People are raised in apartments all over the world. Everyone has to go up and down the same two elevators every time they go in our out so you get to know people . . . Miss E, a Grade six teacher in our school lived on the seventeenth floor. Way, way up where we had no business going. Seventeen wasn’t like three or four or eight so she seemed very rarified. But we always saw her in the elevator, basket of dirty laundry discreetly covered with a towel under one arm and her siamese cat draped around her neck. I am thinking of how I could create images of all the fun things, like a whole bunch of kids in the elevator (how many kids do you think you can fit into an elevator? I know!. I know!) . . . spitting off the balcony with my friend in 604, trying to hit the lady who always opened her door to yell at us racing down the hall. Pics of '807' and' '211', playing skipping down where our mothers cold see us from their balconies, “Stay right by the dumpsters where I can see you!. I’ll call down when dinner is ready." My parents both worked during those years. My mother was home by 5 o’clock because she was a kindergarten teacher so we were ‘latch-key’ kids. We had our keys on a string around our neck, because its not that scary to let a twelve year old and a ten year old stay locked in an apartment to watch TV and have snacks for an hour till mom got home. It’s not like someone is going to follow you up to your apartment when you can just scream bloody murder if things aren’t going your way. Any day. Anyway. We had a big, old school, three bedroom apartment and my parents set it up in a cute bohemian style; cozy and comfortable and bright with book shelves and houseplants, a piano for our lessons, and a nice big table for homework, art, reading and eating right by the door. It was a bright, corner apartment and had a big balcony and two bathrooms! It was actually a step up from the house we had been renting for the five years before, where the septic tank kept backing up into the toilet and tub and the basement flooded. I think of the kids and famililes every time I drive by a building. What a fun project it would be to make a whole bunch of prints. Not too big. The blocks can be portrayed with items like tablet containers or lego blocks - anything that’s square, that will print. I’m feeling browns and yellows and oranges - warm colours. The windows can be blueish and then the kids playing there can be bright colours, pink and blue and red - or maybe little silhouettes. I've got a lot to work out! Stay tuned.