Photos from Lori’s series “Unnatural History” will open at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Philadelphia April 19. If you are in the area please check it out. The show will have two new pieces and there will be one of the dioramas on view as well.
January 14, 2014
“Hi. You don’t know me at all but my partner and I would like to come into your studio/home for an undisclosed amount of time and document you and your process of making a diorama and subsequent photograph for use in a film we are hoping to make sometime in the future. We’re not quite sure about all of the details of the theme, but we’ll figure it out. What do you say?”
That is not the exact email that Lori received last spring, but it is the basic premise. And that is how we came to meet Nol and Rob, the film duo known as The Drawing Room, www.drawingroomnyc.com. We did some research on them, and eventually said ‘yes’ to their proposal of filming us at work. It began with a basic meeting in our apartment. It just so happened that Lori and I were getting ready to start creating a diorama of our studio, which you may or may not know, doubles as our living room. They loved the idea of recording us building this tiny set inside of the actual place. It’s like the tv on the tv on the tv! What is real?
To fabricate the Living Room scene, we started with the bigger elements. The scale of the scene was determined by a chair that we had already made for an earlier construction. The walls and floor were begun, then we moved onto larger pieces of furniture-the work table, crates, flat files etc… Most of that falls on Lori’s shoulders. She is much better at building and constructing props like this. Measuring and cutting and careful gluing end up making me batty because I inevitably read the ruler incorrectly, slice the wrong bit off, or spill the glue. Carving, sculpting and spackling all come more naturally to me.
As you can imagine, constructing the scene was a long process. Fitting in studio hours around our day jobs adds a lot of time. But, Nol and Rob were very patient and would come out to the studio every two weeks or so and document whatever was going on. Even our failed experiments. A whole afternoon was wasted as we attempted to vacuum form miniature plastic storage bins. Live and learn (and bitch and moan). They were also quite genial with the fluctuations in temperature throughout the summer. At one point it reached a mere 99 degrees inside the apartment. We were all quite stinky after this particular session. Lori and I generally dress (or don’t dress) for the heat, but we all thought it best if we made ourselves more presentable for the camera.
While they filmed, they asked us various questions about materials, process, our backgrounds, etc… We’d try to give them enough information that they could edit it down to what they needed to fit the eventual theme of the movie. And we’d get off topic quite a bit because we all got along so well. I think one of the most entertaining conversations involved the inevitable (?) zombie apocalypse. Get prepared people!
When we were about half way through construction of the scene Lori got another surprise email. A small museum in the region was putting together a show about artist’s studios called “Inside the Artists’ Studios”. The Bruce Museum is truly worth seeking out. Based in Greenwich, Connecticut, it gives equal prominence to art, science and natural history through its wide range of exhibits. A group of folks from the museum came down to Brooklyn to see what we had going on and were pleased that Living Room would fit their plan for the exhibit. They were interested in showing the diorama as well as the finished photograph too.
Normally, showing the diorama is not even a consideration. The scenes are built for one viewing point. In fact, many of the objects inside the dioramas are only finished on one side to look good for the camera. In the past Lori has made an exception regarding showing the models when it is for educational purposes. (She was part of the “Otherworldly” show at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York in 2011 that featured artists who use models/dioramas for their work) This show would also fit that criteria, so she accepted the invitation to participate in the show.
Knowing that we would show the model, and it was early in the process of building it, we finished the pieces a bit more that we normally might when building it strictly for a photograph. What that means in practical terms is objects were finished in the full round and Lori actually scanned all of the books and cd’s in the living room so that the text and/or artwork was legible. She literally spent days scanning and printing these things. She’s nuts! But, it all looks really good, so I can’t really complain about the time spent.
The one really great thing about re-making the living room in miniature was that if we had a question about the size, scale, or color of anything, we could just go look at the original. One of the questions that the guys asked while filming is did we take reference photos of the living room before beginning to work.? We did not. The model is not what the studio/living room looked like on one very specific day. It is more of the overall look of the space showing the items that tend to not change over time – the work tables, chairs, shelves. When asked how we would recreate a very complicated object, I told him the truth—I’d leave it out of the scene! Why make myself crazy and take up a ton of time on a non-essential thing.
To prepare the diorama for transportation to the museum was another matter. We constructed it in such a way that the walls could be taken apart and packed into the car flat. Everything that could be glued down to a surface was secured (i.e., all of the items on the tabletops were glued down). Items on shelves were held in place by cardboard taped across the opening (I really did not want to re-shelve all the books and cd’s). Items that needed to remain loose (like chairs and light stands) were packed into small boxes and labeled for easy unpacking on site. We caravanned with the guys to the Bruce Museum. They also filmed us installing the diorama. It was a very long day! A large framed Living Room was hung next to the diorama. A large Subway flanked it on the other side which balanced the whole area quite nicely.
Finally opening night for the show rolled around. Rob came up to film the opening too. The show featured two other artists who have worked with artist’s studios as subject matter- Joe Fig and Richard Haas. Their work was incredible and very different from Lori’s . It was a great crowd, very well attended! One guy we met had been an actor back in the day and had done some acting on “Peewee’s Playhouse”. Wow!
As for Rob and Nol’s film project, who knows. We’ll do some more formal interviews and leave it in their very capable hands to bring it to fruition. On the face of it, just saying “yes” to some random guys might seem a little crazy, but that is how we have met some amazing people and become part of some great projects. Can’t wait to see how they pull it all together!
The show at the Bruce Museum runs through March 9, 2014. The museum will have a panel discussion with the artists on February 19.
January 6, 2014
Before we get too far into 2014 I want to give a shout out to Lori for having two of her images included in American Photo’s “33 Best Images of the Year” for 2013. Lori’s Subway and Living Room made the cut along with images by Edward Burtynsky, Bryan Schutmaat, Jen Davis and others in this year’s selection.
The full selection can be seen in the January/February 2014 issue as well as online at http://www.americanphotomag.com/photo-gallery/2013/12/images-year-2013-1
November 15, 2013
For two days last week we had a French (Canadian) occupation of the studio. A film production crew came down from Montreal to film us building the diorama for Chinese Take Out for the series, “How It’s Made” on the Discovery Channel. They filmed us in the various stages of construction, from basic cutting of foam to taking the photograph with Lori’s 8×10 camera. Lots of repetition of tasks from different angles and close-ups. Four gentlemen made up the crew -Pierre, Luc, Pierre-Luc, and Pascale- and they were great! Very funny and highly skilled, I think they really enjoyed filming the models. A welcome break from large warehouses and big machines perhaps.
We filmed in the studio most of the time, but also on the sidewalk in our Brooklyn neighborhood, near the local Chinese restaurant that inspired the scene. For two people who don’t really enjoy being photographed, filming out in the ‘hood was not much fun. Lots of lookie-loo’s! They finished up the filming by shooting the finished photograph on exhibit in the gallery.
Big thanks to our new friends for all their hard work. We’ll post when the episode is ready to air next spring.
October 24, 2013
Thank you to everyone who came out to support Lori’s show at ClampArt on Thursday night! The photographs looked fantastic -big thanks also to Erizan and City Frame for their fine work. The evening was a real success and great fun was had by all. The show is up through November 16, check it out if you get the chance!
ClampArt is located at 521-531 West 25th Street, ground floor, New York City. www.clampart.com
October 7, 2013
It’s been a long summer, and now that we are easing into fall, and things are almost slowing down, I can share what’s been going on in the studio. Summer is always a very busy time for us, something to do with the extra hours of sunlight help to make it very productive for us. It is so much easier to stay up late working in July than in the dead of winter when it gets dark so early in the day.
We knew Lori was having a show this fall with her New York gallery, ClampArt. The last show there was in November and we were expecting a similar timeline for this one. Big surprise, it was bumped up a month! While that doesn’t seem like much, in terms of building time in the studio it is huge. Seemingly simple things take days to make, so losing a month made us very nervous. But, we are happy to report that we will make the deadline, with hours, if not days to spare. And we just found out that her gallery took out an ad for the show in ArtForum – very exciting! Check it out for yourself.
We’ll post an official announcement for the show once we get it from the gallery. Mark your calendars – October 17, ClampArt, Chelsea – New York, 6-8pm, be there!!
June 30, 2013
The interview with Lori is finally out! Here is the link to Mark’s awesome blog. Thanks Mark!
April 29, 2013
I saw online that yesterday was ” Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day”. This intrigued me because I love pinhole pictures! I did some research and learned that this is an international event designed to celebrate the art of pinhole photography—www.pinholeday.com . Cool! What I love about this type of photography is that they are one of a kind, usually a bit wonky, and (at least from my own experience) you never know what you will get until you develop the image.
Lori sent away for a small pinhole camera a few years ago on a whim. It’s small, about the size of your fist, and can be used with a tripod or just set on the ground. We’ve taken it on trips and done our share of not-so-great landscapes and still lifes, but the most fun we’ve had with it is photographing our dioramas.
After Lori takes the final 8×10 image, I set up for pinhole pics. I keep the model set up the same, but I will move the lights a bit as necessary. The thing I like most is that I can put the camera inside the scene and get a totally different viewpoint from that of the 8×10 pic. Given the scale of the models and the size of the camera, you often feel like you are standing inside the scene.
Unfortunately we’ve only scanned a few of the pinhole images we’ve taken over the years. We don’t do them for any other purpose but to entertain ourselves. I hope to find the time to make my own pinhole camera(s) one day. Until I do, here are a few from the archives.
April 18, 2013
We had a great guest come to the studio last week. It was Mark Alice Durant, who is the mastermind behind the blog Saint Lucy. Based in Baltimore, Saint Lucy features Mark’s writing on photography and contemporary art. He’s made art and written extensively on art for many years, as well as teach. In preparation for his visit, we spent some time on his blog and were amazed at the range of artists he showcases and variety of issues he discusses.
The reason for his visit was to interview Lori for his “Conversations” section of his blog. (Luckily we still had some dioramas set up!) After a tour of the studio, they sat down to talk. It was fun to be a fly on the wall and listen to the interview. They covered a lot of topics and I feel sure the final result will be a great read. In the meantime, see what he’s been up to at www.saint-lucy.com . You won’t be disappointed.
April 3, 2013
In New York City this week? Feelin’ arty? Check out the AIPAD Photography Show at the Park Avenue Armory, April 4-7.
The Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) presents over 75 of the world’s leading photography art galleries. Showcasing contemporary, modern and vintage photographs plus a gaggle of video, new media, etc… it’s a great place to see what’s happening in photo-based work. There is truly something for everyone! Those of you wanting to see my finished Subway photo can see it at Catherine Edelman’s booth.
Check out the full schedule of exhibitors, speakers and presentations at their website - www.aipad.com .
I’m really interested in seeing vintage photographs from the late 1960s and 1970s. I saw Henry Horenstein’s show Honky Tonk this fall and it wetted my appetite to see more images from this time period. This is pure inspiration for my next body of work II will start next winter. Right now I’m just researching and thinking, planning and dreaming.