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    Week in Review

    Scott Kepford Nov 10 '08 3

    I haven't posted in a while, so I thought I should put up another potpourri post of everything that's been going on.

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    The vacuum former tutorial

    In my tech course, where we're modeling and vacuum forming 'Washbasins of the Future' (my trashy catch-phrase, not the course's), we've progressed into better drawings, and specifically better technical drawings, and have fabricated the most complicated and difficult half of the basin at half scale on the vacuum former.

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    Our 3D prints - prep for larger-scale fabrication

    The vacuum forming process is fairly complicated; we first have to model the surface in Rhino, then split it in a way that makes sense for fabrication and take it into software for translating its curvature into tool paths, then mill out the rough shape in MDF on the Techno router (with a low clearance it's really only good for cutting sheet material).

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    Milling our rough form

    Then we glue the rough form together and mount it in framework as we have to mill out the detailed curvature on the Precix router twice – once for each side, matched perfectly. Then the milled MDF form is sealed onto a hollow box so vacuum suction can be made, then finally actually pull the shape in ABS plastic sheet on the vacuum former.

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    The old vacuum former is so steam punk!

    I was on drawing duty so I didn't get to see our form being pulled, but the finished product looks pretty good. Unfortunately I tried getting an hour of sleep before the review, and due I believe to multiple all-nighters piling up, I actually slept through it. Horrifying. I'm definitely aiming to better manage my sleep before our next round of crits!


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    In our Intro to Construction class, we took a field trip to Santa Monica to see a church under construction as part of our unit on wood. It wasn't as exciting as the concrete trip, but still nice to see how these structures come together. I arrived late as I had been working on the Basins class (I'm sensing a troubling pattern developing here...) so I didn't get a UCLA hard hat but instead one the contractor had lying around (to punish latecomers I suppose?) that was a shockingly bright neon pink. Don't worry, despite the chiding by the contractors who thought they had doled out a good heap of punishment via gender-inappropriateness, I kind of loved the hat, and my gender identity is still very much intact thank you.

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    My gender-inappropriate headgear


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    Studio review

    In studio, we had the final review of the drawings part of our units project. It went pretty well, but I think everyone was just kind of hungover from too much work and not enough sleep to make it an energetic review.

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    My boards

    I think everyone pretty much liked my work, but my studio instructor ended his otherwise positive critique with “but it was kind of boring.” Which was made worse by the fact that he was totally right! I'll have to figure out how to be less didactic and maybe even a bit more nutty in diagramming the next project.


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    Tara Donovan's "Colony" installed at the Stephen Friedman Gallery

    We've started on the next studio project: a standalone gallery on an undefined site in Los Angeles for artist Tara Donovan. Contemporary and academic architects seem to go nuts for Donovan; which I believe is due mainly to her use of simple objects agglomerated into beautiful complex volumes (clearly the intent of our first project with the units). I think I haven't been that interested in her work to date (I was actually in New York while her installation was up in the Met a year or so ago and missed it since I didn't make it a priority to go; now I'm definitely wishing I had) because I've historically identified my interest in art that is more conceptual or even social than material or abstract; I've always been more into artists like Vito Acconci than almost any painter or sculptor, for example. I think this is related to my interests in architecture: exploring program rather than tectonics in a broad sense, and in investigating ideas of 'queer space' more specifically. That said, Donovan's work is very beautiful and evocative, and shows interesting manifestations of complexity. But my studio instructor had us read the interview with her in her monograph for the current ICA Boston show, and said something like “She and the interviewer show a strange lack of knowledge of complexity theory – either they don't know what's going on and it's an accident that her work is so interesting, or they're very very smart and don't want to let on.” After reading the interview and hearing her say things like “it's mainly women who work for me” other than “the manly ripping and the heavy lifting part” and that she doesn't “know why” she only chooses women, and over and over that she “just likes to make things”, let's just say that I'm not sure she deserved that “Genius” grant she got. Despite this, I'm looking forward to the project, and even looking forward to getting more familiar with her work. We're now engaged in pairs modeling her pieces in broad strokes so we can use them in our digital and physical models, and concurrently considering the volumes of some of her pieces and how they could exert deformations on a basic box to start to visualize options for giving form to the gallery volume.

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    A detail of Donovan's "Untitled (Mylar)" at Stephen Friedman Gallery

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    The beginning of my "Untitled (Mylar)" massing model

    I hope to see some of Donovan's work in person soon, if not at the ICA show. I think it's up until January - I hear Boston is nice then... ha ha ha. Actually I could barely handle winter visits to Boston when I lived in New York; I think Boston in January would totally break me now that I've been in LA for over two years!

    Lastly, my friend visiting from SF and I took the train a couple stops to a fun Prop 8 protest in Silver Lake last night. The LAPD estimated that 12,500 people showed up to protest the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment; it definitely seemed like a huge sea of people, especially for an area I know more for brunch, boutiques and bars than for political demonstration. I'm actually pretty impressed with the LAPD this time, because I didn't hear of any arrests or hassling of protesters despite their stunning mobilization of 4-5 helicopters and hundreds and hundreds of cops on everything from bikes to horses to motorcycles to weird cop golf cart things. Despite feeling a little ambivalent about the institution of marriage in general, I had been a little disappointed in the great state of California since the results on Tuesday, but now I'm pretty sure that if Prop 8 isn't repealed by the courts, it will be voted down in one of the next few ballot cycles. We've already come down from something like 68% of voting Californians against gay marriage in 2000 to a thin margin of 51-52% this time. 'All to those who wait,' right? My favorite protest slogans: “When do I get to vote on YOUR marriage” and “Chickens: 1; Gays: 0” (an animal rights proposition on the same ticket was overwhelmingly passed).

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    Silver Lake protest march

    More soon!


     

     
    • 3 Comments

    • Courtney Healey
      Nov 11, 08 10:45 pm

      i like random posts... the vacuum forming stuff reminded me of artist, Byron Kim's Belly paintings...


      and i'm sort of with you on Donovan... always felt a bit conflicted about her work... seen lots of it over the years and its always seems a bit hit-or-miss... love "Haze"[drinking straws] and "Transplanted" [tarpaper], curious about "Untitled [styrofoam cups]", not really convinced of "Toothpicks” or "Colony" [pencils] or the Rubber Band prints...

      but architects usually seem to get into obsessive and repetitive work like this... i prefer the less deterministically obsessive installations of the likes of Petah Coyne, Phoebe Washburn, Sheila Pepe or even Mona Hatoum... messy messy messy!

      Scott KepfordScott Kepford
      Nov 13, 08 7:32 pm

      Courtney, that's interesting: all four of those artists seem to have echoes of Donovan in their work, but as you say, more messy. The only one I had heard of before you mentioned them was Mona Hatoum, though I think I may have encountered a Sheila Pepe installation in a WWII bunker in the Marin Headlands in high school once; or at least it was someone who was copying her style exactly. But at any rate, all those artists you linked too seem to be doing things similar to Donovan (and could possibly be more intelligent about their work!) - maybe the UCLA first year studio should rotate between them every year, or each section should get a different artist, so the Donovan "complex monotony" (my term, ha ha) is alleviated.

      Thanks!

      Courtney Healey
      Nov 13, 08 8:59 pm

      they were just off the top of my head and by no means comprehensive, or even the best examples... there are many many more out there (some men even ;)... obsessive and repetitive installation work has been "in" for a while now... good work on the "complex monotony" its perfect!

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