Saturday, February 9, 2013

Once Was

A mock-up including the craft learned from previous re-placements of stone cairns, collected sounds, and environmental installation and intervention






































Brad Birchett, Once Was, (mock-up) found objects, docu-photograph from intervention, and sound art, 2013


Once Was from Brad Birchett on Vimeo.

Brad Birchett, Once Was, 3:56 clip, part of above installation - One Was.   Click on the arrow then scroll back up to the visual image for the full effect of almost being there but not quite.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Canvas and Dirt



We are busy / life moves fast.  To experience art we search our media sources, color corrected, volume increased, compositionally correct with angle and light we gaze into 60 megahertz of vibrating LED and imagine what it could be like.  We rely on these sources to express ourselves, propose research ideas and visual accomplishments, and to jury and grade others.  Walter Benjamin would suggest that we are experiencing only a slight aura of the art we want to understand, more than one degree from its original state, our mind imagines the complexities of truth. 



A facsimile of time and place, art being made by a human surrounded by humans making art.  We move our studios and our styles, our approaches and change our genres over time.  I mean, we are generation X, right?  We will forever be searching for our center, our place in this natural world, but like Picasso we will only imagine the feeling of the "noble savage" carving away at his (or her) ritual mask.  And again we move on.  We move on to Mylar, to pigment prints, to Photoshop, to acid-free materials, to digital prints and place our MP3's on Vimeo for the world to find and be fulfilled.  We move.  We make.  We share.  We design.  We re-evaluate. We look around us for trends...

Some will be great and some will make great money.  Some will travel on their expense account and some will be happy with their new yoga sensei.  Some will return to the dirt while others become holograms in the ether.  Like Walter Benajamin suggested, time is a whirlwind of events, no top or bottom, beginning or end, just movement.






Monday, February 4, 2013

Once Was - Sight Point, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

(click on images for larger views)


Once Was is a series of environmental interventions consisting of installations in repeating forms, objects - mid-century working class white cotton dresses - left at borders and cultural crossroads spanning North America.  The series continues to grow and at each site the locale informs the context, the diversity of the history and people are congruous with the placement of the pieces.  Each site was once a space where cultures came together, to collaborate, to integrate, and at times to conflict with one another.  

Cape Breton - the northeastern island-point of Nova Scotia, Canada - is a locale that is packed with cultural diversity and history and is unique in that much of the cultural ritual and rites are practiced today - passed down through the last 2 and a half centuries.  The local residents are mainly Acadian consisting of ancestors of the French pioneers from the mid 18th century - the ones left that were not forced out during England's rule and some that returned after that rule ended; and the Scottish, who came in the later part of the 18th century and make up the largest percentage of Nova Scotia peoples.  All along the coasts of this island (Cape Breton) you will see Acadian flags and Gaelic flags.  Sons and daughters stay and work in the area - close to home, and there are no road-side billboards, and I didn't see a single McDonald's the whole time there, though the name MacDonald was so popular I found it many times among the grave stones (even Ronald!). 

It was at Sight Point, just south along the MacKinnon's Brook trail from Inverness that this segment of the environmental art series was installed.  After hiking up and down along the ridge that overlooked the Gulf of Saint Lawrence the trail slowly morphed to nothing as the heavy flowers and underbrush took over.  Just at this point, adjacent the trail, was a flat area with a tall, old stand of fir trees and in this mini-forest was an old stone fence, a relic of Scottish pioneers.  The sun spotted into and through the tall trees and reflected off the stones and off the dry gray and brittle branches and trunks of the old trees creating a good place for the installation - a nice, large, and peaceful grotto.







The Gulf of Saint Lawrence from Finley Point, just north of Inverness, Cape Breton Nova Scotia.







Acadian flag on Ch├ęticamp Island - Across the Bay from the town of Ch├ęticamp - the center of Francophone Acadia in Nova Scotia.




Mabou  Pioneer Cemetery, South of Inverness - "Erected by Ronald MacDonald In Memory of Mary Beaton His Wife & Native of Mabou Who Departed This Life Sept 20th 1841 Aged 19 years"




MacKinnon's Brook Trail South of Inverness, Cape Breton - Flowers and undergrowth siege the trail. 















Sight Point from the MacKinnon's Brook trail - The stand of tall fir, looking southeast.






Sight Point - Girl and dog assist at edge of rock wall.





Sight Point - Art aligns with pioneer wall.





Sight Point Installation - In the midst of the tall fir trees.






Sight Point Installation - At the edge of the pioneer ruins. 





Sight Point Installation - Light coming through the firs creates a coolish aura on a hot, sunny day.








The dress began to replicate the forest. 




Lines and forms in nature are also in cotton, and mid-century embroidery.  






The artwork begins to replicate formal elements.




























By living within the locale, even for a week, you begin to learn about their history, their past and their presence.  You become inquisitive in a friendly way, knowing that you are just passing through but sincere about your inquiries you touch on what they feel and felt - the art-making process continues ...