“TWO WONDERS CONFESSED”
A Very Precious Time
I Heard the Call of the Crow
The Fatal Contradiction of Heaven
The Sea Rises, The Light Fails
Why Couldn’t I Tell Her This as I Watched Her Walk Away?
By the Rivers
I Say Tomorrow
But When I Try to Sing, Weeping Comes
Be No Rain
How I Wished My Hands Could Hold Up the Sky
You Just Can’t Call It’s Name
Day Divides the Night
We Learned How to Swim
Does That Count?
Primarily, I have many people to thank:
Dwight Curtis, Alexis Martino, Graylen Gatewood, Matt Cass, Jon Mulhern, Sean Carmichael, Harrison Rowen, Teague Costello, Eddie Chan, Livia Azevedo, Dale Scott…
I also have to mention my inspirations:
All authors of the comments, Gil Scott-Heron, Amiri Baraka, James Baldwin, Charles Bukowski, Franz Wright, Federico Garcia Lorca
I participated in reading night and explained my project as the loss and solitude necessary to find a balance between private expression the public world of social media. As I said these words I gained a greater understanding of my theme, my topic.
This writing is personal to me and is a personal reflection upon private expressions that are not my own. Interestingly, by reading a comment about missing someone, about nostalgia, about death, I found a connection.
James Baldwin says that “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”
Within human nature the feeling of isolation is one unnatural, in my opinion. In our heart of hearts we desire human contact, and ultimately, true human love. Solitude is often purged through social media. People who are shy, timid, spend hours online chatting with people. The voice is easier to use when you are invisible. However, the comments I have found, of heartache of loss of longing, are not unprecedented. Their desire for closure, for company is oddly contradicted as they are sent out into a world for, potentially, millions to see.
I connected to these comments, I understood them. Whether the intention of the author or not, I brought them into my heart. And with my heart I responded to them. Through their un-levelled privacy and publicity I brought forward my own privacy. And, I made it public. Maybe there’s a balance struck there.
Ultimately, I am sentimental and I have always used poetry as a way to express this. I often feel sappy, whiny. Now I realize that if what I write is the truth, it is cleansing. It is a confession that clears space. I feel clean.
I would like to continue thinking and writing about this topic and I would like to more clearly understand not only why it strikes me, but really, what it means. The words I have discovered are often more poetic than the very words I have written. I am still moved by the simple sentences:
“Why couldn’t I tell her this as I watched her walk away?”
“Creo que sufrí (I think that I suffered”
“What’s something you should throw away, but can’t?
broken pieces of the past… some unnecessary things.”
These are beautiful and they are abandoned, left to be discovered. Their longing, their closure is achieved in one’s witnessing. The confession is fulfilled in their understanding.
At around 3:30 maintenance turned the hallway lights off and I had the pleasure of seeing all the poems illuminated. Their light was strong enough to light the entire hallway.
I turned on the projectors, plugged in the computers (source of projections) to charge and placed the iPod down for sound. I used a white noise that I cut up in Garageband.
I lit the lights of the altar and added a floral smell to the space.
The installation was done.
I felt honored to watch some people read each and every poem.
This project is about simplicity, it is about the balance between the private and the public and the solitude and loss necessary to maintain this balance.
The setting had to be simple, therefore.
With the help of some classmates, we brought in the bed from the school’s vault. I placed an embroidered blanket and pillow on the bed. Underneath it I left a pair of sneakers. By the bed I dropped a pair of male pants and a t-shirt as if someone had just undressed after coming home.
This is the space before:
I brought in 5 small benches for people to take a seat and read, if they wanted to.
With the bed set up simply the next step was the altar.
In my poem “You Just Can’t Call It’s Name” I write, “In this basement room a / white crucifix hangs from / green beads and / I fear nothing.”
I painted a crucifix green and mounted it on the wall with a silk scarf behind it.
On the floor I placed several fake candles, white flower petals and a hand carved wooden box. The box is filled with baby teeth from my sister, myself and my brother. Propped beside it is my mother’s pregnancy test and her doctor visits listed on a chart from her first pregnancy.
After the altar and bed were placed / constructed I cleaned the room out.
I mopped and applied wood polish to the floor, got rid of all excess tape and furniture used to mount the projectors or for storage.
After carefully checking over each poem, each candle, tooth and petal, the installation was done.
Everything just had to be turned on.
With the frames hung the installation really started to come together. Robin allowed the battery packs to be mounted directly beneath the poems to easily turn on the lights. The style is minimalistic.
Now, it’s about the projectors.
As I stated earlier in the process I am projecting onto a 16 foot and an 8 foot wall. The school did not have a projector with a large enough span for 16 feet, so I decided to use a smaller, clearer projection.
I tested 5 projectors. The 8 foot wall projection worked perfectly, clearly and without any interference from shadows. The 16 foot wall was not as easy.
First, let me say thank you to Jon Mulhern and more specifically to Harrison; Harrison constructed the mounts for the projectors. Dwight and I then mounted them on the wall.
Once we mounted them, the installation felt even more complete. However, we had mis-mounted them a bit and the projections no longer worked as perfectly as before. That’s when Sean Carmichael came to help. We tested the 5 projectors together and ultimately used 2 of the same brand.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t work with my original idea of a larger projection. However, in this case quality over quantity (size) made sense because the words had to be clear.
The final projector was placed, securely, at 4:30 on thursday, all cords taped up.
In the meantime, I built the setting.
The first steps of the installation began in December with the concept; I wanted to make light boxes and I wanted to set up a room and altar. I also wanted to use projection.
The first aspect of the project is the writing. I composed 15 poems; 14 in female narrative and 1 in male narrative. This took 6 rounds of editing with my mentor, Dwight.
Now the frames. The frames are from IKEA. They consist of a simple, black wooden frame, glass, a poem printed on translucent photo paper and a piece of plexiglass.
The frames themselves were a long process. First, I had to clean the smaller frames, as they came with a frosted design on the front. Then I had to remove the backs, print and cut all the poems and finally place the plexiglass. Then it was just a matter of closing up the frames and stapling them shut.
The printing took about a day, it’s a fast process.
However, I had spent about a week designing the poems on photoshop, fitting the margins, font size, working out titles, etc… The larger poems are 11.5 x 34.5 inches. The smaller ones are 11.5 x 26.75 inches.
The hardest part of framing was making sure the frames were completely clean. A lot of little dirt gets in easily. Lots of cleaning with windex and reframing had to take place. I even had to reprint 3 poems; one for a typo, the other two for damage.
With the frames done, on the saturday before exhibition a woman named Robin came and placed the nails for hanging.
Prior to this, during the framing process, I had discussed with Graylen and Alexis a manner in which to incorporate my purple lights without them becoming points behind the poem. Removing the backing from the frame and taping the lights to the wall became the best idea.
Last week I tested the first projector; it did not have a large enough span for the 16′ foot wall, but works perfectly for the 8′ wall.
Right now its about figuring out the installation space and spending some time there to feel what’s right.
I now have 2 projectors to work with, as of today, and can begin testing them at the same time.
Over break I constructed the frames to hang the poems
The frames consist of a black frame, a layer of plexiglass, clear photo paper and a glass fronting. Between the backing and the plexiglass will go the lights to illuminate the poems.
I am using two different sized frames, one 11.5 x 34.5 the other 11 x 26.75. There will be seven of each.
The process for the smaller frames consisted of removing the backings and cleaning the frosted design off of the glass, which was done with goo be gone, windex and razor blades. Then, on the backing, two holes are drilled; one for the lights and the other for hanging.
For the larger frames the backing is removed and holes are drilled.
This week I am printing the final poems and today I will put together the frames with the help of Ms. Martino, Graylen and Matt Cass.
I will line the backings with the lights, place the plexi on top, then the poem and finally end with clear glass. The frames will be closed up and ready to hang.
I am waiting for the installation space to be repainted and the next step is figuring out projectors.
During this week all I can do is plan:
Perfect the print layouts
Plan the framing
Plan the projection
Plan the altar
All of the physical production will be done during break and when we return it will only be a matter of putting everything together.
This project has gone through a lot of transitions. Originally, I had no idea what exactly I wanted to produce, I only knew that I wanted it to discuss the human reaction to the technological age. I returned this year a little lost with hopes to talk to Dr. Sacks to set me on a clear path. Unfortunately, he had left his position and I found myself therefore in an upset state. I was also disappointed. Luckily, Dwight Dwight accepted to be my mentor and has been a great source of support for my writing. Him and I discussed creating a small book of poetry around a theme I called the “modern sacred.” However, I wanted to do something more than just that because that is what felt right to me. The theme began from various images and thoughts of people with phones in their hands while they went out to dinner together, of Instagram personalities with thousands of followers, the general importance of social media in the current world…
Now I have written a dual narrative of poetry inspired by various screenshots I have collected of confessional comments and statuses from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. I don’t know if the viewer will find the screenshots as poignant as I do – I don’t know if anyone looks at them like I do. But I’m sure I’m not the only one and I am also sure that when people write these words to be sent out into the digital world, they truly write them with meaning.
Hopefully my poetry will express a genuine reaction to what I have discovered and will illuminate the theme that I still deem “the modern sacred;” a theme centered around moments of intimacy and sacredness amidst public setting, moments that sometimes express heavy longing.
After these transitions, and after I produced the writing, the theme has shifted so that I am no longer completely clear; that leaves the installation to tie it all together and I hope wholeheartedly that it does.
In the past few weeks I have printed various samples of the poems…
on plastic, on paper, with backgrounds, in different sizes
I have decided to print on a clear photo paper and to back each poem with plexiglass. Each poem will be framed and backlit with lights.
Finally, I’ve reached some conclusions about the installation… poems are all ready to print, projections are ready, it’s just a matter of assembling.
Over the break I designed all of the poems for printing, ordered lights and photo paper. I have begun planning of the room installation and gathered material to set everything up. I am still thinking about the light boxes…
Next step is to clean out the space and prepare to print.
Last week I met with Dwight and we both agreed on something; the poem scrolls shouldn’t have images or colors… it will only distract.
The problem is then incorporating the screenshots, but we came to the conclusion that plaques would work well… like a museum with paintings.
This weekend I gathered several objects for an altar aspect of the installation and I have a much stronger vision for this.
I also added one new poem to the narrative.
My writing is in its fifth round of edits and I am pretty content with the final outcome. I think it is done. At this point, the installation needs to come into full focus.
I have both the hallway and the room beside the senior lecture hall stage and plan to use each as separate yet conjoined spaces. Each will be a separate home for the two narratives that run through the poems and will ultimately connect one to the other.
The hallway space is measured at around 31 feet which gives ample space for my 13 (maybe 14) printed poems. At this point I’ve began designing the layouts for printing the poems, but now I can begin to conceptualize size, structure, spacing, etc…
I am still more tentative about the room set up except for minor aspects that I am sure of like projection and general concept.
Overall I am really grateful to have received this space and look forward to constructing my vision.
Last week I met with Dwight to go over my third round of edited poetry and on Sunday I sent him more final edits. We both agree that the writing is in a pretty strong place and it is time to really focus on the installation.
Last year I worked on a few collages incorporating social media and art :
I spoke with Ms. Lichenstein about possibly hanging the poems as scrolls, maybe with images constructed in similar fashion to these collages…
Ultimately, I am excited to begin conceptualizing the installation and bringing it all together
This weekend I wrote and edited a third round of poetry and the first draft of the longer poem. I attempted to build in a stronger, clearer narrative to the long poem and began selecting an order for the collection of poems.
I also thought a lot about the installation; would it work to display the poetry like paintings, or would it be nice to set up a room, a setting, with aspects of the poetry included?
For example, I use specific details in the writing like “it’s 1:42 AM”; Could I have a clock set to that time? Maybe the viewer could enter a room that appears private, sacred, and feel like they are viewing a secret.
I still have a lot to think about, but the poetry is progressing well.
Last week Dwight and I met to finish the rubric. He also gave me another set of edits to work on.
Dan Rowe and Spencer and I also met to talk about the installation; light boxes, projectors, could the poetry move? Where could I install it?
I got to thinking I might really like the waterfall at the koi pond, but we’ll see…