On March 24th, Michael Eden visited the College of Fine Arts to talk about his progressive work that sits at the intersection between historical/traditional and modern/vanguards of technology.
An MPhil research project at the Royal College of Art allowed him to explore how his interest in digital technology could be developed and combined with the craft skills that he had acquired during his previous experience as a potter.
Through this he investigates the relationship between hand and digital tools. He is particularly interested in how the tacit knowledge and sensibility to the 3 dimensional object, developed through extended ceramic practice can affect and influence the approach to the creation of objects using digital technology.
At the lecture he discussed the beginning of his artistic career, saying that he began with creating objects by more traditional methods such as ceramic work on a potter’s wheel. In the late 1990’s early 2000’s he discovered the commercial computer-aided design (CAD) application software Rhino 3D. Between traditional methods of fabrication and this new 3D digital technology, he felt that “[he] could create anything”. And he did.
His works use technology creatively in ways that range from 3D scanning objects from an online virtual tour to include in his final piece to printing vases with portraits embedded within them, to 3D printing an object made entirely of bone.
In many of his pieces, he uses the technology to reinvent old works from history and fabricate them in a way that, while staying true to the form, intent, and/or design of the original, would be impossible to render at the time of its’ original creation. Thus emphasizing the power of today’s technology and playing on the relationship between what the pioneers of technology/craft at a certain point in history were doing and what the pioneers of technology/craft are doing today. This creates a series of works that (especially once you find out how he created them) really make it feel that he can, in fact, create anything.
His talk was exciting but also exceptionally relevant to the work happening in the Digital Media focus of the Art Department. One class in particular, Digital Fabrication taught by Assistant Professor and head of the Digital Media focus area Rob Duarte, concentrates on sculpture and 3D fabrication aided by modern technology. Students work in CAD software and use 3D printers, a Computer Numeric Control (CNC) Milling Machine, CNC Routers, laser cutters, and more, to create unique pieces that could only have been created (or created as quickly) with the help of computer technology.
The following week, renown Cuban-American artist Coco Fusco visited the college to discuss her latest book, Dangerous Moves: Performance and Politics in Cuba.
Fusco’s performances and videos have been presented in the 56th Venice Biennale, two Whitney Biennials (2008 and 1993), BAM’s Next Wave Festival, the Sydney Biennale, The Johannesburg Biennial, The Kwangju Biennale, The Shanghai Biennale, InSite O5, Mercosul, VideoBrasil and Performa05. Her works have also been shown at the Tate Liverpool, The Museum of Modern Art, The Walker Art Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona. She is represented by Alexander Gray Associates in New York.
Fusco is the author of English is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas (1995) and The Bodies that Were Not Ours and Other Writings (2001), and A Field Guide for Female Interrogators (2008). She is also the editor of Corpus Delecti: Performance Art of the Americas (1999) and Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self (2003). Her new book entitled Dangerous Moves: Performance and Politics in Cuba was recently issued by Tate Publications in London.
During the lecture, she gave a bit of her background before going into the book. Fusco was born in 1960 in New York City, New York. She disclosed that her mother left Cuba during a period when the Cuban government was making a drastic change in political ideology. Living illegally in the United States, her mother became pregnant with Coco Fusco to hasten the naturalization process for herself. She gave birth to Fusco in the U.S, was deported to Cuba soon after, and was able return within in a year because having her child (who is an American Citizen) proved to quicken the process.
Fusco read a portion of her book to the audience with a visual presentation following along. The book discusses the power of performance art in Cuba and how different artists and performances are laced with different agendas, particularly the government’s agenda. Part of her book discussed fecal matter and it’s presence within the history of performance art in Cuba and how this plays a particular significance as it ties in with the Spanish language.
During Q & A, Fusco mentioned that people often seem surprised that she writes and ask about its relationship to her work as an artist. One of the biggest takeaways for any young art student in the audience was her response to this reaction: that artists need to know how to write. Artists need to know how to write about their art, they need to be able to articulate their thoughts on, motives for, and explorations through, their art as well as in others’ art.
Fusco was a great speaker, fun personality, and passionate individual and the College of Fine Arts was delighted to have her.