“orchidsgladiolascowsdaffodilscandywrappersyelloworangebloodredroses&shit” // Laura Letinsky and John Paul Morabito // DOCUMENT Gallery

Isabel Ngan

Critical Methods for Contemporary Art

At first glance, everything seems different yet seemingly the same. In today's digital world, where a lot of what we do is to ultimately capture the perfect picture to show the world, what would happen when that medium that is now continually used – photography – is joined with an art form seen merely as traditional? Laura Letinsky, Professor at the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago, and John Paul Morabito, Faculty in the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, look at the way weaving and photography connect. Previously Letinsky and Morabito worked on 2013’s The Stain Napkins Project where they explored stained napkins as way to “embrace smears and dabs, both in their quiet beauty as well as a record of your life well-lived” (“Stain Napkins”). This show focuses largely on materiality and the way digital renderings are transformed by material. Orchidsgladiolascowsdaffodilscandywrappersyelloworangebloodredroses&shit,” a colorful show at DOCUMENT in Chicago, captures the attention of the viewer through color and medium as both artists explore the conversation between photography and weaving.

WordfolwersphloraisAurHottir (2016), at first glance, looks as if colors where placed randomly through the weaving process. Similar to the way a printer with low ink prints out colors or multiple shades and in random places, the pieces illustrate a composition that alters in the clarity of image. Initially, the vibrant and random placement makes the piece a bit overwhelming. The piece is not stretched taut, but instead hangs loose like a tapestry. There is malleability to the material, yet the material holds a shape of its own. The labor and craft behind the piece is made evident by the fraying of the weave. The free edges and the way some corners curve give the piece an organic, handmade feeling. Looking a little longer, larger organic shapes began to appear, easing the sense of chaos. Large brush strokes of color form in within the weave, as if a painter began to define a form through large gestural stroke. The gestural strokes created within the weave allow for my eye to continually move around the composition. The gestural feeling and material provide a complexity to the piece. The colors are presented in a way that paint would be brushed on the canvases. However, the way the piece was made was linearly through the placement of colored cotton, so the artist would have planned each woven line. Knowing that the image was first created through a digital interface presents an interesting correlation between digital photographs and woven material. The conversation of material between digital and cotton provides a complexity of how images are captured and the way gestural movement can be placed within woven pieces. The larger strokes of white look as if the piece was created through the layering of multiple colors. Through I did not recognize specific images, the composition illustrates how weaving can create a sense of layering and gesture through the use of digital interfaces.

indiapilehamletmemajamina, 2015, Cotton and wool, 52 x 41 inch

Around the corner, Indiapilehamletmemajamina (2016) features more photo-realism areas that both created clear images that are made unclear due to the material. In the top left corner there is a darker area where defined shapes looks of root vegetables lying in a garden. The colors surrounding this detailed area seem to be woven above the image. The juxtaposition between photo-realistic images and basic colors re-emphasizes the idea that the pieces are layered, but also illustrates how images seem to be both receding and revealing. This movement of forward and back within a two-dimensional space gives the composition a transformative nature. The digital realism within the piece provides are large amount of detail allowing the viewer to see what is there, however, the materiality of the tapestry pixilates the image, making it less clear of what the image is. By explore connections between photography and weaving, using digital interfaces to bring these two material outputs into direct communication, there is a duality of clear and unclear images. The pieces are both revealing and hiding information, and as you stare at the tapestries, information in the piece continually changes.

bloobluosVeresaittlaiment, 2016, Cotton and wool, 41 x 90 in

vereVereAslipFlowers&haneemoon(payforthelie), 2016, Cotton and wool, 41 x 71 in

Horizontal or vertical lines of different colors, which elude to how these woven compositions an idea of technology, crisscross each piece. When I initially looked at the pieces the lines reminded me of the static lines of old televisions. These lines present the weave more digitally in a non-digital format. However, what I found interesting was that in vereVereAslipFlowers&haneemoon(payforthelie) (2016), which contained both vertical lines and photo-realistic images on the left, looked similar to that of burning film from being placed in a film projector for too long. The white areas of vereVereAslipFlowers&haneemoon(payforthelie)  (2016) seem to move outward, the way fire burns paper, taking up the space of the vibrant pink. The blue parts re-emphasize how the works looks layered. The pink and red seems to be layered above the white, which looks layered above the blue. Within the flat composition, there is a sense a depth that is created. When placing photography in conversation with weaving, there is a layering affect is formed which gives the pieces a transformative property: two-dimensional to three-dimensional and presenting clear and unclear images.

Detail of  postnatureflowermarket(trainingUnslktaid) , 2016, Cotton and will, 40 x 57 in

Detail of postnatureflowermarket(trainingUnslktaid), 2016, Cotton and will, 40 x 57 in

These vibrantly colored works look at dichotomies of digital and physical, and receding and revealing. Throughout the pieces there is a clear connection and flow that follows through all works. The weave and color is presented provides the feeling of texture and movement that keeps the eye moving around the composition. The three-dimensional illusion with is created from how weaving through a digital interface created a sense of depth and layers. The works illustrate a new way of showing digital photography through a non-digital medium. There is something intriguing when photographic aspects are clearly shown through the high detail of certain areas of the composition, yet lost within the beautifully pixilated colors of woven cotton. The way photography both captured depth of reality on a flattened surface, these works of art both flatten images while create dimensionality through material and color. The works are journeys through a wash of overwhelming visual information and ends with a calming visual illusion that never provide us with a solid grasp of what we are looking at.


Works Cited

"Stain Napkins by Laura Letinsky & John Paul Morabito." Www.artwareeditions.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

Isabel Ngan (school)Comment