Distill Life (2010)

In our Distill Life series, static, traditional, black and white prints (etchings, woodblocks or lithographs, for example) are treated with chemicals for translucency, then adhered to hacked digital photo frames displaying colorful, moving forms. Each Distill Life is a delicate conjunction between fibrous, inky drawings and illuminated underlying videos.

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Performance studies scholar Nicole Ridgway describes one piece:
"In Underbrush we see, as if standing under a tree, a [hand-drawn and naked] branch reaching above us in the immediate foreground, dark, denuded, still, a branch in winter perhaps. But via the membrane of the paper and light, we also see the tree awash in leaves, gently rustling against a kinetic sky. Through time-lapse photography the clouds speed by (an entire afternoon in an instant), but we stand still (as if below the tree looking up), and time seems to catch its breath as the branch and its foliage meet up and then move on, meet up and then move on, in an eternal loop."
In other works: machinima sharks circle a lithographed "gallerist," adrift on a wooden raft; ghostly figures leap across pencil-drawn benches, below a great oak tree; the artists dance and run in and around their own etched and inky outlines. These "moving images on paper" are surprising, wistful, enchanting, and seriously playful.
We propose a suite of 10 new such objects, all on the same sized digital photo frame, with an 8-10 inch diagonal. Where the first series of works explored the form, now we intend to push it as far as we can within the constraints it provides. We'd go back to the R&D phase, finding easier to use technologies for curators and artists wishing to exhibit or produce such works, then into production: shooting, editing, drawing, editioning, mounting and building.

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Artist Statement

Here Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-Ganger approach both old and new media as form. They permanently mount translucent prints and drawings directly on top of video screens, creating moving images on paper. They incorporate technologies and aesthetics from traditional printmaking - including woodblock, silk screen, etching, lithography, photogravure, etc - with the technologies and aesthetics of contemporary digital, video and networked art, to explore images as multidimensional. Their juxtaposition of anachronistic and disparate methods, materials and content - print and video, paper and electronics, real and virtual - enables novel approaches to understanding each. The artists work with subject matter ranging from historical portraiture to current events, from artificial landscapes to socially awkward moments.

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