Wednesday, May 15, 2013

When We Get To The End..

...He wants to start all over again.   The first of four planned woodcuts combining the themes of Photo booth pictures and Kabuki finished with a small edition of 10 yesterday.  The black line carved key block combined with five color blocks and a solarplate photogravure to make this image.

The piece started here.

I mentioned in a previous post how this idea originated. Expanding on the premise; in a photobooth we change our pose a bit and mug for the camera a bit to get our moneys worth in four poses; by doing so we expose different ideas of ourselves.  We evolve a small play about our personality; a little action sequence that if the camera shot video it might make a GIF or a Vine.

Over the course of making the first print I thought of how it relates to our constructed identities on social media platforms.  Facebook and Tumblr are image gardens where we curate what others see of us while simultaneously 'others' have become the entire connected world. In the days before the camera we depended on the artist to construct those images and personas and in Japan ukiyo-e provided images of the pop cultural icons of their day, the Kabuki actors.

I have three images left on my photobooth strip and have to decide where to start on the second in this series.

Looking at both my expressions and some of my favorate portrayals of theater, I try to match the expression with some theatrical elements of Kabuki found in master prints.

The top image seems to be satisfied or content, perhaps the expression of a scribe or scholar pleased with his lesson, or if I'm being grandose,  the look of Wo Yong from the 14th century Chinese novel, Water Margin pictured below.

In the middle is perhaps the stage stare of Nakazō Nakamura II, an actor who made an exaggerated frozen stare his signature.
Wu Yong

The top most picture was inspired by some really wild hair that characterizes prints by one of my favorite artists of ukiyo-e,  Kuniyoshi.  I can imagine a whole tradition of hair carving specialists evolving from his work.  It demanded a well honed knife and two days of patience for my attempt.

Now that I'm in practice I'll start with the bottom image because another set of hair has caught my eye.  Kuniyoshi's ambitious sounding One Hundred Heroic Generals in Battle at Kawanakajima, Shinano Province (of which there are perhaps only 12 actual works) contains one called Sixteen Year-old Warrior Sanada Masayuki.  

While it's not technically a kabuki performance I'll take some liberties as Kuniyoshi did.  I like the tilt of the head and facial expression.  I also like the feeling of the piece; the slightly apprehensive yet determined look of a young man with a challenge before him. 

That 1000 yard stare that I have in the bottom photo seems like a good place to start constructing my "behind the closed curtains of a photobooth" identity for image number two in the series.  I'll begin by seeing if I can translate some of that great hair, bulging eyes and the droopy grimace and finish with some theatrical props from the personal kabuki I call my life.

Sixteen Year-old Warrior Sanada Masayuki.  Kuniyoshi  c1845-6

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