right now!     ian g. cozzens updates, news, photos, and thoughts

“the machine comes to life” (science fiction story)

September 11, 2014 at 2:00 am

well, yikes. everything has been really, really busy. some things are done, but there are more to do (always). I just sorted out my to-do lists and “post story to blog” was the last thing on the “story” to-do list… so here goes! one more list can now be crossed off & put in the folder of “done” lists. (yes there is a folder of “done” lists, it’s highly satisfying, leave me alone!)

This was written for a performative story night that Walker Mettling put together as a fundraiser for the AS220 Community Printshop offset press… to finally fix the second-color head so the press can print two colors at one pass. The story night had the theme: “the machine comes to life”. It’s so short (and a little fragmentary, perhaps) because there was a 300-word limit. Okay!


Three steps up: I don’t extract. The fare alert pulses — I lift my glance and blink to debit. I lean across the boundary (handrail’s roughness) just barely, to make sure I don’t sit in residue.

The bus’s rumbling evaporates as I slip back into the translucent layers, brushing each leaf aside after seeing its contents, descending through the ever-renewing sequence. An image lets me grin, words coax a sigh. One comment makes me chuckle — another I answer quickly —

Oh! new picture! Friends, familiar faces. An alert nudges my awareness, along with the smiles. Ah…!

…the disruption continues, tugs on my attention. I blink to dismiss it. The layers twitch and quaver.

I halt and breathe faster, flick the leaves away in reverse — extricating, impatient now: something other is moving against a part of the body.

I startle through the boundary, gasping at the extraction. The bus lurches, paining old bruises under the thighs. It’s never fun, landing back into the body, present at all its edges, tight stale breaths, abraded skin. Also — something else. Another body. Part of it touches the shoulder. Its hand, on the shoulder, my shoulder — !

Around us, each passenger is deep within their own softly leafing world. Nobody has seen the violation — there is no one to come to my rescue. The other turns towards me.

Its face unscreened, no phone. Its eyes’ dark centers leap at me. No. Too difficult, it’s dangerous, the warnings… No. I don’t want it. I swipe for the boundary. I can’t feel the layers. I look back at the other —

— then — entanglement. That depth. Too much. It’s too much. It’s what I’ve always — it’s too perfect, it’s —

The flesh of the body — my body — grips me in its trembling thickness.

The other’s eyes are infinite.

Nobody will report us.


I thought a lot about smart phones when I was visiting the bay area, and riding public transport… where not *everybody* has a smart phone, but a lot of people do. (Also, after my old beloved dumb phone finally snapped in half after being semi-broken for more than a year, I got a smart phone back in February, and it’s definitely changed my life in some good and some terrible ways…) It struck me that the era when people “hold phones in their hands” will someday be looked back on as a weird anomaly, an incomplete proto-form, like we might look back at early cars without roofs… That’s what this story is partly about. And, eye contact.

to_do_lists

Also, I know nobody really looks at self-hosted blogs or websites (like this one) anymore, but I still love them, so if you are like me, and hope for some kind of internet that isn’t all conglomerated onto one or two monopolizing web$ite$$$ who happen to have the money to pay the cable companies for fast transmission, please take a moment to send a message to your lawmakers and the FCC about protecting net neutrality and classifying internet access as a “common carrier” under Title II of the Communications Act. I promise you, it will take you less time than it took me to write the above sentence! YES!

Here, for example, is the great self-hosted website of Cathy G. Johnson, there’s lots to read & see; Cathy is an amazing artist & narrative-maker. She’s also been nominated for the “Promising New Talent” Ignatz award at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD this weekend… if you’ll be there, you can vote!

the epic to-do list

July 9, 2014 at 12:31 am

Hi readers of these updates! Hope your summers are good. It’s now kinda hot here, Scøtt was dog-sitting for a couple weeks so I was hanging out with this little yellow dog Winnie as well as Buio-cat, they were hot too, everybody was/is hot, it’s hot now & it’s midnight.

excuses_01

So… this is a chance for me to tell you what I HAVEN’T done. There’s a lot of stuff I need to write more about on here, including other projects I did in the spring like complete an assignment for Headmaster Magazine #6, and the final outcome of the print that I shared some process drawings from here.

Also… I never really put together final posts about the Manchester St. Power Station print project (in progress here), or even the Recycle-A-Bike poster from a couple years ago (process moment)! Yikes!

Then there’s a bunch of other stuff from the past year that hasn’t really seen the light of internet-day, or even proper documentation: a dazzle camouflage pattern I made last summer to go on a t-shirt to give myself some body freedom/body obfuscation, which was a personal project that I now want to make some kind of mass-production possible for… a text & slide-projector performance/reading (also about bodies) I did that will become a zine someday… a map-and-memory project I made to be installed in my friend’s apartment in Abu Dhabi, that needs to have a local instance at some point, and get realized fully…

Also I’ve had a blog post in draft form for a while about tools for drawing, which keeps developing & changing in its meaning & context since I got a new wacom tablet recently, and have been learning more computer skills… and since my grandfather (who gave me his engineer’s Rapidograph pens) died this past month…

BUT! There are a couple of print projects on my plate right now which I am struggling desperately to complete. As well as organizing shows & events for the rest of the year… And being a living human who cooks, eats, gets dressed, sleeps, talks to friends, and lives. So I’m not writing those posts now!

Also eventually I will finish some really long-unfinished projects like my epically, drastically incomplete print series about everyday spaces? Aahh! (I kind of don’t want to think about all the other projects that are unfinished / aspirational, that’s just the most egregious one…) Someday I intend to eventually bring all the projects to a close. So basically, as it always has been, this blog is a chance for me to say “sorry everything is not done yet” and “it will be done eventually & then I will make a blog post about it”. It’s good to know nothing has changed since 2007, I guess.

For the moment — I am posting some nice barns, letters, building aspects, etc. to instagram/tumblr; you can keep track of my random nerdy notes in either of those spots — and please enjoy this picture of a drawing setup — on the parlor table due to the length of the horizon line I needed to use to get the vanishing point right. The cat was very happy that I was working on a surface he could sit on (as opposed to my main desk, where there’s really no room for him) while I made the marks.

excuses_02

More soon. !!!

open call: Southern New England Tiny Print Encounter !

June 30, 2014 at 9:12 pm

It looks like I’m gonna be involved in organizing three different print shows this summer and fall — here’s the first of them…


the Southern New England Tiny Print Encounter

Friday, August 1, 4-8 pm
AS220 Labs Gallery, Lucie Way off Mathewson St, PROVIDENCE.

Open Call: an exchange/swap/show of 3-inch-by-3-inch prints, open to all makers of printed matter, one night only!

tiny_print_encounter

Create an edition of 3″x3″ prints (any medium, edition can be as open or variable, or as precise & limited, as you wish). You’ll hang one of your prints on the wall, then you can trade & share the rest with other printmakers from around the region & the country.

AS220’s adjacent Community Printshop will also be open 4-8 on Friday for tours, info, and demonstrations. Prints will be displayed on the gallery walls during AS220’s Gallery Night on Saturday, August 2nd, 5-7pm, and through the end of the month.

If you are wondering, “I might not be —— enough. can I still do this?” or “is —— a valid ‘print’ medium?”, the answer to both those questions is YES, DO IT. (and — if you don’t have a print to trade, come anyways!)

This will take place in the new AS220 Labs Gallery, on Lucie Way off Mathewson St, in collaboration with the AS220 Community Printshop and with RIPExpo: the Rhode Island Independent Publishing Expo.

Here’s the event on facebook, & a tumblr announcement, for your reblogging / sharing / inviting needs…

This would not exist without Amze Emmons and Michael Krueger, whose Pint N Print exchange / party / meetup at SGCI inspired this event. Thanks y’all!

[Also, huge shout out to Ruth Orkin, whose awesome 1947 photograph was the basis for my drawing above...]


sf_highway

Back in March in San Francisco, I decided that the fastest way to get to the bar that Pint N Print was at would be to bike in a straight line across the city… It looked good on the map, but in the hilly (mountainous?) landscape of S.F., that doesn’t usually work out well. I showed up at the bar exhausted, sweaty, confused, with very grimy hands after having repaired a blown-out bike tire earlier in the day, & feeling wicked awkward for some reason… but I still had an awesome time, and realized that some kind of print-based social event in a similar vein needed to happen in Providence!

I’m really looking forward to this, especially to getting to meet and trade stuff with printmakers from all over (since folks in town for RIPExpo are going to be there too…)… and to meet people in Providence I’ve never met before. Hope you can make it — tell your artist friends… & start working on your tiny prints… !

breaking time & space at Slater Mill

May 31, 2014 at 10:46 pm

I just busted out a project that I am really excited about. I finally got to make some really big three-dimensional letters… it is for a show celebrating labor protest history… and it is in a great old industrial building.

slater_n

It is part of a show at Slater Mill Historic Site, a museum that is in the location of the first installation of the “Arkwright Method” of factory textile production in the United States. The exhibit is called The Mother Of All Strikes, focusing on the first factory labor walkout in US history, which happened at Slater Mill in 1824 when women loom operatives walked off their jobs and protested successfully for the restoration of their cut wages. It’s up till July 31st so there is lots of time to check it out — if you want to see it, contact me (secretdoorprojects@gmail) and I think it’s possible to arrange a free visit.

The show includes historical information & imagery, as well as artwork made specifically for it by Christine Ashley, Chelsea Carl, Priscilla Carrion, and Kristina Brown, and me!

I don’t have great pictures of the final installation yet, but here are some process shots and blurry phone pictures of the real thing, with more writing & good pictures to follow!

Slater Mill’s interior, with various textile machines from different eras (some still operational!):

conversation_05

A little chunk of a project description I wrote for a reporter this week:

The piece I made for Slater Mill, and for the anniversary of the 1824 strike, is called, straightforwardly, “Autonomía” — which translates to “Autonomy” in English. The large letters (made of cardboard and silk-screened paper) are staggered in space and take over six bays of the factory building, getting in people’s way — just a little bit! — as they walk around. From one end of the building you can see that they spell a word; from other viewpoints, the shapes of the letters are visible but it’s not quite clear how they fit together.

The idea of autonomy is the idea that everyone should have control over their own lives, projects, work, and associations — it’s a specific way of talking about freedom that is about self-determination and cooperation as well as about independence.

The word was created using a perspectival illusion, based on combining an architectural drawing with a drawing of the letterforms. The furthest-away letters are the largest, and as they come towards you they get smaller, so from a specific viewpoint they all appear to be the same size, floating in space, not subject to the rules of perspective. This was a way of breaking the ordered, regular spacing of the building’s structure, which was part of the control system that Slater & his partners imposed on their workers. The word is only legible in denial of the factory’s regularity, contradicting how objects are “supposed to” behave in space.

I wanted to connect workers’ struggles today to the struggles of workers in the past, and make it clear that the fight continues — right now, with the struggles of fast-food workers across the U.S. and here in Rhode Island for a $15-an-hour minimum wage, among many other battles. The word is in Spanish to allow it to communicate directly to Spanish-speaking museum visitors — and to remind English-speaking visitors that these struggles are happening all over the Americas and the world. (And also to make it clear that I am *not* quoting the 1824 workers, since we don’t have any first-hand quotes from their speeches or meetings in the historical record.)

Some epic process notes….!

Based on the building’s plan, and on my own measurements of vertical elements, I made a perspective drawing (here ghosted out under a couple layers of vellum) and then drew the letters of the word I wanted to build in such a way that it would fit into the museum’s space:

slater_dwg1

Here’s a detail of projecting the letters, these largest ones cut up into overlapping pieces, back in space onto the “picture plane” (a perspective-drawing concept, the plane where all the elements have a “true height” to scale) to figure out how large I would have to build them to get them to look the same height in person…

slater_dwg3

The largest letter was six feet three inches tall, the smallest was about 18 inches tall.

(Most of this drawing was made on a drafting desk with a parallel ruler, but I did have to take it to my parents’ house in Philadelphia with me when I went back for a family wedding in the middle of the crunch time… here it is on their dining room table, with the plan of Slater Mill above the perspective drawing…)

slater_dwg2

The thing I wish I’d done differently in the drawing process: I should have made the original plan at a larger scale; it should have been 1 foot to 1/4 inch instead of 1/8 inch! (or even bigger?) Then I would have had more ability to get accurate detail from the drawing instead of having to do complicated proportional translation. Luckily I had this trusty analog tool:

proportional_scale

The proportional scale! Which I don’t use all the time, but when I do use it, I can’t think of anything that could replace it.

Drawings were scaled up and then transferred to cardboard. I got all this two-ply bike-box cardboard which was nice & rigid (thanks, bike shop pals!), and perfect for being able to create a gluing surface on the edges, by peeling off one layer of corrugation, and bending back the other layer to give the hot glue something to hold on to.

Draw letter, add a 3/8″ border, cut partway through & peel:

slater_edge3

Cut through the middle flat layer:

slater_edge2

Gently bend back the bottom corrugated layer, and squish the corrugations down:

slater_edge4

Cut two-inch strips of cardboard and hot-glue them to the folded-down edges (the paper-wrapped bricks are weights to hold the whole thing in place & keep the glued parts pressed tight together while the glue cools):

slater_edge5

If you drop your razor knife with the blade fully extended like that, don’t try to catch it! (I didn’t… but just barely)

Some complete letters stacked in a nice-looking pile…

slater_edge6

Each letter had its height divided in four, and I made four stripes of this pink paper that Alison Nitkiewicz & I screenprinted more than two years ago

slater_os

(the Os extend a little beyond the top & bottom line of the letters, so they got a tiny stripe of another color pink added on the top…)

The biggest letters (the first ones that were done!) loaded in the van to go to the mill (and yes, the colors did look completely different in the daylight vs. in the studio lighting):

slater_van

Late nite install:

slater_ext

Scøtt was a crucial, crucial helper in the hanging process, I really wouldn’t have gotten it done without his help… the timeframe was tight enough that we didn’t take any installation shots except this one, when we were almost done:

slater_hang

Jeremy Ferris took this nice picture at the opening, really showing the size & scale of the largest letters:

jeremy

And here are another couple pictures I took as things were winding down:

slater_opening

slater_full

And… just some of the smaller scraps of pink paper left over in the studio afterwards:

slater_scraps2


… and while we’re looking at letters, here are two variant proportions for the same letters from stops along the C subway line in Brooklyn.

These are different shapes, to fit a different size panel & with different street names (the first one is Nostrand Ave, the second one is Kingston-Throop Av), so the angles are all different… BUT the small tiles are the same size, and the “style guide” for how the tiles are cut and placed is the same, including the extension of the top point of the A and bottom point of the V past the bounding line for the rest of the letters.

nostrand_ave

kingston-throop-av

Things I like to look at!

I have been posting a lot of found letterforms, also cool architectural things, process work, and occasional cats, on my instagram recently, I’ve been really psyched about that format for internet interaction… follow if you’re into it!

pushing & trouble — conversation on creative practice with CJ Jimenez & Beth Nixon

April 26, 2014 at 5:52 pm

This coming Monday, April 28th, from 7pm to around 9, I’ll be part of a broad-ranging conversation at New Urban Arts with CJ Jimenez, facilitated by Beth Nixon, one of the current NUA Mentor Fellows.

Here in an authentic multi-dimensional Providence context is the multi-dimensional poster made by Andrew Oesch (unfortunately the other two conversations already happened, sorry for not posting this earlier! TIME! augh!):

conversation_01

… and here’s the event on Facebook if you wanna “share” it.

This is the seventh (I think?) year of having these series of “conversations on creative practice” at NUA — I’m really honored to be asked to be part of one. Based on the preliminary discussion that Beth & CJ & I had, a) there is a lot to talk about, and b) we will be getting pretty real? or at least I aspire to that (as always, but especially in this context). Come even if you’ll be late, you can jump into the conversation at any point… it’s free & there will be snacks… Okay! See you there I hope!

Among some likely subjects: non-documented actions/interactions as art, racism / white supremacy, dog walking, political art, narrative & text, tumblr, invisibility, bodies, the possible scope of our actions as humans…. and more? I’ve known CJ for a long time through various connections (if you go back far enough in this bloggy, you can find a picture of CJ helping Emmy Bright print a poster for one of the earlier iterations of the “conversations” series), & I keep being amazed at how New Urban Arts has created these connections which extend over time and allow me to keep understanding new things about people I first met when they were teenagers… and to grow and learn alongside of them. Yikes!


Other things that have been happening:

— with the organizational help of a friend who is good at the organizing & prioritizing things, I am *finishing* lots of projects to get ready for the RISD Alumni Spring Art Sale, Saturday May 3rd! 6 more days to get ready! lots to do! gettin it all done hopefully… Jess X. Chen & I are sharing a table, & we’re near other friends — come say hi at the corner of Benefit & Waterman Sts from 10-4 next Saturday!

— Hand-drawn letters, they are everywhere:::

conversation_02

…and I’ve been posting the cool ones that I see, as well as work in progress / neat buildings / interesting patterns / cats / etc. on instagram, I like its simple interface for whatever reason, follow if you want… most of those pictures get cross-posted to tumblr

— In other bloggy news, I’ve been keeping track of my favorite spring happening, the bright green blooming maple tree in our yard

conversation_03

— Did I write anything yet about being a contributor to the 6th issue of Headmaster Magazine? Well dang, again, TIME!!! (Here’s the preview image I posted a couple months back, but all the contributors were still under wraps at that point, and I have yet to put together a full post on that project…) Also on May 3rd, from 9pm till late, Headmaster is having their Providence release party: “The Pawtucky Derby” (facebook event) at Machines With Magnets in P’tucket. Dancing, fun times, magazines, drinks, snacks? boys? (“men?”) okay! Headmaster (aka. Matthew & Jason) are the sweetest most tender fancy-art-magazine publishers everrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr <3

— Along with a bunch of other local artists, I'm working on a project for a show at Slater Mill, celebrating the Pawtucket strike of 1824, that will be opening in mid-May! More three-dimensional letters, coming up. I’ll post progress pictures along the way; here’s the space we’ll be working in:

conversation_05

!!!

— found a use for old laser-printed offset plates! as the best, water-proof, re-usable sheets for masking off areas of silkscreens while printing. YES:

conversation_04

“I feel like… sometimes…” (in the new year, part 2!)

April 3, 2014 at 5:50 am

Yikes, I meant to write about this a while ago! The short version: I have a piece in a show at the Carpenter Center at Harvard U. in Cambridge, MA; it’s up till April 6th, 2014; you can see it for free. The whole show is vast & awesome, featuring some hyperlocal as well as global “social practice / art & activism” projects. The work in the show is generally extremely generous, inspiring, & great.

My piece was made specifically for this show and context, & the way you look at it (through a viewport hole, at a certain height) is an important part of it! I hope all y’all New Englanders get a chance to check it out before Monday!

More details & background follow…

sometimes_01

Late last year, I was asked to be part of a group installation along with other former and current members of the Dirt Palace, a feminist / women’s art space here in Providence. My relationship to the Dirtpal has always been a little complicated, which meant I didn’t automatically agree to participate… but I did my research about the larger show that the installation was going to be a part of, called Living As Form, and the approach the Dirt Palace’s owners were taking to the whole thing — asking every person who had ever been a member of the space to contribute a piece of their current art that would be assembled into an installation — and I got psyched about making something… also because one of my stated goals for 2014 was to “make more three dimensional letters”, and this would give me a chance to do it.

So then in the fall I was really really busy, with the fall & holiday art sale seasons, moving stuff out of Building 16, my show at URI, etc. The first two weeks of January I spent doing a lot of house & general life projects that had gotten put off since, like, September… Then in the third week of January I realized that the deadline for the Dirt Palace installation was upon me! So I worked really hard for FIVE DAYS (!?) & busted out a thing.

sometimes_02

I had known I wanted to make a three-dimensional diorama, based on the awesome time I had had making the poster for my show… the Dirtpal folks had given me the maximum dimensions that the work needed to fit within, and I had told them that I wanted a 6″-diameter hole in the wall that all the art works / dioramas / slide-viewers were going to be set behind. I built this box out of plywood… & made a cardboard mock-up to show the placement of the viewing port… & started drawing and cutting out letters.

sometimes_03

sometimes_04

sometimes_08

The words in the box make a sentence that is a lil’ joke on me, a lil’ joke on Dirt Palace house meetings, and also a really true idea that might be the most important thing I learned while participating in the group processes & workdays of the Dirt Pal.

(…and I’m not gonna say “it’s supposed to be illegible”, cause that’s a little bit of a cop-out, but I will say “it is definitely intentional that it should take a certain amount of effort to read” — that’s for real.*)

sometimes_06

sometimes_05

sometimes_10

sometimes_11

sometimes_12

sometimes_13

This was fun fun fun to make and I worked really directly and I moved things around and when I liked where they were (from the viewpoint determined by the porthole) I glued them down with hot glue. YES! (ahem, excuse me, “thermoplastic adhesive”…) Part of the reason I hope folks can go see this in its installed context is that it is meant to be seen from a specific angle and I don’t know when the next chance will be to display it that way…

Also because it was made specifically about the Dirt Palace, and for this show Living as Form which talks about “social practices” and “community engaged art” and a whole bunch of other buzzwords which I am all for as real things, but which, as words, often get bandied around without people’s feet being on the ground. In figuring out what to make, I wondered: what is a way I can talk about real horizontality, true non-hierarchy? And I feel that, like washing your own dishes, shutting up can be a deeply radical act — especially when practiced by those who aren’t often required to shut up (aka. white, masculine-appearing know-it-alls like myself). !!!

sometimes_14

ALSO! the whole Dirt Palace installation wall (seen above) is great, and does an excellent job of celebrating the history of the building and the contributions of all the alumnae (& alumni) of the D.Pal — while also extending to all those people an opportunity to have their current personal work showcased in an international show, at a fancy institution.

So much work went into the installation on the part of Pippi Zornoza and Xander Marro, Arley-Rose Torsone who drew the wall text, and many other helpers & installation workers, not to mention all the artists themselves! The labor of all the people who have worked to build the Dirt Palace into what it is today often gets erased in the magical-seeming glow of the physical building as a desirable object, and by the oft-told, simple narrative that tends to glorify the owners of the building… and it’s way more complicated than that. This installation begins to get at the multifariousness of the 40+ people who have lived & worked at the Dirtpal over the past 14 years!

groupshot_small

In some aspects, this felt like a reunion — though we didn’t all live at the Dirt Palace at the same time, of course — and this was actually the first time I had really met a couple of these people. I was struck by the honor and delight I felt at being able to exist in this awesome company — being able to be associated with this intense, thoughtful, & creative multigenerational crew.

Here’s the one other piece in the Dirt Palace wall that I took a picture of, “Chosen Family” by the brilliant Samuel Lopes:

sometimes_15

And here’s a picture from what was, in my opinion, the best project of the show, whereby a Harvard Business School associate seated at a desk offers financial advice to gallery-goers… the associate puts each question through a pneumatic tube through the wall behind them… on the other side of the wall, a child writes an answer to the question and sends it back. !

sometimes_16


Some close-ups of my “RIGHT” letters, which kinda get lost in the back of the diorama… construction process:

sometimes_19

Graphite, white colored pencil, and watercolor on pink paper:

sometimes_20


and… infinite shout outs from me & JR to the butches, fags, gender-non-conforming folks, & queers of the dirt palace and the hive archive (its previous, collective incarnation)! “we are everywhere, making foolish smiles”

sometimes_17

(n.b. all photos by me, except for: Emmy Bright took the “horses” picture & the picture of me & JR… and I am not sure who took the group Dirt Palace picture, I snagged it off their blog!)


*if your device can’t display the hover-over title text on the diorama images, the sentence is: “I feel like… sometimes… to create a truly anti-authoritarian space, … the people who know the *right* way to do things… might just have to… shut up…(question mark)?”

print objects, printed objects

April 2, 2014 at 3:36 am

potrero_hill_small

Okay! I just got back from spending a good chunk of time in the Bay Area, for the “Southern Graphics Council International” graphics, print, & printmaking conference. I was nervous about attending this, I’m not sure exactly why, I think I was a little intimidated by the rumoredly academic/MFA-y focus… and maybe the general vague worry that one is not in the “cool kidz club” or something??? and maybe because I had been spending lots of time in the studio working in the past bunch of months, I was nervous about a highly social environment. but anyways, my fears were unfounded & it was awesome.

… and ultimately there were way more interesting events, talks, & shows happening as part of the conference than I could ever hope to do or see all of. Even in its aftermath I find myself overwhelmed by the feelings of “okay, I want to be in touch with that person, and that person, and follow up on that possibility…” with what’s probably an unrealistic number of people…

BUT, speaking of which, if we met there, or if you ended up with my print in the membership exchange, or if you found me through SGC, please be in touch — I would love to stay connected!

desire-fear-now_small

(the print I made for the exchange)

I have been gathering some conference photo notes & links here on my tumblr, but this is definitely not a complete catalog of the neat stuff that I saw or was part of! And there is also a *very* partial selection of interesting letters and building things I saw out west, here on the instagram

Also, San Francisco, Oakland, & Berkeley (and Walnut Creek and Grass Valley/Nevada City, which I also visited, to see my cousins, uncle, and great-aunt!) were beautiful & interesting, and I was really excited to get to spend some time experiencing the different topographies, architecture, and ecologies of all those places… as well as noticing different ways that people interact in different cities, I feel like I am inspired to make more & better eye contact back here in Prov, as opposed to avoiding catching people’s eyes, which I think I have been doing? Hmm.

… more thoughts about (and images from) those travels soon…

bandana_printing_1

Anyways, one thing I was trying hard to get done before I left for California, but mostly failed to get done, was to finish some more of my bandanas (as visible here in their original incarnation/context) on different fabric (100% cotton this time) & trying out new inks. I did a bunch of printing (above & below, on Beth Brandon‘s fabric printing table), but didn’t get to finish the (even more time-consuming) sewing part…

bandana_printing_03

bandana_printing_2

… so I had only one finished bandana to take with me and when people were like “OMG can we buy those??” I still had to say “aah no I’m sorry I’m still testing the colors and methods of making it” which is just aggravating and it’s pretty stupid to have too many ideas and not be able to get them all done!

BUT guess what I got when I was in California???

MORE BANDANAS. Just what I needed!

This seems to be a new bandana, “made in China”, from a vintage store in Berkeley:

bandana_3

This is a real nice old one (also from the same vintage store), I think I have a similar-patterned one in just white (no black) on blue, but it’s really ripped & torn up:

bandana_5

This one is faces of historic printers, made by students in the printmaking dept. at Ohio University:

bandana_4

This one’s discharge-printed (aka, with a bleach paste) & hand-heat-set (to make the bleach work properly) (with a heat gun, on the sidewalk outside, apparently?!!!) by Matt & Lena at the Compound Gallery in Oakland.

bandana_1

The Compound’s central clerestory and shared studio space, with various letterpresses & proof presses…!

compound_gallery

Another nice old bandana from the same vintage store as the earlier ones above, never seen one in this pattern before:

bandana_2

And this isn’t really a bandana but instead an absorbent cotton towel in a perfect color, this was a gift from my uncle, a trauma surgeon, who says that a specific kind of kit for sewing up human beings comes with three of these towels, and that he always uses just one of them, and saves the other two because he doesn’t need them, and the hospital would just throw them away because they are no longer sanitized! and they are the best towels! so he keeps them and gives them to people.

bandana_6

(…now you know where I originate from…)

Oh and if that wasn’t enough nice fabric for you to look at, check out “discharge-style” for more drooly times!

and… here are some more bonus shots: a detail of the shelves of a homemade print drying rack at the Compound Gallery…

compound_rack_01

… and the custom-made tool for tightening the wing-nuts that keep the rack shelves in tension. So nice!

compound_rack_02

“bread bread bread bread bread”

March 6, 2014 at 8:31 pm

a drawing of a mixing bowl and flour with instructions for mixing bread

So local weirdo, friend, genius Jacob published the “tasty bread” recipe, from my 2008 zine & 2010 print, in the center spread of January’s Mothers News newspaper. I sent him the old illustrator files & he laid it out in a nice layout & mailed/distributed it to hundreds (possibly thousands?) of people all over the U.S. / world.

hand holding a sheet of newspaper with an illustrated bread recipe on it

I was excited, it’s pretty cool to have those graphics back in circulation (and to have them reach such a varied audience)! But I was also like, hmm, I have been changing & experimenting with this recipe a good deal since 2008, and that’s a long time ago now. I make bread often, and sometimes very publicly (last year I was selling loaves at a weekly coffee-shop/social-gathering thingy I was running, and through my friends’ farm CSA… and I’ll be making bread for the Providence Provision dinner this weekend, Sunday March 9th!). Thus there are a decent amount of people in town who have put this bread into their mouths… and later asked for the recipe…

So, when people ask me if the recipe on the poster is the same recipe as the bread I make now, I do say “Yes, but… I am always modifying it! and I’ve changed the proportions to make 5 (or 9) loaves at a time… but it’s the same core recipe”. This is true. But it’s also true that I haven’t made the 2-loaf version from the zine / print / MN centerspread in quite a long time…

Well, this week finds me in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY hanging out with my brother, his partner, and their baby, my super-new niece! I’m washing lots of dishes, shopping, cooking, letting a small life form sleep in a frog-like position on my chest so she will stay chill while her parents do other things, etc. Today the bread selection at the nearby store was a little limited… AND look what’s on the wall in their apartment:

a horizontal, blue screenprinted poster in a frame

So I decided to test the recipe. My initial intention was to follow it “exactly” from the poster… but… there was some leftover rice kicking around… and my brother & his partner have all these weird seeds & nuts & dried fruits in their kitchen, & by weird I mean awesome (and that I don’t have them in my kitchen)… so I varied it just a little…

a closeup of the bread poster showing mixing the ingredients

There’s no real suspense here, it still works great! What did I expect? Though I would recommend making it in “medium” loaf pans — 1.5 quart, 5″x8″ish — in “large” pans I got flatter rather than higher loaves, which is no big issue except maybe aesthetically. Also — this version of the recipe is prettty sweet, maybe there’s a little too much molasses, you could probably cut it down to 1/3 or even 1/4 cup.

Alternately… one thing I’ve realized only recently, after seven (!) years of making this bread recipe, is that you can let it do that first rise for a long time. Like, you can knead it & set it aside in a big bowl under some plastic wrap, & go out and do all your errands and go to the art opening and run into your friends and drink a whiskey and actually *forget* about the bread, & come back and make it into loaves and let them rise and bake them, & it will be FINE. The longer you let it rise, the less sweet it gets as the sugars in the molasses are consumed by the yeast… so if you like it less sweet, just let it rise longer! (there is a limit to the above; I would say maybe 6-8 hours is gonna start pushing it on the rising time? but yaknow, if it looks over-risen, might as well make loaves & bake it anyways, the worst that can happen is that you’ll get a weirdly-textured but most likely still tasty baked item…!)

closeup of bread poster showing preparation of the dough

I also stirred up one egg white & brushed it on top with some more sunflower seeds… which looked pretty, and was tasty, but the egg white also slid down the sides of the pan and made it a little difficult to get the loaves out?

part of the bread loaf stuck to the pan

Or maybe that is just because these pans aren’t coated with a permanent layer of baked-on oil… like the pans at my house… which I strategically never really scrub that hard… shhhh….

two loaves of bread

Looks pretty good, right? This recipe is the same as the one you can read/get a pdf of here (the progress description is an un-updated snapshot of the stage of this project from 2008 sometime? ha ha! oh, my sad website), with these changes: instead of 4.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, I used 2 c. a-p flour, 2 c. whole wheat flour, and 1/2 c. wheat germ… I added 1/2 cup of leftover, cooked rice to the oatmeal cooking mush… and 1/3 cup of sunflower seeds to the middle of the kneading stage (and the above-mentioned egg white glaze with more seeds on top).

Here are some more past updates about bread-baking, bread poster layout, etc. (including this one of course)…

You can also buy the blue, horizontal, screenprinted bread recipe poster here… AND/OR if you SUBSCRIBE to Mothers News for 2014, you’ll get the back issues including the bread-recipe one, so you’ll have a sparse, black-and-white newsprint copy of the recipe as well. And I just got my automatic stapler back from a long-term loan, so the long-promised third edition of the recipe zine, with detailed instructions, might be re-released someday possibly…

… someday.

ps. Bonus photo! here’s the kiddo! The Downtown Boys‘ newest fan…

baby resting against a pink shirt for the band Downtown Boys

pps. “Bread bread bread bread bread” (etc) is what my friends used to claim was the internal monologue of the almost-wordless baker character in Kiki’s Delivery Service… Now, sometimes, I think that to myself while I am baking… does that mean that this is me?

drawing of the baker, Studio Ghibli

“in the new year” part 1 — drawy drawy draw draw

February 20, 2014 at 2:36 am

architectural drawing of roof beams under construction

I haven’t been posting things here recently, I’m not sure why, maybe because it feels somehow weightier than putting something on tumblr or facebook, or like something has to be more “finished” to post it here? Which is absurd because this has always been all about process and things in progress.

Also I was really hoping for some “break time” in the new year, but turns out I’ve just been really busy with three big projects that haven’t been commercial print projects (as in making prints that people might purchase), but instead have been three challenging personal projects in response to assignments or calls from other people (for exhibition, publication, etc). So… kind of a break? at least a break from my regular print work? but all of the projects have been on tight deadlines (and/or just really late because I was supposed to work on them in the fall and didn’t because the fall was such a busy non-stop season for me…), so there’s been a certain level of stress / “I can’t do anything till I finish this project! aaah!” feeling to the past six weeks…

… and also some guilt: “if I post something on my blog, the people who are waiting for this work will think I am procrastinating…” :C

(Update: after finishing this post, I think the main reason is that when posting stuff here I feel like I need to write things about the images and tie them all together / explain somehow… and that writing takes a while…)

Anyways! Here are some images from the thing I am working on right now (the last of the three projects, will post next about the other two). Pencil drawing, gonna try to print it as a tri-tone made of halftone layers. This should be difficult, but not impossible, to print well. I’m trying to glean lessons / avoid pitfalls from printing the duotone hands on the Recycle-A-Bike poster

It is a drawing of an imaginary building that is simultaneously falling apart / under construction, and it will have some text in it (spoken by the person on the right in the below image) but will mostly just be these people exploring the building…

drawing of two people standing under a sloping roof having a conversation

Drawy drawy drawy draw draw, keep drawing, draw all the lines:

drawing of broken lath-&-plaster walls with the plaster crumbling & the lath sticking out at odd angles

Will I someday remember to remember that drawing is easy and fun and the best part of everything? It’s so easy to get intimidated by it, before I’ve started…

When I’m drawing people from my imagination, I feel like I’m still in middle school. I remember the specific feeling of revelation, in early high school, where my drawing practice switched over from “oh I drew that face really perfect, even though it’s in the wrong place in the larger drawing I can’t erase it because I could never get it that perfect again” to “if I need to, I can draw it again, go ahead and erase & make it the way you want it!” But I still feel a little like the lines coming together “right” on a drawing of a person, especially the face, is a magical, accidental thing that I don’t quite have control over…

…and apparently I’m still channeling my favorite characters from elementary school:

illustration from the book

in-progress partial drawing of a child

(the color illustration is from Little Tim and the Brave Sea Captain, by Edward Ardizzone, great author/illustrator/graphic-narrative-maker/hand-letterer, staple of my childhood… I didn’t realize that he wrote & drew the “Tim” books over the span 1936 to 1977, that is a long run! I also didn’t realize that I haven’t read them all… gotta get on that. Also he made a bunch of paintings and illustrations of harsh scenes that he witnessed as an official “war artist” (!) in World War II… many things to seek out.)

Okay here’s some images from me testing out the tri-tone effect on the computer, to see if it will work with the scale of printing / scale of the details on the drawing… I think so? I hope so!

three-color separation of a detail of the drawing:

halftone image of a section of pencil drawing

lightest tones:

lightest color halftones

medium tones:

medium-value color halftones

darkest tones:

darkest color halftones

These are only test images, the separations will change… After making these, I looked at the Recycle-A-Bike prints compared to their transparencies, and made the note to myself that in shooting the screen, the smallest “positive” (ink) dots do not block enough light and are often lost, and then in printing, the smallest “negative” (blank paper) dots often get obscured by ink bleeding into them… so I will adjust the “curves” that determine where these colors fall in the image, to try for the most descriptive image possible…

Here is a detail of the combination:

combination halftone image in super close up

If you click through & zoom in, when you look at the full-size image, that is a screenshot & shows the image at 100% PIXEL size… that’s 27 lines per inch, at 600 dpi… you can look at the ruler at the top of the image to see what a ruler-inch is for comparison.

I hate to do this, so blog-typical (and I’ve done it before for this same thing! augh) but I need to get back to drawing, so I will say, “I will do a serious process post on how I make these halftone tri-tones / duotones sometime soon!”. And I will follow through with that! (After the thing is printed & mailed out… sheesh.) Is learning about that process something that’s interesting to anyone that reads this blog? Does anyone read this blog, in the age of facebook & tumblr? Hmmmm.


Here’s some sneak-preview multi-layer dazzle-camouflage-pattern blip-blops on clear acetates for one of the other “new year” projects, that I finished last week… I am under orders not to talk about it till the publication that it is for announces its contributors… so I have to wait to give out more specifics! But here are some cool/weird/accidental colors to tide you over:

a bunch of different color geometric patterns printed on clear plastic


Also it is Buio’s birthday sometime in February, he has been my good friend for almost 10 years! (I found him as a kitten in June 2004…) Here’s a nice picture of this companion in front of a cool Katrina drawing:

a black cat sitting on a table in front of a drawing of two women and their little dogs that says 'I stop the world and melt with you'

BUIO!!!

interim photo post

December 5, 2013 at 5:33 am

Stuff is sad (understatement) cause two good people died recently — Providence artist & musician Joe Buzzell, who I knew glancingly from around town, whose art I admired, who I always wanted to collaborate on a project with — and writer & theorist José Esteban Muñoz, who I didn’t know, but whose writing really shaped the way I see the possibility latent in the world, the potential in queerness, the crucial importance of fighting towards utopia. I want to write more about it, but I’m really busy, aah…. so here are some pictures from the past recent times cause things are also beautiful and here we are, alive.

Building 16, now that it’s over it feels like a dream that we didn’t appreciate enough while we had it….

I built some shelves

and filled them up with stuff.

I have definitely done this in my time as a bike rider:

Epic two-day ink-sort-out, dealing with all the random ink containers (30+ ?) that had accumulated after rainbow rolls that I’d never “put away” properly, for maybe the past two years…?

There’s always a container into which I scrape all the gross crap that shouldn’t go back into the good ink but also shouldn’t go down the drain, just started a new one, here it is:

testing

In my friend’s secret repository of slightly water-damaged paper:

I acquired all this paper (the biggest sheets here are 40″x26″, the stack is about 1.5 feet tall) WHOOPS

This building is on Public St on the south side, go see it before they put walls on/in it & you can no longer witness this epic structural situation:

I picked up some old wooden casement windows out of the trash today for the first time in a long time. I kind of swore off doing that a while ago (it’s just too tempting, there are so many, and you (I) will never really do anything with them!). BUT today was a “save for some reason” day, except now I know the reason: saving a thing and appreciating its beauty, or planning to do a project with it, is a tiny promise against death, for a little while, completely ineffective, but hopeful in its own illogical way…

Next Page »

this work is copyright to jean cozzens | Secret Door Projects

Creative Commons License
most of it is also licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
for more licensing & copyright details, check out the credit page.