Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Melissa Catanese Pt III - on process

When I posted last week about Melissa Catanese's work I mentioned the sort of "off to one side" part of her website she calls "More" and said:
"My guess is (and I could also be completely wrong) is that this is slightly older work, but she doesn't want to quite abandon it. If I'm correct and that's the case, I found it worthwhile looking at because to me it seemed to give a picture of her developing her work and ideas and way of seeing things over time and then it's as if she has found her stride in the main, new (?) work she's presenting - Stardust, Bugs, Jungle, Garden etc. Maybe I'll hear from her one way or the other."

Well, she did and it turns out my guess was fairly close. Melissa sent me an email that said in part:
"As far as the way my website is designed, you’re pretty much right—the homepage has projects that are completed, at least in their visual form. I think of the ‘more’ section as sketches or thoughts, in fact before my last update this section was titled, 'sketches'. The work in this section is both old and new. Towards the end is older work edited in the nature of a diary, this is the work I can’t seem to part with, like you said! Much of the work in this section is new, still in sketch form and pragmatic in the way it’s edited. I think including work in progress can play with the fluidity of a project and aid in the process of working it out. It’s a good exercise for me. But the downside to this is, if misinterpreted, the work is viewed as finished. This is an issue I’m still struggling to resolve."

I'm not sure that last part is really a problem - first, the section is slightly tucked away - and secondly, at least one person figured out broadly what it was... although perhaps in part because it was so recognisable to me. In my own work I go through very much the same process. They are sketches, ideas, experiments, notes - sometimes they work and sometimes they don't - but you learn from them (especially the ones that don't) and they propel you a bit further towards what you are trying to do, what you are exploring, where you are pushing your boundaries back. And then things will click and something will come together - for a while at least - until you head off in a new direction.

And they aren't just preliminary sketches, but they usually continue through as you work - as you adjust your direction or your pace - as something new strikes you or as you you look back to figure out how you got here.

As someone doing the same sort of thing, I personally find this both fascinating and immensely valuable - to see these sorts of rough sketches. And even if you aren't actively pursuing your own work, I think it's likely that they can also help inform and broaden a viewers understanding of where the work is coming from and what it's about - you get a chance to see and visually engage with a bit of the process.

So I hope people can see that these aren't, say, older/earlier finished works - but rather it's like getting a glimpse of an artists sketchbook or a writers notebook - fragments of the process.

(Note - the photographs here are a mixture - some from the completed projects, from the sketches in "more").

1 comment:

Davin Risk said...

I find this sort of "reveal" to be helpful and interesting. It's become much more common, in no small part due to the internet, for artists to expose their creative process by showing on-going, unfinished, and mid-edit work publicly.

This is often simply in the form of a blog, soft-edited galleries of current work, or even Flickr.

To some people this is threatening -- revealing too much. And I do think there is a certain amount of inappropriate pressure in online media to show work at a forced pace.

In my case, I have had a "photoblog" for about 4 years but recently I've really felt the need to assemble some rough edits of projects to display online.