Author Archives: Madeline Dupre

Community Blanket — Madeline Dupre and Jennifer Morris

An overhead view of the cloud, with our blanket twisted in the middle

An overhead view of the cloud, with our blanket twisted in the middle

Madeline with the blanket before the installation started

Madeline with the blanket before the installation started

 

The original inspiration for this project was that our housemates often spend evenings knitting together, talking and watching television. We both love knitting, finding it to be relaxing and a nice activity to do with our hands as we socialize. Our original idea for this project was to create a full blanket that we would ask the participants to unravel and give us the pieces of yarn. We soon realized that this wasn’t realistic, so instead we changed the focus of our project to be one of collaboration. We often knit our own projects separately, but this installation was a team effort, so we wanted it to be fully collaborative. In order for it to be this way, we decided to each knit about half of the blanket. Then we would sew these halves together while still knitting the blanket, so we would knit from both ends. We still wanted people to interact with the blanket, so we decided we would gather materials that could be knitted with that were not yarn (ribbon, shoestring, twine, cut up tablecloth, string made of plastic — all in a variety of colors). People would then add these to the blanket by handing them to us to knit in, and we would teach the audience members (who we later dubbed community members) to knit as well.

 

Half of the blanket before one class critique

Half of the blanket before one class critique

 

After one of our first critiques on this project in class, we realized that if more than two other people were participating, they would get bored and wouldn’t feel engaged with the piece. We also wanted people to do something besides knitting, because we know that sometimes the idea of knitting can be intimidating. With this, we planned to encourage community members to braid or otherwise combine some of the non-traditional materials and either ask us to knit them into the blanket or tie them into the fabric we had already knit in any way they wanted.

 

Madeline working on the blanket at Spring Fest

Madeline working on the blanket at Spring Fest

During one of our final, aesthetic-focused critiques for this project, we decided that to frame it, we wanted to be sitting on a fake cloud to add to the comfortable, homey feeling. We got pillow stuffing and formed it into a circle to sit on, and we sat across from each other, wearing kind of cutesy outfits of shorteralls and pastel t-shirts. The blanket would go across the cloud, and we would knit it simultaneously.

The cloud pre-formation

The cloud pre-formation

Our experience of the installation was overwhelmingly positive. It was nice to be in the middle of Open Studios, where people were milling about and being contemplative, and changing that space to have it be one of direct and kind interaction. When we invited people to sit with us, one of the main points of pushback was that many said they could not knit. In these instances, we responded by saying that we could teach them, or they could do something else. This was one of those wonderful moments where what we had planned lined up with reality. Overall, we made new friends and completed a blanket that truly feels like it came from the community. If we had unlimited resources and could do the project again, we would have liked to perhaps have made a schedule for all of the community members to actually be able to use the blanket, or we would have done multiple sessions of sitting in Heimbold, asking people to participate in a similar way each time. Because at Open Studio there were so many people that were so excited, but we couldn’t physically and emotionally support all of them in making the blanket, the idea of multiple knitting sessions seems wonderful in retrospect, to have been able to forge a strong sense of community.

Biliopii, Demeter, and Dr. Prudence

 

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Dr. Prudence selfie

The original beginning for this project was that Jennifer Morris is essentially a hoarder and had been collecting toilet paper rolls for the entirety of the first semester this year. After she announced that she was just going to recycle them, I told her I would take them and use them for an art project.

 

After some research into Tara Donovan, I thought for a bit I wanted to have so many toilet paper rolls that they lost the look of a toilet paper rolls and became an independent sculpture. But after seeing just how many toilet paper rolls I had, I realized that there were not enough to create the effect I wanted, and our house did not go through toilet paper rolls fast enough for me to use them in this way.

 

Tara Donovan, ‘Untitled (Paper Plates)’, 2007, Pace Gallery


I decided, after thinking more about the toilet paper rolls and what other kinds of materials I wanted to use, that I wanted to cut the toilet paper rolls to different heights of tubes hot glue the sides of them together, creating almost like a bunch of buildings all close together, or the top of a factory with lots of different building heights within it. This sculpture was exciting to me, but even after this change to the materials, I realized that they still looked like toilet paper rolls and transformation hadn’t truly taken place.


I decided to add two elements to the structure — hot glue with melted crayon within it and a paint or paper mache-like covering made out of water, flour, and varying levels of turmeric and cumin. I covered the structure in the different mixtures, having ones that were white (just made out of flour and water) on the bottom and incorporating more turmeric into the mixture as I went up. I knew I wanted this to be a relic from an alien planet covered in sand, with the sand becoming paler and paler as one dug into the ground, and so I tried to make the structure look as if it was made of sand that had been pressed into a solid.


After the structures were created, I started to focus more on the narrative behind them. As someone who lives in a co-op, I liked the idea of organisms living in the structure I created. I had thought that maybe they would live together in the structures. I created these organisms out of some felting wool that one of my housemates had and covered it in hot glue. I decided that my reasoning for the hot glue would be that it was resin which had encased the biliopii (the organisms). Thinking about the idea of illusion, I didn’t want the viewer to be able to see the alleged organisms too well, so the covering of hot glue would make it more mysterious and also more believable.


The gloves, biliopii, and fake sand

The gloves, biliopii, and fake sand

The hive, sitting on a bed of salt

The hive, sitting on a bed of salt

The hive, sitting on a bed of salt

The hive, sitting on a bed of salt

Then, I started to incorporate the interactivity and my place in the project. I made the character of Dr. Prudence who was a researcher who led a team to the planet Demeter where we found these hives and the biliopii. I made some fake sand out of salt and flour and turmeric and had the audience touch that. Then I had them put on gloves to pick up the biliopii and use flashlights to try and get a better look at them. I also invited audience questions at the end, which added an improv element which made it more exciting, both for me and the audience, I think.


After the Supernova Art Party, I was happy with the way my project turned out, but I wish I had incorporated more opportunity for interactivity than just explaining a fake scientific discovery. I was really happy with the interactivity I did get, but I felt that at the end I put too much pressure on the audience. If I could do the project again, I would likely try and plan out more opportunities for interactivity so that the audience could become more engaged and there would be less time of me explaining everything to them. I also would have taken more photos! In retrospect, I feel like a big fool for taking no photos except for one selfie! Thankfully Micha had some of my setup which was wonderful! 

 

System: The Eisenberg

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Final form of the system while the background is gray

I knew going into this project that I wanted to try and create a map of a social network, based on Nicholas Christakis’ Ted Talk entitled “The hidden influence of social networks.” I decided to have a set 12 circles representing people for my map and to show the connections between people I would have them be different colors and then the circles of the same color would be connected. After some consideration of using a RGB color wheel, I decided to use a traditional red-yellow-blue color wheel for my colors because it seemed more natural, and I thought a user would be able to see what was happening with the colors more easily.

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System with plain gray background and no lines connecting the people

The most difficult part of this project was to get the pressing of the “a” and “s” keys to complicate and simplify the system. I had to figure out how to get the colors to change at the press of the key while simultaneously having the previous circle not show up and the lines continue to change. I had difficulty having the circles change color randomly while also having the draw and undraw line functions work correctly in conjunction with the button press.

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System in its initial state with the connections of the lines

To simplify and complicate are the main two rules of the system, and they are also the ones that the user can interact with. The other rule is to connect, which is done through the lines that connect the people of the same colors in the system. This part of writing my system was easier than I anticipated because I formed a loop that would find the color of each circle and draw a line to all other circles of the same color. The removal of the lines with each complication and change of the system was slightly more complicated but I set the lines so that they were a much higher stroke weight and were the color of the background when performing the undraw function.

Error screen of the system

Error screen of the system

I based the decision of what colors to make the backgrounds based on the reading I did by Josef Albers about the relation of colors to each other. When colors are placed on top of one another they react in such a way where sometimes one color can take away from the other, making the other color look different than it should based on the actual color value. I chose to make the “error” screen the same red of the red from my list of colors. I refer to this as the “error” screen because when the system has that color for the background the system cannot be simplified anymore. All of the circles on the error screen are also red, directly showing that the group of people cannot be simplified anymore because they are all represented by the same color. With the white pattern on top of the background color, I wanted to see how the colors of the people interacted with the color of the background when the white pattern was in between. For the “error” screen, the red circles seem to look darker than the background, and I think that the circles in contrast with the white lines cause this effect.

The system when the colors have reached their most complicated and the background is yellow

The system when the colors have reached their most complicated and the background is yellow

I had a similar thought process for choosing the yellow for the other background. I would normally never use the color yellow that I picked because it’s too bright for the type of color palette I prefer. I chose this because I thought it would perhaps make the somewhat more subdued colors of the people look even more soft and also perhaps darker. This worked out somewhat, although the colors with yellow tints became somewhat more difficult to see or tell the difference between. I think also the background yellow looks more green-tinted in relation with the colors of the people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The final version of the system with the circles slightly different sizes based on their color, changing through the different iterations and changes of the system

The final version of the system with the circles slightly different sizes based on their color, changing through the different iterations and changes of the system

I really enjoyed doing this project because this idea of the human social network is one that I think about often and have thought about since I first watched this Ted Talk two years ago. I am really intrigued by the idea of the idea of being influenced by people who are far away from me in terms of social connections, plus I really like seeing human relationships mapped out. Independent of this project I have considered drawing the relationships in my house as a map multiple times this semester. Making this piece has really been wonderful and I really enjoyed seeing this concept I’ve thought so much about come to life. I’m planning on researching force directed graphs so that I can possibly continue to make other pieces like this that are more complicated in the future.

 

Secondary

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To start this project off, I looked through the works of Josef and Anni Albers because I love the way that both of them use colors that are somewhat muted yet also rich. I used the digital color meter to get different RGB values from different pieces and saved some of my favorites for later reference. I originally thought I would do something inspired by to Josef Albers’ squares series by having my background grid be completely squares, with some squares larger and in different colors, to see how the two colors paired together. After trying this, however, I thought the larger squares would look better as circles.

 

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While looking at their paintings, I found one by a contemporary, Carmen Herrera, that inspired me to have the moving triangles on the sides of the wallpaper. I had the triangles pointing different directions and moving opposite directions based on the painting.

 

carmen-herrera-basque

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To further oppose the vertical motion of the triangles, I wanted circles to bounce horizontally across the screen, and then because I had been trying to utilize white space and different opacities, I decided to have the circle be comprised of two arcs that were slightly separated.

 

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The canvas was looking pretty dark at this point, so I wanted to have a central, light figure that was rotating. I decided on a square to go against the circles in the background and the bouncing circles, and I wanted a light purple to go with the dark purple background and to further lighten from the background squares.

 

 

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Once I had reached this point, I felt that the background of the photo had kind of become detached from the rest of the piece, so I added ellipses in a different shade of yellow to make the entire thing more cohesive and also make the background pattern pop more with the interaction between the pink and purple with the yellow, creating the final product.

 

 

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Anti-Violence

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I knew at the beginning that I wanted to have my collage be about this new headspace I feel that I’m in right now. After a serious car accident in January that forced me to take a semester off, and now that I’m back in New York after spending so much time immobile in Texas, I feel that my feeling about being in New York is different, and I think that when I explain my car accident to my friends I tend to have a somewhat lighthearted or even humorous slant to not bring the mood down. I wanted a car to be at the center of this, and so initially I cut out a photo of a silver Prius in Photoshop, because that was the car we were hit in.

 

 

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Then, I took photos that I had saved from my Snapchat since the beginning of the year as well as downloading the photo of the wheelchair and the woman using the walker from the internet. I played around with where I wanted to place these,and eventually placed them into what ended up feeling like nodules around the center car, moving some pieces that I felt were important to be in motion, like the car, the woman using the walker, and the statue from the library. After my conference, I realized how I had separated all of the elements, and wanted to increase the size of individual pieces and change colors to make the collage make the viewer feel the dichotomy between the violence of the car crash with the familiarity of the art pieces from on campus, Mr. Softee, and the snow (none of which I can access while home in Texas). I initially enlarged my face in the corner.

 


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After some more photo editing where I changed the colors and edited some of the photos, I think that the piece came together in its cohesion. I also repeated the photo that says “Cliffs of Depression” in the background to add to the business and make it feel more connected to the rest of the piece.

 

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I decided to name this collage anti-violence, which is also one of the text blocks in the collage, because that was a term I put in a poem I wrote, and I think that it really represents the third space I’m trying to evoke. While this violent car crash and broken leg did happen to me and are on my mind, I’m also still living in a world of art and sweet things, which makes for a strange mental state.

I think that I could still improve this collage by making the pieces from the library more clear in what they are to a person looking at the piece who has not been to Sarah Lawrence or someone who doesn’t remember the pieces of art in the library. I also think that while I tried to clear up the colors and use that to make the piece more cohesive, I think I fell short in that regard. Overall though, I am proud of how this piece turned out.

 

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Self-Portrait

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Before I put anything down on the page or in Atom, I knew that I wanted to have a basic face for my self portrait, and (since color is very intriguing and important to me) I wanted to have three color schemes — one from a photo of my choice and two photos from my two best friends (one photo for each of them). I wanted to do this both because of my love of art and because of my closeness with my friends. I didn’t feel that a self-portrait that only had colors I had chosen would be representative of myself, and I thought that if the color scheme changed with different forms of the face, it could show how I feel different and fill different roles with my friends. Before I decided these color schemes, I drew a basic sketch in my sketchbook.

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This sketch looks pretty creepy in my book, but I loosely followed it for the beginning of my code. I got four colors from the photo I chose, and used those colors for the first iteration of the face.

 

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After a discussion with one of my housemates, I decided to give the nose more dimension by basing it off of the noses of Animal Crossing characters (which is fitting, because it is one of my favorite video games). She also encouraged me to add eyebrows and make them one of the focal points of the face. 

 

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I was unsure about whether the hearts would be too much for the face, so I held off while I took the photos my friends sent me, drew four colors from each of them. I had some difficulty with the clicking mechanism to change the photos, but I made it work by setting it so that when a counter for each click went above 2 (the number with which the final color was indexed to), the cycle would start over so the colors would return to my original color scheme.

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I toyed around with the idea of hair, but decided that I liked a cleaner look better. However, I did decide to add another vertex to the eyebrows so that they would look more like my own and seem somewhat more realistic and also add the heart cheeks at low opacity. Eventually, this resulted in my final self portrait (the three different forms of which are shown below).

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