and other little collections
by Simran Singh Gleason
The "Hows," my experiences in putting this show together.(April, 1994)
I do hope you've enjoyed the show.
- I first heard of the idea of an Internet Art show on the phone with Dave Wheeler of the band Phreeworld (He had "discovered" Mosaic the previous day, as had I). He was looking at John Jacobsen's Strange Interactions show and gave me the URL. I was very excited to see that. Really, it blew my mind to think of putting an art show out (for free!) where anybody (with access to the technology :( ) could see it. After thinking about it awhile, I decided to put my work out "on the net."
I started with the idea of just doing a photocollage show, since I felt my photocollage work to be more "mature" than my pastel and charcoal drawings (I've already had a museum show of my photocollage, but hadn't shown many of my drawings). I also wanted to have a show "on the wall" somewhere, and the photocollages would work best for that.
Then I decided that I could segment the show into several mini-shows (since I'm constantly trying to categorize my work around little themes). This way I have a forum for putting out my "projects" without having to worry if they're big enough to fill a whole venue.
From there I contacted John Jacobsen. He was very encouraging, shared some of his experiences putting together "Strange Interactions," and even offered to let me use his artist statements in my quest to convince places to let me hang my artwork.
Finding a network service provider
- Basically, after I decided to do a show jointly on the net and on the wall, I needed to find two things: a place to put the pictures on the net and a place to put them on the wall. Eventually I decided to go with netcom for the on-the-net location, since I have some friends who have netcom accounts. I signed up & then tried to figure out how to put some html pages up for world-accessibility.
It turns out that netcom does not have an http server, but I was able to get an anonymous ftp account and use the "file://" protocol. (slower than "http://" but it gets the job done).
Finding a "physical" venue
- The next task was to find a gallery, restaurant or cafe that I liked, and that would hang my work (withing a reasonable time period). My initial choices were La Di Da cafe in Half Moon Bay, California (they have great art & good music!!), St Michael's Art Cafe in Palo Alto (great art & better music!!), and various restaurants. The first restaurant I wandered into was Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant on Emerson in Palo Alto. I immediately fell in love with the place. Large expansive walls with very nice artwork on them, good food, etc. (I heard rumours that the place used to be a theater, I'll check it out). I whipped together a portfolio and a proposal for a joint show in cyberspace and physical space, and submitted it to the manager. He seemed to like my work, ran it by his art consultant (the manager at the San Jose store, who is also an artist), who called me up one day and said "how about next week." Well, there was no way I'd be able to put the show together (with all the publicity, etc) in that amount of time. Of course I said "YES!" And then I hung the show last Sunday (May 23, 1994).
Putting the show together
- By the time the Gordon Biersch show actually materialized (sorry, it wasn't really as easy as it seems in the paragraph up there :), I had most of the online show already together and out on netcom, with people accessing it from as far away as silicon valley, i.e. down the street, and as close as Sweden and Finland (there seems to be a bit of a bi-modal distribution in my ftp logs).
Digitizing the artwork
- I tried several different methods of digitizing the artwork to get them into the show.
First I tried scanning originals. Each required four scanner passes, and stitching together the results in photoshop. This process was very time consuming and prone to error. (not to mention getting the scanner all smudgy). I ended up doing this for two pastels.
Second I scanned in some 3x5 photographs of charcoal drawings, using a greyscale scanner. This method is how most of the pictures in "Some self portraits in charcoal" were done. I found this quite adequate for these pictures, given that I had the photographs at hand.
Third, I happened to have a number of slides and negatives of my work, since I had already taken pictures of my work for portfolios (before I had even seen my first "Internet art show"). I tried a slide scanner to capture the image, and photoshop to modify the image. This process turned out to give me the highest quality, since I could set the levels on the scanner at scan-time, but it was very time-consuming. "Mist Dancers," "Raining on Mondays," and my self-portrait photocollage were done this way.
Finally, on suggestion from Gabriel Unda from UC Davis (I met him at a digital imaging seminar at Stanford), I sent in my remaining slides and negatives to get them put on a photo CD (yes, that Kodak thingy). Since I didn't really have access to a free slide scanner by this time, the dollar and a half per image turned out to be the best price around. (slide scanning from a service bureau runs $5 minimum around here). It took two weeks (way too long for li'l ol' impatient me) to get the photoCD back, but when it came it had eighty teeny little thumbnail images on the cover (really cute!). To get them in the show I put the CD in a CDrom drive on a macintosh, loaded the images in photoshop, cropped, sized and adjusted the levels to get good contrast.
Once I had the pictures I ftp'ed them to netcom, used xv to make the small thumbnail pictures for the inline images, and linked them into the html files.
Difficulties I ran into.
- lots & lots, you may be sure!
Some of the Issues
- Copyright: Here I am, giving my art work away for free. Yeah, they are copyrighted (by default and according to my copyright notice), but still, how can I enforce anything half a world away? Kind of disturbing thought, at first. Finally, I decided that what I really want is people to see my work, and that's more important for an artist than getting way too much money for it. (Not that I'd really mind, mind you).
The images here are downloadable for free, and people are free to print them out. There isn't really enough resolution to end up with a very high quality print. Using a dye-sublimation printer and pixel interpolation software, you can get a nice 8x10 (inches) print for $10 to $20. If people do that and put my artwork on their walls, I will be quite thrilled. I got the idea that art can be like shareware, and would like to encourage anybody who does something like this to send the artist a small contribution.
I won't be happy to see my images in advertisements. That, I think, is a bit beyond the spirit of a show like this.
- More collections: I would love to put Wild Desert Flowers, a collection of poems and drawings, on the net. I'm also working on a book of poems I call Chinese Painting Poems. I think it would work well in this show, together with some of the paintings (my own and my Lao Shr's) that inspired the poems. (Some of the poems have been posted to rec.arts.poems in years past).
Album covers: I'm currently doing a cover for Phreeworld, and would love to do work for other bands I enjoy listening to.
Collaborative net.art: Wotta concept! Someday when I have more time...
And of course there's always my medium-term goal to integrate my artwork better with my job (right now I'm a "straight" software engineer at Sun Microsystems).
Simran Singh Gleason.
Simran Singh Gleason