Finalists Announced for 2009 Summer Stipend

Excerpts below are from the applications of our Summer Stipend finalists.

Anna Collette

My Object: Razor blades

I’ve been trying to think of something all week — I have no idea how you guys do it three times a year. But despite the fact that I couldn’t come up with something for you to really put in your mailer, I found the reading about the poisoned candy scare to be fascinating. And I thought it may give your some food for thought.

My Project: Kudzu photographs

My photography explores conflicted notions of the contemporary landscape. This work began with a series rendering urban and suburban environments that focus on how the natural world — and human expectations of it — is being redefined, both visually and metaphorically, by the failed idealism of increasing development.

My next series presents views of an invasive plant, Pueraria lobata or kudzu, which is taking over large swaths of the Northeast. Here, the landscape is a metaphor for terrifying destruction and transcendent beauty at once.

So many times my projects only get the proof print stage because of high printing costs. This stipend would allow me to finish the invasive species series as I originally realized it. For me, the project will only be complete when printed full size and they become objects that can be shared and viewed by a larger audience.

Additional project information:

Kat Roberts

My Object: A bead to ward off the evil eye

People have all sorts of superstitions about Halloween originating anywhere from Hollywood horror film, gothic literature, commercialized symbology, and the holiday’s Celtic origins. This makes a talisman, such as the one that wards off the Evil Eye, an ideal object for people to receive in your Halloween mailing. They look cool and the plastic ones are incredibly inexpensive.

My Project: “Black Cloud” comic

“Black Cloud” is a humorous comic about a man trying to get rid of his own personal cloud. It is established within the first page of the story that this guy is a jerk due to the way he treats people he randomly encounters on a city street. By the time the cloud makes its first appearance, there is a group of kids around him who had originally intended to kick his ass but decide it’s a lot more fun watching him desperately try to get rid of this now raining cloud. As the story goes on he desperately tries swatting, deflecting and even shooting at the cloud to no avail. The story reaches its conclusion when the man discovers, to his surprise, the solution to ridding himself of this burden from the mocking kids who have been following him around throughout the story.

After it’s finished I plan to print, and assemble a small run of the story that will come with a screen printed cover. The finished copies are something that I can sell at conventions, as well as, passing on to editors who are unfamiliar with my work. The money would go a very long way toward covering these costs so that I can bring it into actuality the way that I idealize it.

Additional applicant information:

Mary Jeys

My Object: Funny money

Pretend dollars, plastic or chocolate coins, poker chips. The economy is in the tanker, Macktez money can work!

My Project: Brooklyn Torch local currency

The Brooklyn Torch project is a local currency project aimed at providing Brooklynites with a tangible medium of exchange that will circulate and support the resident community. We are starting the Brooklyn Torch project in North Brooklyn (Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Bushwick). In these uncertain economic times, the Brooklyn Torch Project aims to create a local currency to benefit both local area businesses and artists. The Brooklyn Torch will bring together both artist communities and immigrant communities in our area to improve integration of social groups and economies as well as boost our pride.

What is a Local Currency? A local currency is a method of trading goods and services meant to supplement other means of trade while improving the community wealth. Local currencies circulate in a defined region. Money does not leave the area because trade is restricted by the currency boundaries.

Artists have been recruited to design the currency, and businesses are being invited to partner with us. We encourage them to think of taking a percentage of their business or special items in exchange for Torches. If someone wants to be involved in the planning/development phase, we have an open door policy for anyone interested in having a say on how the Brooklyn Torch can best be implemented.

Additional project information:
Brooklyn Torch

Nicholas Nauman

My Object: A small case of dental floss

There’s more to Halloween than the stomachaches and cavities. The real tricks and treats are about playing with your identity, and it’s a whole lot of fun- putting on a mask, spooking your friends, and perhaps even being generous to strangers who come to your door in ghoulish attire. That’s where Halloween’s deeper value comes into play. When we give in to the power of frolicsome disguise, we lose a lot of the inhibitions that might normally prevent us from being truly welcoming and giving to our fellow humans, no matter who they are, what they look like, and how much face paint or fake blood they have on. Because sometimes the scariest stuff lurking in the shadows is nothing more than our own fears of opening up to the world.

When the masks come off, we can still put our best faces forward to all we meet, and a little dental floss goes a long way to giving our smiling teeth luster (to say nothing of preventing painful root canals)- no matter how much chocolate you eat on All Hallows Eve.

My Project: Flash drive album

The materiality of the record album has nearly dissolved. The music industry quakes in the face of the Internet s power, but musicians persist in innovation. Via independent record labels and a new attention to the possibility of making unique art of the recording’s packaging, recorded music is not endangered, it s merely reinvented.

My experimental pop group, In, have almost finished an EP. In order to give our music a concrete, distinct identity, we are going to self-release a limited edition pressing not of vinyl records, tapes, or CD s, but of flash drives. These little, thumb-sized vessels perfectly straddle the line between the old and the new: the music will come on a physical object, but the vessel is an interchangeable part. Even more than a CD, the tiny drive is a re-usable piece that does not need to be present for continued enjoyment of the recording. And why should anyone pay for this vessel, when an mp3 would do just fine? The distinct identity of the flash drives will come in custom-made cases.

In an edition of 300, we are building record covers as art objects, using the precise imaging capabilities of a laser engraver (we have access to one of these machines at the Eyebeam Gallery in Chelsea, New York City). Each record cover is comprised of a stack of CD jewel-case-sized pieces of thin wood, each cut with a single layer of a highly detailed image– much like a multi-layered stencil. The result is a contemporary take on the record sleeve, a sturdy case adorned with a three dimensional reductive image. The flash drive itself sits in a socket in the center of the case. The finished piece will be both a functional, useful package for a new type of music distribution, and a limited edition artwork in its own right. The Macktez Stipend will go a long way to help us complete this project. Thank you!

Che-Wei Wang and Taylor Levy

My Object: A barebones digital watch

The ways we keep time are the ways we are kept. The watch is simple reminder of the way we conform to a standard we rarely question. Wear it and reap the benefits of a synchronized society. Break it to proclaim your liberty. Or modify it to establish your own protocol.

My Project: Cinematic Timepiece (aka Filmklokken)

Filmlokken is a large sculptural clock. The clock is read through a series of CRT monitors that also serve as the mechanism for time keeping.

The CRT monitors are stripped down to their bare electronics and reassembled onto a larger frame so all 5 monitors work together to display time. Each monitor displays a time increment through various rituals of different scales to give a sense of the consumption of time. The first monitor shows a 1-second ritual, the 2nd ritual that takes place over 1 minute, then 1 hour, 1 day, and the last monitor will display a ritual that completes in 1 week.

We consider the piece as a functional sculpture. As a clock, it tells time using standard increments. While it is useable, functional and precise, it interjects the instinct to abide by conventional measures of time.

The Cinematic Timepiece (aka Filmklokken) offers an alternative reading of time and invites people to reconsider their relationship to the ways we keep time.

We have managed to inherit 15 CRT monitors that are ready to be tested, stripped and reassembled. With a stipend we’ll be able to purchase the rest of the necessary hardware to assemble the clock. Once we have all the hardware built, we can concentrate on writing the software and shooting footage of our rituals.

Additional project information:
Cinematic Timepiece

Zak Meers

My Object: Pumpkin seeds

Plantable pumpkin seeds. 4 or 5 seeds As recommended, in a biodegradable casing so the user can directly plant the disc. Interactive and zero waste or carbon footprint which allows the user a longer duration of connection with you and the holiday. The case could possibly have your logo or instructions.

feel like the pumpkin seeds represent Halloween, the environment, diy, and is a generally rewarding experience.

My Project: Treehouse

I would use the grant to fund the building of a bay view treehouse at my grandfather’s home. I am a student with no money so he said it would cost us $1000 to create it ourselves and that he would match me. So in other words if I get $500 I can spend a month or two building with my grandpa which would be awesome!

Zoe Fraade-Blanar

My Object: Fortune-telling fish

Surely I’m not the only one who has suggested the classic Fortune Telling Fish. They occupy a happy place in my heart next to silly putty and that pink plastic goop you could blow balloons out of. They’re great! If you’ve never used on before, here’s how it works. 1) Place the little plastic fish on your palm. 2) Squeal and giggle as the fish curls itself up. 3) Get ready to be teased mercilessly over whatever hidden emotion his position apparently reveals. They’re less than a dollar each when bought wholesale, and small enough for an envelope.

No one knows what’s going on right now. I sure don’t, do you? The economy is doing badly…but then again, maybe it won’t be soon…or maybe it will! Am I going to have a job tomorrow? Where did I put my socks? Who knows! At the moment it seems we all could all use some direction, no matter how random. When all the traditional authorities seem just as confused as you are, it’s time to trust a little red adviser you can hold in your hand. Preferably someone you can crumple up if you disagree with him. Also, the fortune telling aspect might have good Halloween overtones.

My Project: Overlooked Newsreader

I’m working on an Overlooked Newsreader. It’s a project I started two semesters ago as a first year graduate student at the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU. The original concept was a giant collection of articles from the New York Times, updated in real time, that cross-referenced itself with international news sources to see what stories America was overlooking. An interface charted the articles out on a map to see if there were trends to which countries America knew about, and which countries it didn’t. The semester ended with a workable prototype, but it was so buggy that it would be tough for any member of the public to use. I’d like to turn this concept into a website for general use, one that’s aesthetically appealing and useful for anyone without a tech background. I picture people stopping by there each morning to check what articles their newspaper missed. I would use the money for the servers, software, and books required to advance the project.

Additional project information:
Overlooked Newsreader