We’re returning to the Neon Fabrications newsletter after dedicating July and August to two big pursuits; a large scale installation for an artist-studio client and a personal design competition entry with my cohort Amrita Raja. More on the competition soon.
What We’re Making
I spent the last two months traveling by train and plane to Washington D.C. which felt like a ghost town. We’re asked to work as if the world still operates with the same rules we’re familiar. But what do you do when the lead installer on the team has a COVID scare from her husband on the second day and suddenly can’t come to site. Or to start, that the installation was delayed months after New York’s statewide quarantine, but the museum construction continued including installing a perimeter of glass panels (ie. guardrails) around the entire terrace for you to crane your stainless steel components above and maneuver around inside.
The circumstances couldn’t be planned or agreed when we signed onto the project. But no one’s signed up for these times voluntarily. This issue is dedicated to that installation, the Speaking Willow by artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (artwork and artist pictured above).
Between burning wires with molten tar or hitting three layers of rebar with 8 out of 9 structural bolts, our badass installation team, artist studio, engineer, technical designer and fabrication crew came together like a dream to successfully complete the permanent artwork. It was full of camaraderie heightened by our circumstances. The whole team felt closer than I’ve felt on a project before. I feel really fortunate for the entire experience that could have only happened in this moment.
If you’d like to get into our shoes, you can find almost 100 photos and videos in a play by play of the installation on @neonfabrications IG story.
How We’re Feeling
I consume a lot of self and professional improvement material. In this type of content you’ll often hear advice about getting out of your comfort zone, big change requires big action and to do things that are ‘not like you.’ To grow into someone new, you have to destroy who you once were or who you believe yourself to be.
Yet they never make the queer connection. They’re describing what it feels like to ‘come out’ because only when you lose your preconceived notion of yourself can you successfully aspire into someone wholly new!
I’ve been driven with the desire lately to do something everyday that doesn’t feel like something I would do. Yet when I’m thinking every day, What is one thing I can do that’s uncharacteristic of myself, my mind swiftly goes towards risky and ‘bad’ behavior. I begin to evolve the question into, What does it feel like to be out of control? And suddenly I don’t care about being liked or achieving a specific goal or being generous. What is it about our human condition that brings this thinking forward?
My work now has been to find the productive twist while keeping to the uncharacteristic trial run. I’m continuing the challenge for the rest of the month, with no expectations and the secret incentive of bringing some humorous joy to these repetitive days.
Who We’re Watching
Speaking of repetition, while sending a file through WeTransfer, they somehow knew I would click bait into an advertisement link about Michel Gondry’s creative process. There was zero chance I wouldn’t fall into a black hole of watching as much as I could find online, and so I ran into the abyss with hands up like I was on a roller coaster for the first time in years.
If you don’t know, Michel Gondry is a quirky, obsessive and brilliant director who’s worked with artists from Beyoncé, Bjork and the Foo Fighters to Paul McCartney, Kyle Minogue and Jim Carey. I looked up every music video he ever made and binged watched them all at once. It was a tailwind of recursive patterns, stop motion paper collages, and people and scenes repeating ad nauseum that had me dizzy but grinning deeply. You can find a full list of songs and artists here.
Gondry syncs Images and visuals to beats in a way that heightens your senses to make you fall in love with the music even more, but also look at the artist with curious side eye.
Lastly, and speaking of falling in love, if you haven’t already, make sure to watch Beyoncé’s Black is King (period).
“I’ve dreamed a lot, but I’m not a very good sleeper.”