In Context: The Private Viewing by marisa vitiello

Marisa: I hear this is a movement... like AirBnB and Uber, people are setting up shows in houses and other private spaces.

Beate: The sharing society.

Marisa: Yes. That's it. And your house is ideal for it because it's so open and spacious and the light is perfect.

Beate: It's so different seeing the work in context. 

Marisa: Yes, you taught me this, that we HAVE to put the work up all the time to see whether it's working or whether it's done. Always taping and un-taping and putting it up.

Beate: But then we wanted to do even more of this so we put a lot of art up and invited people over. We put almost a year's work up, but we couldn't even fit it all.

Marisa: It was so cool to see it up and to talk to people about it.

Beate: Should we show it to people who couldn't be there? 

Marisa: Yes, let's do a little tour of some of our favorite corners.

These were the first pieces you see once you enter the main space. 

And then... the mantle piece... you know, instead of grandma or a flat screen TV

Exhausted after the show

Headed upstairs, here were 8 squares, we now have 16

And on the right, you see Beate's image that started our whole collaboration and a stack of images below because it turned out we have made a LOT of art lately.

Next time we do a show, we'll try to invite you if you click sign up to the right and give us your email address.

{All photos by Tom Yoder}

Guest Blog: Beate writes about our recent installation by marisa vitiello

Artist statement to “Say my name”: A time of innocence

By Beate Liepert

The Tacoma window art installation “Say my name” reinterprets a scientific experiment that took place in the United States of the 1960s. Dr. Jonathan Lilly believed in the superior intelligence of dolphins and thought he could teach a dolphin to speak. Lilly transported a dolphin into a flooded mid-century apartment and hired Margaret to record and teach Peter to “say my name”.

For a scientist working in 2015 the innocence of this experiment seems intriguing. Around the same time NASA sent astronauts to the Moon, a scientific and financial endeavor the society of today would not approve. This “because we can” mentality reflects the human-centric approach and scientific hubris of that time. The lack of boundaries in general and between humans and nature, specifically in Jonathan Lilly’s research is astonishing from today’s perspective. Lilly’s research exhibits a lack of responsibility and accountability towards the subject of research and towards societal needs that is unthinkable today.

As a climate scientist in 2015, I work on technical questions of energy flow in the Earth system. Global warming and climate change are part of this equation. For this kind of science, humans are the threat to the system under study. Humans are also the victims, and the boundaries between humans and nature are already broached. Today when scientists write research proposals to the National Science Foundation, they are required to include a chapter on broader impact of basic research, and scientists need to explain the overall benefits to society that the outcome of the research may have. One might ask: what was Jonathan Lilly thinking of the benefits to society? The scientist today signs on to numerous protocols of research conduct with animals, research ethics and transparency. Would scientists of 2015 be interested in Dr. Lilly’s experiment? They would certainly question the ethical appropriateness.

Do I want this time of innocence back? Yes and no. I am glad that in 2015 we are made aware of the consequences of science and technology and share our work with the public more. But sometimes I also wished we could be more playful and exuberant. For example, I would like to see NASA sending men and women to Mars, and I dream of doing outrageous science myself, while knowing that I would never get it funded.

Marisa and I recreated this 1960s scientific experiment of Peter and Margaret not exclusively but also to commemorate simpler science times. The installation depicts simple cutouts of the two figures in an ink-splashed room. One of my goals is to show more innocent times in science and a playfulness and sometimes uselessness of research that may be lost today.

 

Scaling it Up by marisa vitiello

Beate: Marisa, what made you work in this large format? You were scared of painting on 22" x 30" paper.

Marisa: I was excited by the idea of a window space where everyone could see (not just people in galleries) and also I love the idea of playing with 2D in 3D space. But I was terrified up until the very end of install. No doubt there. How about you?

Beate: It requires process and planning not just "messing it up."

Marisa: You like that? Ugh!

Beate: That's what I do in my professional life. So, how did it start?

Marisa: I heard a RadioLab story about a woman who lived in an apartment with a dolphin and I brought it to you to hear. We then started making paintings responding to this story. 

Beate: This was science in the 1960s. You couldn't do this kind of science in 2015. We thought this was really intriguing. Then we saw the call for the Tacoma Spaceworks ArtScapes program. We applied to make a display in a storefront window inspired by the story. This meant scaling up our painting.

Marisa: Actually, we changed our minds about how to do it 100 times. Remember when it was going to take about 1000 pieces of paper? We even abandoned the story for a while.

Beate: At the end we came back to the story and our rule of using black white and gold. Because it's a storefront on a busy corner, we wanted it visually pleasing and whimsical. I obsessed on almost every detail.

Marisa: Yes, when you went to the store to look for the right colored string to stitch the dolphin together and you were gone for over 2 hours! And by then I was just hoping we'd finish.

Beate: Too many words already! How about some pictures or our "Say My Name" project? You know, show, don't tell?

 Our sketch to figure out scale. A 13 foot dolphin?? The window is 23' wide by 10' deep with 12' ceilings. Oh my!

Our sketch to figure out scale. A 13 foot dolphin?? The window is 23' wide by 10' deep with 12' ceilings. Oh my!

 The white wall was intimidating but then we employed automatism on a bigger scale with super soakers, spray bottles, scrapers and a rag.

The white wall was intimidating but then we employed automatism on a bigger scale with super soakers, spray bottles, scrapers and a rag.

 Meredith Clark and Karen Manuel came to our rescue with their weapons.

Meredith Clark and Karen Manuel came to our rescue with their weapons.

 Looks like our drawings.

Looks like our drawings.

 This is the first drawing to figure out scaling and composition.

This is the first drawing to figure out scaling and composition.

 Finding a blank wall to transfer the images to scale was hard. The drawings looked huge in Marisa's house.

Finding a blank wall to transfer the images to scale was hard. The drawings looked huge in Marisa's house.

 Thank goodness for the help of Eric Graves, and his true craftsmanship. 

Thank goodness for the help of Eric Graves, and his true craftsmanship. 

 We transferred the images to plywood.

We transferred the images to plywood.

 Eric cut all the curves perfectly, particularly Margaret's hand and foot. He stayed up late looking at pictures of dolphins to figure out the exact curve of the dolphin's back.

Eric cut all the curves perfectly, particularly Margaret's hand and foot. He stayed up late looking at pictures of dolphins to figure out the exact curve of the dolphin's back.

 Painting was easy by comparison. It was just grunt work.

Painting was easy by comparison. It was just grunt work.

 Beate crocheted Margaret a swimsuit with the most beautiful yarn.

Beate crocheted Margaret a swimsuit with the most beautiful yarn.

 Finding the right height for the passing viewer was tricky.

Finding the right height for the passing viewer was tricky.

  We stitched the cutouts   together with yarn and string.

We stitched the cutouts together with yarn and string.

 Tom Yoder came to the rescue to help us hang things right.

Tom Yoder came to the rescue to help us hang things right.

Check out our finished installation "Say My Name" at the corner of 11th and Commerce in downtown Tacoma from now until August 21, 2015.

Thanks so much to Gabriel Brown, Tacoma Spaceworks,  Eric Graves, Karen Manuel, Meredith Clark, and Tom Yoder.

For more info about Tacoma Spaceworks: http://spaceworkstacoma.com/

Checkout the Radiolab episode that inspired this project at http://www.radiolab.org/story/hello/