Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"The Cold Genius"

Please click images to enlarge.
"The Cold Genius" is 30" high x 35" (bottom) x 43" (top)
The brownish red branches are a separate piece of glass that will be placed about 1/2" in front of the window in the lightbox. Here it is without that panel.
In reflected light (upside down and right side up)

Call me Ishmail. No wait…I think I’m Ahab. Well here’s my Great White Whale.

Those who’ve followed this blog for more than a few months will possibly recognize this piece as the subject of the ‘design contest” a while back. Yup—you picked the right one…but when I made t…I wasn’t satisfied. At any rate, I made this piece four times. And one time I even got it soldered together.

Versions one through four (note version three is soldered together. The corpse is in my studio)
Stained glass peeps: NEVER DO THIS!! De-soldering a copperfoiled window is about as fun as putting your hand in a wood chipper. And as bloody and mangling too. If you do decide you must resort to this, here’s a photo demonstrating the proper attire and attitude.
The proper tools are always a plus.
proper attitude demonstrated by the expert.

So to recap: first I made the head. Ahhh…and what a head!!! I don’t think I have attained such spot-on idealness before. Definitely my best head to date. Of course I desired a body and context that would do this face justice.

The face that launched four windows.

Yikes…never ever wish this….because this set into motion a series of impossible to meet standards, goals ratcheted to unattainable levels, yadda yadda yadda blah blah blah.
So I had this face. Made in glass and at some point shortly after its birth, I saw this YouTube video by Klaus Nomi. (Yes, I was a big fan in his actual heyday in the early 1980’s). This is Klaus doing a rendition of “The Cold Song” from Henry Purcell’s opera “King Arthur”. The clincher is that Klaus was within weeks of his own early death and is literally singing the song as if it’s his last…so sad…….
The song is sung by a character called The Cold Genius who is praying to be allowed to freeze to death (presumably because he was lonely and freezing was a familiar emotional condition for this character). I was really taken by Klaus Nomi’s amazing performance—and inspired by the idea to make my own Cold Genius. So the face was married to the theme (freezing is a theme I have done before) and a body easily followed.
Then it was a matter of resolving the piece with an appropriate background. Since The Cold Genius is in hell, albeit a cold one, I decided a RED snow scene would be an interesting take on it. I was able to make a very satisfying image as a digital print…that is all well and fine but this really stymied me when I tried to use it as the basis for glass. See, the glass didn’t want to conform to the print AT ALL…which is why they are different media, right? Right.
"Cold Genius" limited edition print
So my first attempt, based on the print looked like a load of ick. On to the second solution, the one I had the contest for. This ultimately bugged me for a couple of reasons, the main one being I wasn’t discovering any new territory here but just trotting out the usual ornamental stuff I have done in the past. Not good enough!!
Nothing I tried could pull this image above average.
The third image came to me whilst being acupunctured. This procedure really relaxes me and often I have “visions” while resting, stuck with needles. I “saw” this oval and bare shrubbery….
So this is the final solution although I made it wrong first as a black and white piece. That’ would be all well and fine but also not really pushing the envelope. I also made it fairly sloppily. And the figure seemed too small in the composition…and there were many technical difficulties….yakkity yak….
So I made it over again and THERE IT IS, above!! Thank you for reading this, if indeed, you have.


Chris Rywalt said...

I feel sad for the Cold Genius.

jolo said...

YOWZA!! A feast for the eyes!

Jx said...

Theatrical, intense and tragically beautiful. I get the feeling Klaus Nomi would have been proud to have inspired this.

But what a birth! Thanks for sharing the goriest moments with us - sometimes these things have to be seen, for education's sake. Your tools'n'attitude pix made me lol.

England is sleeping under a blanket of ice and snow at the moment, our coldest spell since 1981... theatrical, intense and tragically beautiful.

Judith Schaechter said...

Thank you for your comments--they are much appreciated.
To Chris--me too.
To Jolo--see you at lunch!
To Jx--so glad you like!

TheRedhead said...

Hey Judith
Can you talk about that incredible face that launched 4 windows. I would love to know some of the technique involved. Was it painted perhaps in glass enamels?
Thanks in advance! Your work is incredible!

Judith Schaechter said...

Hi Deborah--
If you scroll through the archives there are some very detailed technical posts which cover the process used to make the face. Basically it is engraved flash glass.
if you cannot find what you are looking for, please ask again and I will find the appropriate link.