Detail of The Face.


For a long time I have had this notion about images.  The basic idea was to try and take an image and build it entirely out of small versions of said image.  For example, what if each atom that made up your body was really just a tiny version of you? What if you looked through the microscope and saw a miniscule version of your face in the molecules that make up your face?

“So this is a scientific question?”, you ask. No, not really.  Maybe it has more to do with the micro and the macro, maybe it has to do with philosophy or religion.  But even that isn’t true.  What this idea really is for me is a technical challenge to be solved through art.  At this point, its very clear to me that what excites me about creating something is the technical and/or mental puzzles that arise as part of the process of making.

So this idea, making something out of itself, is one I have been working on for about 5 years.  I tried tackling this idea with stencils and spraypaint, projectors and paintbrushes, and even in Photoshop.  I never really liked the outcome of any of those experiments.  They never seemed right.  So the idea got put on the backburner.

In March of this year, I started work on a large wall sculpture that would realize this long simmering idea.  This would also serve as a culmination of the pixelated works I had been producing for the past year.

Image plans and layout for wall panels.

Image plans and layout for wall panels.

I began by planning out the scale of the entire piece (12′ x 11’6″‘) based on the size of each individual face-pixel (6″ x 5 3/4″).  Then I started cutting 438 triple-layer pixel-faces out of mdf.

First face.

First face.


Hogging a table in the woodshop.

All this woodshop work took about two and a half solid weeks.  The majority of the cutting was done on the bandsaw with detail work done on the scroll saw.  Wood glue and a nailgun helped bring the faces together.

Patching holes and sanding.

Patching holes and sanding.

The next week was spent patching scratches and nail holes then sanding down the patches.  Fun time forever.  Once all the sanding was done, I brought  all 438 faces out to the large, mostly empty foundry of MG for painting.  I started by hand painting each pixel-face but quickly realized that would drive me insane.  I picked up a paint sprayer, hooked it up to the industrial compressor in the metal shop and spent the next 2 weeks priming and painting.




This is my paint-spray set-up. Each pixel-face took 2 coats of primer.


Final coat. Actually, coats….each face needed 2 coats of the final color.

So while paint was drying on the faces out in the foundry, I was making the french cleats and the panels everything would end up being attached to.  I used mdf for the panels and standard 2x4s for the cleating.  I primed and painted the panels a light blue, something to play off the warm colors I was using for the pixel-faces.

Panels, primed and painted.

Panels, primed and painted.

Here is the fun part.  After 2 months of work, it was time to put it all together.  I secured all the small pixel-faces to the wall panels with a nailgun and a ton of industrial-strength velcro (knowing I would have to take it all down and move it for the thesis show).  I took a bunch of pictures of this process and made a gif for your enjoyment.  Enjoy it, won’t you?

face-animationSo that was enjoyable.  It did move pretty fast though.  If it all just flew by too quickly, you can take a look at some (very) still images and detail shots of the final installation below.

Deinstall before transportation.

Deinstall before transportation.

Installation via scaffolding.

Installation via scaffolding.

IMG_0019 IMG_0024 IMG_0037 IMG_0033 IMG_0028

This entry was published on August 4, 2014 at 12:00 pm. It’s filed under Images, painting, sculpture and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “F.A.C.E.

  1. Dear James, I (the new director of Hopewell Valley Arts Council) am trying to reach you re: “DigiBull” . He’s not faring well and needs repair and we’re trying to work with the owner and a conservator from the Johnson Atelier. But we would like to arrange a meeting among all of us to determine the best course of action. Please e-mail me david.miller@hvarstcouncil.org. Thanks

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