Associated Artists for Propaganda Research: Select Drawings from a History of Space and Communication (1926- )

In 2001 around the same time that I was working on the models I started a new series of pen drawings called Select Drawings from a History of Space and Communication (1926-  ). This is what I wrote about it on the website:

The basis of the project was to chronicle the development of the space race and to track the conglomeration and control of future mass medias.

The first series were of communication satellites but in 2002 I started the same series again but with pencil this time. I had a bunch of space exploration books to use as references and spent a lot of time researching what kind of imagery I wanted to re=represent; I picked images that appealed to my imagination and that I thought would be interesting to copy. These included images from important historical events, prototype spacesuits and even an image from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Like the models, I wasn’t interested in making great drawings or manipulating them to make them more creative or artistic but rather wanted to make drawings that were obvious copies from old photographs. I approached the copying of images as a legitimate type of creativity. To me it is an honest approach to making art that removes the creativity from the “act of making” and places it within the “idea” of art, the ability for the artist to be creative through the very act of selection and the attempts at creativity. Art doesn’t need to be about the ability to draw or the creativity of the artists hand but can rather be about the idea of the act, the re-contextualizing of the imagery for artistic purposes. I knew that copying photographs was as an artistic taboo, an amateur activity that would be difficult to pull off as respectable art but I saw this approach as one of many approaches to creativity that I wanted to explore in my art. I thought that by putting it under the Associated Artists for propaganda Research and giving it an impressive project title that people would look past the simplicity of the drawings and not just see them as poorly copied art objects but rather for the ideas that they represent and their relationship to a larger context. Here’s a quote from Douglas Crimp’s book On the Museum’s Ruins  about reproduction in contemporary art:  

through reproductive technology, postmodernist art dispenses with the aura. The fiction of the creating subject gives way to the frank confiscation, quotation, excerptation, accumulation, and repetition of already existing images. Notions of originality, authenticity, and presence, essential to the ordered discourse of the museum, are undermined.

I imagined the drawings as part of a larger installation that would include small scale models like Saturn V;I probably would have included some painting and large drawings as well. I wanted to frame them and create an installation that looked like a science exhibition that used a broad mixture of objects and paraphernalia.

I used these drawings for many proposals but they landed flat in the end. I think it was hard to imagine the final project and the drawings were lame to begin with. Overall, I think the idea was good and that the final installation could have been impressive but using these drawings as a representation of any kind of artistic creativity was probably a bad idea. The project ended up being used under other project names like Future Living Projects and The Lost Estate of Ed “Johnson” Shepard. For the most part The Lost Estate of Ed “Johnson” Shepard took over most of my “lameness” as creative art ideas that I wanted to do since that project became mostly about someone who made “bad” art. It wasn’t long after this that I started using more “impressive” model based landscape proposals to better represent the AAPR. A couple other projects came out of this one though including Sursum Corda (“Lift Up Your Hearts”) which is a large pixel drawing of the surface of the moon and a satellite dish and The Tower which is a large painting of a communication tower.

Below  are some of the early ink drawings and a composite of some of the 2002 pencil drawings.

Mariner E Relay-23 Syncom 11-22 Drawings in a grid

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Filed under Associated Artists for Propaganda Research, Drawing/Works on Paper, Future Living Projects, The Lost Estate of Ed "Johnson" Shepard

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