Tag: Sculpture

Metrics of Time, Circa 2015 – 2021

Metrics of Time, Circa 2015 – 2021

A Reflection from 3D to JPEG..

Ryan Seslow / 2021

(This post was originally published on my personal website on 11/29/21 but I believes that it serves as an example that can benefit our Digital Storytelling community here across CUNY. Im a big fan of using art and art objects as “tools” for creative and reflective writing. Forgive me for the typos, Im still editing as I add to it!)


I have always been attracted to working with 3-dimensional objects and materials. Since Im a small child, “making objects” was a great way to express myself and exercise the imagination. As I reflect back (and keep that word “reflect” in mind), I always loved the idea of making hybrid objects. Mostly stacking and assembling things that seemed like they did not belong together. I was simply exploring form and the potentials of form. I loved it so much that I never stopped. I especially enjoyed exploring the subjective, the nature of materials and how they related to my understanding of “life”. We are pre-disposed and domesticated by the many many “objects and things” that we grow up with around us. All of which already have a specific name, title and function. We learn to call this “the objective reality”, where almost all things are representational. Until we intervene, if we do, it may be tricky to expand beyond it. For example, when you purchase and drink a bottle of water or a coffee from the local coffee shop, you quickly dispose of the empty “object” that you drank out of. You rarely stop to contemplate that the bottle or cup was simply a “form” first, and that the form has potential beyond its intended usage. Well, do you?

There is context here with the art-works below..

In the two pieces below I am using and applying the word “reflection” as a medium and a utility. This blog post itself, right now, here in November 2021 is a part of the art-work. “Reflection” in and of itself is a duration based task and action. It takes and requires “time” to reflect. The act of reflection is vast and rich in psychology. We can reflect upon something or someone via our thoughts for 1-2 seconds or we can reflect upon those same things for our entire lifetime.. The individual context is so specific to each person of course. We can also reflect by writing, which usually means “typing” now a days.. But alas, do we ever schedule an appointment with ourselves ahead of time to “reflect” on something, someone, a situation or a circumstance? Have you ever thought to do this yourself? When we reflect, is it possible to even retain and accurately relive the events, people or circumstances? Well, well now.. you may say no because we can only reflect on something that has “passed” and is no longer in the actual “now”. Or do we wish to believe our reflections as a story, experience, person or memory? Of course this too has context, especially for the dichotomies ranging from our great achievements to serious personal traumas, memorable birthday presents and or seemingly banal objects.. like a wall clock.. yes, a wall clock..

The two sculptures below are titled: “Metrics of Time” Version #1 & #2. Both artworks were created and completed in 2015. The medium is plaster (or known in some areas as “pottery plaster”) – which is a powder-like synthetic dust that turns from dust to a solid form when mixed with water as its catalyst and left to cure. I fell in love with making casts and molds somewhere around 1990 when I was a kid in High School. Mold making became even more interesting when I entered college (due to the super fun projects that we did) and it always stuck with me. The idea of being able to reproduce an existing object true to its original form (with out labels, logos and packaging) and with a variety of different casting materials was so attractive. Clean, smooth surfaced solid forms are beautiful! I frequently used plaster, cement, acrylic resin and water (that I would freeze into ice molds). Even more so, the ability to make a rare single edition mold positive or an army of multiple replicas was also so much artistic power (and I certainly made my share of multiples over the years!) At the time though, in those early years of mold making, I didn’t connect the super important role of photography to the works that were being generated. Especially works created with inexpensive and ephemeral materials like plaster. I was connecting the value of the art with the value of the materials. A big mistake! Plaster is cheap. Both in price and in its quality as a material as it will deteriorate, discolor, flake, diminish, chip and age poorly over time. But then again, this is also very very much like us humans. We are equally ephemeral. Time is also equally ephemeral. Especially in context to the awareness level of the living person that contemplates it. These pieces below share both the conscious passing of time and the ephemerality of all things physical in this biological life. All of this information above was nestled into an “object” that communicates “time”..

Above, “Metrics of Time” Version #1, 2015 – (JPEG File) – 1/1 Digital Photograph of a Now Destroyed Cast Plaster Assemblage

I destroyed both of these “physical” sculptures shortly after I created them in 2015. My intention was to complete the sculptures, photo document them and show them publicly as printed images nicely framed and mounted. Much like one would expect to see with traditional photography in an art gallery. But that never happened. Each time that I mocked up the idea, it just did not sit right with me aesthetically or emotionally. My bodies energy instantly changed when I placed the “images” of the sculptures up and onto the wall. (I had printed them myself with my printer in my studio at the time.) Busy with otherness, I decided to put the project on the back burner.. Fast forward to November 2021, where inventions like the blockchain, crypto-currencies and the minting, selling, trading and collecting of digital goods have become a huge fast growing market for artists and rare art works. Single edition digital art works have become extremely desirable in a format that we all know so well as both artists and regular Internet users, the JPEG. The JPEG, yet another communicator of time.

Back to the context. The sculptures were intentionally mounted and hung on the wall. They are inspired by and mimic a standard wall clock. It is an object that has always captured my attention. Im talking about the old fashioned one’s from the 1970’s that lingered around all public buildings and space for many years longer than they should have. As a child I thought they had magic powers that only adults could access and understand. I waited with great patience to also access that sorcery! Most of us are introduced to a wall “clock” via our homes and elementary school experiences. We always looked up at the clock to see when our classes would begin and end, day in and day out. As a kid, I could not wait for the school day to end, and now as a professor for 19 years, Im holding tightly to every minute of class hoping the time flows slowly. I look up at the clock and frown! At home we always looked up at the clock to see when it was time for dinner, time for a bath, time for bed and time for … fill in the blank.. Regardless of all of this, the numbers on those old clocks stayed static as they hugged the circular contour line of the shapes form. The circle, a perfect metaphor for the cyclical aspect of this life. Round and round we go. The clock’s two arms, one short and one long, move in unison with their tireless friend, the non-static seconds arm. Even when things finally began to be produced, embraced and displayed digitally in the “time” telling gadget industry, I stayed fixed on the old clock as a metaphoric object of transcendence, evolution and self-transformation.

Above, “Metrics of Time” Version #2, 2015 – (JPEG File) – 1/1 Digital Photograph of a Now Destroyed Cast Plaster Assemblage

Wait a second, what am I looking at here above? Both of the original cast pieces above were made and assembled from cast plaster fragments. To achieve the form of the old wall clocks that I describe, I used a plastic bucket that resembled the same diameter of the clocks. I filled it up about 1.5 inches and watched the plaster expand another 1/2 inch as it normally does. I let it cure and released the mold. Plaster rejects plastic once it is dry, making the release easy and seamless. Have you recognized what the grid like forms are that rest securely on top of the circular base form? They are keys from an old keyboard that I used between the years 2004 – 2010. Yes. I made a full 1-part mold of the old keyboard using a silicone  / polyurethane rubber mold making kit. I made the mold’s layers very thick so that it would be durable enough to hold any kind of volume that was poured into it as it cured. Much like my old experimenting days in undergraduate college, I made several casts of that old keyboard in plaster, cement, acrylic resin and frozen ice molds that melted away as they should.. In this case, when I poured the plaster into the mold I left each of the key areas shallow enough so that each key would easily be released individually. Once they were dry I arranged them into the two compositions that you see above. They were mounted down with epoxy to hold them in place. We can see two slightly different patterns in the alignment of the keys suggesting to the viewer an intentional meaning or functionality of the object as a whole. Perhaps suggesting that this object is an old relic from the future or the past of a parallel world.. either way, the keys are now functionless..

The context of the keyboard as a metric of time is also a metaphor. The act and action of “typing” has several functions and purposes. It falls into yet another dichotomy that ranges from one’s super personal intentional uses to the mundane and banal tasks we do day in and day out, but it still equates to a “thought to touch form of communication.” Our entire lifetime here on this planet is co-dependent on how we use, give and receive communication. All forms of communication take time.. many of us take it for granted. Two static objects were created to express and communicate an understanding of “time.” The objects were destroyed by its creator only to discover that they transform their energy into another form of “how” it can continue to communicate and transcend itself. The creation began from formless thought energy and into the generating of a 3-dimensional tangible form, only to be destroyed and re-introduced as a 2-dimensional form in the format of an image, the image has been placed online and agreed to be converted into hypertext and placed onto a web server..

The 2-dimensional images are now asking to be minted on the blockchain and re-introduced in the meta-verse as yet another form.

Stay tuned.

Generating New Forms with Household Items & Multiples

Generating New Forms with Household Items & Multiples

New forms are always awaiting entry here onto our planet! Its your job to participate in the process. Lets investigate a few news ways to see, create and explore forms using a common household item like transparent tape. The works in this tutorial are simply one way of executing the project. Im using transparent tape as a medium because it happens to be handy in my immediate space. Other types of tape can work just as well, but the idea with this project is to discover and leverage the application of multiple units. Im going to unify my forms by their material, shape and their size. From there I will create a few different compositions. Some will be applied to a wall in relief form. Some will be on a table top place and others will free stand 360 degrees in the round. My examples are below, and yes, I had a ton of fun applying a light source when it got darker outside. I suggest that you do the same!

Materials needed:

1. A roll of household tape, this could be clear scotch tape, or blue painters tape, or any kind of tape adhesive that will “stick” to itself and other surfaces.

2. A surface to place and build your experiments on. A wall, a table top or an existing object that may have context or contradiction to the form and material, sky is the limit so lets get busy, jump down to the image below.

The technique I applied:

What you see in each image below is a 2 inch piece of transparent tape curled into a loop. I simply repeated this same form at the same size over and over. I built up each arrangement piece by piece. The more pieces (loops) that you have, the more opportunities you have to experiment. Plus, you will need to do some trouble shooting.

Artistic References / Influences: 

Tom Friedman, El Anatsui, Antony Gormley, Tara Donovan, Ai Wei Wei, Tony Cragg & Andy Goldsworthy to name a few.


The image above was applied to a piece of white paper and arranged on the surface of the wall. I used a flashlight to add the shadow effects coming from under the piece.


The image above was simply turned 180 degrees and rephotographed. I used a flashlight to add the shadow effects coming from the opposite side of the piece and pointing downwards. Even the slightest alteration of the artworks position can add a dramatic change in its visual interpretation. I really love how this came out!


Here is an alternate camera angle for the same piece as above (ok, but with an additional few pieces that I added). This visual perspective shows the actual height and stacking of the individual pieces (loops of tape). 


I applied a light source directly to the image above to capture variations of the lights glare effect. The glare effect almost makes it look like the piece is in motion. This discovery played a role in how I went about the next few attempts at this project. The next few images below are also subtle variations of the same image. What will you do to create some filters and effects using light or the placement of your pieces?


OK, so the image below.. I changed it up. We no longer need to use the table top plane to position our pieces stacked flat on top of one another. In the next series of examples I worked with my piece vertically. Again, light and the perspective of my photos play a big role in the capture of the artwork.

I really love this image! It makes me want to use the image itself as a reference for drawing with pencil. The image below is also a variation but I dont think it is as powerful as the image above, do you?


Im excited to see your results and experiments! Will you work with transparent tape or try another material that may produce a similar result? Either way, please share your work!

Paper, Light, Shadow & Storytelling Part 5

Welcome to Paper, Light, Shadow & Storytelling Part 5! Lets make a musical instrument of sorts? Above, you can see my final outcome. I temporarily adhered the artwork to the wall using duct tape. This is a quick fix to apply the art to the wall and take a series of photos. The image above is using natural light from the mid-point of the afternoon coming from the window to the left of it. The piece above places an emphasis on new variation of our last tutorial as we learn how to create variations of height between each individual plane. The individual pieces are layered and composed fro the surface of the table upwards.

Hold up! Did you miss Part 1 & 2 of this tutorial series? See below (Yes I jumped ahead to part 5 here – part 3 & 4 are on the way too!)

Part 2 – https://netart.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2020/07/23/paper-light-shadow-storytelling-part-2/

Part 1 – https://netart.commons.gc.cuny.edu/2020/07/16/paper-light-shadow-storytelling/

Artistic references? Lets do some research: What artists, historically over time have worked with similar processes by composing with planes and or flat 2D forms, and the use of light?

Anthony Caro, Faith Ringgold, Alexander Calder, Kara Walker, Isamu Noguchi, Naum Gabo, Diane Smith & James Turell to name a few. Who did you discover in your research?

Lets continue and take a look below..


As I mentioned, Im referencing a guitar in my minds eye. Or perhaps a mixture of various stringed instruments. I want to make it abstract but also visible enough for the viewer to know it is referenced from a musical instrument. The tools and materials needed are above, with the exception of some cardboard shown below. Im using bristol paper for this piece. It is strong and durable, you will notice how much more structural it is than regular printing paper. Using my x-acto knife I cut out a series of shapes and forms. You can see the basic shape of the guitar’s body above. I cut it in half and cut out a few more forms that had a gesture to either the form of the instrument plus some of the actions used in actually playing the instrument. I know, that part is much more subjective to interpret, plus Im Deaf so it may be different for how you make this interpretation. That is the beauty of art though!


Next, we will need some cardboard. You can take apart a box that you received from ordering something online, or perhaps snag it from your household. Local business usually recycle a lot of cardboard too, take a look and you will most likely find some cardboard quickly. Start cutting pieces into “strips” like the two pieces on the right side of the image above. Then, begin to cut those strips into small squares. About 1 inch per square will do! The small pieces do not need to be perfect squares but should be similar in size as we will be layering them to create “height & gauge”. (Remember, that x-acto knife blade is very sharp, please be careful while cutting).


Cut out a whole bunch of pieces and then get your glue stick ready as we will layer / stack them into multiples of 2, 3 & 4. This will give you some visible examples of how to build your planes (the pre-cut paper pieces above). Glue the squares by adding glue to both side of how they will stack, see below.


Also below is an example of the pieces glued together and stacked. The idea is to create subtle variations in the height of your pieces. This will help create shadows when you hand the piece vertically on the wall.


Next, as in the image below, start placing your stacked squares into strategic spots so that they will support the individual structure of the pieces / planes that you cut out. Play with the compositions, you can test place your pieces before gluing them down, I like to take photos of the arrangements before I glue them, it helps me “see” other potentials.


The image below is to display how the pieces visually create their variations in height. If you make the pieces too high they may become too heavy to support their weight adhered to the piece as a whole. Keep things subtle and close to the surface, it helps and a little bit of gauge goes a long way.


The final outcome is below! I have an old painted fireplace made of bricks in my apartment. It is a great background for this piece as the mix of texture and clean smooth paper seem to compliment each other. Play around with the environments to adhere your work. I plan to add some colorful lights to the art work when it gets darker tonight. I like this piece so much, it has inspired me to push the series forward. Perhaps I will add a figure playing the instrument? Im excited to see your outcomes!



Paper, Light, Shadow & Storytelling Part 2

This post is part 2 of the Paper, Light & Storytelling Project – be sure to read Part 1 first 🙂 – go HERE

Welcome to Part 2! Lets add some compelling light to our piece. After cutting and organizing your pieces onto the wall lets talk about options for how they can become radiant, dramatic and full of emotion. Color plays a role in how we connect to feelings, emotions and temperature. So, how did I capture all of these images? What kind of light source did I apply?

Scroll down below and lets see..


a series of colorful flashlights with their lights turned on

I found these little flashlights on amazon.com. Its a 4-pack consisting of a red, blue, green and white light set. It was $20.00 well spent. The lights are really powerful and the beauty of working with the primary colors is that you can layer them and make secondary colors. (example – layer red and blue together and you will “make” purple). Here is the link to that set.


Next, “how” did I set this all up? My next purchase was this flexible table clamp for smart phones. I’m a teacher, and lately, I have been doing a lot of remote and online teaching (as you know) so this was an essential tool to add to my arsenal of techniques. The link to the armature is here. This was $22.00, and again, it was well worth it. Im making a ton of tutorials these days so.. Please note, you do not need to purchase any of these items to capture your work or apply light sources. In fact, I encourage you to be experimental and try out variations with natural light, the filters that come with the “editing” feature on your phones, and to push the limits of the lighting that you have access to. For example, taking a lamp shade off one of your household lamps and pointing it at the sculpture.. Or using the flashlight feature on an old smart phone, or a flashlight from a friends phone. Friends and family become collaborators this way! Most smartphones also have a timer so that they can set up their shot and let the phone do the work. Tripods really can help.


Above, I not set my iPhone into the armature and set the timer for 10 seconds. Those 10 seconds give me time to play with the positioning of the flashlights as they project their light onto the wall. Above, I layered the green and blue flashlights for this capture. I held the green light in my hand and set the blue light up propped on a stack of napkins pointed from the right side of the wall. The distance of the light sources play a role, so have fun with that!


This capture displays the use of the white flashlight coming from the right hand side of the wall. I was relatively close to the wall and set the timer on my iPhone for 10 seconds held on the armature tripod. It is a little over exposed but I like how it brings the texture out of the wall and the gradient of the paper as it appears to diminish.


I removed “one paper element” from this image above, which was an intention of altering the composition subtly, can you tell?


This capture is slightly fuzzy and blurry. This is an example of me holding both the red and blue flashlight and layering the light on top of each other. If you are mixing paint, red and blue will make a value of purple. I had turned off the background lights to maximize the capture. I really like the effect, and wonder if this would “look” more 3D if I have 3D glasses.. which I think I do…somewhere, in some closet..


This image has simply been turned 180 degrees. Does it help the composition work in another way? Do you like it better this way or as you see below? The images below are also variations with over exposures and contrast tweaking using the filters on my iPhone. Have fun and share your work!


Paper, Light, Shadow & Storytelling – Lets make a Paper Sculpture.

an ephemeral paper sculpture photographed in black and white

How-to make an Ephemeral Paper Sculpture.. from Home!

Here is a fun tutorial that you can follow along with (from home) through this post. This blog post is both the assignment and the example for how you may choose to create and publish your own work. This is part 1 of the process for the creation aspect of things, I will publish a “Part 2” with another tutorial for creatively pushing the documenting of the art work in a few ways. Feel free of course to improvise with any additional materials or hack the whole project to expand your own examples and storytelling. The goal is to publish your process and narrative into a compelling sequence of events!

*Please e-mail a selection of your best final images to rseslow@york.cuny.edu – a collaborative image gallery will reside on this website.

Paper, Light, Shadow & Storytelling – Lets make a Paper Sculpture.

First, the essence of the project is to create and investigate 3D form through storytelling. The form(s) that we make will serve as the content for your blog post. Lets put an emphasis on making a “subjective form”. We can get great practice in by narrating and detailing our steps. We can do this with some pretty common household materials too. Lets jump in! Grab some standard typing/printing paper, tape, a glue stick, a pair of scissors, a wall or table top surface and an external light source (flashlight). Let’s ask ourselves: “self, what are the potentials of form using paper, shadow and light by generating “a new forms” into existence through our creative immediacy? In my example below Im using a relief application by adhering my pieces to the wall, but you can also work on another flat plane if you wish. Keep the word “perspective” in mind as the documentation process plays a big role later on. 

As we scroll below the images will begin to “paint a picture” of the process but we can help it along and make it more compelling by the “way” that we assert the process. Adding your personality and sense of humor is certainly one option. We can also apply accessibility and inclusion by adding text to support the images. We can do this both below the image and placed into the “alt-text” area when we “edit” the image itself. 

Notice, Im using a simple shape, a circle, and Im altering its height by applying scale variations to my individual pieces. Subtle variations go a long way. So do multiple units of one single shape. Oh, and photography plays a big role in capturing your work in progress and the final outcomes as the sculpture itself is ephemeral… or is it?

Artist references – What artists work with or have worked with paper? 

Li Hongbo, Felix Semper, Elsa Mora, Kara Walker (and many more, what did you discover?)

Jump in! (Im going to project some fun colorful light sources on this same piece once it gets dark tonight).

Have fun and be sure to publish your post here on the Commons – add your URL here in the comments section below!

*PS –*Please e-mail a selection of your best final images to rseslow@york.cuny.edu – a collaborative image gallery will reside on this website.

*Part 2 will also publish on this blog soon!

Gather your materials - image of a cutting mat (cardboard also works) transparent tape, a glue stick(bond version), a pair of scissors, an X-Acto knife and some regular printing paper.

  1. Gather your materials – a cutting mat (cardboard also works) transparent tape, a glue stick(bond version), a pair of scissors, an X-Acto knife and some regular printing paper.

Image sharing how to cut your paper into strips (as many as you would like, but think of at least 10 or more) using the X-Acto knife or the scissors, apply the glue stick to the edge of one side of the strip that you have cut

2. Cut your paper into strips (as many as you would like, but think of at least 10 or more) using the X-Acto knife or the scissors, apply the glue stick to the edge of one side of the strip that you have cut.

Image showing how to carefully fold over the paper and apply pressure to the edge as it meets the glue. Hold in place for a few seconds.

3. Carefully fold over the paper and apply pressure to the edge as it meets the glue. Hold in place for a few seconds.

Image shows the Cut strip of transparent tape and from it into a loop. (you will be repeating this process)

4. Cut a strip of your transparent tape and from it into a loop. (you will be repeating this process)

image of one of the circular forms cut from paper

5. Once the circular form is ready, place the loop of transparent tape to the same side where you joined the two ends of your paper.

an image of the tape applied to the form - and repeat the process as needed to start composing your fragments.

6. Apply the tape and repeat the process as needed to start composing your fragments.

This is an image example of the various individual pieces that I cut out and glued together - they consist of various heights and diameters, this is called Scale and it created variation

7. This is an example of the various pieces that I cut out and glued together. Notice, they consist of various heights and diameters, this is called Scale and it creates variation.

Image shares the composing process by organizing and adhering your pieces. (Your first idea is NOT your only idea so play around with this a bit).

8. Begin the composing process by organizing and adhering your pieces. (Your first idea is NOT your only idea so play around with this a bit).

image shows the additive process - keep adding more pieces.

9. Add more pieces.

image shows the additive process - keep adding more pieces.

10. Keep Going!

image shows the additive process - keep adding more pieces.

11. Looking good, add more!

the final outcome image!

12. Finished! I used all of my pieces and took this image with the natural light that was present at the time.

the final outcome image with a dark lighting effect

13. You can certainly see that LIGHT plays a role in the enhancement of the mood and overall aesthetic… what will you do?


*OK if you made it this far, here is a teaser from the light projection captures! Coming soon!

an image of the paper sculpture with a purple light source projected onto the piece