Proposal : Subjective Reality Prison Installation

Subjective Reality Prison

Planning a site-specific installation piece constructed from the following materials:
Balsa Wood
Card Stock Paper
Tissue Paper
Magazine images (appropriation)
Marker (black)
various adhesives
straight pins

Attached: Fig. 1-7 **not attached digitally** **another figure may be attached of color sketches of the design**

The piece will be installed in the art building on the window ledge of the middle landing of the staircase just as you come in the entrance on the Tivoli side of the building – across from room 174. As you ascend the stairs, there is a large window balcony. See Fig. 1 for a visual representation of the location.

This piece will be placed upon the ledge against he window. Since the piece will be in the form of a cage, the entrapment or protection of this cage against the large outside world seen through the window beyond will provide stark visual contrast, as well as the large open space versus the small size of the finished piece. Please reference Fig. 5 to see how the piece will fit onto the brick shelf of the window ledge perfectly.

Because of the large, expansive space of this area, the installation will be unobtrusive, but those who notice it will be struck by how small it is in this large space and the desolate feeling of such a small object in such an expansive space. A bright red focal point within the cage will catch the eye of curious viewers and draw them in. Upon approaching to view the piece to view it more closely, viewers will begin to notice the complexity of this seemingly simple piece.

While we’re on the subject of contrast – the large space versus the small space, I’d like to talk about the subject matter of the piece. It is a cage meant to represent, as the title suggests, a prison. This restrictive enclosure projects a feeling of being trapped in a small, almost claustrophobic, desperate space with the expansive backdrop of the sky and trees behind it, a white, expansive, empty wall stretching out in front of it.

Further deconstructing the idea of the prison and contrast, we also can explore the meaning of “safety,” understanding that often, prisons, especially those of “subjective reality” are created to protect us, often by ourselves, sometimes without our even knowing it.  So beyond the window representing a freedom outside of the cage, it represents an overwhelming world or reality beyond the safety of the cage – the white wall in front of it further emphasizes this – that blank slate that is a welcome open place for some people to paint their own reality is a stark, frightening place with too many choices for the person whose reality requires routine and structure. It’s a tiny thing in an open space, further pushing that idea of feeling overwhelmed by the world that I personally experience. There’s an unfortunate tendency of those who suffer emotionally to find a safe zone and lock themselves in it, even if it is a destructive cage that ties them to something that is terrifying and miserable. As terrifying and awful as it is to suffer, it’s sometimes the only thing we know – healing and change are hard and frightening and sometimes it is a hard hole to climb out of. The prison is safe when the world is overwhelming, even if it hurts, confines, suffocates and traps.

The area does more than contrast the piece, however. There is a repeating module in the piece of rectangular space – the cage bars repeat over and over again in a rhythmic pattern. This pattern continues into the installation site in several locations (see figures 4-7). Figure 4 pans back from the close up on the installation site and begins to show a repeating of this motif in the structure of the window installation. Further than that, figures 5-7 show the stair railing that continues this motif as the viewer ascends or descends the stairs, bringing their physical presence into the piece.

Figure 5 can be viewed one of two ways, depending on which way the viewer has approached the piece. If they are ascending the stairs, they may notice the repeating bars, mentally bringing them into a space to begin to view the piece as they round the corner. If the viewer is descending the stairs, however, figure 5 clearly shows that the viewer is confronted with the safety railing – the repeated motif of bars protecting them from walking off the edge of the stairway has actually brought them into the piece, although whether they feel reassured or trapped will depend on the personal experience of the viewer. These safety bars, after seeing something that visually depicts a prison, may lead a person to feel more imprisoned and trapped than safe and secure. That body outline on the floor there may increase that trapped feeling or sense of dread.

Figure 6 shows that after passing the piece (if ascending the stairs) or before viewing the piece (if descending), the viewer is guided along by the a horizontal hand rail guiding them through the stairway (and through the installation) from one set of bars (the upper or lower stair rail) to the next. This path leads the viewer into the cage and then out again, possibly leading them to question the reality they’ve passed through – willingly or unwillingly – from one place to the next.

The back panel of the cage depicts a figure tied up and hidden in the woods. This piece, as with all of the magazine images, is an appropriated work by another artist.  This particular panel is comprised of two pieces: “Vampire: Metamorphosis” (2007) and “Servant of the Moon” (2004), both by Mike Sutfin. The first piece was not large enough, so I supplemented it with additional work by the same artist to maintain the same feel. The red of the kimono was a strong focal point in the original piece and continues to be one in my piece. It draws the viewer in, trapping them in a way that might not be completely comfortable. This encourages thought and further exploration of the emotions experienced upon viewing the piece.

The bottom panel is made up of binary code – 1’s and 0’s representing digital or constructed reality. This is a place where many of us escape regularly, whether we realize it or not, whether it be through a projected reality created by someone else or a reality that is constructed by our psyche to better cope with the complex stressors of the world. This could be as simple as watching a movie, playing a video game, reading a book or surfing the internet, or could go as far as extreme psychosis in which a person does not experience reality in the “normal” sense – such as people with schizophrenia, depersonalization or derealization disorders.

The top of the cage is, at first, seemly a solid black space. Upon closer inspection, which most viewers will not experience, there is a face of a woman hidden within a surface that looks like leather. This brings forth a message that thins are not always as they seem at first, and encourages the viewer to look harder at things before dismissing them as simple. It reminds the viewer that we all experience the world around us – reality – differently. While one person sees a black expanse, another person sees a leather texture and yet another person sees a woman’s face – these are all accurate realities, but they are also all subjective realities – they are each our own realities and the viewer is reminded that he must communicate with others to come to a common understanding of reality rather than assuming that we all experience things the same way. Further, it is a reminder to stretch the boundaries of our individual realities and confinements (this image is outside the cage) and share this experience with others, that they may share the creative vision, joys, sorrows and reality that we each live in.

Underneath this panel, seemingly trapped inside the cage, is a winged humanoid form flying over a vast landscape. This is another reason why a stairwell is an incredibly appropriate place to install this work – those approaching from below will catch this, while someone viewing it at eye level might miss it. The stairway location allows the viewer to get a good view of the three primary panels in the piece. Viewing this panel, the image is an overhead view, shown the way we would see if we were looking down upon the winged figure. This is reality subverted – we should see the figure’s underside. Further pushing the boundaries of a accepted reality, the figure appears as though it is free and flying over a vast landscape – in this constructed reality, however, the figure is confined within the cage. The figure is armed, perhaps ready to fight – this leads the viewer to question what they should consider fighting: reality, confinement, restrictive thinking, restrictive environments, closed-minded perception, panic, pain, suffering, the digital or constructed reality depicted by the binary code on the floor of the cage, the person who trapped the figure in the woods, the line between constructed reality and perceived or natural reality – these are just a few of the concepts that a viewer might instinctively react against upon seeing this piece.


Subjective Reality Prison : a 3D Design project

Today I’m writing about an assignment for a different class – 3D design, specifically. I know this blog was intended for my digital design class, but I’ve gotten used to writing out my processes here, so I figured this was a good place to get my brain working since I have to write a proposal for the piece. It’s a little backwards -we weren’t required to write the proposals first and have them reviewed for approval, but the proposal is due today – before the work. I’ve completed the work, so I have a little bit of an advantage – since it’s an installation piece, I can stick it in the installed places and see if it looks the way it’s supposed to.

The assignment was to take balsa wood and paper and design a site-specific installation piece. The piece was required to have repeating modules.

I looked around the art building – the place where we are required to install the piece – and was immediately attracted to two places. One for deeply personal reasons, and one for more aesthetic reasons.

The first location I thought of was where I had my first real, awful panic attack on campus. I didn’t know what I wanted to put there – I had conflicting ideas between something that would elicit feelings similar to the panic attack – restriction, a need to escape, pain, fear, etc., and comfort – the thing I sought by hiding there. I was walking around with a classmate scouting for locations, hoping the locations would lend to the design, and we were talking about how neither of us really had any idea what we were doing. I told her about this location and its significance and she asked me to show it to her. She told me “I could see a tiny prison going here.”

The idea hit me like a freight train. That was what I wanted to make. But did I want to put it here, or somewhere else?

Honestly, I wasn’t happy with this project. I love the installations that go up throughout the art building – it’s what makes this building one of the most special places on campus. There’s always some new treasure to discover. But I have issues about my art being good enough to be one of those treasures. I hated the idea of working with balsa wood and I didn’t think I could come up with anything good.

(Those of you who are on this campus, check out the upstairs art lounge by the blue chairs – there’s an awesome example of what a previous student doing this same project created that’s really lovely – repeating blue chairs representing the chairs in the room. It’s actually the perfect example of this assignment – site specific, repeating module, using paper, balsa wood and a strong color focal point. It’s simple, to the point, aesthetically beautiful and really clever and lovely to look at.)

So I thought about making it a sort of hidden treasure, so to speak – installing my tiny prison inside one of the unused lockers designated for handicapped people. They’re smaller, more restrictive, and it could make a statement about the limitations and trapped feeling that disability represents. With that idea in mind, I kept my prison tiny. If I install it, completed, in the original location, it is dwarfed. This also could make a statement – its size in the overwhelming largeness of the world, how small I wanted to make myself at the time – to disappear, to escape, to hide.

But as I was walking around, another location struck me. I’ve always wanted to see something installed on the large window ledge of the stairs by the entrance closest to the Tivoli. It’s a large window ledge that seems like a place I’d like to curl up and take a nap. It seems like something should be there – a sculpture, maybe, or pillows. It could be transformed into wonderful couch seating, which is what I would do with it if it were in my home. So I was inspired to think about installing there, too. And aesthetically, the tiny prison looks interesting there.

It’s a contrast – the feeling of being trapped against the open view of the sky beyond the window. Also, if its installed there, people going up the stairs might see the hidden image on the top panel of the prison of a winged humanoid flying overhead. The repeating module of the cage bars goes well with the repeated module of the stair railing. It’s a tiny thing in an open space, which keeps that idea of being overwhelemd and feeling trapped and scared and overwhelmed by the world, but also opens up a new idea that I’ve talked about with people who suffer – in some ways, as terrifying as it is to suffer, it’s safe in that cage – there is the safety of familiarity. Healing is hard and frightening and new and different and sometimes something that those of us who suffer from things like depression, anxiety, panic disorder and other limiting and debilitating disabilities have never known. We don’t know what “healed” looks like. We don’t know what getting better feels like. We don’t know what possibilites and terrors the world holds if we conquer these things that we fight every day and that’s really very scary.

The piece is called “Subjective Reality Prison,” and deals with the prison of reality perception that we are all caught in. The casing, or prison, is constructed out of balsa wood, while the panels are created with card stock and magazine cut images.

The main, prominent panel is of a girl tied up and hidden in the woods. I found the piece in a magazine a long time ago and wanted to use it in some work of my own. I wrote the name of the piece and the artist down but I left it at home. This image was not large enough to cover the back of the cage, so I supplemented it with additional work by the same artist that I had saved – another piece name that I’ll fill in here, later. The red of the girl’s kimono was a strong focal point in the original piece, and continues to be one in my piece. It draws the viewer in, trapping them within the cage, confining them in a way that might not be completely comfortable. This encourages thought and exploration of the emotions experienced upon viewing the piece. —- The back panel is by Mike Sutfin and is comprised of two pieces: Vampire – Metamorphosis (2007) and Servant of the Moon (2004)
The bottom is made of binary code – 1s and 0s, representing digital or constructed reality, a place where many of us escape, whether it be through video games, movies, tv shows, the internet.

The top of the cage is, at first, a solid black image. At closer glance, there is a face of a woman hidden within a surface that looks like leather. Things are not always what they seem at first, look harder. Take hard reality and shape into the reality you wish to see, but be careful to remember that we all experience the world around us – reality – differently. What you see – a woman’s face – may not be what someone else sees – a piece of leather. A reminder to be creative and look for creative solutions to problems. A reminder to communicate the reality we see with others so that they might better be able to understand the world the way we process it individually. A reminder to share the beauty we see with others so that they might also be inspired to find beauty and creative inspiration in the world around them as well. A reminder to stretch the boundaries of reality and share this experience with others.

Underneath the top, seemingly trapped inside the cage, is a winged humanoid flying over a vast landscape. We see it from above, the way we would if we were looking down on him. This is reality subverted, as if we looked up we should see its underside. This is reality subverted – it is free and flying over this vast landscape, while trapped and confined within this prison. It is armed, ready to fight, but what is it fighting? Reality, confinement, containment, restrictive thinking, restrictive environments, closed-minded perception, panic, pain, suffering, whoever trapped the girl, the digital or constructed reality, the line between constructed reality and perceived or natural reality, any number of things.

The back, which isn’t intended to be seen, but could be, as well as the bottom, are covered in silver tissue paper. On the bottom it strives to be smooth, like a solid piece of metal. It curves up over the bottom, bleeding into the front of the piece, making the bottom seem stronger and more like metal than the wood bars of the cage. The back has a metal feeling too, although it is sheets of metal laid down and then warped to fit between the bars in a purposefully haphazard manner.

The piece is simple but complex.

I’ll work on the proposal more in the coming hours – I have a class now. I may have images later. I just needed to get this down.

Texture Experiment : Reblog

While searching for backgrounds for my cards (specifically the “bubble” card – raw image here), I came across an interesting texture experiment that turned into a beautiful swirled art piece. I was also interested in the things that inspired her, so check those out when you go to look at her blog post (the following image is sized down. Click here for the full size or go to her blog post

Amy CrookHer inspirations were also beautiful – there was this piece:

Charles Holbert Jr. (“KidNotorious” on deviant art)
(da account, other Jack-related pieces)

And this interesting art installation series by Kirsty Hall called 365 Jars

“Every day during 2011, Bristol artist Kirsty Hall will go for a walk to release an art jar into the wild for people to find and keep.”

There are some interesting jars, but the photos of the locations and the way the jars are tucked away are far more beautiful to me. I also like the idea of something going out into the wild that people can either search for or stumble upon and keep. It’s like finding a little treasure. Reminds me a little of Geocaching.

It also reminded me of some art I made back in my first semester as an art student in 2-D design:

The Eternal DiveDone for my 2-D Design class – The assignment was to create a variety of lines using sumi ink and various brushes and invented drawing tools to create various lines. Later, we were to cut out the lines and paste them into specific compositions.

The second portion of the assignment was to trace the five line composition, grid the paper, and then fill each section with a different line pattern.

The image can also be viewed on my dA account here (interested parties may also purchase a print of this piece there).

Edit: I’ve finished the Bubble Card using the background from the Jack Skellington piece (shown above). I had to combine layers to remove Jack’s head and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Cards 01-04

As per my proposal I’ve begun making cards.

I’ve run into some interesting problems with the images – namely than many of them are .gif and .png files which feature the characters with no backgrounds. A lot of what I’m using is cleaned up cahracter artwork, rather than in-game renders, and even if they are renders, they don’t have backgrounds. The cards looked too boring and plain on white backgrounds and didn’t look like a finished product, so I’ve begun making my own backgrounds. The first one is noticeably different from the second as I found ways to better integrate the images into the backgrounds so they don’t look so much like they’re just pasted onto a background – this is especially difficult when I’m working with photographic backgrounds and drawn artwork, but I think they look pretty good and I’m happy with them.


I chose to use “sylladex” as the © name because I didn’t want to put my legal name on them in case I want to share them with people on the internet, so I went with my blog username.

Proposal For Duel Monsters-based Trading Cards.

Proposal For Duel Monsters-based Trading Cards.
Project 6

Planning a TCG (trading card game) based on (Yu-gi-oh!) Duel Monsters rules, format, style, etc. Cards will consist of Monster, Trap and Magic cards as used in the Duel Monsters TCG and play with cards will follow standard rules for Duel Monsters TCG.
Cards will be based on another fandom and will act as parody cards. Images will be appropriated from various internet sources, scans of game parphenilia and possibly photographs. Edits will be made to keep images as consistent as possible in content once transferred to individual cards to keep a sense of unity throughout the deck as a whole.
Potential Fandoms under consideration for use in “parody” TCG:

  • Legend of Zelda (LoZ)
  • Mario
  • Assassin’s Creed
  • Metal Gear Solid

Leaning heavily toward Legend of Zelda as it is more readily accessible to larger audiences who may only be prephrially aware of gaming (or the particular game). Mario feels too gamey or almost TOO parody to me.

Materials will include photoshop, appropriated imagery and once completed, printed cards. These will most likely be on a glossy photo paper with a designed back that unifies them. May use the Duel Monsters back or may make a unique back that sets them apart as “their own game”. (Triforce symbols in the case of a LoZ deck)

Techniques expected to be employed: Appropriation, photoshop techniques (cut, crop, rotate, skew, lasso, auto-levels, burn, dodge, and possibly others), adding text and inserting image into frame of card(s). For the physical cards, printing, cutting, and pasting will be required, as well as coming up with a method of displaying and probably documentation post-installation that would include photographing the display.
Display method – I’m not sure about exactly how I want to do this yet, but some ideas include potentially mounting the cards as though there were a game in progress or just arranging them in that manner. The cards could also, alternatively be shown packaged or it could be completely interactive installation that would allow people to pick up and handle the cards and look at them. This feels the most natural since it’s a deck (or several decks?) of cards.

Final format/size is to be dependent on display choice, but final card size will most likely be 3×5 inches or roughly thereabouts.


Yu-Gi-Oh! (Duel Monsters):
(Shonen Jump Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game, Kazuki Takahashi, 1996. Nas/TV Tokyo 2001. Distributer: Konami)
Legend of Zelda:,,
(Legend of Zelda. Nintendo, 1986-2001.)
Assassin’s Creed:
(Assassin’s Creed. Montreal: Ubisoft, 2007-2011.)