"Small Fictions", 2009
1” to 1.5” paintings, mounted in slide holders
I used to work in a library with an old slide film catalogue. There were thousands of slides documenting art, events, etc. I like slides—they’re neat objects. I enjoy attempting to see what is going on in them at their actual size rather than have the image projected. If you have ever experienced slide photography you may have noticed their particularly vivid quality and depth. The color in slides can be especially saturated and pulsing, and something about these extraordinarily detailed but miniaturized moments captured in a 1 x 1.5 inch frame is magical to me. During secret downtime at the library I would go get a random box of slides, always favoring the journalistic photos over the art documentation ones, and place them on the special light table just for viewing them and peer into a forgotten world. I would see things like a Black Panther Party rally shot by an anonymous photography student or just some dude eating a sandwich on a rooftop with a spectacular view of the bay. Many of the slides came with corresponding captions typewritten on cards that said things like, “Man eating sandwich, Alameda, CA, 19-whenever”. I’ve always enjoyed the flat, just-the-facts, quality of photographic captions. They have a quiet, accidental deadpan humor. I remember some captions which struck me back then—“Field with burning car, Vallejo, CA” and “Chinese shop-women throwing hats”. Their lack of context, for me at least, is enigmatic. For all their straightforward language they’re utterly opaque—“Uh, yeah so this picture is exactly what this picture is a picture of.”
When trying to come up with ideas for stories I used to write imaginary blurbs that I might be able to use to create a spark. Most of them came to nothing, but I had notepads littered with them. I even threw them all out. I found them while rummaging in the trash for some drawing I had tossed. After reading them over again I was reminded of the slide captions from the library and the rescued story fragments led to the creation of these 34 tiny watercolors made to resemble slides. I hope they convey something of my own experience of looking through a very small window into an alternate, nearly lost universe. I’ve included some with their captions.