Each month, filmmaker Stephen Blauweiss produces "ArtScene," a monthly video web series with short segments on artists, galleries, and museums in the Hudson Valley. Here, Stephen gives an outline of this month's film. Check out the film and others from the ArtScene series at Chronogram.com/TV.
This month's film features artist Steven Siegel and his soon-to-be-completed A Puzzle for Alice, begun in 2014. The ambitious project started as a germ of an idea, and the composition has evolved organically, with each section growing out of the previously created adjacent part. "I feel this piece is a reflection of how we see the world nowadays—with continuity being broken by lots of bits and bytes," says Siegel. A well-traveled, internationally recognized artist, Siegel works with many humble materials in large quantities, including, paper, rubber, fiber, and found objects. (Siegel's multimedia assemblage Hands appeared on the cover of the January 2015 issue of Chronogram.)
Siegel is often asked why he creates works of art that are so large they cannot be viewed all at once. He responds, "It reflects my belief that few things are actually self-contained images. You can't see your marriage all at once, you can't see ancient Rome all at once, nor can you see New York all at once. If you go on a hike, there is no point where you can see everything simultaneously. You are in fact stitching together a succession of parts."
Siegel's current project and a previous work called Biography, which took him five years to construct, reflect his view of the world more accurately than individual stand-alone studio works. Alice will ultimately consist of 169 rectangular frames, or cells. Each one stands alone, but they do so in the context of the greater whole. Some parts have recognizable objects and some are clearly abstract, but all work together to create one composition. Photographs of some built cells have been reincorporated into the actual piece, creating the effect of the work being reflected in itself. In order to see both the entire image and its intensive detail, Siegel will be making a film that incorporates a voiceover narration. With the help of computer technology, the viewer will be given a guided tour, zooming in, out, and around. Each of the 169 cells will be photographed individually, reconstructed on a Photoshopped wall and incorporated into the movie.
Siegel embraces a multimedia approach on multiple levels. In addition to the meticulous hands-on labor necessary to create the physical objects, the imagery is driven by the photography of Doug Baz, a narrative script to be recited by Siegel's wife, Alice, and ultimately, a film. He says, "I find the inclusion of all this technology difficult but fascinating; the acknowledgement of today's world and its effect on our vision is expanding my horizons." Portfolio: Stevensiegel.net.