Joellyn Rock Art+design
My research has been an investigation of one of the oldest of narrative genres: the fairy tale. In The Vasalisa Project I offer a new version of the story, Vasalisa and the Baba Yaga. By reworking its text, imagery and format I attempt to build a bridge for the fairy tale audience between traditional media and new media. Images and icons created to accompany the text mix the nostalgic simplicity of storybook silhouettes with the layered complexity of digital collage. The visual aesthetic of Vasalisa Project reflects my desire to craft a transitional object for audiences during this incunabula of digital media.
I used the summer research grant to expand the image-making I had begun in The Vasalisa Project. The Vasalisa Project (www.rockingchair.org) includes a digital fairy tale (Bare Bones), an essay on design and storytelling (Vasalisa Electric) and documentation of an interactive installation (Hothouse). These new images of digital bricolage sample from that larger investigation of digital narrative. Hundreds of images were generated during the course of the project, many are now incorporated into these archival inkjet prints.
I have broken down the story into nine vignettes: Grieve, Leave, Navigate, Encounter, Serve, Separate, Inquire, Employ, and Morph. By utilizing digital imaging software such as Adobe Streamline, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop, I was able to create large scale digital collage works that generated fresh imagery, repurposed imagery, and combined these in densely layered files. I found myself experiencing a new fluidity in digital media, sampling and resampling from my own bank of drawings, textures and color patterns much in the way contemporary musicians employ the device of "sampling". Nine complex images were generated over the course of the summer, each image containing from 50 - 100 different layers in a single photoshop document. Color + print density was tested on several printers at various scales from 12" to 36". Large scale final prints were executed on the Epson 9500 in the Viz Lab. Three prints from the series were exhibited in the 2004 Faculty exhibition in the Tweed Museum. In October 2004, I presented this research as a lecture in the Viz Lab to UMD faculty from various disciplines.
It could be that Cinderella is the world’s most-told tale. There are thousands of versions, each one colored by the details of local culture, the needs of its audience and the desires of its teller. Buried among the world’s heap of Cinder tales, is the Russian version, in its multiple incarnations. It is the story of an outcast named Vasalisa, and her encounter with the powerful hag, Baba Yaga. These archival inkjet prints represent a new version of this very old tale. Here, this story of loss, servitude, and triumph over adversity is also the harrowing tale of a digital printmaker.
More info on the Vasalisa Project