Beheld seeks to examine the way bodies are perceived through the eyes of the artist Charles Griffin Farr and the spectator. In our pandemic-induced environment of Zoom and digital life, one is always on view, yet who is looking where and at whom, is a mystery. These drawings capture the sentiments of the day regarding the gaze, who chooses to be watched, and what the subject chooses to reveal about themself are all explored in this exhibition through the discursive placement of objects within the virtual gallery. Farr’s use of line and and space in illustration demonstrate his ability to capture a subject in a uniquely vulnerable yet defiant position - the models possess an awareness of the viewer while intentionally on display, a feeling that resonates with the human condition today. Among the questions that arose while conceptualizing this exhibition include: how do Farr’s subjects operate in relation to his artistic gaze? How did the models’ composition relate to the experience of being on camera? What are the politics of observation and how does that manifest in the subject? How does sound articulate observation? What does it feel like to watch others? What does it sound like to be watched?
When navigating a digital community through video conferencing platforms, one is frequently reminded of Foucault’s Panopticon, the conceptual prison in which a guard observes the incarcerated from a central tower. In figure drawing this panoptic relationship is often reversed, a model sits centrally and is keenly aware of the artist’s eyes in relation to their body. Thus it becomes a matter of what the subject chooses to project to the viewer, and how that binary relationship is negotiated within the composition. These theories of observation and surveillance are juxtaposed with notions of solidarity within the virtual gallery. The drawings are placed in a way that suggest a relationship between the subjects, therefore creating a conversation between the inanimate pieces. Zoom’s user interface was another inspiration in the composition of this exhibition, pieces are placed in equalizing rows that present a paradoxical sense of unity and isolation among the subjects, bound by space and time yet never meeting the eyes of the viewer.
This exhibition was made as a culminating project for Edie Trautwein’s CUIP internship at the Sesnon Gallery, and was made possible with the support of Colleen Jennings, Shelby Graham, Louise Leong, the Sesnon Gallery and the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Internship Program.
This 3D model of the Sesnon Underground Gallery (located in Porter College at UCSC) was constructed in SketchUp by DANM Technical Coordinator Colleen Jennings. The exhibition was designed and curated by Edie Trautwein, and contains drawings from the Charles Griffin Farr Collection at the Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery.
View the 3D Gallery here
This exhibition features a collaborative soundscape composed by the curator Edie Trautwein (Cowell, ‘22) in collaboration with the musician Uriel Herzsage (Porter, ‘22). The piece, which intends to add an additional layer of viscerality to the exhibition, captures the distinct feeling of being watched in the digital world. It’s sound is derived from auditory nothingness and the monotony of stay at home life, and how that acts in opposition to organically
occurring elements such as human breath or the sound of birds.
These animated pieces were made as an exercise to help better understand the work of Charles Griffin Farr. Creating these gifs helped me understand Farr’s use of line and the artist’s process. It was also an experimentational exercise of making rotoscope animations on the Procreate application.
About the Curator
Edie Trautwein is a Film and Digital Media Major and History of Consciousness Minor from Cowell College. Her interests include experimental media art, feminist theory, abolition, design, collaboration and student advocacy. When not working with the Sesnon, Edie enjoys knitting, roller skating, watching movies, learning the mandolin and sitting outside. Edie is also involved in Cowell Senate, the Academic Senate Committee on Planning and Budget, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, and the Okinawa Memories Initiative.
For a rich experience of this exhibition, visit the Beheld 3D Gallery