I think I covered a lot of this ground earlier in Post #11, but my readers and I are getting to be like old married couples: we repeat the same stories to one another all the time.
Many years ago, I taught art history at the University of Connecticut campus in Stamford. I clearly remember the moment when I walked down a hall and glanced into a classroom where the instructor was using an overhead projector (pre-PowerPoint) to put notes up on the blackboard. “Why does it have to be boring notes,” I thought, “why not artwork?” Now, more than two decades later, I am still exploring the potential of the overhead projector, a dinosaur from the pre-computer age.
I borrowed a machine from the University’s A.V. department along with some sheets of acetate, quickly discovering that I could photocopy my sketches, no need to even trace the image. Having done that, I was able to enlarge work to any size I wanted. Sketches could be projected onto canvas without having to create a laborious and time-consuming grid. I invited my artist friends over to see what happened when small drawings were made to cover walls and ceilings and six- inch figures grew to monumental size. I soon found myself behaving like a prehistoric cave painter or Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, working by torchlight to create magic on a superhuman scale. Photographer friends even took photos with words projected onto me
Since then, I’ve done a number of “performance pieces” with the overhead projector, including a dance number with “true to life” people, (the kind you see cha-cha-cha-ing together at bar mitzvahs and weddings) to tacky music. I used projected imagery to create scenery for Jean Cocteau’s “Wedding on the Eiffel Tower”, a production I gave at the old lofts on Henry Street. I also illustrated Carolee Ross’ brilliant poem about her “demon lover;” it was to appear along with my illustrations in a darkened gallery space in SOHO, but, unfortunately, the project never happened. At the moment, I use my projector mainly to enlarge sketches into paintings. It stands in a prominent spot in the middle of my studio, to be used whenever the need arises.
About two years ago, I put out a call to all the teachers I knew for projectors (everything is PowerPoint today) and was overwhelmed by the response. Nobody was using them anymore and they just took up space in the AV room. I took everything offered and now have a lifetime supply (fifteen or so) stashed in my attic. I’m thinking about having a “projector party” one of these days and invite all my artist friends to create something. I even have blank transparencies (donated) they can use.
By the way, the illustrations for this Post come from some small, “torn-paper “ figures I did many years ago. I recently found them in a folder and put them on the projector glass to see what would happen. Giant, Matisse-like images jumped out at me. Plus, I even created some interesting shadow play on the projector glass itself. They don’t photograph too well, but you’re welcome to come by after dark and see for yourself.