PERMUTATIONS In Permutations I explore and exploit the ability of a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) to become something of a virtual scientist. Photographic representations of objects are melded together to form an image that doesn’t exist, but looks like it could in a near-future environment. Aspects within the image may be familiar, but it’s still inherently alien to what we interpret as a “real” space or object. Each piece is made up of images fed into the network, which looks at these sources and reassembles them into a new image, based on what it’s learned of how things should look. Depending on the image ratios, characteristics of the source objects may or may not be readily apparent. The work is largely a collaboration between human and machine - I control these ratios, editing the “genes” of my pieces, and then allow the GAN to generate what it believes is the resultant image. Together we are determining what of the physical world can be joined, and how those hybrids might appear based on what it’s learned.
Newest images first. Made with Ganbreeder.
SPACE BETWEEN is an exploration of the inherent sculptural qualities of 3D printing, and how they can be utilized to evoke topographies and represent images as lithophanes. You'll see experimentation with depth and nozzle size, as I work to find the settings that give me the right balanace of detail, not-taking-forever-to-print, opacity, and tangibility. The overall installation will be built into a wall, with backlit 3D pieces broken up along city roadway lines, representing the space between buildings, people, lives, and cities. Viewed as a whole, the images read as intertwined human forms, separated by smaller and greater distances, their parts forming a glowing starscape on the wall. Ideally. Hopefully. We'll see how the mockups go.
Newest images first.
TELEPHONY started as a conversation between friends about how technology has progressed, and generations who haven't had to text in T9, let alone remember rotary phones. Why not see if we can make a rotary phone that can text another rotary phone? As with most of my art, something that started as a silly idea has actually grown to represent so much more - particularly in the context of my other (space between) project. Difficulties in communication, relationships contingent and dependent on technology to bridge physical distance, and a fond nod to the days of playing Telephone in grade school.
Newest images first.
THE LAW OF LAWS
As a child, I collected snakeskins and talked to trees. I felt badly when I was tasked with pulling up weeds, or accidentally cut a worm in half with a spade. This empathy still pervades my life as I’ve grown, and when I go on walks I can’t help but listen for the old guards of the forest groaning their secrets in the wind.
In this work, I can almost feel them watching me, towering above me as I explore their world, trying to reconnect in a way that goes beyond wires or wifi. Through the purity of play I’m able to move through ideas, ignoring the practical and allowing the alchemical to prevail. The inevitabilities of life are explored; one day I will be like the motionless bee. One day I will be eaten by worms. Dizzying facts are easier to accept when you’re able to steady yourself against the ground, breathe in the scent of the dirt, and feel the worms against your face.
I am finding my place in the greater timeline, negotiating this law of laws, allowing my stained hands to implicate myself in earth’s destruction while contemplating my own.
These videos address a personal relationship with the natural world, femininity, and coming-of-age in a patriarchal family, while incorporating a synthesized definition of myth to create multi-layered meaning with roots in the greater feminine discourse.
My mother succumbed to cancer when I was eleven. I suddenly found myself with a father who knew nothing of raising a young girl, and coming-of-age in an environment removed from the influence or instruction of women. Though I didn’t think much of it at the time, this affected me greatly, and became the subconscious driving force behind this work. Only now have I begun to negotiate the relationship of my body and myself to others, and question my role.
I create my own unique interpretation of myth by combining different understandings of mythology. I draw from the Greek tradition of using supernatural stories to explain natural occurrences, creating alternate explanations of reality. From semiotic mythology I use the personal and public connotations an object has beyond its surface level, creating layered meaning deeper than the apparent action. From art and poems created by women about their own experiences, I focus on personal relationship with the body, negotiating and understanding myself and my role in this world. Imbuing my videos with this mythic quality allows the objects and actions depicted to transcend their base meaning, opening them up for personal interpretation while creating a connection between the artist and audience.
PERFORMING NATURE / PLAYING GOD
Everything we encounter is interpreted—our past projects onto our experiences in the external world, or the present reflects into us. All of our being is the sum of our experiences, past and present.
We carry the memories of our past with us forever. They play on as short clips in our minds, or hang around as the haunting image that never leaves. Over time, the mental pictures fade and distort. Only the most biting hold true while others bend and yield. The present layers with the long past, and meld together to form a single image.
I call upon childhood memories that, though they could be universal, are personal to myself. Current events blend with mental images from my past to form a visual representation of incidents that interpret personal and collective memory, while being a full representation of my experience. The rituals of childhood and the land inform my work, creating commentary on our relationship with the world. We are still children in the greater timeline, learning the hard truth that what we destroy we can’t always fix.
My images show the confused interactions between humans and the natural world, the myths that we believe as children, and the myths perpetuated by societal institutions. Believing we can reanimate a dead fish by stuffing it with something living talks to the growing chasm between man and the environment, while playing war with bark armor points to our lack of understanding about the magnitude of loss and cost of war.
The images are displayed as diptychs to provide a sense of narrative. Paired with each set is a poem relating to the events the images depict, but also heightening or shifting their initial understanding. The text and images work together, each answering questions the other poses.
These works experiment with different ways of constructing an image for the camera. Techniques range from the use of projection and electronics to building with objects in the room and contemporary still life.
ALL OF THIS is Emily Joy Zeller, an artist and educator living in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
Cataloged here are explorations into new projects, and archives of the old.
Though her MFA is in Imaging Arts, her current interests lie in the interesection between art and technology, mixing the old and the new, and joining high- and low- tech.
Click on project headings and individual images to learn more.