October 20, 2016

In The Meantime

"What are you doing when not taking pictures?" I was asked a few days ago. Well, here is an insight into my other project that I've been working on recently.. 

With the arrival of the fall season, the days shorten significantly, leaving more darkness to get into peoples' lives... It is a challenge to overcome every year. Surrounded in this, I began to cover a depressive aspect of the human condition: the phenomenon of occupational burnout.

I got the idea about a year ago, while I lived in London. I saw countless individuals with no enthusiasm, avoiding eye contact, and any interaction in general. Mainly when commuting, this was almost a standard. Whether it was caused because at the end of the journey was a job they didn't enjoy or a flat with high rent, it left their faces muted, blank. I had moments when I was one of them, having emotions shrunk to rather gloomy stages.

That's when I escaped to art. To me, the creative process is a form of relaxation, and helps me to stay away from becoming burnout. So, one day I was taking a playful approach of a game of words and came with an idea for a work which would hide facial expressions by an actual flame, have them literally burned out. My initial thoughts were to do it as a photography project, but then I figured the potential this could have as a complete installation containing different mediums, a set of paintings and sculptures.


Here's a tearsheet from my sketchbook marking the idea

I put it on hold back then, but recently I got back to it. So nice to be able to make things!


The figures are then executed in an abstract fashion, to avoid resemblance to actual persons.

Covering many shapes and sizes, it was pure enjoyment.


Once all the woodcarving stuff was done, I painted them with watered-down white and moved towards the next stage - burning.


Meanwhile, I did the paintings to accompany the sculptures. I opted for acrylic paint on board, simply because oil-based paint is a combustible substance and combining it with actual flame could result in a spectacular performance, but rather unwanted results.

Again, when I was done working with the brushes, I flamed the pieces.


Here they are, faceless. 1st is sized 60x90cm; 2nd is 150x90 cm.

Then just stabilize the broken surface with a fixative, and I was done. It was a fun project which turned the way I wanted it to. For more photos, click to see the Burnout page.


That said, I started a new project, another thing I had on my mind for a long time: I was interested in recreating industrial sounds (fundamentally noises) for years.


However, I had no clue how or where I should start. Finally, a few weeks ago, I decided to do something with it, and I began playing with a synthesizer... marvelous fun, let me tell you.

Things really kicked off when I learned that the same way one can use to distort a song can be applied to visual data as well - suddenly the idea was clear: Connect both techniques into a video that would offer this audiovisual mayhem in large doses.


I'm having a good time doing it, but it requires me to spend a lot of time behind a computer to compose it into some satisfactory outcome. To make matters worse, the arrows keys on my laptop decided to quit after some six years of daily use. However, with the help of very sophisticated tools, I was able to fix 'em, and they work as new again.


A knife and glue worked well on this one. Add gaff tape, lube, and a hammer and you can fix 95% of everything.

It might be a while before I am able to complete the puzzle of audio and image, but stay tuned - once the result will be ready, I will post it here. [Edit: It's already online]

So yeah, there's always something.

If you liked this story, you might also enjoy my "Word is Good" post. Thanks for reading!

Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Projects, Stories



    Susan C.
    November 6, 2016 at 16:10

    I like these pieces and the underlying concept. Sounds like you are also exploring the “performance” aspect. There is something satisfying (and primeval) about using fire as a mark making device. I like using a magnifying glass and the sun!

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      Jakub Stepanovic
      November 6, 2016 at 22:13

      Thank you, Susan!

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