Viewfinding

Contributor:

School of Visual Art & Design, University of South Carolina

PROJECT INFORMATION FOR EDUCATORS

Where?

Course Level

3D Design, Beginning to Upper-level Sculpture, and could, certainly, be used in 2D courses, too.

Previously used in online classes, fully adaptable for hybrid and face-to-face classes.

Why?

Conversation points for instructors

This exercise helps students learn to observe closely, study and play with materials and (tiny) scale, and become more familiar with abstraction.

Acknowledgements:

This project was greatly inspired by Bonnie Crawford's Viewfinders. Thanks, Bonnie!

PROJECT INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS

What?

Project Prompt / Challenge

Interpret found views as teeny,tiny three-dimensional installations inside a plastic keychain viewer.

How?

Strategy

Part 1: RESEARCH

Practice creating at least 3 different temporary installations inside your viewer.

  • Try a variety of materials

  • Do not glue anything permanently inside your viewer (yet)

 

  • DOCUMENT EVERYTHING, EVERY STEP

STEPS:

  • Gather lots of different materials

  • Fill the entire space inside your viewer

  • Look through your viewer.

    • Have you considered the whole space? Background, middle ground, and foreground?

    • Have you tried a mix of colors, textures, and densities of materials?

  • Photograph each of your experimental installations

  • Optional: Making videos looking through the viewer can be fun, too!

 

 

 

Part 2: FINDING YOUR VIEWS

Look all around you. Inside, outside. Take your time. Take a walk. Look really closely.

While you are perusing the view and seeing what you can see:

  • Begin looking through your viewer (remove the opaque back piece for this).

  • Move around.

  • With one eye closed, compose different scenes.

  • Document your views.

  • Photograph what you see through your viewer by holding up your phone's camera lens to the viewer's eyepiece.

 

 

Part 3: INTERPRETING + BUILDING YOUR miniature world VIEW

The view you choose to recreate should come from looking through your plastic viewer and the photographs you made.

  • The distortion from the lens of the viewer causes the scene or image to blur.

  • This causes abstraction. Use this to your advantage.

Choose one of your photographs.

  • Does it have a balanced composition? (radial, symmetrical, or asymmetrical balance?)

 

Time to Build!

  • Use whatever materials you like.

  • Consider transparency and translucency.

    • Make sure you do not block all the light in your viewer, so you can still see the sculpture / composition inside.

  • Layer your different materials inside your viewer.

  • Use all of the three-dimensional space to create a miniature installation.

  • Glue or attach things as needed.

REMEMBER:

  • Consider the whole interior: foreground, middle ground, and background space!

  • DOCUMENT EVERY STEP

  • Photograph your installations from different angles outside the viewer and looking through the viewer lens.

A fun option: Create a video looking through the viewer. You can also add music or sound!

Materials:

  • Plastic keychain viewers (I bought a pack of 50 from an online retailer)

  • You can use all sorts of materials for this. Look around and see what you can find.

  • Try different colors, different densities, and contrasting materials and textures.

Timeline:

One week.

Students collect and document views and materials and then make experimental temporary installations during class, or outside of class.

Photographs / Video of 3 temporary experimental installations  and one (1) finished viewer are due at the beginning of next class.

FURTHER SUPPORT INFORMATION

Student Examples:

Inspirational

Artists:

Additional Tips:

Next time, I might also ask students to swap photos and create mini installations with someone else's photo. This could further play with abstraction, without the remembered in-person view.