Hello dear people,

The quickly waning days of fall are upon us here in southern New Mexico, calling us to nestle into the rhythms of studio-life once again. The lemongrass has been harvested and is drying in the studio windows, radishes, cilantro and lettuce planted in a winter garden, I'm a bit behind having yet to get the garlic in the ground and there are a pile of tomatoes that need to be chopped and dehydrated.

On the art-front, Jeannie has both looms warped and rolling, dye pots brewing, yarn rinsing and prepping while Kyle continues to put brush to paint, bringing new worlds to life while also studying daily the dark arts of video editing.

For the past 15 years I've (Jeannie) been making self-published books annually to archive my work. It is a thing I've done just for myself to have a tangible memory of the time spent. Its a strange thing, spending all of my days creating, and as soon as the work is complete the work flies off into the world to live their own life with someone else. It feels as ephemeral as fire. Energy conjured, then dissipated into the universe.

For those who care to take a peek inside, here is the pdf of my 2021 creations archive book. It not only chronicles all of my creations, but also is sprinkled with personal bits and pieces of the year that I love to preserve in printed form. It feels a bit funny and personal to be sharing this, but there we go.

Two blankets, one rainbow stripe one maroon, tan and blue, lay on giant monolithic rocks in the forest
Handwoven Woolen Blankets by Jeannie Ortiz

I'd also like to share these two Woolly Blankets with you. They are both for sale in the Handloom section of our online shop. They are pieces that I wove last year, and have been tucked away safely in my tote of archived weavings. I was intending to use them in some filmed movement pieces, but have since moved on to new ideas for that work and these don't quite fit that vision. So its time for them to find a new home. They were both woven on a warp of organic cotton-linen, with a pattern woven weft of different woolly fibers including mohair, merino, hand dyed wool, wool with flecks of sparkle (just a few stripes of that), and some wool-silk blends.

You can see full albums of photos on my website.

So I Now Must Learn to Act

These autumnal days have found me (Kyle) starting work on filming a small narrative short film.  I've never done anything like this before, in fact, I never imagined I would want to create a narrative film. An idea, though, lodged itself in my being; unable to shake this thought I now spend some time each day bringing it to life.

The film explores the intersection of art and technology through the lens of the rapid proliferation of Artificial Intelligence text to image art generators: Dall-E, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion.  The rise and power of these nascent techniques over the last 6 months is certainly a moment in our technological evolution akin to that of the camera's invention: nothing will ever be the same as it once was. Take a look at the showcase for the Midjourney software here, as you look at the images remember that all of these were created from scratch by AI based on the text prompt you can see by hovering over each image.

A brightly colored image in a painting style of a woman sitting at a loom.
Dall-E generated image based on the prompt "A painting of a woman weaving on a loom in the style of Frida Kahlo."

Nothing, truly, will ever be the same.  Already there is much talk about the ethics of this technology - you can create imagery in the style of any artist the AI knows about.  This summer a person used this technology to win a prize at the Colorado State Fair. The potential for anyone to create deepfakes is realized now for a few dollars. We are only a few months into an era of wide public access to this technology, a good portion of the world doesn't even know it exists and yet we will all find ourselves face to face with it all to soon.

As a painter I've honed my skills for 20 years so that I can effectively translate that which is in my imagination to the canvas. This, above all, was my super power. Now I find myself looking towards a future where the ability to conjure imagery is just a few computer cycles away. This is disorienting and also extraordinarily exciting. I wonder about where we will end up even as I know the value of my life's work has just shifted under my feet.

This liminal space is ripe for exploration and story telling. I am emotionally raw and confused and grasping towards something I as yet cannot touch. At once the image is now separate from the object, a painting is precious simply because it is hand crafted whereas before it was the only way to produce certain images. Does an image have value at all, or is it the story of the production of the image which is of the most import? What is the purpose of an artist tomorrow? This proliferation of unanswered questions is what I want to capture in my short film, because in our own way we are all moving into a world we are not quite prepared for.  

I've found in the first days of experimentation on this film that I first have to learn to act. I've never in my life explored the theater arts but by turning the camera onto myself I'm forced to come face to face with a new way of seeing the world. It is humbling, watching yourself in Ultra High Definition video, instantly critiquing a funny mouth shape, bad posture, errant backgrounds and wondering if that is really what I sound like. My working process is iterative and exploratory: I film myself on a tripod working for some time, watch the footage and then do it again mindful of the critiques I've come to know. It is also a moment of great expansion of my knowledge as I discover problems I didn't even know to solve and then work my way through them.

I'm going to document this project here on Intentionally Confusing and I invite anyone curious to signup here for the newsletter "So I Now Must Learn to Act?". This email list will be finite in existence - it will be active for the duration of this project and then I will cease to send emails to this list, so don't worry about suffering a life of emails if you sign up. These musing will range from the technical to the philosophical, from the mundane to deep dives into cutting edge technology. They will be candid and illustrative as I find a path towards stories with moving pictures.    

Thank you for joining us on this creative journey.
Wishing you all the best,

Jeannie & Kyle