Briefly describe the work you do.
I am interested in the relationship between ourselves, and the devices we use for recalling and storing memory. I question the divide between documentation and an original event or moment, and where the devices we use for recall intersect. In my process I dissect my own familial archive, looking for clues of a time and place I have forgotten, and for the traces of the apparatus used to capture and recall a particular image or moment. In making, I manipulate scanners to perform in ways not intended, giving the process up to chance, in order to obscure the original information, and create traces of digital input. Through the use of these digital tools I aim to both clarify and distort the read of a single image, breaking down the digital and analogue information the image holds. The images are then compiled into digitally manipulated compilations, printed and layered on transparencies that, once compiled, create new imagery and form. I am examining ground and plane of each image in order to recontextualize the perspective (both physically and metaphorically) and composition of the image. The final composition is created only through the layering of each transparency, creating a build up of an image. Each image is reliant on the layer that comes before it, and uses the white, or negative space, of each composition in order to draw contrast to image and form. The layered photographs then seem to contain dimension, yet are limited and static in nature, in order to illustrate this ultimate sense of loss created in the divide between experience and recall.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I started to realize from a very young age that what I experienced was very different from what the person next to me experienced, and what was remembered and recalled always resulted in slightly different stories. From there I was fascinated by the instability of memory, and baffled by how we often rely on it to be a solid backboard for our past. So my interest in memory grew from there, which really got me interested in perspective and perception. Now while we are entering the digital age, this opens new conversations on the concept and as well as a whole new set of issues for the future, particularly, in how we document and archive the past. Since these processes are changing, what does it mean to have essentially unlimited access to the past.
How will our vast documentation of the present be reflected on in the future, and what does that leave for the construction of the past?
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I would say a lot of my practice occurs outside the studio. While the actual end product requires focused time in the studio, that product could only come from hours outside the studio. Time, experience, and research often dictate the length of this process. I suppose it is an equal balance of both, and a successful piece requires focused research outside the studio, as well as focused making time.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I am currently a member of CNTRL + SHFT, a collective of women artists and arts organizers aimed at providing a supportive, inclusive space whose mission it is to contend with traditionally underrepresented content in the contemporary art market, based out of Oakland. We all started this project from the ground up, and have been renovating a large warehouse space, doing all the construction ourselves. We built the walls to our studios, made alterations to several other walls, moved conduit, and are currently perfecting our gallery space, which will launch at the end of this month. I never thought I would be doing this sort of construction, let alone working with other members in collaborative thought to get our ideas, hopes, and dreams for this collective up and running.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
Having recently completed grad school, my time in the studio has changed a lot. During grad school my focus was on my studio practice 24/7. This included a lot of 2 am studio nights, and week long “studio binges”, and ideally one day I will be able to work this way again. Having that focus and concentration in the work is the most pragmatic way of working. Since I live in San Francisco, it is necessary to have a full time job on top of my Collective work and Studio Practice. Now my weekends and week nights are dedicated to studio time. It is nice to go from my “day job”way of working and then be able to tap into an entirely different mode of working and thinking. I think that’s an important balance to maintain, although a hard one none the less. In this way, it is more important for me to both schedule and dedicate specific time to my studio practice, as I don’t have the luxury of letting it flow freely.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
In the past five years, my work and my investigations have changed a lot and grown with the advancement and changes in technology. Having studied Printmaking, I have always been interested In the construction of an image and the boundaries of that visual information. How much or how little an image can convey based on its context both with another image or on its own, or simply how it is rendered and segmented. With the development of technological integration into our daily lives, a reflection on this has helped develop and change the form of my work, and my interest has moved more from memory to documentation and the archive. The form of my work has changed entirely. I used to work solely in flat works on paper, be it Etchings, Lithographs, or Silkscreens. Now I’ve moved more into dimensional and installation based work, that the content calls for, and to produce the images I am printing inkjet produced images on transparencies, incorporating light and movement.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
My family has influenced me tremendously, not only because they are the subject of my investigation, but because of their interest and consistency in documentation, and this goes back generations. Growing up there were always camera around, and the video cameras changed as the development of the camera grew. My father was always behind the camera recording various trips, and we had a consistent roll of filmed developed. Out of that, I have a lot of source material to access my past, including videos to watch and pictures to hold. I can’t imagine how it will be for future generations to look back at a vast number of images and videos of their past. Will they dive back into old hard drives or simply lose everything once they get damaged? Herein lies some of the threads of my research. What does it mean now to have documentation, recording, even surveillance constantly at our fingertips? what does it mean to have every second of our individual lives, our history, documented?
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
My day job pulls me in a direction I never expected to be in for so long, which is simply administrative. I am also diving more into a graphic design field, which I always resisted while in my undergrad, being very dedicated to an analogue way of making through printmaking.
Danielle Genzel is an emerging artist based in San Francisco. She recently completed her MFA from California College of the Arts. She is a member of the Oakland based Art Collective CTRL+SHFT and has participated in various exhibitions such as MFA Now at Root Division, Ntropic Exhibit: Light, and This is not A Painting at Embark Gallery in San Francisco.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.