The Glittercrash Series
Glitter Space Disaster (2001), part of the GlitterCrash series, was created by a computer-intensive and labor-intensive process. I begin by sketching out an image that I have seen on television or news media many times in various forms. With complete faith that the web is now a prolific almanac, I search for a photo that comes closest to the one I have imagined. Sometimes I find pieces and composite them together, sometimes I find complete photos that capture the feeling and the content of what I'm remembering.
Once the photo is composited or selected, it is manipulated with ImpressionX software to create a paint-by-numbers vector design. A sheet of vinyl sticky-backed paper is chosen for each of a few dozen colors; glitter usually for backgrounds, holograms and stars for explosions, and mirrors for the steel planes that comprise the main object. These papers are created by new laser processes.
In Illustrator and SignMate Express, I create templates for a computer-controlled vinyl cutting machine. Thousands of pieces get cut, peeled and then placed on a thin sheet of stainless steel. Each image may take up to a month to create. The resulting collage is a type of low-resolution "image output-format." As you walk by, the works change, sparkle, and reflect.
GlitterCrash is a series of works that transforms images of technology accidents into thousands of bits of glitter, hologram, and mirrored vinyl. The series formalizes the strange seduction engendered by images of destruction. The first, GlitterCrash #1 (2000), shows the tailfin and tires of a Formula-1 racecar spinning out-of-control and engulfed in flames. This is the spectacular moment that we watch on replays, that we include on the highlight reel, and that we secretly, perhaps unconsciously, desire to see while we're watching the race live or on television. In selecting an image, I give in to that desire with naked abandon. Abstracted from its source and diminished in resolution, the sparkling image echoes the way that media pixelates reality.
My subject is machines that push the physical barriers of our existence, that want to go faster and higher than ever before. In development and competition, we ignore the deadly risk and potential doom that is an inherent component of this desire. When the ultimate "tragedy" occurs, as it frequently does, we manage to recapitulate the moment as spectacle, and even as beauty.
I have been working on this series since the summer of 2000. By the fall of 2001, I had just finished Glitter Space Disaster, which is meant to imply, but not quote, the Challenger Space Shuttle accident of 1986 -- one of the defining moments of my childhood. You can imagine the awkward feeling I had towards my work after watching our Twin Towers explode and fall to the ground last September. In creating these pieces, I had been dealing with a feeling of impending destruction, as if it was fate -- an unavoidable requisite of progress . The last time I was up in the Windows on the World, I looked for the space across the East River near my home, where the iconic Brooklyn Water Towers used to stand, and I wondered how long the Twin Towers would stand. My friends said they would "be here forever." That seemed impossible.
It was difficult to mentally separate the television footage from what I'd seen on the silver screen so many hundreds of times before. We cheer as Macy's blows up in Die Hard 3, was I supposed to cheer now? Our popular culture got a kick in the gut, but it is entrenched enough to withstand the jerk. Our desire to see and to consume the spectacle is stronger now than ever, witnessed by the ratings successes of the recent World Series, Super Bowl, and Winter Olympics. Hollywood made an absurd and almost apologetic gesture by pulling a film and changing some trailers, but that was only for brief moment. We are right back at it.
The Titan Strip #1-6 (2002) series is displayed in a vertical strip to reference cinema, the dominant cultural interface. Shortly after liftoff in August, 1998, the Titan IVA rocket experienced an electrical malfunction and changed it's path to head back towards Earth. It was structurally unable to make the turn and began to break apart. The self-destruct mechanism kicked in and it ignited into a fantastic fireworks display that rained down in streams. Even it's name, Titan, prophetically recalls the Titanic that sunk in 1912 and Hollywood's two blockbuster recreations in 1953 and 1997. I find the Titan accident to be a metaphor for our current situation, where popular media, spinning wildly between desire and death, creates a glimmering veil for gross technological failure.
JASON DITMARS 2002