George Long gets lost in 'Translations'

Artist talks about his installation at the Zuckerman Museum of Art

Layers and layers of encyclopedia pages adorn a large outdoor wall at the Zuckerman Museum of Art in Kennesaw. That site-specific installation, "Flipping Translations," is George Long's latest solo project — part of group exhibition, Hearsay. The collection of solo projects in Hearsay investigates the use of gossip, rumors, and subjectivity and how it creates alternate realities in human behavior.

"I tend to tell stories in place of metaphors," Long says about his body of work. In "Flipping Translations," Long uses nostalgia and childhood memories as a vessel to observe how information gets passed down and changes. As the original image fades on the wall from repetition, the idea blurs and gets degraded.

Most recently, Long teamed up with Mike Stasny for I FUCKING L*** YOU at Kibbee Gallery back in February. As for his public artwork, he created large murals with the Sunday Southern Art Revival, the City of Atlanta's Elevate program, and others.

Long spoke to Creative Loafing about what he learned reading Collier's Encyclopedia, collaboration, and his son being the muse behind "Flipping Translations."

With "Flipping Translations," did you talk to/collaborate with the other artists or did you work completely on your own?

Collaboration is an integral part of my process. I had a great deal of help from artist Corinne Lee, and other guest artists including, Adrian Barzaga, Jessica Caldas, and Mike Stasny. These artists and the student assistants at the museum were active participants in the development of the piece on site. They all added to the piece by helping to select the images from the encyclopedia. Then I would enlarge the pages themselves and images and add them to the composition.

How was your experience creating on this large canvas?

I was thrilled to be able to work on a piece that engaged the architecture on this scale. The piece is meant to be viewed from several places: five feet, 20 feet, 80 feet, and 200 feet. The large figures from a distance where intended to look like they were throwing rocks at the museum, but from a closer view, they are building a cairn, or trail marker. Logistically this piece was a challenge for me. The animation aspect adds another level of complexity. In between each shot the scaffolding and lift had to be moved out of the frame.

Tell me about the concept behind, "Flipping Translations," and your creative process behind it.

There are three main elements to this piece, and each of them is an example of how information is translated. By information, I mean learned behavior, knowledge, emotional development, and wisdom.

The encyclopedia pages are from the Colliers 1967 volume I grew up with. I used them to create a collection of random intersections of ideas. The pages are placed next to and on top of each other in no order. The larger orange images were selected, in a stream of consciousness sort of way, from books as we took them apart. The image of the cornfield is an animated element. It refers to a personal narrative from my childhood.

One day at the lake, watching my son dance unfettered, seemingly unaware of what surrounded him, I had a few realizations — this could be the happiest he is in his life. I was also aware that we were watching each other, both interpreting what we observed. The free space that surrounded him became my own archetype or translation of happiness. I am capturing moments in time and creating generations of information, some of which is gained, some lost, and some reconfigured.

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