On Installations (part one)

January 16, 2012

What’s most exciting is that the upcoming Armory show isn’t discrete works in an even row on white, but a photo/text installation you can encounter from more angles vs. just appreciating one refined, finished work of art at a time.  I’ve been on autism forums a lot lately, and I’ve been listening a lot to latter-day repetitive psych rock workouts (mainly Oneida) and in both ways I’ve been thinking about the idea of scale, especially as it relates to the experience you have when you experience an art show.  First, though, disclaimer that there’s plenty of artwork in the world, some made by me, that looks best as discrete, finished art objects on a white wall but that most of my work doesn’t work this way, I would submit to you, dear reader, and that I’m more interested in immersion than in observation anyway.

And but so: why the autism and Oneida connections?  Simpler than it seems.  If it’s not already apparent to the four of you who read this blog, I’m autistic, which in part means constantly being overwhelmed by sensory stimuli especially when you up the chaos factor by doing something like driving or grocery shopping.  It’s not that I’m easily distracted, it’s that there’s no background, everything’s in the foreground–colors, shapes, noises, movement, etc.  I’m constantly parting through a beaded curtain of overload in order to focus on what I need to focus on.  This is habit by now and not always forced labor but it’s all there; hence the blog title.  Everything everywhere all of the time indeed.

Oneida: Oneida are a hard to classify and very ambitious NYC band ten albums deep into a discography of athletic workouts in which repetitions of brief patterns get built into massive overloads of interlocking elements, sort of like Philip Glass with a fork jammed in an outlet.  It’s a lot more sophisticated and various than that, of course, but the relevant part here is macro and micro: you can focus on any small riff or drum pattern you want or you can let the song move onward as a whole and it rewards you both ways, especially if you like fast, loud, repetitive music like I do.  The key thing is a shifting sense of scale.

So, now this is all relevant to why I think of myself more as an installation artist than a photographer because what I want to do evokes micro elements like small pieces of text or photos (small being a relative term here) rendered into Motherwell-sized walls or environments that ask you both to stand back and absorb and to get close to inspect.  Background and foreground, both emphatically present.  When I have a whole enclosed room to work with things get even more complex and I’ll pull everything imaginable, even other artists, into my orbit, but even just with the show I have coming up I want the viewer to have the sense that she can stand back and see one single large-scale work and also move forward and get close enough to the wall to lean over a bit and read a hand-written sonnet.  And that the sonnets can be a frame for reading the photos of men, and so can the butterflies, and the men can be a frame for reading the other two main elements, and the small blocks of pure Photoshop color that’ll be pinned to the walls can be code for how to read the show–as gestural painting rendered as digital photograph and hand-scale text.

The colored walls and sweep of too much information is meant not as a demand that a viewer stay and scrutinize every single wall-mounted object, but that it’s one work–everything everywhere–sensory overload that allows and rewards focus and repetition.  I’ll post some older installation shots to reference what I mean when I’m talking about too much and macro/micro and invite/reward but for now here’s a few more men and butterflies to bounce off each other as radically different kinds of work that have a metaphorical overlap (or at least I think so).

First, though, “Up with People” (Don’t know why the embed isn’t working but maybe turn your speakers down a little and click away)

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