First of all, thank you for coming and thank you, Jasmine, for letting me show my work in your gallery. This has been a great experience. Thank you Jeff Hantman and Jasmine for helping me install the show.
A little bit about the motivation for this project:
In 2010, I had the opportunity to show “XU (9 generations),” a single channel video, at the Headlands Center for the Arts. The imagery in XU is a floating, pulsing, fuzzy bluish light. I projected it directly on the worn and disintegrating interior walls of the historic Fort Barry. This combination of moving light across the highly textured walls was attractive to me. One year later, I was able to experiment on a small scale with “Aurora” (a video projection on one of my paintings) as part of The Summer of Video Art here at Krowswork. “Aurora” is video of three shots of digitally altered landscapes, that have areas of pulsing light. The painting was gray with a moonlike texture. Eventually, I wanted to try this on a larger, more challenging scale and to create a conversation between static landscapes and dynamic video where the viewer can decide whether this is a pleasant distraction or just a distraction. The question for myself was, “Is it possible to create two experiences at once; one to remember or is it just fog? I wanted to create a type of reversible experience for the viewer. Each painting and video has it’s own existence and when presented together they create another temporary existence in space. The mesh of experiencing electronic light moving across the still formations requires a choice by the viewer to focus on one thing or to just let your eye watch what is happening. What do you choose? Can you control it? For me this is a similar experience to driving in a car or riding in a train where you can either focus your attention on the visual effects created by viewing rows of farms and orchards at high speed or try to “catch and follow” with your eyes one row at a time as is whizzes by. What is easier, do you end up just relaxing your eyes to let the speed take control?
In proposing a show to Jasmine I was thinking about ideas of distraction/interruption, intimacy and *reversibility. These are the final layers for the installation as a whole. But the individual pieces have other layers or strata. Distraction, intimacy and reversibility. Distraction in terms of our daily lives and visual and mental distractions from what is physically in front of us. I’ve never put on Google glasses, known anyone who has tried a pair, but I can’t help but think of it’s interface of transparent images moving across one’s line of vision as one moves through space. This is a dizzying thought. It is yet another form of new technology amongst many that we might get used to as we move through space. Hence, I thought of motion sickness. I never used to get sick in a car, but as I’ve aged this has changed and the most common advice that is given is to look at the horizon. For this installation, I see the paintings as the horizon and the videos as the motion, the daily life, the overwhelming layer of information that we enjoy, but can also sometimes make us nauseous.
I thought of intimacy in terms of reacting to what is physically in front of us or having an emotional reaction to the ephemerality of life. In this installation, I see the intimacy in the work as the viewer trying to get closer to see the texture of the paintings while also having visceral and emotional reactions to the more fleeting information, aka the videos. The light moving across the paintings and your eye’s reaction to it is an intimate experience. In my personal observations of the work, I experience a visual battle between trying to determine what forms are static and what is moving and, at the durations of only projector light there is a bit of relief.
And reversibility: simply, having two finished usable sides, in terms of the show, the video lights the painting, the paintings are screens that can also be lit by other light. The paintings can be removed and there is still light from the video. As a subconcept within the works, mountains and cement structures can be projected upon, but they also act as light sources by reflecting light during the day with the just the right angle of the sun.
Let’s talk about labels and my process: 2004-2014
The paintings in this installation were created from a combination of materials. They all have mailing label remnants, which are the skeletons of the labels (namely avery office labels) The mailing labels are from a stash that I saved while working at a travel company and mailing travel catalogs. (I had three boxes that deep…) At the time, because of the waxed paper, we weren’t recycling them, they were thrown away. I set a goal for myself to completely use everything I collected.
These labels became, for me, a metaphor for the marketing material of every company. They became that which is man made, added by man, replaced by man. I think of a disrupted landscape with cell phone towers disguised as trees, landfill disguised as grassy hills or golf courses, fake rocks in urban parks, hidden toxic waste.
I create the textures of rocks with the labels
as in the foreground of the Gathering of Elephants in this room
and the rock sides of the walls in Seven Falls, Wall With No Name the middle room.
The battery, or cement, gray foreground area in Battery Mendell (in this room)
the gnarled mass of tree in High Water (last room)
and areas of the sky in 300 Generations are all with remnants of these labels.
And, in the curtained off room, in the piece Reversal Reversal, the labels are less disguised, straight off the waxed paper. They block off skies, cover rocks, bisect and cordon-off the landscapes with odd, unknown forms.
I apply many layers of labels, peeling some back, sanding at other times all within layers of transparent and opaque pigment. It is a slow process to build the textures with these small pieces of paper... Removing them from their backing, tearing them into a form and applying them to the surface. I seperate them into small medium and large remnants to be sure I am creating depth. I feel like I am building more decisively, deliberately. I used to pour multiple layers of paint. Working with the labels is a completely different process, more painstaking but, for me, visually satisfying in a completely different way.
In my practice, working in film and video is the counterbalance to process of my paintings. While the paintings are slower to create, the videos are immediately present, they feel like less of a commitment… (although sometimes I get just as caught up in image manipulation as in INCOG on Seven Falls (the spinning rock). The content of the videos and paintings are landscapes, fiction and nonfiction, places that I have lived or visited or that I have only seen in photographs or google earth. I use my own photographs of my travels in the Western US, images from old Arizona Highways magazines and postcard images for references. Arizona Highways magazine images are of the west that has visually influenced me the most. They are a dream and the images are of vast landscapes. I grew up next to the Sandia Mountain Range in Albuquerque, NM. The Sandias are a mountain range east of Albuquerque that jut drastically upward from the Rio Grande Valley. Albuquerque sits between the river valley and the mountains that rise above 10,000 feet. This mountain range was a character in my life that was always there, I knew where it was and I was affected by light moving across it’s jagged surface. Now that I no longer live next to that mountain I seek other hills, formations, buildings where light changes their surface to keep it exciting.
The videos were either shot with a camera on my phone, are digitally transferred Super 8mm film, or digital video from a Canon SLR or point-and-shoot and manipulated in After Effects. For Underfoot (extended - in the farthest room) I made artwork from my own artwork by flying over old paintings of fictional aerial views with a my video camera to recreate heat sensing imagery. It also includes digitally manipulated Super 8mm film. The sound is a looped field recording of a flash food one late August in New Mexico. Some videos are highly manipulated, some are just what they are like the seafoam on battery mendell.
The video for Reversal Reversal is similar to the surface onto which it is projected. It is comprised of straight on shots of the collages backlit by a window with light moving across the front. The sound was created in Garage Band with the digital keyboard. I played the keyboard while reacting to the changes in the light. The sound used in SCOPING a WALL WITH NO NAME (the greenish image in the middle room) is the ambient sound in the video while traveling by train between Austria and Switzerland, but highly manipulated in Audition.
My videos are inspired by animated .gifs, as in INCOG, the video of the spinning rock, and by aerial and go-pro videos as in the first shot in Underfoot (extended)(farthest room) and the last 2 shots in SCOPE (in the middle room).
Throughout my life I’ve been inspired by both painting and film. Experimental film has been a huge influence. Prior to living in the Bay Area, my only exposure to film was hollywood mainstream and theory classes in film noir and documentary. When I first learned of experimental film I was thrilled to see the artists making beautiful imagery with photography, light and projections, and artists that get there hands on whatever they can to make art.
Finally, I’m inspired by the writings of Craig Childs, the only book I’ve ever read twice..The Secret Knowledge of Water. His descriptions of moving water, environments affected by extreme changes in the presence of water are striking.
I’d like to end with a rambling from my sketchbook:
a ROCK = anything
it can come in so many organic forms that is it easy to replicate. It is abstract. It is also something generally seen as concrete material. It can be worn away over time and with great force, but it is part of the foundation of the world beneath us. With that - the world beneath can be replicated and is being replicated and augmented, accelerated.
This rock is spinning and getting faster and it is a projection onto what, in this moment, is material and is more of a rock than the projected light and data.
light interrupting light