WORDS

Landing On Figured Sunsets

A viewing of recent work from Mattea Perrotta

By Mike Nesbit

 

“They were all made the same way.  Sometimes I mixed a metal powder, different kinds of powders, with black latex, or sometimes I used just black and white latex paint.  I painted them with a roller.  If I kept rolling, it would flatten out.  Sometimes I would do one coating, like fresco work, with these big blobs.  I put it on to be wet and really spotty, and every time I made a pass over the painting with the roller, it would flatten out until it was gray or black.  If I kept going it became kind of boring.  All of my paintings are painted with rollers:  I never used a brush.”  (Michael Heizer in response to Kara Vander Weg)

 

Thoughts on technique and representation

Representation is a form of abstraction that positions itself for the viewer, technique is the ingredient of physical context … whether hand or material … that works interdependently with abstraction.  At certain moments technique surfaces and becomes the buoyant abstraction at hand, moving the representation forward by removing itself from any preconceived notions of what the technique intends to represent.

 

Untitled

 

westbound towards a sunset moon

static frequencies

a city reveals itself yet again

dark tunnels … hues of blue and orange

 

Arlington maybe… could be La Brea

chopper above … sneakers across a playoff floor

 

dusk is approaching

memories of Morrison and a flying cavalry

 

landing approached … they still smell wet

excitement maybe …. a crowd chirps

 

geometric primitives drape a landscape

overtones of female form

thick textures … a vacant spot of black

 

etchings of Blue … static and forward

 

surprised by a corner

scale is unique

condensed from the others…

why is this different?

thoughts of compression

emerging blue from black

 

a severed hide … aggressive thoughts

 

threads hanging from an edge

 

 

 westbound towards a sunset moon

westbound towards a sunset moon

 landing approached … they still smell wet

landing approached … they still smell wet

 geometric primitives drape a landscape

geometric primitives drape a landscape

 etchings of blue … static and forward

etchings of blue … static and forward

 thoughts of compression

thoughts of compression

  overtones of female form

 overtones of female form

 threads hanging from an edge

threads hanging from an edge

Authorship in Contemporary Art and Architecture

Relevance and Non-Authorship … Viewing Maple St. Construct

By Mike Nesbit

 

Kenneth Frampton on Alvar Siza house in Sintra … “What puts Siza’s plasticity into a class apart, given the fashionable parametric mode of our time, is the fact that Siza’s morphology is conceived from within and without at one and the same time.  This simultaneity is something that our latter-day baroque architects aspire to but rarely, if ever, achieve, since for them the priority always falls on gratifying our insatiable appetite for the spectacular, wherein every building has to be one more exotic fish dredged from the deep and deposited on the site as an alien object… “Architects don’t invent anything, they transform reality.”  Through this process of internalizing programme through drawing on the site, the project becomes inscribed within the dynamic movement of the ground so that one no longer knows exactly where the one begins and the other ends.”

I’d agree with Frampton regarding novel techniques and their direct representational attempt at new forms.  Whether it’s a hyper stylized building from the late Zaha Hadid or a screen print assembly line from Warhol’s “Factory” in the mid 60’s, new techniques become quickly fetishized which in turn directly affect the representation.  Now, as novelty wears off, it becomes more important regarding judgement to understand what’s relevant and what’s not.  I’d argue we are in a period of Architecture, where novelty is no longer relevant within specific techniques but instead the way in which the discipline prescribes meaning to existing context is novel.  The “new” is no longer new and the relevant “new” is merely how we perceive what’s already there, not a case for nostalgia but instead a disciplined attention towards existing context.   We can find contemporary examples such as Rem’s gold leafing of the Fondazione Prada, or Zumthor’s Kolumba Museum in Cologne, Germany.  However, it’s my opinion that although these projects are relevant to contemporary use of practice regarding Architecture and context they are a bit inaccessible to the broader discipline due to the authorship of the Architect.  Although the representation (building) is bold and maintains a level of integrity to the context, there might be something to this idea of Non-Authorship.  At a period where individual authorship is more apparent than ever, all it takes is a brief scan through any social media platform.  The Non-Author or “without you” might be more provocative than ever.

5912 Maple st. sits on a two-lane road in Benson and Benson is a neighborhood within Omaha.  Omaha is a city in Nebraska and Nebraska shares the Missouri river with its adjacent neighbor Iowa.  Epply Airfield is roughly 1,517 miles from LAX.

5912 Maple st. was not always Maple St. Construct, but originally built as a show room for the “Model A” in the early 1900’s.  By the 1980’s time and contextual displacement took a building that once housed the pinnacle of humanities resiliency for technique and representation (the automobile) to what would ironically become an antique shop.  Through such collage of time and contextual re-organization, 5912 Maple St. never required anything new but just a scrapping away/ revealing of what was already there.  An architecture that gracefully brings attention to the things that were long overlooked, a collage of parts that generate new meanings from old convictions.  This can be seen through the layers of paint stripped away from the walls.  This can be felt from the nuanced plywood seemingly placed along a haphazard floor.  Only to force the inhabitant to give attention to the joints between the modular sheets.  It’s those joints that reveal the original joists that once supported the physical technological weight of that once precious automobile.  A space that requires such attention, to not miss the quiet almost mistakable architecture that tries to weave in and out of a built context so heavy with time that the architecture moving within it might be lost at any moment.  For 5912 Maple St. has gone from an early technological showcase, to housing antiques, to its current program as Maple St. Construct.  A space left void for the construction of ideas from multiple contexts via Los Angeles and the Midwest to promote discourse for design and making stuff.

 untitled

anxious entry into an unknown space

immediate attention to creeks between floors

following spatial lines through material …. an extension of thread

collage of transparency, spatial elevations playfully flattened

a revealing of joists, walls forgotten and yet brought to attention

intentional non-authorship weaves a narrative of contextual mis-alignments

 anxious entry into an unknown space

anxious entry into an unknown space

 immediate attention to creeks between floors

immediate attention to creeks between floors

 following spatial lines through material …. an extension of thread

following spatial lines through material …. an extension of thread

 collage of transparency, spatial elevations playfully flattened

collage of transparency, spatial elevations playfully flattened

 a revealing of joists, walls forgotten and yet brought to attention

a revealing of joists, walls forgotten and yet brought to attention

 intentional non-authorship weaves a narrative of contextual mis-alignments

intentional non-authorship weaves a narrative of contextual mis-alignments

Finish in Contemporary Art part 01

Viewing Vincent Pocsik's "Long Ago ... Far Away"

By: Mike Nesbit

 

From Frank Stella … “The elation carried me pretty high; I was sure I would qualify, and I was sure that I would never have to look back, that I would never have to account for anything more than what my hand made.  I knew that my hand was not going to make any more renditions, no matter how schematic, of potted ivy and table tops.  I finished my painting in thirty minutes.  It received mix reviews; but all that really mattered was that I was free to make the kind of paintings I really wanted to make.  In that small moment of confrontation when I felt I had to do it or forget it, I formed my basic feeling about abstract painting, although I did not know it at the time.  In the thirty or so years since that date, nothing in my experience of looking at and making painting has given me cause to doubt what I believed then and what I believe now.”

Finish can be quite unsettling for anyone with an “end” in mind.  To Finish a test, a recipe, a season, a life cycle … requires a sense of judgment for that end.  Often, … time is the immediate judgment for Finish, as it’s a quantifiable mark for a moment that becomes readily available for us to objectify.    Finish can be represented at various scales from manmade objects to geographical landscapes.  Within the context of language, Finish has multiple meanings.  When used as a noun, like … what’s the Finish? It implies a technique applied to the representation at hand.  When used as a verb, such as … I’m finishing.  It describes a continuous action which might not have an end in sight.  With Finish come’s anxiety, for it suggests ownership over the final representation of an idea.  Within our current context of judgment, we have a wide range of historical references for Finish.  From Marcel Duchamp and the “Ready Made” that used re-appropriation of context for Finish.  To John McCracken and the “Fetish Finish” which was quite literal in the technical application of the extent to which an object could be Finished.  To Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, which due to it’s scale and position in the Landscape is in a state of continuous Finish.  With such a wide range of difference, it becomes critical for the viewer to perceive the representation with an understanding of its context.  Whether viewing something in a state of Finishing or as an object highly Finished… it’s all Finish.  At one moment it’s a verb that describes an ephemeral action and next it’s a noun that has solidified an object.  Or, as Stella states … it comes down to the confidence in the individual to just say “It’s Finished”. 

One day a shipment of lumber mysteriously arrived at The Black Contemporary in Ames, Iowa.  The lumber was divided into two stacks each roughly a quarter mile long, 15 feet high, and 20 feet wide.  The lumber sat quite undisturbed until arson torched a stack charring the woods exterior.  About a week later a couple Artist’s showed up, piled some logs into a pickup truck and drove the timber back to Omaha, Nebraska.  It’s there one artist spent 3 weeks with little sleep and much intent to work.  With the use of an angle grinder and various blades he anxiously and impatiently carved away searching for something.  Perhaps some decisions were made by the material, others because it just felt right.  Grinding, sanding, charring, grinding, and sanding persisted for those few weeks uninterrupted except for a brief cold until a Friday opening came and the objects were Finished.

Finish

restless stack

gray skies

impatiently moved

tired of rest

uninterrupted thought

moment of pause

scale in question

unexpected 

 restless stack

restless stack

 gray skies

gray skies

 impatiently moved

impatiently moved

 tired of rest

tired of rest

 uninterrupted thought

uninterrupted thought

 scale in question

scale in question

 moment of pause

moment of pause

 unexpected

unexpected

Meaning within Contemporary Art

Viewing 'The Big Now' for Robot Koch and Robin Grubert . directed by Dejha Ti, Ania Catherine, and Nils Arend . performed by Jessica Emmanuel, Sarah Prinz, Stephanie Kim, Sandra Ruiz, and Blaire Nicole . director of photography by Luke Orlando

by Mike Nesbit

From Allan Kaprow and Some Observations on Contemporary Art … “Though individual points of view vary, I feel there has been a shift in general from a concern for the work of art as a thing to be possessed, i.e., a valuable object upon which highly specialized care has been lavished, to the work of art as a situation, an action, an environment or an event.  More often than not, the result is fragile, as though it had emerged spontaneously, composed of mixed “mediums” that usually do not belong to “art,” but to industry, the household, nature, the ash can and the hardware store.  Its shape is sprawling and irregular, sometimes made up of units that are infinitely rearrangeable, expandable and reducible to adjust to different areas, which gives the whole an ambiguous, fluid existence.  Added to this seeming lack of professional definition (and therefore respectability), is the rawness or immediacy of impulse present in the manner some of these artists use their materials, or, in other cases where the tough is more delicate, the indifference to the “beauty” of craftsman-like arrangement.  Not only have permanence and skill largely been given up in the literal finished product, but this implies philosophically greater preoccupation with the changeable as a raison d’etre.”

In our current context of language and its growing state of misinterpretation ... movement of the human body at its primitive element can distil even the most complex ideas.  Verbal language tends to be the immediate crutch for self-expression and although it’s seemingly the most apparent … it’s often quite misunderstood.  Depending on the platform for the expression of language via analogue or digital representation, the interpretation can quickly grow out of context.  This displacement of meaning within current culture can be attributed to the literalness or at “face-value” in which language is received.  At a period where sarcasm is dying, anything said or written is often flattened, recorded, and immediately left for the misrepresentation by others.  This growing diversity of difference within language comes with an increasing responsibility for the perception of that language within the context it’s given.  Art becomes a relevant platform for this current state of perception as it allows enough abstraction at “face-value” for the viewer to dispel any preconceived notions of what that language might mean.  To look at something for the first time … places any viewer in a vulnerable state requiring the disciplined attention to find meaning.   This type of participation is no easy task and asks a lot from the viewer.  However, within this cycle of language displacement it becomes more relevant than ever to provide attention to meaning at even the most readily known context. 

 

Untitled

 

bare hand unfocused ... reaching limits

crawling figure … piercing fingers

numbing cries and naked limbs

unheard

anxious tension … crumbling fist

eyes closed … lost in comfortless space

plasticity

deaf transparency … confronts written gestures

 

standing tall … figure emerged

insatiable itch with fingerless hands

trapped in white transparency

unsettled thoughts …. stand in isolation

intentional gestures

colorless landscape flattened … quiet undulation

to meander through a frozen garden

 

leaning figure

sleepless march

wishful terrors fall silent

landscape mediates a wondering umbrella

restlessness patiently waits

 

  bare hand unfocused ... reaching limits

bare hand unfocused ... reaching limits

  crawling figure … piercing fingers

crawling figure … piercing fingers

  anxious tension … crumbling fist

anxious tension … crumbling fist

  eyes closed … lost in comfortless space

eyes closed … lost in comfortless space

  standing tall … figure emerged

standing tall … figure emerged

  insatiable itch with fingerless hands

insatiable itch with fingerless hands

  unsettled thoughts …. stand in isolation

unsettled thoughts …. stand in isolation

  colorless landscape flattened … quiet undulation

colorless landscape flattened … quiet undulation

  to meander through a frozen garden

to meander through a frozen garden

 leaning figure

leaning figure

  sleepless march

sleepless march

  landscape mediates a wondering umbrella

landscape mediates a wondering umbrella

shadows of REM

Viewing Tomas Koolhaas's documentary REM

by Mike Nesbit

REM full-01.jpg
 opening scale

opening scale

 the need to move ...

the need to move ...

 the flip of a finger from a mason

the flip of a finger from a mason

 latex glove cleaning a Japanese tread

latex glove cleaning a Japanese tread

 light passing through a glass nursery ... bouncing off a yellow jacket

light passing through a glass nursery ... bouncing off a yellow jacket

 trembling hand at the approach

trembling hand at the approach

 transparency of curtains along a track

transparency of curtains along a track

 sun through a window

sun through a window

 moving as a ghost through the house

moving as a ghost through the house

 circular shot looking above

circular shot looking above

 curtain and shadows hovering across

curtain and shadows hovering across

 walking through green

walking through green

LA story

Thomas Linder and Sculptures of a Los Angeles River

By Mike Nesbit

“LA STORY… I came out here [ LA ] and it was all theory, with very little art history, just a lot of theory.”

                                                                                                                                                -Sterling Ruby

 

History and Theory have become quite transparent within contemporary representation and by transparent, I mean difficult to objectify.  History relies on the misrepresentation of context, at a period where context is increasingly shifting.  Theory on the other hand, attempts to derive itself from an internal vacuum excluding itself from context all together (a seemingly impossible task).  Within that framework contemporary Art becomes difficult to Judge as a majority of work has trouble placing itself within History and or Theory, this is not a critique but an observation.  The inability to successfully judge one’s own work without a disciplinary understanding of these foundational qualities makes it difficult for the work to be critically addressed within its own terms.  Now, it could be we are in a period of Surface Assessment, where it is what it is, you as the viewer “Like it” or you don’t.  But, I’d have to believe there’s a bit more to it.  The Viewer should be able to come up with there own meaning in relationship to the work and the context in which it’s observed, but in order to have a substantial impact within the inner culture of Art and the broader audience who might disregard it all together, it needs to do both (easier said than done).

When viewing Thomas Linder’s recent work, it presents itself 2-fold.  Meaning and Appreciation can be derived from purely observing the objects, without any previous knowledge of theoretical and or historical references.  To just give attention to the way in which ambiguous light passes through the nuanced qualities of color that collage and splash across a bellied surface.  The intentional craft and detail of an exposed frame that’s truthful to its construction and aware of its position to the medium its supporting.  Relationships of scale, height, and proportions are carefully articulated in a way that allows even the most inexperienced viewer a way in. 

Now, what’s relevant about Linder’s work is not only it accessibility, but its knowledge/ ownership of the historical context in which it’s created.  For the studio sits itself on the east side of Los Angeles underneath a most monolithic bridge anxiously consuming a 24hr cycle of unwavering construction.  A bridge that will span the very element that becomes the contextual starting point for Linder’s recent work… the Los Angeles River.  The River itself paints an interesting platform for Abstraction… as any notion of what traditionally defines a natural occurrence within the landscape has been intentionally manipulated/ collaged with concrete at the scale of an open-ended reservoir.  This misrepresentation alone becomes enough to go from literal sectional qualities of the river itself combined with ephemeral qualities of contextual atmosphere (light) and produce work that quickly leaps from a historical derivative of the river itself to something much more Abstract.  Through Linder’s own personal techniques within Representation (resin and fiberglass) he’s able to propel historical context through theory as a means to produce objects that can stand alone.

 

 

Angeles Sunset beneath Frozen Reservoirs

 

towering scaffolded bridge hovering a primitive hut

skeletal shadowed Reservoir… river hints of Resin

collage of color, translucent western light

fetish to process not finish, horizontal drips

osb floors lay tangent to Fiberglass Bellies

scale and Diptych observe unforgotten parts

cranes carrying casted steel… seductive Resin pinching static air

objects standing tall, intentional heights

judgement not removed, one restrains wandering eyes

a courageous feat…

 

 towering scaffolded bridge hovering a primitive hut

towering scaffolded bridge hovering a primitive hut

 collage of color, translucent western light

collage of color, translucent western light

 fetish to process not finish, horizontal drips

fetish to process not finish, horizontal drips

 osb floors lay tangent to Fiberglass Bellies

osb floors lay tangent to Fiberglass Bellies

 scale and Diptych observe unforgotten parts

scale and Diptych observe unforgotten parts

 objects standing tall, intentional heights

objects standing tall, intentional heights

 judgement not removed, one restrains wandering eyes

judgement not removed, one restrains wandering eyes

Navigating Language within Contemporary ART

Thoughts on Rudder, with Ray Barsante and Ammon Rost at LTDLA Gallery

 By Mike Nesbit

 

Kirk Varnedoe – “If there is a general lesson to carry away from studying the emergence of these various uses of fragmentation and repetition in early modern art, it must have to do, not with the drive to newly absolute simplicities of certainty or negation, but with play, in the serious sense of the word:  the play between observed particularities and hidden orders, between individuals and societies, and especially between mobile forms and changing contexts of use, as the engine to produce the variety of particular meanings we have seen underlying these resemblances.  That play of “meaningless” forms, from which arise new ways to model the world, is a key way social meaning is produced… And how important new languages depend precisely on those unexpected hybrids….” (A Fine Disregard)

 

In response to Kirks comments, I’d argue that the unexpected hybrid is not the relationship of Ray’s playfully articulated objects and Ammons “flatter” internal conversations of unfinished strokes.  But instead, the hybrid plays at multiple scales… objects, space, proximity, sound, and smell all play critical roles within the gallery that require attention.  These might not all be overt or intentional, but as a participant in the space it becomes our responsibility to consider all of it.  Meaning the space, the viewer, and the intentional placement of objects in the gallery play interdependent roles of navigating our judgement.  The necessity to be in the space, to hear the echo of the door shutting behind you, navigating your sense of high and low… near and far… materiality of wall and floor.  The entrance might even start sooner than that, for there is no sign to LTDLA (but a faint flag on the east side of the building) instead you are left to discover it… through a friend on social media or maybe by chance after leaving the predictable crowd of an opening across the street.  There is something to the unexpected, in a sublime sense.  To wonder upon a space and find a language to itself.  Requiring you the viewer to give full attention to not just the work, not just the space, but your own position within it.  At a moment where the single shot/ social media story becomes enough to say I was there…. Were you? I remember having to use a Thomas Guide for Navigating through Los Angeles.  A starting point and an end point, in which you were required to fill in the rest, forcing a heightened level of attention and awareness for the in-between.  This is not a case for nostalgia, but an observation of how literal navigation has changed.  Although we have more options today (which I’m in support of), the start and stops seem to be driven more from social surface platform excitement, then internal personal observation.  The gallery hopping charrette or “showing up” becomes more critical then the observation/ attention to the work.   Go here, go there, get that video, get that shot, and move on to the next one.  In contrast to a statement from the LTDLA press release… “to with no rudder the process can be slow and indirect”.    Within our contemporary context of speed, efficiency, and options… comes a heightened sense of anxiety for “not missing out”.  Why not take a pause towards the “slow and indirect”?  The work at LTDLA asks more from its viewer than just visual attendance and maybe this is a critique to viewing contemporary work in general.  The attention to space, the proximity of object to painting, the subtle color difference of podium to wall, to just be there is no longer enough.

 

Navigating Attention

 

the door shuts an echo of anxious traffic beyond

smell of pine along floors of unfinished concrete

lines and symbols fight for isolation on a void canvas

objects high and low hover between planes of internal thoughts

clumps of paint left on a canvas

a strand of hair discarded from the studio

intentional impressions of an index finger dug into an unmovable handle

splashes of color playfully disappearing beyond ceramic flesh

a black abyss grasping external conflicts of space and light

scale and compression force small to large and large to small

positions of restraint… is less enough

just attend… a conflict of judgment

 

 lines and symbols fight for isolation on a void canvas

lines and symbols fight for isolation on a void canvas

 clumps of paint left on a canvas

clumps of paint left on a canvas

 intentional impressions of an index finger dug into an unmovable handle

intentional impressions of an index finger dug into an unmovable handle

 a black abyss grasping external conflicts of space and light

a black abyss grasping external conflicts of space and light

 scale and compression force small to large and large to small

scale and compression force small to large and large to small