WORDS

Conversation and Landscape

A discussion with Daniel T. Gaitor-Lomack in preparation for The Blues.

 

By: Mike Nesbit

 

“Ob (or object) Art has two aspects.  One is a contemporary version of the Ready-made and found-object traditions … The other is the physical counterpart in real space to Hard Edge and the crisper kinds of Colorfield painting … The freedom of this sort of Ob lies in its ambiguous connections to culture and life.  But just as it needs art history to define its point of departure and scope, it needs a group of artists all practicing a quasi-repetitive activity to underline its intention; that is, its intention of non-intention.  It plays this idea like a popular recording, its insistence increasing with its recurrence.  And although this may be a devotional act, it is not an experimental one.”

-Allan Kaprow, “The Blurring of Art and Life”

 

 

Conversation and Landscape

 

DL:         Man … that’s where the peace is, right across that bridge, into the blue sky.

 

MN:       Waiting for you brother … October 20th … we moved The Blues there and to the adjacent field.

 

DL:         Damn it’s gonna be insane … This is over at Pete’s?

 

MN:       Yeah, and the land across the road.  More opportunity to place the work within different environments, it becomes quite cinematic.  Also, gives the individual more room to wander with wonder.

 

DL:         That’s a great point.  You do pretty much whatever you want considering the new locations.

 

MN:       Exactly, and I think it’s a closer link to the Flood space.  The buildings become deconstructed into the landscape, which could lead to the next project completely absent of built infrastructure.

 

DL:         I see.  That’s a deep link … Will they be demoed during the same time?  Or how will they be deconstructed?  I think that has a value, that process of how pieces and fragments and how they are still building in certain positions along the flat land (foundation).

 

MN:       When I say deconstructed I mean the seed drying facility is less of an architectural building and more of a machine as its function is quite specific.  Growing closer to the machines that till the landscape … growing closer to the land and nature itself.  The further we get away from building/ man and technology the closer we get to nature.  I guess this series of work can start to visually represent that.  In a sense those buildings have been slowly deconstructing/ finishing into the landscape for the past 50 yrs.  Would be great to see you demo something there.

 

DL:         That sounds amazing.  The power of nature reclaiming and bringing us closer.  Out there it is a virtue, surrounded by all that land.  Things get to just live a life amongst the clouds.  I can imagine how pure it is to operate where there is no error because of the “nothing” … meaning like it’s not a tangible disruption or pressure to navigate process and crunch time.  To me it feels like a portal of some sort of infinite language, a soft landing of a sky fall.  I’m totally in to do whatever is in my power to contribute to that legacy, would be an honor!   It’s powerful to see it all come together in the different ways and mediums.

 

MN:       “To operate where there is no error”, what a sublime idea … as we are always surrounded by judgement, to be able to detach from that and be in the moment of what’s “at hand” no matter the scale … whether a blade of grass or a thunderous storm.

 

DL:         I absolutely feel that connection, that mental gain of freedom!

 DL: Man … that’s where the peace is, right across that bridge, into the blue sky.

DL: Man … that’s where the peace is, right across that bridge, into the blue sky.

 MN: Yeah, and the land across the road.

MN: Yeah, and the land across the road.

 MN: The buildings become deconstructed into the landscape …

MN: The buildings become deconstructed into the landscape …

 DL: The power of nature reclaiming and bringing us closer.

DL: The power of nature reclaiming and bringing us closer.

 MN: Also, gives the individual more room to wander with wonder.

MN: Also, gives the individual more room to wander with wonder.

Anxiousness and Expectations

Viewing “Loose Landing”, a collage with Thomas Prinz

By: Mike Nesbit

“I’m just as interested in leaving room for ‘failure’, so that a work can wind up becoming something completely different from the intentions I started out with.”                Sterling Ruby in conversation with Kate Fowle

 

cutting and ripping

hammer on a nail … comfortable position for the eye

the nail breaks from the wall … the paper terrors

pleasurable unpleasures

repeat

ripping and cutting

paint on paper … paper on floor

stepping away from the wall … viewing a void

pink insulation has never been so beautiful

cutting and ripping

stepping away from the wall

accumulation of stuff meant for something else

Kind of Blue in the background Giotto blue in the foreground

feelings of comfort arriving … inhibitions from intentions

excitement building through cautious viewing

a collage of collage … a collective collection

external whispers enter

a knot in the stomach … burning skin under the hair

the wall disappears … expectations crumble

a feeling of defeat … anxious anger

no more cutting

no more ripping

collage breaks away … tossed to the floor

humility comes into play

objects emerge from an unlikely place

they’ve landed loosely

splendid

 

 

 stepping away from the wall … viewing a void

stepping away from the wall … viewing a void

 Kind of Blue in the background Giotto blue in the foreground

Kind of Blue in the background Giotto blue in the foreground

 excitement building through cautious viewing

excitement building through cautious viewing

 a collage of collage … a collective collection

a collage of collage … a collective collection

 objects emerge from an unlikely place

objects emerge from an unlikely place

 they’ve landed loosely

they’ve landed loosely

Collage in Contemporary Representation

Viewing Wall Assembly, recent work from Andrew Kovacs, currently on view at Maple St. Construct.

By: Mike Nesbit

 

“Buildings are artificial constructions.  They consist of single parts which must be joined together.  To a large degree, the quality of the finished object is determined by the quality of the joins.  In sculpture, there is a tradition that minimizes the expression of the joints and joins between the single parts in favor of the overall form … The direct, seemingly self-evident way in which these objects are put together is interesting.  There is no interruption of the overall impression by small parts that have nothing to do with the object’s statement.  Our perception of the whole is not distracted by inessential details.  Every touch, every join, every joint is there in order to reinforce the idea of the quiet presence of the work.”

-Peter Zumthor, “Thinking about Architecture”

 

If we can agree that collage is the combination of different things … difference in visual perception and symbolic meaning … collage becomes a technique for taking one thing and placing it with another to make something else.  Whether those differences are small or great they are still different and still collage.  With this in mind … our current understanding of scale and objects could agree that if everything is different, then a combination of anything is collage.  Contemporary representation thrives on information, addition, subtraction, change, comparisons, construction, deconstruction …. Collage.  If we are living in a context of collage, then our own judgment system becomes critical for how we combine multiple things.  If contemporary representation constructs itself within areas of abstraction and inefficiency’s, meaning 2 plus 2 can equals B, collage gives representation an infinite number of outs … a removal of “writer’s block”.  The question is not, what move do you make … the question is what move do you not make?

 

A Tale of 3 Walls

 

I like to think that the Wall Assembly could have been finished 3 ways.  First, the way of utility … nothing painted just pieced together in a haphazard way, but quite contextual to the space.  The second, would be to paint the Wall Assembly white and homogenize everything … a seemingly predictable outcome in contemporary representation and seemingly nostalgic.  The third and optimistic approach to represent the Wall Assembly is to take every component as an opportunity for design.

 

 

The Wall Assembly roughly shaped like a “J” in plan, is resting around a column.  I use the word rest, because the Wall Assembly is not holding anything up or attached to anything below as it’s resting on the floor.  The Wall Assembly surrounds a column which I’ll describe as the center of a clock to navigate.  I’ll describe the Assembly into 3 parts.  Part one, loosely located at 9 o’clock, is made from five staggered courses of CMU block (sistered together).  Each top course is filled with soil and a tall grass bought from a local hardware store.  The staggered course is resting on a half-inch board of plywood cut to the width of the course.  Everything except the soil and tall grass is painted a Painter’s Tape Blue.   

Working clockwise, part 2 of the Assembly is resting at roughly 11:00 o’ clock.  Using modular sheets of plywood in the portrait position, the wall is resting at eight-feet by ten-feet.  The inside of the wall reveals exposed studs at twenty-four-inches on center, with a top and bottom plate.  The plywood face is painted a Primary Red and all adjacent/ perpendicular faces of studs and plates are painted to match.  The face of studs and plates, parallel from the inner face of plywood have been painted a Primer White.   The face of studs and plates along the last four feet (closer to 11:30) have been painted a Painter’s Tape Blue and cladded top to bottom with a panel of poly-carbonite, the translucency slightly muting its color.  The outer face of wall … working from face of stud out, has been cladded in two stacked half-inch, four-by-eight sheets of plywood.  The top sheet has been painted a Primer White, the bottom a Painter’s Tape Blue.  Applied to the plywood, is a four-foot-tall by ten-foot-wide Charcoal Gray masonry wall, fully grouted.  The masonry wall rests on an unpainted half-inch board of plywood cut to dimensions of the block.  The masonry wall starts at roughly 11:00 o’clock with a flush edge and staggered pattern, as the wall ends around 12:00 o’clock the staggered course plays out and no cuts are made allowing every other block to cantilever above the next.  Above the masonry wall is a four-foot by ten-foot area of cladding that is attached to the horizontal sheets of Primer White plywood.  At roughly 11:00 o’clock the Primer White plywood is cladded with a four-foot by four-foot fascia about three-eighths thick.  The fascia mimics the exposed framing behind the plywood it’s covering, appearing as if it was casted at first glance.  Moving clockwise, the four-foot by four-foot board of fascia butts into a four-foot by six-foot horizontal “plank-like” siding.  The siding is painted a Light Hue of Pink and due to the plywood below the masonry wall, slides a half-inch past the top of plywood that it covers. 

The last part of the Wall Assembly, about four-feet tall and eight-feet wide is resting at 3 o’clock and butts into the back face of the cantilevered block.  The inside face of the wall consists of two-by-four framing with a top and bottom plate.  The four-linear feet adjacent to the poly-carbonated panel has been cladded with a quarter-inch sheet of plywood and painted a Primary Yellow.  The rest of the framing has been left exposed on the back side and all faces have been painted a Muted Red, including the back side of the quarter-inch plywood that clads the front of the framing.  The top plate and vertical outer face of post that butt up to the back face of the masonry wall have been cladded with a half-inch board of plywood, cut flush and painted a Painter’s Tape Blue.  The outer face of the vertical post at the end of the wall, roughly 5 o’clock has been cladded with a half-inch board of plywood, cut flush and painted a Primer White.  The front face of the four-foot by eight-foot wall has been cladded with a white opaque corrugated plastic, the flutes are running in the vertical direction.  A found window about three-feet by two-feet with three lites and two rows, cantilevers off the end of the wall about six-inches.  The window is about two-inches thick, made of wood, painted Black, and rests on the center of the Painter’s Tape Blue plywood board below.  The Wall Assembly surrounds a column that holds the floor above.  The column has been painted a Primary Yellow about ten-feet up.

 

 

Collage

 

resting around a column

Charcoal Gray masonry wall, fully grouted

flush edge and staggered pattern

A found window

a Light Hue of Pink and due

 

  resting around a column

resting around a column

  Charcoal Gray  masonry wall, fully grouted

Charcoal Gray masonry wall, fully grouted

 flush edge and staggered pattern

flush edge and staggered pattern

 A found window

A found window

 a  Light Hue of Pink  and due

a Light Hue of Pink and due

Still Ephemeral

A viewing of recent work by Camille Schefter titled, Goodnight Irene from Rome ... part of Objects of Pleasure, curated by Mabel Moore … a one-night exhibit at Post Gallery.

By Mike Nesbit

 

“The oldest old specimens include flowers made of chiffon, organza, velvet, velveteen georgette, crepe de chine, and wide satin ribbon. Heaped in my arms are snapdragons, sweet peas, and salvia.  Hollyhocks, four-o’clocks, and forget-me-nots.  Fake and beautiful but stiff and scratch, this year the new flowers are spritzed with clear droplets of polystyrene plastic dew.” (Survivor, Chuck Palahniuk)

 

Thoughts on Still Ephemeral

Within our current context of representation, ephemerality at face-value has become quite normal.  Our tendency to consistently need something new, presents one with a growing anxiety to produce what’s next.  The contrast for such anxiousness and inability to rest, brings up the question … How do we place our self in the “constant next” and still find our self in a “slower now”?  It seems that representations ability to divert that transition for even a moment can be quite relevant.  Scale and Medium become quite critical as techniques for representing this idea of “Still Ephemeral”.  As our growing experience of representation tends to lean towards digital platforms, it ironically becomes relevant to break away from the traditional digital interface and experience the work within the context it is set.  The “fleeting” exhibit and the “decaying object” become quite compelling as mediums to experience the “Still Ephemeral”.  To even view an object once within its curated state brings with it far more opportunities for experience and interpretation.

 

Objects of Pleasure

maple street wasteland
screams from a vagrant
smells from the sewer
light sweep of trash
5 floors up
crowd chatter … arrowhead wall
green palms hovering on white
concrete floors cracked with moisture

echo of conversations … humid summer
hymn of automatic air

chill to the skin

plants
tropical and mediterranean
piercing wall
landscaping moving … synthetic breeze

monstera leaf ... large palm
olive branches
dried and not living ... heliconia

hanging amaranthus ... burgundy and green
 

 

 

 green palms hovering on white

green palms hovering on white

 piercing wall

piercing wall

 landscape moving ... synthetic breeze

landscape moving ... synthetic breeze

 monstera leaf ... large palm

monstera leaf ... large palm

 dried and not living ... heliconia

dried and not living ... heliconia

 hanging amaranthus ... burgundy and green

hanging amaranthus ... burgundy and green

Drawing in Contemporary Representation

Viewing recent work from Peter Goche “The Map and its Porcelain Goat”

By: Mike Nesbit

 

“To finish a work? To Finish a picture?  What nonsense!  To finish it means to be through with it, to kill it, to rid it of its soul, to give it its final blow the coup de grace for the painter as well as for the picture.”

-Pablo Picasso

 

With the growing palette of techniques for drawing within representation, drawing has extended itself far beyond any traditional notions of the two-dimensional plane.  More times than not drawing gets confused with nostalgia and we are confronted with morbid interpretations of a dying technique.  However, it’s becoming more apparent, due to increasing “upgrades” in contemporary representation via digital platforms that our perception of drawing is becoming increasingly mis-understood.  The simple act of drawing, placing pencil on paper can be compared quite literally with the virtual digital representation of that pencil on paper.  Our current technical ability to virtually represent our physical environment, brings into question… what is the extent of drawing?  As our digital techniques become ever more sophisticated in their capacity for “users” to represent the natural environment, a critical question comes to mind.  If the digital representation of our environment can be considered a drawing, then shouldn’t our natural environment be considered a drawing as well?  A theoretical understanding that the further we move forward through technical complexity the closer we get to equality within seemingly primitive forms of representation, our natural environment.  Something quite ironic … as our perception of the natural environment, which we tend to take for granted, is exponentially more complex than anything we could represent.  That being said … with the concept in mind of natural environment being drawing, Peter Goche’s exhibit, “The Map and its Porcelain Goat” becomes quite relevant as a contemporary form of representation.

 

To hear Goche describe the landscape is to hear Goche describe a drawing.  To hear Goche describe pulling a piece of lead from the soil with a backhoe, that has been in a state of finish for the past 100 years, is to hear Goche describe technique within drawing.  For Goche, drawing has no hierarchy and has no difference, whether natural or artificial.   For Goche, drawing doesn’t stop or start, for Goche everything is drawing.  To discover the carcass of a goat in the landscape or to mis-represent that object through digital representation, is merely a “finish” conversation within drawing.  This contemporary outlook on drawing and the notion of everything is drawing, brings with it relevant opportunities within representation.  The “similar” approach vs the “difference” approach, ironically lends itself to more unexpected results within our current disciplinary understanding of technique and representation.  Through Goche’s perception of drawing, representation is never dead, it’s in a state of constant flux. 

 

Drawing of Goat

 

fruitful goat grazed the drawing

Lead buried in soil

tired goat lies down

Lead finished in soil

goat buried in drawing

fruitful blanket pulled from landscape

fruitful carcass pulled from soil

drawing of Goat and Lead

 

  goat buried in drawing

goat buried in drawing

  fruitful blanket pulled from landscape

fruitful blanket pulled from landscape

  fruitful carcass pulled from soil

fruitful carcass pulled from soil

  drawing of Goat and Lead

drawing of Goat and Lead

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