Got the opportunity to show a simultaneously scaled up and scaled down version of Dimensions at Attic 506 in Chapel Hill, which is truly a gem for the Triangle- artist-run and focused, always scrappy and always weird.
This iteration is “scaled up” in the sense that these are much larger iterations of the cube installations than anything I’ve shown publicly to date (larger than human-size) and “scaled down” because this exhibit only features the installation work and not paintings or assemblages. The space that was available was also ideal for this work, with the proximity to the work by viewers being super compressed.
I’m including some detail shots below which I hope underscore that I do think of these physical cubes as proxies for brushstrokes, and the compositions as proxies for painting (after art is dead). There’s also a stop action animation of the install for the piece top left above at the bottom of this gallery- nothing is planned about these compositions. Yes, many of the aspects are chosen in advance (IE I have some rules) such as color and obviously shape. They are also temporary or time-limited- these 2 works will only exist in this configuration in this space and once the exhibit is done, they will be disassembled. To be a part of the experience of the work, you have to be present.
Took these when the cubes were installed for Dimensions. Hope the images make it clear not only why I’ve gotten so lost in them from time to time but also how I approach these works as a proxy for painting, with the surface/texture of the cubes a stand in for, for example, impasto, and obviously the identical role chroma plays.
I’ve continued to expand the quantity of “proxy brushstrokes” that I need for my cube-based “automatism.” I’ll continue to update this post as I make new compositions (all of which remain temporary).
Each composition (is that the right word- installation maybe?) starts with 4 to as many as 8 cubes which have sawtooth picture hanging hardware on the back, which hung off of flat-head screws mounted into the drywall of the workspace I use in my studio to have exploration time. The cubes can be tilted because they’re hung on one screw. From there (after the initial cubes are hung, which is based on good ole’ fashioned painter’s instinct) I begin to stack cubes I select from my “palette” based on size, chroma/tone and the character of the wood grain and intersections there of on one or more of that cube’s face(s).
Since I’ve pre-made a LOT of compositional choices by limiting possibilities, I focus on the tension(s) possible because of the viewer’s belief in gravity.
After figuring out how to move the cubes to the wall I wanted to, like painting, scale up. Each of these pieces took a couple of hours to assemble on site. There were no pre-drawings or plans. The palette was limited on purpose. None of the blocks are attached to each other, although some are attached to the wall.
I’ve taken an interest in the cubes as proxies for brushstrokes (they have 6 sides so each can be presented quite a few ways), and in stacking them as analogous to the way I create compositions. But perhaps more than anything, I’m intrigued by the idea that each installation of them could be a unique, here-then-gone experience, especially since the experiential element of art- the quality of viewing the same- is of the most interest to me in my practice.
Following are some examples of a conceptual art piece that I did in the first half of 2020. My collaborators were other friends who would give me instructions (an inverse Sol Lewit) via web form. each participant was emailed an image of the configuration of cubes I made based on their instructions.
9 cubes of all types with David on 05/20/20
15 yellow cubes with Michael on 5/21/20
6 varied red cubes with Jessica on 5/21/20
9 red cubes with Barbara Anne on 5/21/20
At this point in the project I realized a few modifications that needed to be made to the form, and that sometimes users could input values that on net I couldn’t deliver (in the example immediately above, I did not have any large cubes that were totally red, and was 1 cube shy of being able to “deliver” a composition using 10 cubes with some surfaces painted red).
13 red, brown and white cubes with Tim on 5/24/20
15 red, white, tan and brown cubes with Adriana on 5/27/20
Some artists do a daily drawing or sketch (or even painting) so I’ve been exploring this processas a proxy for drawing or sketching.
The conditions require some set-up, and I’m finding that there is a limitation to the amount of time that the cubes, once “charged,” will (re)emit enough light to result in a decent photo, so making the images requires me to react quickly to the results of how the blocks reveal the light, which isn’t always entirely known at the time I set them in position for prep. “Yes” I think there will be a medium-term play to display this work, for now it can serve as literally what it is- time to create images quickly, only a daily basis, that isn’t tethered to a need to create permanent art objects.
I have been thinking for a while that this modality I’ve adopted is a sort of “building” system; also, I and others have noted that the cubes in my drawings and paintings aren’t moored by gravity or beholden to a true light source. So, what if I began to explore those last two sets of limitations within an actual building system.
I’ve begun to make a set of cubes that range in size from 1″ to 6″ square. I’ve sort of begun to think of each of them as a proxy for brushstrokes… Anyway, they are growing in number and have taken on color.
I’ve tried out a few compositional ideas as well, focusing for now on the limitation of gravity.