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  • site specific and my very specific understanding of installation

    I have a personal belief, backed up by things I have experienced, corroborated by work I have consumed, and confirmed by articles and books i read. This belief is that for an “installation” or work of site-art to be successful and fulfilling for the viewer it must be impossible for the work to exist anywhere else. That is not to say that work that is fabricated and exhibited for a specific location and then reassembled or reconfigured for another site isn’t successful. I think of roxy paine’s stainless steel trees as one example. While the trees themselves present as discreet sculptures, a tremendous amount of onsite fabrication and work goes into the realization of each piece. In a similar fashion Richard serra’s current body of sculpture often times has to be placed on a site and a building is then built around the work. Unlike his first couple of stabs at site-specific work that seemed to be the same piece no matter where they were placed, despite his beliefs to the contrary. In an August article in the ny times, roberta smith talked about some new developments in public art and artists attitudes towards it. I bring all this up because i am trying to finish and articulate in my mind and in writing a proposal for two inter related temporary site specific works I would like to undertake in the spring. The indoor piece I believe will be easy to propose since I have a handful of successfully executed and removed temporary works, it is the outdoor proposal I am struggling with. For better or for worse I am really enamored with the idea of, whenever it is feasible, creating and showing new works when i exhibit. A practical solution to this desire has been to create work on site that is literally woven into the architecture of the space. This insures that the scale and relationship of the piece always seems appropriate to the space they are in. Since I create the work in place I am seeing the piece for the first time along with the audience. This guarantees that they experience the work in a similar way to me when i step back from it. Enter the need to propose an outdoor piece. While the area to work in and display the outdoor piece is devoid of architectural features to build off of, picture a large grass pad about 40′x20′ completely flat, the overall layout of the park in which the pad exists is quite striking.

    This area of the park is so precisely arranged and landscaped as to create a perfectly framed view of the harbor and ocean as seen through a giant pineapple fountain. This whole area of the park, and the city gallery bordering it seems to exist solely to service the view of the ocean as seen through the pineapple fountain. This is where the challenge arises for me. I have no vested interest in disrupting this order,as previous works on this site have, but rather i want to create a temporary work that enhances this view, and responds to the grass pad and pineapple fountain.
    these are a couple rough ideas of what I want to create, although if all the material used is gathered from the scrapyard the way I want, the final form and look could vary a bit, but the general idea of having the work frame the view and the park will remain.

    My idea is to acquire as much scrap steel as I can and create a series of bifurcating line sculptures, which will be painted white for increased visibility. I hope to build them off of the four corners of the pad in a similar method to some of my bifurcating rust drawings.

    Rust on Paper for website

    Rust on Paper for website

    When viewed from different angles and levels the piece would appear as a visual mesh over the surrounding area, when viewed from the vantage point of the back porch of the city gallery the piece would frame perfectly the view of the pineapple fountain looking towards the ocean.

    i haven’t yet turned in my proposal and I am being realistic and running on the assumption that either budget or logistics might inhibit this project, but none the less thinking about it and solidifying my ideas has been a satisfying process. As an added bonus of this project i envision the destruction and crushing of this piece, as with my steel yarn ball in 2006, to also become an integral part of the work.
    here i am using some scrap steel i found on the side of the road at a signmakers. I have cut the pieces into relatively uniform sections and am now welding them into the bifurcating line pattern. although not a direct copy, i am a bit indebted to john bruneu’s infinitree animation i saw about 4 years ago and am still fascinated with.

    although john’s draws a line and splits, lately when i draw and make my line i draw in two directions at a time.
    below are some shots of the woven coat hanger sculpture. I found these coat hangers awhile ago behind a strip mall in west ashley and they had been kicking around the studio until recently when i decided to “clean up” and i realized that if i organized and wove them together they would work structurally and visually as a sculptural object. I will probably paint them white at some point, as I have really become obsessed with the idea of all white objects(i had resisted this temptation for a bit and was even spray painting metal things different colors. although one of the rules i gave myself at one time was to never alter a material from its original color, i am finding the white to be an interesting rule as well, since in many environments white becomes even more unnatural and discordant with it’s surroundings than the original materials or another matching color. )
    detail of the coat hanger weaving. it is difficult to see the pattern, but when i am truly finished with this i will set it against a neutral background and photograph it.