Here is a sculpture that I made in 2010 called The Problem of a Compounded Abstraction (The Field). This is another piece that I consider to be a floor sculpture and is 24″x48″x48″. I had the idea for this many years ago but never made it; I wanted to make a landscape with a circle crop in it. I started by looking at pictures of crop circles on the Internet to try and figure out how they look. The most important thing I found were the lines that the tractors make in the fields when they mow; I planned for these in order to make a more realistic looking landscape. I made this the same way I’ve made all the rest, by painting the board green, applying watered down glue and adding mixed railroading foam grass. The only difference was the design of the concentric rings, which I made by cutting circular strips out of sticky paper in order to block out the tan paint that I had painted underneath. I used this same technique for the lines using tape.
The title takes its name from Robert Irwin and the original title is Notes Towards a Model: The Process of a Compounded Abstraction.
From the book Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing Seen:
“He used the phrase “compounded abstraction” to describe the progression that is involved when people try to make sense of the world… In Irwin’s view, sensemaking moves through six stages, beginning with perception (synesthesia of undifferentiated sensations). The undifferentiated perceptions begin to take on meaning in the second stage, conception, where people isolate unnamed zones of focus. In the third stage, form, these zones begin to be named. And in the fourth stage, which Irwin calls formful, the named things are deployed relationally and are arranged in terms of dimensions like hot/cool, loud/soft, up/down. So far there is some fluidity in the process and some possibility of reversing and redoing and relabeling. But at the fifth and sixth stages, people begin to act as if the labels were immanent and discovered rather than extrinsic and imposed. In the fifth stage, which Irwin labels formal, patterns of relations begin to be reified and treated as entities. For example, the formful relation of up/down now gets reified into the more formal relationship of superior/subordinate, master/slave. And in the sixth stage, formalize, the reifications dictate behavior and become taken-for-granted fixtures around which people organize their activities. By the time people formalize their experience they are essentially estranged from direct perceptual experience. At each step in this sequence of compounded abstraction, details get lost, the concrete is replaced with the abstract, and design options get foreclosed.”