Last weekend I participated in a show at Prospect Park in Brooklyn called Our Ocean is a Park: v.3. The show was put together by Ben Knight and also had work by Kiersten Greene in it. For the show I made a sculpture called A Theory of Progress Floor Segment (An Accurate Model for a Cohesive Distributive Communication System) which was made using the same lattice pieces that I was using for A Theory of Progress Table. The sculpture is also part of the same series as A Theory of Progress (An Accurate Model for a Cohesive Distributive Communication System).
The show has many challenges including the need to easily transport the work by foot, the need for the work to be recycled for the next year if need be and therefore non-precious and it needed to be durable and able to hold up in the outdoors under diverse weather climates. I bounced around a few ideas before deciding that I wanted to expand on what I had started with the Theory of Progress series. I started by using pre-cut pieces that I had in the studio and laying out a composition that I thought would be interesting. I stacked 10 of them and shifted them left and right and flipped them until I found something that I liked. I decided it wasn’t big enough and set out to make a right side to it. At this point I switched to making a small balsa wood model of it. I measured out the pieces that I had on the floor and transferred them into miniature. While making the small scale model I decided that for the right side I would make the pieces the same size as the left size except upside down so that the inside angles would be flush. This meant that a piece that was 42 inches would have another piece that was 42 inches right next to it but upside down. I used the model to figure out a color scheme made up of blue, red, yellow, green and orange. The only rules were that the same colors can’t touch and that every 5 slats had to have one of each color in it.
I took a photo of the model and went back to the studio. I cut all of the pieces for the right side and then numbered the back of them starting with 1L at the bottom left and ending with 10R at the top right so I would know what order they were in. I used spray paint to paint all of the wood. When they were done drying I taped each row together on the back. This meant that 1L and 1R were taped together in the middle so in the end I had 10 rows of folded pieces.
I installed the piece by laying the attached rows out on a sidewalk a little off to the side in as flat a spot as I could find. I didn’t think it was necessary to further attach the pieces together since it theoretically wasn’t going to be touched. However, it turned out that the kids at the opening liked to run across them, probably because they were colorful and made noise. It also rained so some of the pieces started to warp a little but I didn’t mind any of this.
Here’s what I wrote about it for the catalogue:
A Theory of Progress asks us if the capitalization and over-abundance of design theory within contemporary art discourse represent a true progression of ideas within aesthetics or merely mimics the inherent evolution of complex systems towards a more efficient model for profiteering. Design is capital and is a manifestation of ultimate gain through optimization, both through a “perfection” of the visual composition as it relates to the “idea” and of its purpose for a “practical” and widely distributed use. A Theory of Progress Floor Segment (An Accurate Model for a Cohesive Distributive Communication System) takes a tongue-n-cheek approach to the problems of design theory and offers a pragmatic solution by creating an easily assimilated system for creating colorful and easily consumable art products.
Here’s a photo of what it looked like installed. I used Photoshop to fill in the left side with more vivid color and I also made the green pieces way more green than they were originally. If I was to make this again I think I would make it about 5 times bigger. Also a photo of the small scale model.