I want to write a little bit about the A Theory of Form and Ideas Small Scale Sculptures that I have been working on for the past few months. I had a lot of time to think while making these since the act of making them became purely logistical and simple problem solving once I got through the first few sculptures. A few ideas came up rather quickly.
The first was that I continue to use models as a form of art making. I have always used models, at least for the past 13 years. I recently pulled out the first Associated Artists for Propaganda Research corporate building that I made for the first AAPR show in 1999 and had to laugh at how similar it was to these new sculptures; I’m either very uncreative and haven’t made much progress over all of this time or I’m trying to achieve something with these little black sculptures. What’s nice about small scale models is that it allows the viewer to project themselves onto the object. The viewers reaction is not physical like seeing and experiencing a Richard Serra but rather a mental experience; it’s not an object asserting itself in space through a type of visual intimidation but rather an object that invites, hopefully, inquiry and contemplation.
I also thought about how I wanted to make objects that are anti-Pop, not large, not perfect like an advertisement or a shiny new object but rather something that was small and devoid of any obvious cultural signifiers. I’m not interested in fashion and design as formal concerns and I genuinely think that, more often than not, the illusion of trendy aesthetics and popular tastes becomes a replacement for critical thinking and relevant dialogue. Art culture, which includes universities, galleries, museums and the art market at large, seems to teach that artists should make a type of palatable art that falls within the boundaries of what is aesthetically understandable as “contemporary” art. The artist is taught that in order to be successful, they need to create an easily commodified aesthetic style that is consistent with a sellable personal narrative. More often than not we associate success with selling and the marketplace but the ever growing emphasis on a market-based consumption of cultural capital dilutes the role of the artist from that of a provocateur to that of a salesman/saleswoman.
While making these I also thought about the idea of perfection and its relationship to imperfection. These sculptures appear to be perfect from a certain distance but up close they are far from perfection. I kept thinking that I wanted them to exist as real objects in real time, a type of preciousness and fragility that would probably be doomed to destruction over time; I wanted their realness to be experienced through their destruction, not as a forced or predetermined effect, but as a result of circumstance and serendipity. I also wanted them to have the same presence as old De Stijl works where the physicality of the objects can be seen through their cracking paint and the yellowing of their surfaces. We tend to think of this work as being perfect when we see them as reproductions in books but when you actually see them in person and up close they’re not perfect at all. I can only assume that my sculptures will begin to crack over time and get dirty and maybe discolor. Their history will be a history of destruction like most objects. This is the mortality of objects that museums and archivists are constantly fighting against. I can’t say that I don’t share or want the same attitude towards the preservation of my own work but that their decay is almost inevitable and that their existence as hand-made objects guarantees imperfection. As I tried to achieve a certain level of perfection I kept think of something I learned a long time ago about how Persian rugs would always be made with one imperfection in them as a philosophical position on the merits of imperfection. There can be beauty in imperfection. I really only wanted to attempt perfection to see if I could do it.
At some point I even looked into 3-D printing as a way of producing them but thought that the process would be both time consuming and costly. I like the idea of making them with new technology but part of me also likes the hand-crafted quality that you get from making it yourself. I think that I would like to make them on a 3-D printer if I hade the means to do it but I’m not sure that I’ll ever have the opportunity and I’m probably not going to spend the time learning how to render them in 3-D on a computer.