Knowing then Thinking then Knowing then …

It is a familiar phenomenon. An artist knows what is right and does it. Then comes contextualization, and as that is internalized, it leads to more work. A double helix, in a way. 

To be around my exhibition, Enter the Matrix, through the residency opportunity at the Chicago Cultural Center means I frequently get called out to explain. Not surprisingly, that promotes accelerated thinking, particularly about connections to previous works and thoughts around those.

The first two weeks have yielded two fundamental realizations. First, about how the current choice of material relates to a previous curatorial project: all images in the exhibition are inkjet prints embedded in vitreous enamel on steel – Whiteboards. For quite a long time, maybe the previous 3 years, I had pondered a form of survey, or retrospective, of my work that would not include the actual pieces made over the last 30 years, but new works derived from them. Those new works were supposed to bind all previous works into one material – the same material new works were expressed in. So I made selections from photographs I had taken along the way, privileging those that had a more theatrical character or emphasized the modularity of many of the pieces, freshened them up in photoshop, and had them printed as Whiteboards, just as the new diagrams and the 10 portraits selected from Face Field. How that material choice is connected to other thinking emerged when I explained the Hairy Blob diagram to a visitor. The Hairy Blob diagram is on one of the wheeled Whiteboards in the residency space. It contains a series of drawings that visualize Western, historic concepts of time. Those drawings had led to a curated exhibition at the Hyde Park Art Center, bringing in artworks that related to what I see as the most recent, emerging understanding of time – the Hairy Blob. In a nutshell, the hairy blob concept of time is that everything is now: artifacts ( for example in museums), records (for example in libraries), and the minds that interpret them, everywhere on the planet, all sticking out from the big ball towards the sky around it. That simultaneity is what I am trying to evoke by bringing my archive into one substance, as a new work of art.

The second realization concerns why it is so appropriate to bring my diagrams together with the explorations around Face Field, in collaboration with Robert Woodley. The diagrams in the exhibition are derived from interviews with artists. The 10 portraits are synthesized from ‘face ingredients’, selected from a database of photos through algorithms that have been constrained through the program Robert wrote. It’s glaringly obvious, really, and goes back to reading Vilém Flusser’s writing on Technical Images. Technical Images are images created from texts. Flusser posits that Mass Technical Images are made by operating apparatuses (cameras) and Elite Technical Images are made by operating a drawing tool (pen). I have discussed this more extensively, here, in “Stalking the Continuum”. Mass Technical Images look deceptively as if they depicted reality. Elite Technical Images seem much more abstract, depict relations and concepts. With that, “Enter the Matrix” combines both types of technical images – Images created from texts.


Artist, professor [Arts Administration and Policy] at SAIC.

Posted in 3Line_Matrix, art, exhibitions, remarks
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