Research / Artist Statement
"The Individual Body Vs. Systems"
A continuing study of the theoretical and practical relationships between the individual human body and (contrived) systems – as incorporated in regiments of physical labor, vernacular furniture, utility architecture, and the photographic act – engaged primarily through the design, construction, and performance of furnished buildings, large-scale installations, photographic series, and live actions, using criteria based on physical limitations.
Physical limits are set through multiple schemes – each including an effort to negate the assumptions of non-touch, non-entry and/or aesthetic purpose so routinely assigned. In this respect, function, fetish and site-specificity are utilized aggressively to draw the question – perhaps to answer – that this entity "is for" something else.
This study of relationship is then engaged using the following design themes / limits:
•Distinct Use: buildings, furniture, implements, images and/or actions which were clearly made for a specific purpose but that purpose may be unclear.
•Incomplete / Broken / Repaired: buildings, furniture and implements which are clearly missing a major component such as a floor, upholstery or handle; or appear to have been attached to another building or device; or which have been aggressively repaired in a manner where the repair dominates the otherwise complete structure.
•Convertible: buildings, furniture and implements with multiple moving parts which can alter the actual (or implied) purpose of the structure.
•Conjoined: buildings, furniture and implements which are produced in identical multiples yet share a common floor or leg or rely on some "external" element such as a fence for their shared feature.
•Woven: buildings, furniture and implements which are constructed separately or as a combined unit by weaving ultra-thin materials which may in turn weave each separate piece to another structure.
•Cartage: buildings, furniture and implements which are designed to carry specific materials and in turn be carried on a person's back or moved using a specific, related apparatus.
These works are executed primarily using salvaged and/or inexpensive, locally available building materials. These materials may include: rough sawn aromatic cedar and knotty pine, furniture parts, engineered lumber and structural composites, plywood, paneling, sheet plastics and banding, dimensional, sheet and banding metals, nylon rope, and electrical and other wiring materials.
Buildings, furnishings, and devices are often built according to the dimensional standards of these materials, further modified only slightly by the dimensions of my body and some specifics of site. For example, multiple works have employed an 8' x 4' standard, directly following sizing set by common, uncut sheet material. Portability creates another limitation, and as defined by occupational safety guidelines; components of certain works must be movable by the average person, with or without the assistance of a simple device such as a glide or lever. Similarly, the overt non-mobility of an exhibited structure, device, performance act or photograph is commonly used to restate a notion of limit.
Most works are performed for exhibition, i.e., buildings and/or installation components may be ceremoniously transported in/out, constructed/renovated/damaged/repurposed/destroyed on-site as a "how-to" (or "how not to") component of their duration in sculpture parks and galleries.
Printed and/or screen-based "instructional manuals", (often a seemingly disparate combination of images, texts, and drawings), are routinely assembled to document and proffer the process of making and unmaking each work. These manuals ofttimes operate as components amidst the works, providing viewers with additional instructions for engaging the work, (preferably, that they access the conceptual position(s) of the work directly through its practical points) but furthermore; urging the option that the manual be perceived as an authentic product of the work itself and/or its occupant-author – to be perceived as part or parcel within its fiction, to "be for" that something else.
This research presents a rare opportunity to combine laughter with serious inquiry amongst ongoing creative dialogues that have been ostensibly stoic.
The practice of exceeding (or abiding to) material limitation has been widely exercised in 20th Century design and architecture, most notably for me in the cheap material explorations of Gerrit Rietveld and the new material works of Ray and Earl Eames. Concepts of the physical body vs. systems have been stunningly engaged through works by contemporary performance artists Charles Ray and Chris Burden, who flirt constantly with physical limits and danger, and even through work by the funambulist Phillip Petite – how can one not marvel at a 24-year old illegally walking ¼ mile above New York? Despite their heroic nature, these influential works form part of the primary context for this work. Films by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin also provide a useful reference. Many of the characters in these films successfully confronted systems, (often embodied by machines) using everyday materials and an unaffected, clever arsenal of practicality, wits, tricks and not-so-simple acrobatics.
This work is significant within the field of art as an emphatic but reasonable statement about the struggle of the human body to endure and thrive within the systems to which it is subject. This statement is achieved using the qualifying attributes of "serious" studio practice, material knowledge, craft, and social consciousness, while simultaneously deploying the grounding effects of bench top pragmatism, tom-foolery and a base physical awareness of the human body and its vulnerable nature.