John Gerrard – Sculpture / Photography in Video

Sow Farm, animation still by John Gerrard

Animation still from “Sow Farm” by John Gerrard

More on Gerrard’s website

Currently showing at the Thomas Dane Gallery

Combination of cinematography, sculpture and a quite nice example of creating a sense of mood with lighting and motion to reveal the subject.  Highly recommend visiting this link to a sample vid for a sense of the work – albeit a “web” experience – which not having seen it in person myself I wonder if it has more presence.  Wonderful application of the “inherent” qualities of many computer generated realities – that of being a “bit too clean” and eerily sterile which fits perfectly with the subject matter in my opinion and to great effect.

John Gerrard_ Sow Farm (near Libbey OK)

John Gerrard_ Sow Farm (near Libbey OK) – (animation)

This is the opposite in a sense of the escapism embodied in many popular animations (thinking of that place called Pandora that has the vital element unobtanium – so needed on this ruined earth)  unfortunately this is a reality modeled in  a 3-D world we don’t have to go far experience in real life.  Yet another example of the artist and the “mental model”…

On the surface – Grit of fact, Allure of fiction

What a wonderful way to consider the potential surface of a photograph:

“… the grit of fact and the allure of fiction.”

See (and hear) more about Jeff Wall and his work here at SFMOMA
And this photo of the Barcelona Pavilion –

Morning Cleaning – Jeff Wall

Mr. Wall calculated his double intentions and the interests of his photograph in a very eloquent and revealing way:

“…cleaning is mysterious, since it is a labor that erases itself if it is successful.” – Jeff Wall.

The pavilion – the “site” of Walls photograph above – is itself a reproduction of the original pavilion designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as the German National Pavilion for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition.

It is interesting to consider Wall’s photographic work in the context of one of the most influential objects of “modern” architecture – the Mies pavilion “original” only existed relatively briefly – about a year actually, but what became of that brief existence is an overwhelming influence upon a “modern” architecture. Work began in 1983 and the new building was opened on its original site in 1986 completely re-assembled and reconstituted. A “complete” replication of the original. Explore more about the pavilion here.

Reflection of Alba (Dawn) by Georg Kolbe
35 mm slide from a 1990 – a visit to the pavilion
Matt Niebuhr

"Putting where it needs to be." – Richard Serra

Richard Serra has a vision – spoken with confidence. It’s about knowing what you want and how you want it – then attending to it – realizing it takes many to accomplish such a feat and that process can be informative.

I had a chance to see Richard Serra’s work at the Olympic Sculpture Park – in Seattle, Washington, impressive as expected, in size, scale and in sensuous shape. I thought the skin was particularly nice. The park-like siting of the work allows for an overview which helps the forms to be absorbed in the mind’s eye as objects – but barely holding their own against a looming corporate backdrop.


The real power seems to me to be in walking next to and around – where you become more acutely aware of scale, surface, and shape. It didn’t hurt either to be visiting on a warm sunny spring day. That’s where the phenomenon of experience comes into play – being able to be next to something – to touch it.

The shapes nicely echoed in the passing freight ships out in the bay. But the irony of the fact that the institute actually posted a sign “please do not touch the art” seemed profane in an already profane space – trying hard to not be so.

Why must we place such imaginary boundaries upon these things ?

The park design is very nicely done as well. – It creates a section of land that I can only imagine is / was under intense scrutiny to be “developed” as evidenced by the surrounding dense and unfortunate condo development – it was interesting to see the impending invasion and architecture, art, and landscape – respond –

(design statement here) assuming a bit of a visual shield to the visual cacophony –

It brings home to me a sense of pressure about how we choose to shape our environment or be shaped by our environment.

The cycle of images … does any thing really change?

The Rape of the Proserpina
by Bernini executed between 1621 and 1622.

Detail: The Rape of the Proserpina

I pickup up this little snippet over on Conscientious today… and all it made me wonder what has changed about picturing this sort of sex / violence / power relationship that is embedded deep in the human psyche…

Of the underworld, brute force, power – it is a long history of role playing that is interesting to consider… just who would you think commission such a work? And for what purpose?

The Family that Preys Together
An exclusive Q&A with Sopranos creator David Chase.
Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.

I dunno….

But I do like this quote from an interview of Leibovitz (link)… Is a cover like the Vanity Fair cover photo worth the price?

“Leibovitz: The truth is, I thought I was doing journalism, but I really wasn’t. At the San Francisco Art Institute, what I really studied was reportage, personalized reportage, a la Robert Frank and Cartier Bresson. I didn’t know this, but it had a more personal slant. When I started working for Rolling Stone, I became very interested in journalism and thought maybe that’s what I was doing, but it wasn’t true. What became important was to have a point of view.

“Splitting” Gordon Matta Clark

UPDATE: Read about the show…and see a couple of images via NYT
Showing at the Whitney

“…He often talked about edges: about the areas between walls, between a floor and
a ceiling — about gaps and voids, which he made into art. In the show are
photographs that he took of the spaces under chairs, between the floors of
buildings, on the ceiling of a loft, where the sprinkler pipes were: places
people don’t usually bother to notice. “Opening up view to the unvisible” (he
loved wordplay), was something he jotted on a note to himself. It might be his
manifesto.” – Art Review- Cross Sections of Yesterday

Published: February 23, 2007

Gordon Matta-Clark, “Splitting,” 1974,
black & white photo collage, 40 x 30 inches
Collection Jane Crawford
Courtesy Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago

I find Matta-Clark’s vision of space more to my sense of being in the world… After all we humans stand up on two legs… and look out at the world through two eyes (I’m generalizing here)… We don’t fly over things like birds… so I find things like this…. by Andreas Gefeller – which I think is a bit more odd and difficult to enter into… excepting that I am a practicing architect (intern) – so I’ve got some practice looking at “plans”. But that’s a whole other subject – like the Oblique…

To me the plan (more like a way-finding map – removed – abstracted – about iconography) means something entirely different than the section photo montage by Gordon Matta-Clark above. I like the collage of photographs each room with it’s own vanishing point. Vanishing point – that assumes that there is a subject perspective…. a point of view. Therefor I can imagine being in this space… I like the offering of being able to “see it all at once” yet I’m, not really able to a have true understanding of the space. That’s what’s challenging in this work. What we think we see in photos recomposing a certain kind of reality… In this case Gordon’s. I like it.

Incidentally, the work and other stories of Matta-Clark will be shown at the Whitney coming next year. Should be a show worth seeing.

Near the edge of the sky

Near the edge of the sky
Near the edge
Matt Niebuhr

I just finished reading “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” – from the chronicles of Narnia…(with my kids). Upon reaching “the end of the world” – Asland pulled back the sky to let Lucy and Edmond return to “our world”… for they had completed their journey and were prepared for the next in our own world – never to return to Narnia….

The Sky Pesher (pictured above) (James Turrell) feels a bit like that for me – like I may just be able to peel back the sky – It is a wonderfully quiet experience.

Below is an excerpt from -an Interview with James Turrell by Richard Whittaker

JT: I make spaces that apprehend light for our perception, and in some way gather it, or seem to hold it. So in that way it’s a little bit like Plato’s cave. We sit in the cave with our backs to reality, looking at the reflection of reality on the cave wall. As an analogy to how we perceive, and the imperfections of perception, I think this is very interesting.

And there is the making of Plato’s cave literally-at New Grange in Ireland, or Abu Sembal where you don’t have a pointing sculpture like Stonehenge. Instead you have an architectural space that is arranged to accept an event in light on the horizon. When that event in light occurs on the horizon there is an event in light, inside that space.

This then became the camera obscura, which appeared in many European towns. They would have these, and eventually even created panoramas and dioramas. The “camera lucida” and the “camera obscura” were what artists used to actually make this Western painting space.

We made this eye that sees for us, like the camera, and this is very much a part of how we organized our culture. Of course it became this holder of truth. I mean in a court of law you take a photograph, and you can use it as evidence. But, if you think about it, there are many factors: first of all, where you point the camera, and whether you choose a lens that’s a telephoto, which flattens the space, and sees through the distance, or a wide angle that sees a much wider area than we see. Then there is the setting of the aperture. All may be in focus, or just a part with the rest out of focus. Do you choose to put in a film that represents light from the sun as white, tungsten light as white, or fluorescent light as white; or do you use color, or infrared? Then, of course, you get this photo that you can change in development, and crop. Then you can present this photo as “proof of reality,” when every step of the way you’ve created the reality.

This idea of how we create our reality through this, and in ways that we’re not necessarily aware of, is very important. It contributes to this prejudiced perception that we have. And though learning to represent three dimensions in two, has been a great help to our culture in planning and modeling and all that, there are some losses that are interesting.

There is that experiment where a window is made to appear in perspective, so it looks like a trapezoid, and then it’s put on a stick against a very flat background- evenly illuminated, and a few feet away- and then it’s rotated. We can’t tell whether it’s going back and forth, or whether it’s going fully around. Our guessing is less than fifty percent correct. But then, for this experiment, so-called primitive people, both in New Guinea and in Africa, were tested, and they were unable to see the illusion. They were only able to see what was actually happening. When it was spinning, they saw it as spinning, and when it was going back and forth, that’s what they saw.

So certain ways of organizing information can cause some loss. Learning is one path, one way, and we have learned one way, but this also creates a prejudiced perception that we’re not totally aware of.

More to think about with windows are for light….