Thursday, November 27, 2008

Dogs & Boy by Train to SF

I think this was in Merced. AKA negative space heaven.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Weird Hours and Moldy Slides

My solo retrospective, Untidy: The Worlds of Doug Harvey, closes next Wednesday, Nov 26th, just in time for Thanksgiving! However, many who have sought to amplify their imminent feelings of gratitude with an actual physical encounter with my parallel oeuvres have been frustrated by their assumption that the LAVC gallery operates on a typical gallery schedule. It does not. For starters it is NOT open Saturdays. Or Fridays. And Monday through Thursday they have the unusual schedule of being open between 11 AM and 2 PM, then closing until 6 PM, then reopening until 9 PM. So that's Monday - Thursday 11-2 & 6 - 9.

In related news, we've finally managed to book the LAVC art history lecture room for a screening of moldy slides, examples of which are included above and below. I've been showing a selection of these around for a few years, but I recently began working on Rhizomatic Transmission - a completely new show, which was debuted at the Museum of Jurassic Technology with a live soundtrack by Mannlicher Carcano. I recorded the improvised soundtrack and borrowed the MJT's remarkable Bell & Howell Tandem-Matic slide projector, and now that we have the room booked we're good to go!

The slides were recovered about 5 years ago from a dumpster-bound pile outside the house of our local crazy hoarder dude who had apparently suffered an intervention of some sort, as bin after bin of moldering bric-a-brac kept finding its way to the curb over a period of months. I was able to resist the broken lamps and deflated soccer balls, but when several cardboard boxes filled with 35mm vacation slides (apparently originally acquired somewhere else - crazy hoarder dude wasn't actually in any of the pictures) I ceased to resist.

After discovering the remarkable visual properties of the disintegrating emulsion, I sorted the plain from the fungal, then washed and dried about 1000 mold-altered images, and began organizing them by relative fabulousness and pictorial intelligibility (notice the car in the lower right corner of the top image? My favorite.) The result was very satisfying - a stochastically linked collaboration between the original vacation photographer, crazy hoarder dude, the mold, and me - plus the found and improvised soundtrack elements.

Rhizomatic Transmission will be projected on Tuesday November 25th at 8 PM in Room 103 of the Art Building at Los Angeles Valley College, located near the corner of Fulton Ave and Oxnard Rd, at the NW corner of the LAVC campus. The gallery will be open between 6 and 9.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Heavy Rotations

"The first body of work presented in detail here actually takes a step back from the uncanny allegorical puppetry in favor of a cooler and more art historically–precise exploration of physicality. In his photodocumentation of various acts of tripping, falling, smacking, tossing and spinning — probably his best-known work — Kersels lays out an incremental, encyclopedic examination of the paradox of performance art’s cultural afterlife in the form of reproductions in magazines and books.

It is in this once-removed form that an aspiring performance artist comes to know the lineage of their chosen medium. Kersels’ decisive-moment framing of his staged traumas dovetails neatly with Performance’s wryly self-reflexive engagement with its own compromised evidence trail, particularly through his UCLA mentor Paul McCarthy’s 1968 action Leap, a re-creation of Leap into the Void (French trickster Yves Klein’s notorious 1960 purported self-defenestration whose documentation turned out to be a faked photograph which, at the time of his performance, McCarthy had never even seen.)

Added to this house of mirrors, Kersels’ cibachrome pratfalls ought to beg the question of authenticity. In truth, their sense of immediacy and spontaneity is belied by the lengthy photo sessions and elaborate editing involved — Kersels often selecting a couple of shots from scores taken by his wife, Mary Collins. And I have to admit that when I saw his black-and-white Falling photos in 1995 — the ones where you can’t see his feet — I suspected there might be some hidden structural support propping him up. But aside from those deliberate formal ambiguities, Kersels’ work manages to convey a sense of both high theatricality and militant authenticity.

It all comes down to the body. Gifted as he is in this area, Kersels has created work hinging on physical presence and/or absence since his days with XXXL 80s performance troupe Shrimps. What comes across most clearly in “Heavyweight Champion” is the progression from the doomy, goofy isolation of his early sculptural surrogates — works like Monkey Pod, MacArthur Park and the artist’s punching-bag clown as oceanless Buoy (1997–98) — to the more recent social work, like the handmade Foley art instruments for his Orchestra for Idiots (2005), which, if not exactly optimistic, leaves the possibility open for some kind of connection."

Read the rest of The Big Frame: The Other Martin K here.

These images have been modified for greater torqueleptic Angemessenheit. The middle image is not Paul McCarthy's 1968 Leap, which was apparently undocumented, but his 1972 work Face Painting-Floor, White Line.

"Heavyweight Champion" is on view at SMMOA through Dec 13.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Day Breaks

"I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of paintings as mechanisms. I recently met the eccentric visionary artist Paul Laffoley, who insists that many of his two-dimensional mixed media works are, in fact, interactive devices capable of distorting local space-time – with a variety of effects including time travel, group telepathy, and contact with alien consciousness. Form follows function.

What really got me thinking along these lines are the recent paintings of Linda Day, whose elaborately composed 2003 digital glitchscape Pulse series I characterized at the time as “intricate stripe paintings saturated with the spectrum and perceptual idiosyncrasies of the Southern California landscape.” While these works still bear up to that reading as analogous representations of a localized sensorium, in retrospect they seem less illustrative, and more like – well, mechanisms.

Oddly enough, this interpretive shift was triggered by a reduction in the compositional complexity of the Pulse project, from the information superhighway boogie-woogie of the original 2004-2005 paintings to the striated freeze-frames of the recent Flesh and Between/Beyond series. The effect is similar to the cinematic special effect known as “Bullet Time” where a flurry of action is suddenly slowed down drastically, or frozen entirely, but the viewer’s perspective – as mediated by the camera of course – continues to move through the virtual pictorial space, allowing for careful detailed examination of events and processes that were previously only a heady blur.

Of course the key phrase there would be “as mediated by the camera,” which puts the finger on the point where these technologies of visualization diverge: at the exact juncture where the creative participation of the viewer becomes a possibility. For whatever special effects are being offered up by a painting – optical, pictorial, spatial, kinaesthetic, spiritual, what have you – depends enormously of the volition of the viewer to establish and maintain contact between the artifact in question and their own perceptual systems.

Much of Linda Day’s work is directed toward the activation of this co-creative feedback loop, and her aesthetic decisions can be traced in part to the gradual tweaking of the parameters of this relationship. The shift from the streaming grid of the first Pulse series (via passage through the architectonic Chime and Corona series) involved the disappearance of the hovering, interwoven vertical rectangular tab shapes which – while articulating the complex and ambiguous spatial characteristics of the horizontally striped “ground” – also suggested a horizontal (though not necessarily left-to-right) reading.

Although this quasi-informational signal pattern added a further layer of dimensional complexity to the already intricate and subtle effects created by the bands of luminous saturated color along which it was arrayed, it also triggered the narrative centers of the viewer’s mind as well. Hardwired (and continually conditioned) as we are to surrender ourselves to the most linear and teleological of entertainments, the prodding awake of our brain’s storytelling subroutine often has the effect of derailing less privileged and more contemplation-dependent modes of perception, persuading us that we have had a physical experience that we have not."

Read the rest of Kicking Away the Crutches in Bullet Time: Day’s Long Journey into Now in the catalog (and on the poster) available in conjunction with Day's solo exhibition at Jancar Gallery opening tonight, Sat Nov 8, 6-9 PM in Chinatown.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pate 'n' Place

I've been doing more studio visits than I used to - sometimes for writing I want to do, and sometimes for the hell of it. A couple of months ago I visited Chris Pate's studio for the first time. Chris, whose work I included in Some Paintings, is one of the most underrated contemporary painters in LA.

Chris' subtly modulated 70's design-referencing abstractions have recently started incorporating more and more pictographic information ranging from his appropriated tourist souvenir scarves and vintage roadmaps to quotations from recent art history for example John Baldessari. Flyover -- Pate's current show at Chinatown-adjacent Jail Gallery -- includes Los Angeles pictured here, but the red Texas number above (my picture from the studio visit) didn't make the cut (Note: Chris has subsequently informed me that the Texas piece was in"State Line," his two-person show last year at Jail with Bill Kleiman.) Chris Pate's fusion of cartographic content and formalism grounds the transcendentalism of modernist abstraction in a net of local and historical specificities. But speaking of time and space, Saturday Nov 8th is the last day to see the show, so git on down.

"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What's This Mess?!

Since the shredded but resuscitated Joe's Temper #26 seems to be the most popular piece in Untidy: The Worlds of Doug Harvey I figured my first actual post (!) concerning the show should be about it, and the Joe's Temper phenomenon in general. The Joe’s Temper series is based on a 1939 comic-strip style advertisement for Soft-Weve Waldorf brand toilet paper found in a romance magazine. This saga of spousal abuse and dysfunctional relationship healed through brand preference was first the basis of a series of improvised vocal compositions by the text-sound group Rainbow Chug Bandits, which eventually evolved into Mannlicher Carcano. Discrepancies between the textual content of the original and some of the language-based works are attributable to the fact that the earliest derivations were based on an off-register memory of the narrative and dialogue, which I had wandered around muttering to myself during the autumn of my first marriage.

A large number of JT works followed, including collages, prints, performances (including a collaborative chamber music piece with the group Gnu Music), a mail art campaign, the curation of a JT themed group show, and numerous paintings, including Joe’s Temper #26 and the modular, infinitely self-replenishing installation painting Joe’s Temper #31.