Wednesday, October 17, 2007

from cones of light to sticks with stripes...


tim robinson book cover

andre cadere Barre de Bois

when stars become words post

"Line Describing a Cone is what I term a solid light film. It deals with the projector beam itself, rather than treating the light beam as a mere carrier of coded information, which is decoded when it strikes a flat surface. The viewer watches the film by standing with his or her back toward what would normally be the screen, and looking along the beam toward the projector itself. The film begins as a coherent pencil of light, like a laser beam, and develops through thirty minutes into a complete, hollow cone."
anthonly mccall, 1974

last november, i was finally able to see anthony mccall's piece in person at the hamburger banhoff in berlin. six months later, in the midst of an incredibly dark, cold, and windy night in april, i sat alone on a remote island in norway feebly attempting to take video footage of a lighthouse beam.

"i imagine that the beam of the lighthouse sweeping over the rooftops of aran's westernmost village gives night a pulse so familiar that its cessation in dense fog must wake the households, as one is woken by a ticking clock's falling silent. and i can also feel how that cone of light, or as much of it as has failed to contact rock or ship or human eye, sails on over the horizon to drown itself in infinite space."
tim robinson, the view from the horizon.

i never would've connected these two moments until i rediscovered tim robinson's "the view from the horizon" on my very disorganized bookshelves a month or so ago. when the book was first published in 1997, it was my first encounter with both robinson's exquisite writings about landscape, and his earlier workings as a visual artist under the name of timothy drever.

i remember initially picking robinson's book up in a bookstore because the images of his drever sculpture reminded me of the beautiful "barres de bois" sculpture of andre cadere, whose work i have always loved and for some reason is never brought up... then yesterday, i gave a talk on my own work at usc, and was asked about cadere in relation to the posts on my larger work from brazil...

someone also asked me about my process of research in relation to my work, and it is this kind of linking of things for various intuitive reasons that sets me upon a path. it's not research as much as finding dots of inspiration and then finding the right line patterns that connect them. when the posts for "when stars become words" were almost finished, of course, cadere's work came to mind, as i realized that his work had finally found a way to bubble to the surface of my own (my initial inspiration for the stripe patterns were the color vowel equivalents of rimbaud)... looking at robinson's book cover this morning, i wonder is his sticks with stripes were also hovering unconsciously.

mccall's cone of light would seem to make little sense as an influence, although standing inside the larger sculpture, one is faced with a cavity that is basically a cone. of course it is a cone of wood and sound, rather than light; but one stands in exactly the same orientation of experience as with mccall's film - and listening to sound, just like watching a film, is a time based experience... and in both cases one is staring at the source.

it is through all of these things that my work begins as points on various maps of inspiration, process, making, and meaning. it's not a particularly straight line from a lighthouse on a remote norwegian island to anthony mccall's cone of light to tim robinson's writing (and the landscape of aran) to his alter ego timothy drever to andre cadere's striped wooden poles to my own work... but it is a line with room for straying and wandering, as well as line of much potential.

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