various small gradual fires and resonant milk...
i'll be starting my year in hong kong for an upcoming installation at the new run run shaw media building designed by daniel libeskind for the city university of hong kong. the installation is part of a series of exhibitions called "white walls have ears", my installation opens january 12th.
Ed Ruscha’s second seminal picture book - Various Small Fires - was self-published in 1964, and is a quintessential early Los Angeles icon. Like Ruscha’s book, I was born in Los Angeles the year it was published.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about this book - not only in relation to my own history; but how each image in the book speaks, evokes, and continues to open up. Because the book contains no text nor explanations, various small fires offers an open experience, with little resolve - a series of generic images of fires and one glass of milk, supposedly from “stock photographs”.
Fire, like sound, has a physical form that is relatively un-graspable and constantly changing. Both can feel ephemeral, quiet, loud, aggressive, beautiful, moving, dangerous, moving, growing, evaporating, smoldering, smoking - and both can influence one’s experience of a landscape.
For me, Ruscha’s book is less a narrative and more a trajectory of encounters; where turning the pages of a small book is akin to wandering through various rooms and corridors of an architecture.
Thus, I have built a series of “small fires” (and one “milk”) of colored plexi-glass and sound, in an attempt to converse with Daniel Libeskind’s design of the recently completed building - each in a different location, so as to allow for unexpected encounters.
The sculptural forms are a kind of “mash-up”, exploiting certain formal characteristics of both the architecture and the photographs towards new architectures and new fires. There has been no attempt to illustrate the forms, as much as allowing these sources to generate analog responses - as if the images in the book and the design of the spaces could be used as scores.
Somehow I keep thinking of fires in relation to Steve Reich’s text “Music as a Gradual Process”.
My own audible fires were built upon a base of field recordings of fires made several years ago in Denmark and California that have been languishing for years in the gargantuan pile of field recordings. Other sounds used include acoustic objects, small electronics, and some instruments. The approach to repetition and evolution over time, attempts to engage Reich’s text as well.
My hope is that these “fire-sites” will offer a site for casual listening, less a destination and more a kind of happening upon... where one might stop to sit near a fire, and get lost in the resonant “flames”. the works seek to create spaces of pause, towards active listening and quiet mediation.
more info: here