Saturday, September 28, 2013

speaking of space...

Big City Forum: Shifting Space, Shifting Place
Wed, Oct. 2nd , 7 – 9 pm


BCF presents the final panel at the Armory Center in 2013. This will be a true, cross disciplinary conversation about the concept and poetics of Space. We anticipate a rich dialog with members of the BCF creative community presenting an individual body of work, a reading, a screening, or a movement that has helped shape their ideas and vision about Space, either at a personal/psychological level or related to ideas around social change, engagement and public space. The event will feature an architect, artist/musician, and dancer/choreographer.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Armory Center for the Arts
145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, CA 91103

this event is FREE

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

symbol / cymbal

the sound piece, cymbal/symbol, appears in different forms in each exhibition. in NY at CRG, the piece includes 3 turntables, 3 records, 6 speakers and 4 drawings. in LA (pictured here), at Susanne Vielmetter LA Projects, the piece includes 4 turntables, 4 records, 8 speakers, and 4 drawings.

this piece began in berlin in 2011 as an 8 channel installation. it was diffused via various small speakers in the space (you can and hear see that first iteration here) and playing continuously.

when i started to think about a sound installation in the presence of my visual works, the idea of a sound installation actively running at all times not only seemed passive, but suggested a soundtrack.

to avoid the passive aspects, i decided that the viewer/listener would have to activate the work themselves, and to offer a relatively determined time-based experience (i.e. when you are looking at records you can literally see the beginning, ending and in between trajectory).

having spent much of my music listening life with vinyl, part of the decision had to do with intimacy - that the duration of a recording on a record is palpable and visible; and so instead of a soundtrack, i thought about the sound piece more like a moment for a visitor to become a performer who would disrupt the silence of the gallery atmosphere through their participation in the realization of the work - particularly as there are numerous ways of experiencing a work that involves starting and stopping a series of records.

certainly, the fact that one person could never start each record at the same time (unless one had 3 or 4 arms!), suggests that one has choices in how they listen or activate the work. when i visited the space yesterday, there were two or three people activating the records together at one time, and another, there was a single person listening to them one by one. i'm interested in a kind of analog/mechanical interactivity, because it doesn't feel distancing (i.e. you know immediately how this is working), and without a "wow" factor, the experience can remain human and intimate. when i was in undergraduate school, i remember a good friend of mine created a "painting" that consisted of a 5 images on wood layered upon two pegs. the idea was that the viewer could pull the paintings off the pegs and put them back in different orders, so that the composition was always changing, even though its parts were "fixed".

a few months ago, i posted on some furniture designed by enzo mari, and the "furniture" for the cymbal/symbol was designed and built by james anderson and brian taylor. i gave james and brian a photograph of the mari table and asked them to riff off of mari's work. in a similar way to how the recordings can be mixed up and/or fit together, the elements that make up the wood pieces and their colors seem also like a potential score.

the score for this piece was built via walter benajmin's "theme symbols" that are prevalent in benjamin's notebook regarding his arcades projects. i used benjamin's symbols to determine actions on a cymbal... such as an X shape determining that i would tap the cymbal in 4 equidistant places; or a circle would determine that i run a violin bow around the edge of the cymbal (essentially drawing a circle in sound). the drawings above the turntables are my own scores, based on benjamin's notes. the page from my own notebook covers all of the symbols i found in the arcades notebook and all were used in the making of the work...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

for the first time in a long time...


a group of 14 paintings for the rag-picker exhibitions currently up in LA and NY - each painting is 11" x 14", oil on linen, and each based on an image of the church in sienna pictured below. there was one postcard image of this church in walter benjamin's postcard collection, the other views (i found 12 on ebay!) were from the same time period. each image generated the striped columns in a painting. this little group of little paintings was the first time in nearly 20 years that i painted from a photograph...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

i hunt lost voices...

a 1948 four page story from DC's real fact comics:

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

new publication from publication studios...

Publication Studio is thrilled to announce the launch of Steve Roden's newest artist book, RAG PICKER - a 100 page addendum to Roden's current exhibitions - including images of Roden's works, notations and well as some images from the Walter Benjamin Archives.

The book will launch semi-simultaneously at two of Roden's upcoming solo exhibitions, September 12th at CRG Gallery New York, and September 14th at Susanne Vielmetter LA Projects in Los Angeles.

September 12th, 2013
548 W. 22nd Street
NY, NY 10011

September 14th, 2013
6006 Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

some new paintings...

in february, after finishing 6 large paintings for my upcoming exhibitions this fall, i called the folks who build my stretchers and they told me there was a problem with the linen production and that i would have to wait at least a month for it to be back in stock. since i was nearly halfway through with the body of work, i didn't really want a 4-6 week break without being able to continue the work. a few days later, i called them back and asked if they would build me a few with canvas instead... which caused a lot of eyebrows to be raised. "you know steve, you have been working with this linen for nearly 15 years, the new material is really going to be different "... of course, i figured it would be a bit different, but how much could the surface determine - particularly for a painter whose surfaces are generally so thick that the weave of the linen's surface was never visible. before hanging up the phone i told the guy laughingly "who knows"... it might lead to something new.

when the canvasses arrived, i started to lay down a ground of nearly 90% water and 10% acrylic. in the past, the gesso that was used on the linen would not absorb a mixture of that much water, and would usually bead off the surface of the ground, but with this first canvas, the cloth seemed to suck the watery paint through the gesso - giving it a very very different feel to the surface as well as the look of the paint itself. and on that first day working with the new material surface, i realized that my joke about leading to something new was less a joke and more a shove into some new territory... and suddenly i saw the potential in using different materials towards a big-time shift.

for the last 20 years i would say that most people who know the paintings, especially in person, have responded to two physical qualities in the work - a patina (an aged looking surface) and a "gunky" surface (thick thick paint), both were artifacts of layering mistakes over mistakes, until an image would be wrought out of the mess. with the new ways that the watered down acrylic could be applied, the process of making a painting was different, and when when the oil was laid down, it was much thinner - more absorbent of light - and everything laid down much slower than before.

the first few people who visited the studio all asked me if the paintings were finished - which was a really good barometer,  since no one had ever asked me that question. it was clear that these early responses were not 100% determined by the paintings, but how these paintings did not conform completely to people's expectations of my work, particularly if they knew the work well. what was exciting about those exchanges was that the work was clearly shifting - and while it is easy to convince yourself you are evolving, it's much more plausable if others can sense it. (which means i wasn't just talking the talk, but walking the walk!).

what is important - particularly if one is attempting to continually grow rather than remain consistent - is that the shifts resonate enough so that others can see or sense them. and so, in these new paintings,  i feel like things are moving forwards, not just "better" but pushing things out of a comfort zone. so i took the logical step of placing the february paintings beneath a tarp, so as not to include them in the show... and i began working on a group of canvas surfaces and basically starting over.

along with the technique shift, i began to work with a series of graphic marks that i had notated while working in the walter benjamin archives, each a different graphic action to cover up mistakes in his notebooks. i put each of the 40 marks on a series of index cards, pulling them at random and layering each one over the next in thin layers to develop a kind of lattice work (organic and messy). i then looked as the mass of pattern and began to find anchor points, architectures, branches, spiderwebs, etc. to be used as  foundation points or areas where shapes would evolve into  forms.

the accompanying images seen here are a selection of the larger paintings for my upcoming shows at susanne vielmetter in LA (opening sept. 14)  and CRG gallery in NY (opening sept. 12).


Monday, September 02, 2013

the final fourth...

as the hans richter show came to an end this weekend, we posted my final soundtrack for richter's "ghosts before breakfast". you can see/hear the last one here on the lacma website.

as a finale, i've been thinking about creating one more soundtrack, to be played without the film, since the fourth soundtrack was so deeply connected to the images, i wonder if there would be any palpable connection to the film even thought it will be absent... that one will probably be posted here on my blog, most likely after my shows open mid-september (more about that in the coming days.)