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! RE: VANISHERS FOR PREMATURE BURIAL & TMT JARED DYER A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Art/Psychology Under the sponsorship of Ri chard Herzog Sarasota, FL April 2010
! REGARDING VANISHERS FOR PREMATURE BURIAL AND TMT Jared Charles Dyer New College of Florida, 2010 ABSTRACT With the Vanisher Series I interpret the fear of death as derived from its fundamentally premature nature. Li ke any other, the fear of death is a fear of the unknown. It is my claim that through culture we may exact a measure of control in our lives to make death appear less unpredictable. The two fold aim of the work is to draw parallels across time between fl awed fear limiting strategies and to undergo a conceptual experiment to unearth something universal between spatial relationships in sculpture and human behavior. I align the rampant fear of the Schientod, or death trance, in late 18 th century Europe, and the provisions against premature interment, with a contemporary system of maintaining symbolic prestige through the automobile espoused by TMT. Additionally, through the extended analysis of a spatial thought problem I attempt to objectify the hole as an archetypal space of death for the purposes of exploring spatial relations in sculpture through a process of inversion. It is my intention that if the fear of death is a human universal, then distilling essential spatial elements in the sculptural form, wil l necessarily lead me to that fear. Richard Herzog Humanities
! "" Contents Illustrations iii Introduction 1 Process & Intent 2 Terror Management Theory 9 Der Scheintod & The Fear of Premature Burial 11 Coping Paradigms 21 TMT & Premature Burial 24 Alternatives to Burial 28 An Exploration of In & Out 33 The Space of the Hole as Thought Experiment 34 Holes & Water or Watering Holes 35 Hole Cas ts 36 Re: Vanishers 44 References 46
! """ Illustrations Zachary Royer Scholz, 21304608 water, tape, trash bags, 2 drums, 2008 Zachary Royer Scholz, 23239608 bamboo caning, cardboard, 2008 John C, Go nzalez, Self Portrait 3: A Gan oil on canvas, 12' x 16", 2009 John C. Gonzalez, Artist's Happiest Memory 2 oil on canvas, 12" x 16", 2009 Jared Dyer, Shroud (06:22), 2010 Jared Dyer, Dumpsite (02:56), 2010 Jared Dyer, CKPATT (Cars Kill People All The Time) 2004 Volkswagen Golf, tarps, bungee cords, 2010 Jared Dyer, CKPATT (Catherine Ballard's Car) 1995 Mazda Mia ta, tarps, bungee cords, 2010 Jared Dyer, Machine Guns (00:49), 2010 Jonathan Schipper, Slow Motion Car Crash Ame r ican muscle cars, mot orized platform, 2008 Jesse Sugarmann, Subaru Wreck screen shots from video (00:25), 2009 Jared Dyer, Sub #1 twin mattress, soil, floor mats, construction sheeting, 2010 Jared Dyer, Sub #2 (Prestige) irrigation hose, mist, soil, PVC, LCD projector, ladd er, 2010 Jared Dyer, Lid OSB, air horns, packi ng foam, gooseneck duct, rocker switch, battery charger, 2010 Jared Dyer, Rollcage PVC, 2010 Jared Dyer, Coupe (Inverted Cellar Doors) c ardboard, spray paint, plastic handle, 2010 Jared Dyer, Vessel burned log, fluorescent tube, 2010 Jared Dyer, Cooler (Scottsdale, Az.) Playmate¨ cooler, fluorescent tube, blue gel, 2010
! "# Jared Dyer, Hole Cast #1 plaster, soil, plant matter, chain, 2010 Jared Dyer, Hole Cast to Remove Hole Cast #1 plaster, soil, plant matte r, chain, rope, hydraulic ram, 2010 Jared Dyer, Hole Cast #2 soil, grass, construction tube, 2010 Jared Dyer, Study for Hole Cast #2 soil, 2010 Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (stairs) concrete, 2001 Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (grey) concrete, 2003 Jared Dy er, Hole Cast #3 Extruded polystyrene, wood, spray paint, 2010 Calvin Ross Carl, Split Shift 9 wood, enamel, wire, metal, 2008 Kent Richadson, Untitled, plywood, enamel, 2010 Keith Arnatt, Self Burial stills from television, 1969 Jared Dyer, Burial (03 :25), 2009
! $ Introduction We are going to die. We know this and we're afraid. Why? While it seems that a certain amount of self awareness should help us cope, with it comes an unfortunate realization death can come when we least expect it. Instead of thi nking about the fear of death as a reaction to the implic ations of some future event, we might do better to conceive of it as contingent upon a state of being that is in constant threat. The fear of death a constant fear of the unknown of not knowing when Death is always premature. I t takes time away time we assume is better spent living. And this is only the case because of a lack of reference we only know what it's like to live. Would we even know it if we suddenly had more time than before? So often we can qualify our fears by establishing them as oppositional, as defined by not being something else, but w e cannot cope with death this way. Instead, i n order to make our limited time count we establish systems of order, clocks and calendars, to organiz e it to give us a sense of permanence to our world a measure of time well spent We also strategize against fear by engaging in belief systems that boost our self esteem and offer answers for what happens in the space of the unknown. However, when the se systems praise aggressively death defiant behavior while keeping us from acknowledging our fear, they may actually increase our chances of dying. As its name suggests, the Vanisher Series is meant to make things disappear, but it is not the fear of death. T hese are not entirely new strategies for coping Rather, t o get at the heart of the temporal problem wi th death today, I suggest that a dialogue across time between strategies for forestalling death sh ould be made more transparent t o see our present pos ition opposed to one in the past In
! % a time of nave medical practitioners and ineffective measures for determining death people still feared that death would come prematurely The difference was that this fear was spatial U nlike now, it was much more co mmon that they might actually be buried in the ground while still alive. Furthermore, it is the intention of the series to probe for a spatial concept for the fear of death that is relevant today, and that can also be elucidated by it's oppositional chara cteristics I imagine that there is someth ing sculptural to the space of the buried body If the fear of death is a human universal, we must expect it to appear in the way we conceive of space. Thus nowhere should these fears be more relevant, and more emb edded, than in an art setting where our spatio temporal systems of order are purposefully in a state of recontextualization Process & Intent The term vanisher is an objective. Some of the work is meant to disappear. I am trying to find what lies in bet ween the objects I alter and situate because I think it can communicate something intrinsic to art making and human behavior. Re: Text 1 In the gallery the work should speak for itself. Thus a text of this sort provides structure for the analysis of the di alogues brought about by their installation and the formal parallels that result from their generation. However, the text is also an object. A bound stack of papers has its own formal characteristics. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 The use of "re:", as "in reference to" or "regarding", in the formatting of the text works as an aside for the r eader to follow the logic of how I conceive of the work, it's relationship to the text, and as a place to consolidate the recurrent imagery in the sculpture. It is a flowchart of the connections in my thinking process
! & It is my intent, through the formatting of the text, t o negotiate the division between reader and viewer. The text is intended as a codec and, although heavily worked, as exemplar of the Series in that the dichotomy between the words and the work may generate its own unique dialogue and thus become a thing or art. We may too understand the text in terms of the process by which it was constructed. Much of what is written was generated from transcription recorded on my cell phone, played back repeatedly, and edited. And it is in large part the same editing u sed in the handling my materials in the work. What you read is cut. The recorded material isn't worked and resolved. It is reordered and printed as spoken. Like the pieces, there are things missing: gaps in my speech, the opening and closing of doors, car alarms. Recording is a measure that allows me to work less carefully, so that things are generated spontaneously by accident More interesting perhaps, is how this very description of the transcription process exists as a recording, was itself transcribe d. In considering this, the spatial operation of origination, we enter into the same conceptual realm that we do with the possibility of containing a hole. How would this text resolve itself if I were to record myse lf reading it and transcribe that version verbatim? What about the next copy? What about these very hypotheticals? It is the recursive nature of this layering, the problem of the infinite loop, which catalyzed the exploration of this thesis. To borrow the words of Sanford Biggers as my own, "I a m not interested in being a sculptor I make things. The more confused I am while making a piece the more successful it is to me regardless of what it ends up looking like." (Gibson, 2010). When I say that I do not intend to make objects, it's what I do. While this is a contradiction, it is one in which a theme of incompleteness is implicit I reject the idea of finished work because at times what finalizes one thing or another is a suspended
! state something under construction or a process by which it can not be actualized. I think that art in the post conceptual need only be visually interesting and relevant to its audience. I propose that if as Terror Management Theory stipulates human behavior is governed by the fear of death, then art that deals with death and how it is mediated by culture past and present should be highly relevant. Further I suggest that through a measure of patience, considerations of oppositional forces may be brought out of the minimal sculptural form, and that subtly shifting th e embedded symbolic content of banal, can bring about new systems of meaning. The investigation of these sentiments can be found in the work of Zachary Scholz. A recent graduate from Califor nia College of the Arts, Scholz's work in sculpture experiments with the flexibility of cursory objects whose meaning is co ntingent on their relationships (Scholz, 2010). In his words: "Each work adds to every other and to the space of understanding draped between them" (Scholtz, 2010) Scholz works often only with th e objects available in a given situation to make sense of the space they were found in Scholz 21304608, 2008 23239608 2008
! ( "At their best Scholz' subtle interventions and alterations thoro ughly blur the distinction between found and manipulated, or useful and useless They refuse to answer why is it? And instead refer us back to the object itself, placing the onus of meaning squarely on the viewer. It's a risky strategy to be sure as many m ay just shrug their shoulders and move on. But Scholz' sculptures do reward a little patience and receptivity. Loosened from the context of use and refuse his impoverished materials invit[e] us to consider their surprising formal qualities and potentially errant functions."(Oliver, 2008) What Scholz does well is to enforce a relat ionship between composite forms which is beyond their similarity, by binding them together. As time erodes the space between the objects, gesture develops. In 21 304608 we can see places where the white tape is tight and where is has come loose with time. The drum on the right seems to be pulling away from its leaking double. Similarly we can imagine the form 23239608 continuing to bloom as the cardboard wrapping loosens slightly over a period of days Any array of limited visual information, requires a different sort of contemplative time than given to something representational or otherwise further resolved. It takes time to look for and find the spa ce in between what is given in objects. Objects are not autonomous They do not stand on their own for what they are. In art they are part of a system. In my work they are a means for connecting ideas across space. With this time I expect the viewer to unc over some of what I've embedded in a piece, and to recognize those same choices in others as relating them in a way you can't see at first glance. And l ike Scholz, I want the viewer to commit to looking to make meaning with
! ) through time spent with a piece rather than circling back to f ind the answers from its author. Thi s is the reason for my distance why I w ork with materials that do their own work in a sense. This working process restrains gesture, so that the attention of the viewer isn't drawn to the reasons for this or that mark and so that I do not have to deliberately remove my hand from what I make By subtly changing things that already have embedded meaning and by limi ting the amount of information that is a signature of the artist the viewer is free to call into play what isn't the re, or whatever other objects contextualize those I choose. In this way, viewing the work starts a dialectic. One considers oppositions or what seems to be missing. To engender a patient viewing, one in which subtle ties are slowly revealed I shy away from making things out to be definitive. While the choices are deliberate, I understand that the work the exchanges in the space between the pieces, relies on reading it as a whole, and that I am not solely responsible for everything that happens once it's installed. Undoubtedly, there's a certain sense of artifice in creating a story by which one makes one thing or another. The amount of effort it takes to make something effortless is disingenuous. By trying to resist overworking, I lie. Fabricating contexts is a part of the process I'm interested in How far can I go? What is my license or the
! license of any artist ? What part is mine of what I have made? What is an originator? Gonzalez, Self Portrait 3: A Gan 2009 Artist's Happiest Memory 2 2009 These are some of the same questions John C. Gonzalez asks with his series of self portraits Like many painters, Gonzalez outsources the task of making his work to mail order, factory artists in China. Unlike others who do so to facilitate and expedite the completion of work whose scope may be beyond that of the individual painter, Gonzalez "embrace[s] [his] removal from the creative process by requesting the Chinese artists to create works of themselves in a manner of their choosing." ( Gonzalez, 2010). Instead of shipping a template for how to complete the work, Gonzalez sends simple instructions like "Paint a self portrait" or "Paint you happiest memory." In this way the mark of the individu al, often intentionally invisible, is brought out. When the work is shown, then, we have to ask who is the artist the one who painted the painting, or the one who originated the idea for the painting and who had the show? Like Gonzalez, I own the content I design. However, I am less interested in making explicit the hand that produces the work I wonder more at what the difference is between art and the choices that make artwork. In large part, the
! + process I've developed idealizes a negotiation of this bou ndary. In my work I'm looking for the least amount of change that makes something sculptural. Reading the work should then be about picking out the choices that makes it art rather than objects in an art setting. Similar concerns figure in the work of An drea Zittel. In a recent interview with Believer Magazine, when asked about her intent in making her work functional as a way to get at what at is Zittel responded : "...When I left graduate school I was totally stumped by the fact that I had been in schoo l studying art for seven years and still didn't know what art was. So I set up different experiments to figure it out one experiment was to take things off the street and repair them in order to figure out if there is such a thing as a non creative gestur e when you make something from scratch there is always a creative gesture involved, but I was thinking that perhaps if I repaired a broken object, that second hand decision making wouldn't entail a creative decision process." (Bachner, 2009). Inevitably, Zittel cannot extricate art from creative choice, and neither can I. The pieces in The Vanisher Series, as a form of experimentation, are affected by creative gestures to various point s beyond being untouched. While at a glance they may appear as found obj ects, a measure of patience reveals the decision process. Whether this makes them art or not, I can't say. I n the work I am trying to walk betw een the found and the fashioned. To do so I work with materials and subprocesses that cannot be totally controlle d. Pieces can evolve freely from the preliminary boundaries I stake in making it, and they often invite companion pieces that reflect the essential choices
! made in their production. The result of this doubling and redoubling of images becomes the text for how the process evolves the connections between them. The relations they enter into give the viewer a finer sense of how the artist is seeing the means by which I pick out the things in the world that can communicate something relevant. My claim is that what is relevant is accessible to most people, and that because death is so ubiquitous work about death should be highly relevant. Terror Management Theory Fundamentally people cannot accept the inevitably of their own death. They cope. Whether it is by building elaborate safety coffins or freezing our bodies with the hope that science will find a way to thaw us out in the future, Terror Management T heory (TMT) holds that we cope by participating in culture (Arndt, Goldenberg, Pyszczynski, and Solomon, 20 00). Man is no different from any other animal in his innate drive for self preservation, but what is p erhaps unique to the human condition are the responsibilities of self awareness. What comes with it is the ever present threat of mortality. As with art, our reaction to it is symbolic we create ideas about the nature of our reality, and attempt to adher e to them by developing beliefs (Arndt, et al., 2000). These structures lessen our fears about death by providing answers to the big quest ions no one per son can answer W here did we come from? Where are we going? What happens when we die? The thing that makes culture work, that keeps us from the potentially debilitating anxiety that comes with self consciousness, is that following it s dictates mak es us feel good. Those who participate in a cultural world view act as a support system for others by validating behaviors th at embrace their shared beliefs, and policing transgressors. The irony is that in striving for positive feedback from others
! $! when we follow cultural prescriptions, generating self esteem in order to feel secure in our beliefs and thus, in a sense, immortal (Arndt, et al., 2000), we often engage in behaviors that directly counter the implicit "life saving" ability that cultural roles pr ofess. Culture and socialization also tend to value acts of physical heroism, displays of athletic ability, sexual prowess, the ability to imbibe large amounts of alcohol and other drugs, and the defense of one's honor and possessions 2 (Arndt, et al., 2000 ). In these ways, people may act in accordance with their own worldviews to deny their fears of death that actual ly increase the chances of being killed Studies have shown that an interest in high risk behaviors and activities, like bungee jumping, dang erous dieting regiments and using heroin, increased proportionally to the extent that people who reported their willingness to engage in such behaviors were made aware of their inevitable death (Arndt, et al., 2000). It has also been demonstrated that part icipants with particularly high investment in spiritual meaning systems to be especially likely to resist proven medical recommendations in light of their faith (Arndt, et al., 2000). What this means then is t hat if cultures prescribe world views that supp ort poor health practices, that increasing one's thoughts about their own mortality 3 in those contexts can have ironic, maladaptive consequences. W e may ask then, are there mortality salience conditions that could cause the self preservative instinct to va nish completely? Could we be so afraid of death that we would no longer worry about living at all? What makes death so threatening is that it is a vey real manifestation of the unknown. It's something "out there" something beyond understanding that will, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 2 Arndt, et al. (2000) suggest that an extreme version of this sort of behavior can be seen in suicide bombers, like the Kamikaze pilots of World War II, who willingly die to secure their own sense of heroic priority over death. 3 Instilling thoughts of intense physical pain, social exclusions meaninglessness, or even someone else's death does not reproduce these effects (Arndt, et al., 2000).
! $$ sooner or later, catch up with us, and we don't know when. The essence of its unpredictability makes death as a concept irrevocably premature. Fearing death is knowing that it may come unexpected. This fear of the unknown is probably no better exemplified, historically, than by the widespread paranoia of premature burial as a result of the Scheintod in late 18 th century Europe. Der Sch e i ntod & The Fear of Premature Burial "Sometimes the patient lies, for a day only, or even for a shorter period, in a sp ecies of exaggerated lethargy. He is senseless and externally motionless, but the pulsation of the heart is still faintly perceptible; some traces of warmth remain .. Then again, the duration of the trance is for weeks even for months; while with the clos est scrutiny, and the most rigorous medical tests, fail to establish any material distinction between the state of the sufferer and what we conceive of absolute death. Very usually, he is saved from premature interment solely by the knowledge of his friend s that he has been previously subject to catalepsy" (Poe, 219, 1988). In the above passage from Poe's The Premature Burial the protagonist describes what German physcian Christopher William Hufeland called the "death trance" in his 1808 encyclopedia on the subject Der Scheintod. Hufeland wrote, the Schientod "always precluded real death. [It] was indistinguishable from real death and could last for days or even weeks, like the hibernation of an animal. Although the apparently dead person seemed to lack a rterial pulsations, muscular reflexes, and respiratory movements, the death trance was not always fatal." (Bondeson, 2001). Poe elaborates some twenty years later,
! $% Though a malady of this sort seems fantastic today, Bondeson (2001) holds that they probab ly did exist in the 18 th century, at least much more than today. In fact, the Schientod was given more attention than any ot her medical topic of the time Using the idea of the trance as a vehicle for death's inevitability, in Shroud I exchanged the corps e for the bed. In the video, an air mattress is inflated inside of a black body bag. As it grows, the bag shifts, expands, and eventually tears open. When freed, the contorted form fills with life. The work is a visual analogue for the comatose body mistak enly declared lifeless, waking up and ripping through its burial clothes. The body doesn't go quietly. The sound of the mattress's built in motor races against the constraints of the bag mirroring the underground moans of the wrongly interred struggling to reach the surface for air. stills from Shroud (06:22), 2010 The pie ce is protracted. For much of the video, there is very little visual information to attend to. This forces the viewer to commit. If time isn't spent with the piece, it is instead r educed to a still and an audio track, and the questions come: why video; why a trashbag on a tiled floor; why this droning sound? These questions are valid. The still is symbolic of a blackened organ or a boulder an isolated, coal like mass in the center of a swarming noise. Stark, the form appears alienated from it's surroundings, yet the sound of the motor portends the building to climax of stored potential energy.
! $& Re: Buoyancy still from Dumpsite (02:56), 2010 Drawing from Shroud and taking int o account errors in accurately diagnosing death that although they are integral to life, neither the absence of respiration or a stable heartbeat are foolproof signs that one is dead I set out to arrange a scenario where I could undo the accidental loss of life 4 Dumpsite is a video of the air slowly being let out of a rescue dingy in an undis closed clearing in the woods. In editing the video track is reversed so that the raft appears to inflate The choice of location confers with the title the place w here a murdered body is dumped. I thought I had kille d it, taken all of the air out. The video reveals that my ignorance. The form of the raft works as a nave analog for the two lungs and their connective tissues It's normal function as a device for savi ng a life rendered ironic. Dumpsite is also a piece where I break one of my own rules. At the end of the video the viewer can catch a glimpse of a figure moving in reverse toward the dingy. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 Consider the anatomist who began to perform an autopsy only to find out that the body had been wrongly declared dead, or an invention detailed by a th e German Middeldorph for ensuring death: a long needle with a flag attached to one end that when jammed into the heart would raise if the person were still alive (Bondeson, 2001).
! $' If Dumpsite recalls a murder, than this is the killer I inclu ded myself in the piece as a symbolic measure of giving up control. There's a point where even my own intention to restrain the presence of the author becomes an artifact a carryover that is unnecessary for the labor of removing it. It's also a quirk, bec ause even though I'm there, I expect to be missed. I don't imagine very many people waiting to see what's going to happen to a flat lifeboat for three minutes. Like Shroud the video can easily be seen as a still. With the title, the reference to death in other work is there. If someone were to watch the video from beginning to end, there would be an expectation for some noticeable change for something to happen a reward for patience While watching, the viewer may wonder what they're seeing is it movi ng, or is it that after staring for so long there's some illusory motion ? I n prolonging the inflation of the raft and the mattress, I ask, what are the subtle signs of life? How minimally does something have to move to be animate? What are the smallest dif ferences between the living and the dead? While sorts of questions drive the process how few choices can make art out of something otherwise benign, they also another inherently human behavior besides reacting to a fear of death a tende ncy to anthropomor phize. We constantly make things out to be the body 5 I chose brown, fleshy, wrapped things; other people choose clouds. It seems to me that the reasons for this are self interested. We project ourselves onto objects in order to make them relatable for th e same reason that we make art, to process the signs and reality of the human experience and to feel self esteem for participating in something culturally affirmative !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 This is especially true of the face. Discriminating and reacting to emoti onal expressions elicited by the face is key to social referencing the way in which we interpret how to respond to novel stimuli. While it takes infants 18 months on average to take interest in the rest of the body, they can reco gnize faces in as few as t hree ( Ramsey Rennels & Langlois, 2007).
! $( Culture gives us self worth, and abiding it keeps us feeling safe. In a material culture such as ours, money is often the way in which we can communicate our values and beliefs. Money is thus how we recruit others who share our beliefs and police those who do not. According to TMT, people purchase symbolic dressings so that others will see th eir cultural value (Arndt, Solomon, Kasser & Sheldon, 2004) If culture communicates that the attainment of wealth and possessions will lead to a happy and meaningful life, then we can see materialism as means for people to adhere to cultural prescriptions for direction in their lives. Sustaining this cultural worldview in order to raise self esteem and keep fear at bay means the propagation of mass consumption. Re: TMT & Cars We know that people are willing to engage in dangerous behaviors, and buy if thei r worldview dictates that cash is king, in order to raise their self esteem. In the wake of September 11, when people across the nation were made shockingly aware of their mortality, they bought with record zeal. From October through December consumption w as at 6% the annual rate (Arndt, Solomon, Kasser & Sheldon, 2004 ). And what people bought were big ticket items, specifically new homes and new cars. Recent work on the role of the automobile in TMT (Taubman Ben Ari, Floiran & Mikulincer 1999; Taubman Ben Ari, 2000; and Taubman Ben Ari & Findler 2003) has found that participants who rank driving as important to their self esteem, when made aware of their mortality in the laboratory, are more likely to self report intentions of risky driving behavior and e xhibit higher frequency of risky driving intentions in a car simulator, than those in a control condition. Arndt, et al. (2000) presumes that these results suggest that because the salience of mortality was high,
! $) it prompted these individuals to enhance th eir self esteem by driving more dangerously. It seems like the repercussions of self esteem seeking in aligning ourselves with a cultural worldview, both in our purchase power and thrill seeking, are putting us in the driver's seat towards death rather tha n away from it. The car is after all a death trap. CKPATT (Cars Kill People All The Time), 2010 CKPATT (Catherine Ballard's Car), 2010 In CKPATT (Catherine Ballard's Car) a 1995 Mazda Miata convertible is completely wrapped in blue plastic ta rps secured with bungee cords. The image is a composite of Shroud ; the concealment of the car is like the wrapping of the body before interment With the work I am trying to point out the inconsistencies in the modern coping strategy; u sing the car as a me ans of defying death is a wild contradiction and yet people will keep the air conditioning off in 100 degree weather because they claim it robs horsepower. CKPATT (Catherine Ballard's Car) is meant to neutralize the threat of the automobile to the primacy of biological self preservation. The name is derivative of my search for a modern analog for the security coffin. I n reality cars kill people all the time, and yet in some states you can get a license at 15; a state speed limit became enforced in Montana only as of 1999.
! $* The other reference in the title is to the wife of the protagonist in James Ballard's 1973 novel Crash In the film version of the novel, her character drives an off white Miata, a car in which she yearns to be mangled in an accident in o rder to fulfill macabre sexual fantasies. Ballard's Crash explores the ways in which the automobile can transform us in to the living dead, searching for a climate controlled cabin to be buried in. "The crash was the only real experience I had been through for years. For the first time I was in physical confrontation with my own body, an inexhaustible encyclopedia of pains and discharges, with the hostile gaze of other people, and with the fact of the dead man." (Ballard, 39, 1973 ). We may see this novel as the ultimate example of an ironic fear limiting strategy, seeking a perversion of vitality in death as a way of negating it. Machine Guns serves a similar role in negating the importance of the car in raising self esteem. Although the images in the video are appropriated like the other video work, no new images are constructed in editing. Aside from the opening clip s ections with characters and dialogue in the opening shootout in Beverly Hills Cop III are deleted; leaving only the shots were an undercove r police car is being hit by stray bullets. The first clip establishes the other "they" the one's to be feared, the people with machine guns. It sets up the opposition of us against them, good guys and bad guys, and then, humorously fails to follow throu gh by showing the good guys win.
! $+ still from Machine Guns (00:49), 2010 What drew me to the scene stylistically was that the film quality of the shots is clearly different than that of the remainder of the movie, giving the piece a vintage look t hat b etrays the source material, and makes explicit how the scene was composed. By slowing the video down, we can see the explosive impact of the shell preceding the denting of the frame. This car w as not actually shot with a gun. I did not shoot a ca with a gu n and film it. The scene is the trick of a special effects crew. The piece the most literal in the series. We should kill the car before it kills us but also understand that it takes many more bullets to kill a car than it does a bad guy. Jonathan Sch ipper, Slow Motion Car Crash 2008
! $, In the work, two, full sized American muscle cars 6 slowly advance toward each other on a track over the course of six days, ev entually colliding, simulating the full spectrum of a slow motion accident. Schipper says "Wh en we see an automobile destroyed, in a way we are looking at our own inevitable death This piece, by changing one of the key variables, removes and ch anges the nature of the event. What was life threatening is now rendered safe." (Schipper 2008). In es sence, by slowing the speed of impact he asks the viewer to consider when the moment of death occur s for the drivers, and why is it that we're looking so hard for it. Jesse Sugarmann, Subaru Wreck (00:39), 2009 Jesse Sugarmann also works close ly with the American automobile but where Schipper is concerned with distilling a moment where the car transforms how !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 6 In an interesting study, Nelson, Moore, Olivetti, and Scott (1997) found that when presented with either footage of fatal car crashes or minor accidents, depending on how much the footage reminded them of their own mortality, American participants were more likely to blame the car manufacturer for the accident when it was a Japanese car maker than an American one (Arndt et al., 2003). This supports TMT that says when faced with one's inevitable death, one tends to i dentify with one's own cultural world view, which includes the rejection of opposing views.
! %! we contextualize cause and effect, Sugarmann is concerned with a different space. The artist considers the role of the automobile from as sembly line to a status of "used", how it can become another throwaway object in a disposable culture. In a piece like Subaru Wreck the car is pushed from atop a rig of two by fours. In its age, no longer shiny and smelling that new car smell, it ha s rescinded its former utility. Knocked down the car bounces languidly on worn shocks a metaphor for impotence that flows from the entropy of objects once used to define the personality o f their owner to boost their self esteem The used car is a thrift store find; a relic that is kept around because it used to mean something to somebody. Re: Mortality Salience (MS) So far TMT would have us believe that increasing ones awareness of his or her mortality leads to increases in self esteem generating behavio rs in order to solidify one's perceived role as participant in a cultural world view. However, further research into terror management reveals that people exhibit different defense mechanis ms for variations in mortality salience (MS) When MS is particularl y high, people tend to respond with proximal defenses to remove the unwanted thoughts of death from their consciousness (Arndt et al., 2000). This is a process of active suppression where thoughts about death that come to mind are replaced with alternate o nes. The consequence of suppression, aside from the benefits of making death related thoughts less accessible is that it usually leads to distraction. When passing a gruesome car wreck on the side of the road we may turn up the radio or check the date of our next oil change. When mortality is salient, people tend to shy away from any stimuli that may increase self awareness and allow death related thoughts to become self referential (Arndt et al., 2000). However, the result of distraction is that thoughts about death eventually regain accessibility. When this
! %$ happens, we employ distal defenses (Arndt et al., 2000), bolstering our faith in a cultural world view and striving for positive feedback in the form of self esteem for adhering to that worldview. Cop ing Paradigms In light of this structure for managing how thoughts about death affect us psychologists can anticipate behavior under different contingencies of MS. They may also be able to deduce what constitutes abnormal or inadequate terror management s trategies. Simon, Arndt, Greenberg, Solomon & Pyszczynski (1998) found that, because mildly depressed individuals generally have a tenuous faith in their worldview, that depressed participants reported the same perceived meaning in life as their non de pres sed counterparts after an MS induction (Arndt et al., 2000). Results such as these suggest that defending one's worldviews in response to MS may remind depressed individuals that life is worthwhile. To take this assertion a step further, t here may be a potential in the v anishers, depending upon the subtlety with which thoughts about death are made conscious or unconscious, to function as coping paradigms for the fear of death. Sub #1 2010
! %% In Sub #1 two halves of a mattress stacked on top of o ne another, lie in a 3.5 ft. by 5 ft. by 2 ft. hole, covered in dirt resembling a freshly dug grave. Two car floor mats that invite the viewer to step onto it. Upon doing so the apparently solid earth gives slightly. The effect is like quicksand and immed iately the central nervous system kicks in with a fear response. However, just as quickly, one is likely to regain their footing, realize the trick and either step out of the dirt or engage in a sort of experimental play. The potentials of Sub #1 in terms of TMT are open. The image recalls mortality, but it may not be the viewer's own. After all, we can walk through a cemetery without consciously attending to the fact that we're going to die If MS is high, we may see the viewer's choice to exit as a sign of suppressing death related thoughts, and expect some so r t of distraction to follow. Playfulness may indicate a distal defense whereby the viewer is solidifying their ro le as cultural savvy art viewer In terms of raising self esteem, the viewer may inv ite others to join in, to validate their participation and reciprocate self esteem striving. And this seems likely given the limited size of the piece, that it can occupy only one or two participants at a time, and that the work is strictly cordoned off by black construction sheeting, conceivably separating those who share the experiential strategies of worldview reinforcement of the participant (Arndt et al., 2000), from those who do not. In all, Sub #1 allows the viewer to enter the space of the dead, to go below ground just slightly and momentarily, and to experience a shred of the uncertainty of being buried prematurely
! %& Sub #2 (Prestige) 2010 Sub #2 (Prestige) 2010 (detail from video) Similar considerations are raised in the companion piece Sub #2 (Prestige) 7 is a 5 ft. by 5.5 ft. by 40 in. hole, the upper perimeter of which is lined with irrigation hose connected to a nearby spigot. When the water is turned on, a light mist covers the opening of the hole, upon which rides an image of the ground as it appeared before the hole was dug projected from the top of a ladder. The subtlety of the piece implies that death related thoughts should remain unconscious. Navigating the sequence of responses to thoughts about death, if the viewer has walked through the gallery and picked up on the death theme in the work, we could expect, in the delay between leaving the gallery and making their way to the piece, that thoughts of death are highly accessible. The viewer should be expec ted, as with Sub #1 to use distal defenses regarding MS, and thus view the work as something culturally relevant. If looking at art is not in line with the viewer's worldview, I would expect them to leave immediately, although would have come to !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ./012341!015!6278! !"#$%&'#( 95:;!";!01:0!015!87"#";4!?27@5!A51";8! 9:;B!<2@":/!A51:#"27!015!6278!"!95:;";4! *+,-."#"/$(%"&*0( 27! &11.$&+, !D.7;80!50!:/E>!%--&FE !G1"/5!01"!"0!"
! %' the show, and may realize that seeing art does serve a death denying function for the other viewers and choose to participate. An increase in MS could be affected if the viewer were to traverse the implied groundspace and step down into the hole. Willingly breakin g the barrier, one enters the space equal to the depth that his or her body would occupy in a buried coffin. TMT & Premature Burial Terror management theory was developed as a way to understand and make objective predictions about our existential behavior By positing that fear of death motivates people to develop and engage in culture, TMT takes a very global approach in how the corporal limitations of our biology effect our immediate environment and daily lives. In an effort to give impart more credibili ty to such presumptuous claims, it may be helpful to ask the same sort of big questions that the theory tries to answer, like why is it that we fear death in the first place? If it is so inevitable, and we know this, where does the fear come from? One reas on why we don't feel so afraid of death all of the time, may be that the way we manage fear actually works surprisingly well. However, as I alluded to before, I don't think it's the moment of death we're afraid of or even the unknown physical sensation of dying. What is frightening about death is it's temporal indeterminacy. We are scared into, amongst other things, buying cars and driving recklessly, because death can take us at any time, we'll never known exactly when, and most likely we will won't be pre pared when it comes. And I think this is what makes the notion of the Schientod so compelling that we might be taken, oblivious, into a state like death with consciousness, and be witness to the mistaken diagnoses explored in Shroud and Dumpsite and watc h as we are buried alive.
! %( In a sense, this is what happens when we get behind the wheel. In order to delay or abate fear we consciously watch death become imminent. In the final pieces, I worked to link up the car with the casket to make the connection m ore explicit, by comparing the maladaptive strategy of using the automobile in self esteem striving to equally flawed methods for managing fear of premature burial from the Schientod Re: Security Coffins Employing a nave idea of the pine box, a modern c atchword for the barest essentials of a burial container, I created a cheap, moder n prototype for a safety coffin, an invention that came into prominence during the height of the premature burial scare in the late 18 th century (Bondeson, 2001) Safety coff ins were designed so that if the victim of the death trance were to wake up underground they could; often through elaborate systems of tubes, pulleys and bells attached to the body, alert those above ground of their untimely interment. I was prompted by th e imaginative German designs developed almost a half century later that used fi reworks and explosives to signal for help (Bondeson 2001). For Lid the top of a standard, 6 ft. 4 in. clincher style casket is hung on the wall. In the center is a pre fabr icated, gooseneck duct that matches the form of a hood scoop on high performance vehicles. Concealed on the underside are twin 12 volt air horns that are activated on the outside by a lighted rocker switch near the foot. As it is installed, the piece calls into play the tendency of race fans and car enthusiasts to hang a hood on the wall like a painting. The use of OSB takes the cheapness of the pine box to a new low. OSB is for subflooring, a material we shouldn't see if it's doing its job. As a casket, ev en the pine box is a display. Inlaid on
! %) the front of the lid is a set of racing stripes in a double cruciform of sanded OSB, further exploring the motif of the car as a coffin on wheels. Lid OSB 2010 Lid 2010 (detail) Th e switch in Lid is located on the outside of the coffin for the purpose of demonstrating the function of the safety device to the viewer. T he piece is a floor model, like those one might find displayed in a funeral parlor, making the viewer a potential cu stomer It requires the slightest effort to flip, but as an improvement to the original security coffins designs, can not be activated by the releases of gases and liquefaction caused by decomposing flesh. Once it is switched on, it remains on. As with th e early safety coffins, t here are certain considerations The device entails a constant source of electricity, for at least that span of time that one could survive underground without access to air and a very large battery. Of course, we may expect moder n graves to be electrified in the near future, if not wireless. More and more frequently people are asking to be buried with their cell phones and
! %* laptops in the event that need to get into contact with loved ones in side and beyond the grave 8 Instead of trying to improve upon the failure of early safety coffin designs, or even improve upon the design of Lid I developed a concept that would address it Rollcage is about what it would look like if a coffin like structure, meant to protect one in the even t of a crash, buckled and collapsed. What is essential to Rollcage is the material, so it was important that it not be too heavily worked, or so intricate that one form overpowered the other As with the video work, the process was primarily cut and assemb ly. All of the pieces are dry fit so that there is no permanency to the structure. It ca n be taken apart at any time and changed Rollcage 2010 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 8 Althou gh it sounds like an urban legend, the trend that began in Cape Town South Africa has become increasing popular. While some are using it as a precaution, most people who make the request, rather than intending to use the devices in case of accidental buria l, want to be buried with totemic objects that symbolize their lifestyle ( BBCNews, 2006 ) the same as being interred with jewelry and photographs of loved ones. One service in South Africa actually includes several spare batteries in the casket in the event that one awakens to find theirs dead.
! %+ T here are a certain series of limitations when working with a single material Without using thirty d egree angles it becomes quite difficult to construct the traditional coffin shape. This causes the individual layers droop. What generated the piece was the fact that the form couldn't be assembled into a solid structure of uniform layers. The resulting fl accidity is provoking because we expect something rigid. A rollcage is meant to be structural where this one seems soft. And while this same effect may have been created with another seemingly inflexible material like steel, handled in the same way, PVC is was chosen because, like the casket, it is supposed to be buried. Alternatives to Burial Aside from precautions like keeping a presumed corpse above ground for a week before the funeral to await signs of putrefaction and the use of security coffins, the most obvious alternative to burial is interment in a burial vault that can be opened and closed at will. Coupe (Inverted Cellar Doors) is a play on the form of the vault. A cellar provides the conceptual spatial analog. It is a raised structure that per mits entrance deep into the ground where dead things are put away from the living The piece is constructed entirely from cardboard boxes and stands, inverted, 58 in. long, 47 in. wide and is 30 in. tall the specifications of the Size O Classic Series St eel Sided basement doors built by the Bilco¨ Company.
! %, Coupe (Inverted Cellar Doors) 2010 As an object, a cellar hatch isn't very interesting. What makes Coupe (Inverted Cellar Doors) a curious piece is that it takes that object a nd situates it in South Florida where it doesn't belon g There's no basement for it to lead to. It's utility is further subverted by the choice of materials. The piece will not stand up t o the elements; i t will not protect the viewer in the event of a torn ado. That the doors stand upside dow n makes the image more peculiar While the construction was convincing in its horizontal position and it being made out of cardboard making it sufficiently unrefined there was a need to push the piece further to keep it from becoming merely a contemplative object. So, I did what comes naturally and flipped it. What makes it successful is that it the inversion translates. It still reads as a pair of basement doors. The title serves mainly to literally bring into convers ation the image of a basement hatch and a 2 door car sets of doors that lead, in one way or another, to one winding up buried Unlike Hole Cast
! &! #3 where the use of reflected illumination functions formally it implies a subterranean space in the piece. Vessel 2010 Cooler (Scottsdale, Az.) 2010 Vessel and Cooler (Scottsdale, Az.) are two pieces that address a holistic semblance of the certainty in death rites in an art setting. For starters, the title Vessel for describing a hollow, burnt p ine log with a fluorescent tube running through the center, suggests that there is more to the image than a representation of a fire. While Dan Flavin used the fluorescent light to communicate the buoyancy and invisibleness of an otherwise utilitarian obje ct (National Gallery of Art, 2010), I am more interested in how the fixture carries light, its relationshi p to the tube, rather than an art historical
! &$ import When we see light emanating from a burnt piece of wood we get the image of fire. When that fire i s considered alongside the other work, the viewer is pushed to associate the cleanness of the light in terms of the death motif. The light then quickly becomes something communicative of a holiness and purity against the dark recess of the coffin. Like Co oler (Scottsdale, Az.) the use of the light tube doesn't make the work any more art historically relevant. It changes the reading because the reference doesn't fit. I may be impregnating one context, detritus with the log or the commercial object of the c ooler, with another, the use of the light tube as Minimalist gesture, but it is to no avail. One doesn't enhance or change the way we conceive of the other. Despite their juxtaposition within each piece, both elements remit their ubiquity. Even the title C ooler (Scottsdale Az.) is misleading. Flavin's untitled (in memory of "Sandy" Calder) V 1/5 is owned by a private collector in Scottsdale (Dia Art Foundation, 2009). It is also the city that houses the ALCOR Life Extension Foundation that specializes in cr yonics and post mortem regeneration (ALCOR, 2010). Re: Premature In the past people may have feared being buried alive because they we're the victims of uncertainty and malpractice. Today we may see the same fear differently manifested. Talk about prematu re burial today is metaphoric; it moves into notions of fairness it isn't fair that I have to die when I've just begun to enjoy life. Death, in a sense, is always premature. That's the nature of something unpredictable. Cooler (Scottsdale, Az.) addresses the discrepancy in the motives between those in the past and the present trying to cope with anxieties about their untimely death through a dichotomy established with Vessel They each sit on the floor, and they are the same size, yet one is dirty, the ot her is clean. While the light in the log
! &% piece flickers, the cooler emanates a solid blue beam. Even with the same major element, changing the way it is famed alters the temperature of the light, and engages the viewer in the opposition between the organic natural process of returning to the earth in death, and the sterility of suspended animation. Toward the end of the process there arose a need to distill what was essential, if anything, to the Vanisher Series as a whole. Considering the fear of deat h a s a looming human universal I began to deconstruct the very medium in which I was exploring the theme. I idealized that if there was something un iversal about sculpture that it should lead me, inevitably, back to death. Re: Inversions The benefit of thin king of death in strictly spatial terms was that it allowed me to engage a common tendency of mine in assessing spatial relations a process of inversion. I've been trained to analyze forms by looking through them. When I look at a painting, I often look a t it upside down to see how it translates to find out what is lost, what is arbitrary about it's orientation. Throughout the development of the Vanisher Series, when I began to analyze a piece and tease apart its most relevant features, I opted for a prim itive dialectical rendering a means of assessing what it was that I had made by considering what its opposite would look like. This is the way that the companion pieces were conceived. I made Shroud thinking about a body breaking out of the grave and tri ed to invert it in the process of making Dumpsite I designed Vessel and undid its warm, dirty, earthiness, by making a reflection of it that was cold, clean and aseptic with Cooler (Scottsdale, Az.) I began a summary exploration by reducing death to a s pace, as sculpture is inherently spatial and all art is in part sculptural. The site of the ensuing experiments in space is the hole the most basic descriptor for the place that a dead body
! && occupies, and one that most readily approached the notion of fear as acknowledging something beyond or from without An Exploration of In & Out Negative and positive in space stand in direct opposition the same as yes and no. When we consider inversions in space, we enter into metaphysical debate where what is is understood by what isn't As Gaston Bachelard contends in "The Poetics of Space", it takes very little imagination to jump from a dialectic between in and out to one between what is here and beyond here 9 in here and out there T he matter is simply one of self reference. What we locate here is our sense of being. Out there is the world's being. Man is not surrounded by nothingness, although the dictates of TMT disagree, but a cause for locating his own being by approaching it's counterpoint, the being of a ll else. It is my opinion then, that one's encounter with the space out there is circumscribed by the opposite of being, the state of not being, being dead Bachelard writes: "[W]e absord a mixture of being and nothingness. The center of being there' wave rs and trembles. Intimate space loses its clarity, while exterior space loses its void, void being the raw material of the possibility of being. We are banished from the realm of possibility Here fear is being itselfIn what shelter can one take refuge? S pace is nothing but a horrible outside inside.'" (Bachelard, 218 1958 ) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 9 It is this beyond space that we are drawn to when we consider the temporal lay ering of the transcription process the space of infinity when we consider unbounding the representation of the hole in the thought expe riment below.
! &' What we can glean from Bachelard's interpretation of being in space follows quite closely what TMT says is going on in every individual, motivating him to seek self esteem to suppress fear. Implicit in Bachelard's argument is that at all times our being is impinged upon by the space outside that is non being affected by its inverse A sense of stability is disrupted by thoughts of non being, of death. And we come to underst and what lies closest to us, our selfhood, as defined by what is far away the non being that lies out there. We can only conceive of being through considering what it would be like not to exist. This is an existential problem. This is a fearful thing to r ealize, and we work to convince ourselves that we are unaware. Let us then consider the division between inside/ outside as the spatial composite of the f ear of being/ not being. I have structured the work under these auspices. The void presents the possi bilities to activate in and out. The hole is at all times a lack ing the impression of something removed, yet concomitantly some thing in the world we can point to. The Space of the Hole as Thought Experiment Purpose: Objectify the form of the hole as a way to distill/ manifest the in/out dialectic. Working image: The simplest hole as circular void, a dark, cylindrical down projection. Method: Create a hole by digging. Take a cast of the void. Remove the positive. Consideration: To remove the form of th e hole is to negate the form. The hole disappears when it is filled. However, when the positive is removed, the hole returns. Thus the hole only vanishes temporarily. Problem: Extraction. To remove the positive requires digging another, larger hole. The fi rst hole does not reappear. It is replaced.
! & ( Consideration: To make a hole requires two holes. Working image: The simplest hole is a void within a void. Question: What would happen if one took a cast of the second hole after removing the positive, the space of the first? Answer: It's necessarily, by means of extraction, the same hole. Holes & Water or Watering Holes A water theme undercut the content of all t he work in the Vanisher Series. For the purposes of making connections, I have developed t he foll owing list as a sub codec on the form of the Harvard Outline 10 as a way of framing what connects seemingly disparate pieces 1.) The role of water beneath a hole : a. A pool requires water to be a pool. i. Water is at some point above ground and below. The groundspace acts like a filter between the two 1. Water is always pulled down to the lowest possible point. a. Many people think that because caskets are commonly lowered into concrete interment vaults that water can't get in; t hink ground water, leeching, s poilage. b. This is not true. 2. And s ometimes water comes up from a hole. b. In Hole Cast #1 and #2 and Burial, the waterline determines the scale of the work. c. Hole Cast #4 was excavated by a liquid. i. Gas is lighter than water. It is pulled down to the lowest point more slowly. ""E In Scholz's 21304608 water is brought into the dialogue of two bound, composite objects. %EF A hole as a place where something is buried: :E Being underwater is a sort of burial "E The car tends to mirror the boat !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 10 Beyond its formal qualities, Monson's handling use of the coal mine as an analogue for locating the space of the mind in his "Outline Toward a Theory of the Mine Versus the Mind and the Harvard Outline" is influential to the way in which I generate thought problems for working through a process and developing a text. I employ a variant of this model for my own brand of post hoc analysis. It is no accident that this format mimics flowing water.
! &) $E A big car is a lumbering curmudgeon, a "boat" or a "whale" %E Dumpsite makes evident this analogue. A raft doesn't belong on land. It is a fish out of water :E Rendered ineffective "E Like CKPATT (Cars Kill People All The Time) neutralized in a sense, as a vehicle. $E A means for killing passengers. %E Co vered in a blue tarp the kind that might be a pool cover or a Slip n Slide. AE Cars, boats, cases of water bottles, mansions are wrapped. Some are packed for transport, others for protection. "E Renditions of the body in the burial shroud $E Larger theme of conce alment %E The wrapped body floats :E When a body loses buoyancy it sinks "E Lungs stop expanding $E Resuscitation %E Dead and buried ""E A raft is punctured $E Patched %E Sunk 3. Is sometimes an air mattress Hole Casts I concluded from the thought experiment above that t o ca st a hole in it's simplest form was to take the minimum number of steps required to approach something infinitely recursive. I undertook a project to approach this that could be completed only when there was no longer any place to pile the dirt except b ack into the hole I was digging. This is a project that cannot be completed; it aims to render a process transparent and, further, to displace a conceptual object from a site of reference. The result of the experiment Hole Cast #1 and Hole Cast to Remove Hole Cast #1 invite the viewer to begin to unfold the continuation of a project as idea it's scope, re thinking the landscape by inverting it
! &* Hole Cast #1 2010 Hole Cast to Remove Hole Cast #1 2010 Re: Excavation As the thought experiment outlines, objectifying a hole requir es the digging of a second hole. The third piece in the series, Hole Cast # 2 is an attempt at creating the minimal image of the hole in the thought experiment and a consideration in the process o f taking the first two : How is it that when you put the dirt back into a hole there may be too much or not enough? How compact is the holespace? The act of filling and tamping the soil in the construction tube is an attempt to speed up the natural process by which the ground is compacted
! &+ Hole Cast #2 2010 Study for Hole Cast #2 Re: Labor Hole Cast #2 became more of a transgression against nature than a work about inverting space (inverting space to get at inverting ideas abou t being). The dryness and speed at which the soil was packed, prevented it from retaining the shape of the hole, and the piece consistently collapsed. In spite of this, the work fits the labor motif of the other casts. While the first two in the series wer e intended hole as if they were some natural form, simply plucked from the ground, and for the ease with which the material was formed, each required serious energy to remove, transport and install. While this kind of work antagonizes a process of subtle a lteration and arrangement, I think labor can figure into the work in different ways. Some artwork is only the labor that went into making it. At times there is only work and no worked object as evidence. The hole casts are objects, and the weightless quali ty that they have in spite of their inertia doesn't mesh with this reading. Closer, is artwork that implies the labor it took to make, I try to keep distance
! &, from this working because labor in the at setting isn't as interesting as the labor that typical, blue collar people do everyday. I agree with Scholz that artwork about labor should question the significance of that labor (Zarkovich, 2010). The hole casts lie further still from this. I mean to engage in rudimentary labor, mixing and digging primarily, as a sort of muscular response to materials. These are simple, repetitive motions, a kind of labor that vanishes when the piece is shown. Re: Casting Materials The choice of molding plaster for the first two casts was intended both to subvert the traditional use of the material as surface and because it could satisfy its application without my having to control it. All I had to do was mix, pour and wait for the outcome Pouring it directly into the ground irrevocably disturbs what is clean The dirt, stones and plant matter lining the walls of the hole become embedded in the surface, offering a direct representation of the interior. There is no working of the form it is determined only by the shape of the hole, which is dug in the most parsimon iously, by hand with a shovel The process allows for the cast, and the hole, to change at will. The plaster inevitably mixes with the water at the bottom of the hole, o vergrowing the space I created. In the act of installation, the piece erodes as the dirt dries. It changes shape. The clean plaster unde rneath is revealed in patches, as n othing stays buried for very long. While the notion of casting negative space out of plaster obviously speaks of Rachel Whiteread there are fundamen tal differences between what is communicated by the inversions. Her work is concerned with how the body navigates and fills the space it inhabits and contains equally the monumentality of the negative infrastructures that orient us in space and the small trace s of human intervention
! '! scratches, stains, sins of wear, over time that give it a history (Pulitzer Foundation, 2007) Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (stairs ) 2001 Untitled (grey) 2003 The hole casts, while ambitious in sc ale, do not invite intimacy. They are tools for a more rudimentary exploration following a set of rules i n order to get at a determination of the sculptural, using materials that do their own work. The final cast in the series, Hole Cast # 3 is the pr oduct of the material considerations that went into the first derivations. Equally glaring, white Styrofoam made dirty through a chemical reaction with gasoline. The gas transforms the material into the mold from which a hole cast could be made Like plast er, the liquid
! '$ does the work of excavation. It navigates it's own path by chance. Hole Cast #3 2010 Hole Cast #3 2010 (details) In the same way that the byproduct of expended gasoline, CO, can lead to brain damage and death, vaporizing ex truded polystyrene releases styrene gas that is highly toxic. As a process, making Hole Cast #3 is facing the possibility of sickness and death. In making it I was very aware that I could be shortening my life if I inhaled the fumes. The process of making Hole Cast #3 forced me to consider my mortality. Fear arose from not knowing how dangerous it could be; only that it was toxic and that I needed to take precautions. Re: Underside s In the V anishers and earlier work, I have made it a point to draw attention to the occluded. Granted, when we conceive of relations in space we understand that images overlap. As we maneuver around a space, images and parts of forms are constantly blocked and revealed. Evidence of this attention to the unseen, a further derivation on the idea of the invisible, can be seen in Hole Cast #4 and central to the work of Calvin Ross Carl and Kent Richardson.
! '% Calvin Ross Carl, Split Shift 9 2008 Kent Richardson, Untitled 2010 These artist use refined sufaces to carry light as a way to recontextualize a dimesnion of depth. Something unseen and seemingly electric emantes behind the form in Richardson's Untitled where nothing could fit, as though the piece were covering the entrance to a lightspace within the ga llery wall. Carl's Split Shift 9 does something different. By spreading a tonal spectrum of color in between the wooden beams, the space that they occupy becomes larger than their limited dimension. Unlike Untitled that we might read as a self contained fi xture Split Shift 9 activates the gallery space by implying an invisible superstructure that carries the light. Re: The Thought Experiment So it seems that if you dig deep enough in an area within close proximity to sea level you can quickly reach a point where it fills back up. There is a limit a depth when the ground rejects the hole, negates it. What is this like? What sort of timeline are we looking at for the ground to erase a ll knowledge of the hole? Using questions
! '& like these a jumping off p oint I began to explore the possibility of traversing the horizontal plane of the groundspace that our aboveground situation might be amendable if we conceive of the floor as in a constant state of permeability. Following the lead of Keith Arnatt's Self Burial (1969) I dug a hole at the beach until I reached the waterline, entered the hole with a video camera and documented it filling in from the cameras prospective. The result, Burial is a dual channel video installation projected on each side of a 3 mil, clear plastic sheet. While Arnatt buried the artist and spoke about the d isappearance of the art object, I buried the artist's eye that picks out the things in the world that are art. Keith Arnatt, Self Burial 1969 Each video channel is edited to coloristically complimen t the other. Thus when both are projected on opposite sides of the sheet parts of each image cancel each other and vanish. The viewer is left with two voids competing for primacy. As one channel begins facing the bottom of the hole moving out, and the other at ground level moving in, we get an extension of the hole space one that moves in both directions at the same time. The hole is no longer confined to a "vertical down projection", as in the experiment, but is reconce iv ed as a three dimensional void simultaneously distending and elongating, pulled as it were into a tube. Burial is an exercise that functions as generator for new conceptions of the space of the hole, and as an exemplar of a vanishing aesthetic where an over
! '' abundance of visual information results in a loss. However, the editing of the videos is makes explicit the amount of labor in the process. As an experiment in furthering the development of the thought problem the piece is successful, but, rather t han the act it is more a model of how the hole might fill itself back in. stills from Burial ( 03:25) 2009 Re: Vainshers While there are countless symbolic readings, and that the hole does not qualify as only a space for the dead, the work in the Vanisher Series is beguiling. Its resistance to being pinned down, to see a gesture carried through out and consolidated, opens it up for the viewer to have ideas about a piece, and use those as a template for generating connections with other w ork that they find doesn't fit. Whether or not the work communicates the ineffectiveness and futility of our death defyi ng strategies, the irony in them is manifest in pieces through the combination of their inertia, as in the hole casts and the labor of their installation There is also a sense of humor in the final installation, where the viewer is at times pushed to ask, what's the point? What are we looking at? While the materials are not handled to an extent that would suggest a temporal shift where the past informs the present as oppositional, companion pieces that have
! '( established relationships, allow the viewer to read how effectively they can be read as related and what is important about their differences in order to pick out rudimentary ru les for the choices in the work. This is also clear in the j uxtaposition between an implied lightness in form in Coupe (Inverted Cellar Doors) Hole Cast #3 and the fluorescent pieces, and the endurance of the protracted and incessant video work. When th ese objects are meant to make alike references, they enact the parameters in between which we read the content. An effort to make artwork relevant by communicating fear is heavy handed in this case of th e vanishers. While pieces hint at participa tion, no one is meant to be frightened or affront ed by images of death. It seems rather through subtle transformations that the work is made curious, and because of this, the viewer is forced to use the installation as it's own site of reference to read t he work as an insular substructure of where it was shown. Perhaps reading through the for mal characteristics of the work, getting at communications across space, was achieved by the work's placement in a gallery surrounded by construction The same dirt wa s piled inside the gallery that was being dug up outside and tools seemed to find themselv es leaning up ag ainst the wall. In effect, the S eries vanished in the same time and place that it was seen.
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