Gesture has always been an essential element of my artwork. Even in my early
paintings, I was most interested in how my brush recorded my physical gesture
moving across the canvas. As my interest in gesture grew, I became dissatisfied
with painting. Painting records the passing of a gesture, but does not capture
the gesture itself. Thus, I sought ways to preserve the gesture.
The methods I choose involve mechanical means of making and perpetuating gestures
so that visitors can experience them directly. In one series I record physical
marks in two dimensions to capture the gestures of a steel ball as it is guided
by a magnet across a canvas. In another series I explore the gestures of metal
panels as they are struck by pins. In my latest work, I re-introduce the gestures
of human beings, whose jumps on a trampoline are reproduced and manipulated
on a screen.
There are three basic themes that guide the creation of my work. The first
is that the image produced reveals the mechanics of its creation. Second, the
creation process is ongoing with no real end point. Third, the act of creation
cycles is endless.
Even though I create mechanical environments, something unexpected always develops.
This is due, in part, to the fact that although my materials are predetermined,
their nuanced characteristics and interrelation produce unpredictable gestures
in the work. It is these unpredictable gestures that give “personality”
to the work. In my view, my work is not complete either after I finish building
it, nor when it stops making new marks or gestures – it is only “complete”
when a viewer is engaged in observing its gestures.
Description of Artwork
Drawing Box Series
In the Drawing Box Series, I explored the “gesture”
of lines becoming denser over time with repeated mechanical movement. To explore
this, I used a magnet attached to motors to guide a ball bearing over a charcoal-powdered
canvas. I attached the magnet to the motors and positioned these on the underside
of the canvas. As the motor moved the magnet, the ball bearing on the other
side of the canvas was dragged across the powder. The movement of the ball bearing
across the powder created the line.
The line created by dragging a ball bearing across charcoal has interesting
characteristics. The ball bearing acts like the tip of a ballpoint pen, but
its effect is more like that of an eraser – the line is revealed as the
charcoal is taken away. The white line was faint at first, but as the motion
continued, the ball bearing compressed and displaced the powdered charcoal more
and more, and a bold outer shape appeared on the surface.
I discovered an interesting “accidental” element with this series.
The rough surface of the canvas caused the ball bearing to vibrate slightly
as it moved. This vibration caused unexpected acoustic and visual effects. These
effects were the impetus for my use of sound and vibration in my next project,
the Sound Strip Series.
Sound Strip Series
While the Drawing Box Series was a study of mechanical gestures
in two-dimensional lines, the Sound Strip Series explores mechanical
gestures in sound and movement.
The Sound Strip Series consists of two installations (Untitled
Swing I and Untitled Swing II), both of which consist of a pair
of units. At the core of each unit is a concealed motor that rotates and makes
a sound at regular intervals. As the motor rotates, various pins strike against
any number of the long hanging “teeth,” which swing out in response.
Each unit in Untitled Swing I has three teeth that are made of matte-finish
aluminum, while each unit in Untitled Swing II has one tooth made of
shiny stainless steel.
Each unit in Untitled Swing I has a motor that is on only eight seconds
per minute. The units in Untitled Swing II rotate once per minute.
Therefore, Untitled Swing I makes a loud metallic flapping chorus for
eight seconds every minute, and Untitled Swing II makes a metallic
sound once per minute.
If viewers are patient, they will hear that the rhythm of the sound changes
each time a tooth is struck. Even though I used identical motors for the units
in each piece, the performance of the motors is slightly different. This bestows
each piece with individual character.
Jump: Interactive Video Installation
Jump is an interactive video installation in which the manipulated images of
the viewer in the act of jumping on a trampoline appears on a screen.
I think that a trampoline not only amplifies a participant’s jump, but
also their emotional state. I also think that jumping is a joyful activity.
The program which manipulates the participant’s image also introduces
sound and tempo to match the speed of his or her movement. Sound and image together
encourage the jumper to keep jumping; the joyful “gesture” perpetuates
itself in multiple dimensions.
I interpret the act of jumping as the embodiment of a wish because the word
“jump” often connotes a risk taken to change thing for the better.
In the act of jumping a participant is bound between two extreme states: safe
stability, and unstable risk.