Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Tracking forward, back, and just getting lost

[The Tuesday New York Times (20 March 2007) has hit my desk as I continue this narration – and the first thing I always turn to as soon as I scan the frontpage heads is the Science Times (“Arts?” – are you kidding?) – and I immediately have cause to wonder if my ‘scan’ of this latest Lowe show is just a bit too breezy. I’m looking at a ‘mandala’-like (not really) object/illustration (I almost wrote 'illusion' – and perceptually, that’s almost closer to the truth – as in illusion that reveals a truth) on page D2 and read the piece – about Lie groups (which are sets of continuous transformations that leave an object unchanged in appearance – the simplest example is a sphere) and their exceptions – one of which, rendered in the illustration, is the 57-dimensional E8 Lie group. It is a rendering – and a set of calculations (about, uh, “200 billion” – go ahead and read it) – almost impossible without supercomputers. And as I peruse the rest of the section (fascinating story on primate, maybe ‘prime,’ morality; Angier on the equinox, etc.), including one on ‘snowballing’ crystal formation in snowflakes, I begin to think that I’ve shortchanged those ‘mandala’ paintings in the third gallery (overlooking her “baby-grand piano-ice-chest”). Well of course I have – which doesn’t mean I would not have gone back to them. But to preview that moment here, it occurs to me as I copy out my notes that these (slightly skewed) ‘mandalas’ – not unlike the glossy, quasi-schematized renderings of cover/graphic illustrations in the first gallery – contest in a similar way the schematized, conventionalized way of seeing, absorbing, internalizing ‘popular’ ideas, notions, and ‘developments’ (from the micro- to the macrocosm) teased out (rigorously, pitilessly) in those ‘book’-objects and panoramic ‘views’ in the second gallery. It occurs to me that Lowe would push us some distance from our Cyclopsian (forget about 3-D) perspective on things – but it’s a struggle to pull us away from our bromides (or analgesics?) even as the multi-dimensional actuality all but engulfs us. Obviously I take this stuff pretty seriously. (Can I be forgiven for having a headache?)]

17 March 2007 (continued)

Before I leave Bergamot Station, I’m reminded by Tetsuji Aono and Ron Faranovich (perceptive collectors as well as artists, the both of them) to check out Cindy Kololodziejski’s exquisite ceramic objects at Frank Lloyd (“Reversal of Fountain” – which doesn’t tell quite the entire story). I do. They are – almost hearkening back to a Renaissance sensibility (I’m think of something along the lines of Pollaiuolo (sp?) or something like that.). The abstract truncated ceramic ribbons in matte subdued colors by Wouter Dam are pretty interesting, too. But I really don’t have time to consider any of these things. From Santa Monica, I head directly to West Hollywood for openings at Richard Telles (a Roy Arden video installation) and Seyhoun Gallery, for an installation of photographs and documents from one of Martin Gantman’s “tracking” projects – a conceptual endeavour that has marked his work practically since I’ve known him in Los Angeles (that is to say, before I knew him beforemany years before: we were at university together – a second degree for this polymath). In so much of his work – even before he segued to this conceptual framework – Gantman’s work has been preoccupied with trajectory; not simply the traces an object or objects (or even more abstract – a motive, an idea) will leave in their passages through time and space, but the particular paths they take, the map of their passage and the process of mapping this voyage, passage, itinerary. (Or am I getting this completely wrong, Martin? Or am I missing the point?) Juxtaposed with this is the notion that one’s awareness of the physical (or non-physical) coordinates or attributes of place, positioning may be skewed or in some counterpoint with the salient details, the perceptual field, narrative context or facts about the place itself. (Absurd to try to sum up a decade’s (or more?) work like this, but it’s not like this is a memorial in stone.)

I should have worn my ‘tracking’ visor cap, which Gantman sent to a number of people in a previous project, but I left it on my piano bench, so I arrive bareheaded. With Martin, you get Abbe – Abbe Land, his politically engaged (and always terrifically engaging) significant other, who is completely fabulous and who actually – this could be considered cruel – gives me something like political hope. (Not only do I find it unacceptable, almost inconceivable, that she lost her State Assembly bid last year, it amazes me that L.A. hasn’t sent her to Congress. On the other hand, that would keep her away from L.A. most of any given month; so I have to look at the bright side. She always does.) For this project, Atmospheric Resources Tracking, Inc. (or is that simply the corporate name for the project?) Martin enclosed a number of survey cards in an envelope, attached the envelopes to gold, helium-filled balloons and released them to float over the city, documenting their point of descent and landing (almost as a crime scene) through the details given on the completed cards returned to him – photographing and mapping the sites. The cards are mounted here alongside the photography of the various locations, which are fairly random and mundane, but impressive in their penetration of outlying neighborhoods – an almost city-wide, albeit uneven, distribution.

There are shows opening at Carl Berg’s, Mary Goldman’s and Tom Solomon’s galleries; but pain has a way of tracking me to the bitter end. As I drive eastward, Martin (and Abbe?) have me thinking about networks and networking (which take me back to the earlier DiBenedetto obsessions) – and my inability to reach the end of this one. My cats usually manage to forgive me, even if I can’t always forgive myself.

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