As the “Monkeyface” project became my primary artistic output, I began finding a need for closure. I felt the urge to make a sculpture, not nurture a lifestyle. I am left with more questions and less answers concerning impermanence. I have leaned on this project as my practice of buddhism has developed and now that my practice has stalled I don’t feel the urgency to be surrounded by living proof of change. The proof is inevitable. I question how literally I took this notion. The Monkeyfaces were my Bodhi Trees and it’s naive and irresponsible to accept the fact that I will outlive my living proof. So this final Monkeyface is only the proposition of a planter. It will never be subjected to the decay and maintenance inevitable when you facilitate living things. It is archival and final. I do not wish to ask questions of sustainability and continuation in the material form of art. If I did I would be martyring myself to documentation. The artist, the gardener, and the hiker would be wise to not engage in these activities at the same time. I am now choosing to take as step back and separate these areas of interest.
I began working on “Monkeyface” unknowingly in May of 2008. This project was the first time I bought and consumed a young thai coconut, and, coincided with a change in my lifestyle. I was instantly a fan of coconut water and the meat inside. The long process of opening the coconut, thinking about how to drink the water, and scooping out the meat left me feeling sad when the time came to discard it. I wanted this party to continue so I began saving the coconuts I ate. I then began removing the husk and composting it, leaving the shell
This shell is first and foremost a vessel, the largest seed found in nature, form incarnant, everyone is similiar but slightly different. I began to notice a thin spot on the bottom of each coconut it took no effort to carve this out leaving a small hole. This thin spot is where water is filtered in a live coconut and it acts as the perfect drainage hole in what I now recognized as a planter, the water now going the other way. The urge to use these vessels for planting new plants seemed obvious in the spring fervor. I also returned the coconut
to it’s relational place, living, above our heads, just out of reach.
The issue of what to plant plagued “Monkeyface” in the beginning and led to a number of false starts. I’ve reclaimed many coconuts from perennials that are now dead. It does not make sense to grow edible plants in these because they don’t grow or taste as they should. What grows best are annual house plants and hearty succulents. They begin to take on bonsai character with the limited growing space and they need little watering as the soil has only slight exposure to air. I take clippings from the older plants in order to make new plants and further expand on the garden as new coconuts add up. The canopy grows over time as it would if it were alive.
I was riding on a plane reading a book about Tom Friedman. I was given a napkin with my softdrink. I immediatly began to study it. The drawing was made by letting the pen sit on the napkin until it seaped through to the other layers. I then unfolded the napkin.
This drawing was made with a ruff formula. I had done some small experiments but couldn’t predict the outcome of the work. I began by picking a random point on stencil of a right traingle. I then nailed that point to the center of the paper. I traced and rotated the triangle eight times to make an eight part symmetry. I then flipped the triangle over and lined it up to the ones I’d already traced. Using the same nail hole, I repeated the process of tracing the triangles. This time I had to trace it 64 times. I did this over and over, using a different point each time. The result is a complex radial symmetry created by 8 smaller overlapping 8 sided symmetries.
Billow was made with a single stroke. I put the pencil to the center of the page and rotated my shoulder keeping my elbow at about a 90’ angle. As I worked I changed my orientation a little moved the page around to make the circular form.
A meal I would often get at a Chinese restaurant was called a Buddhist Delight. I unfolded the carry-out container one day and was struck by the way the creases ressembled the design of Tibetan rugs. I then glued the rice I got with the meal to the container attempting to mimic the ornate quality of those rugs.
In beginning this piece, I realized there was a tremendous amount of irony in what I was doing. I have all these assumptions about Chinese culture which may or may not be correct. Many have been perpetuated by Chinese restaurants themselves. My goal was to overcome my misperceptions by working myself into an intense meditative state. I was trying to experience empathy with Buddhist monks when they reach a state of satori in making mandalas. I probably would have failed anyway but it was the irony of what I was doing that seemed to prevent me from reaching this state. The more I worked, the more contradictory the piece became. When I finished the piece I came to view the irony as a type of meditation. A clearity was reached where it was impossible to gain any more insight into what I was doing or thinking.
Ware was the first piece (in what I’m calling my mature work) where I did not stick to a strict system in it’s creation. The only rules followed were the radial motif and the even placement of the hardware. At the time I was apprenticing for John Powers. This work was heavily influenced by working with him. I began with the single largest screw in the center. I then worked out from there, responding to the elevation, size, and directional changes of each additional layer.
When I was working on Focus someone asked me what I was making. My response was “this”. Two identical 9.6ft x 5ft ovals were outlined on the ceiling and floor. 36 steal hook were placed equangularly around the perimeter of each oval. The hourglass effect is produced by each color of monofiliment being given a different multiplication function. Example: every red colored monofiliment will be strung 7 hooks across from one oval to the other continualy until it comes full circle. When focusing on the piece you tend to notice repetitive patterns of reflections rather than a single point of interest. You focus on light not matter. The patterns of reflected light change with the movement of the viewer. What you see is only altered by the light that makes it visible. The intricate structure, the odd eliptical shape, and the placement between two floors gives a wide variety of viewing options.
Focus was commissioned by Riverplace in Greenville South Carolina. I thank them for all of their support.
This mural was composed of two parallel lines of 40 nails each, “points”, on the top and bottom of the rectangle. I then connected every nail to every other nail with monofilament, creating a dense pattern. The rectangle was painted black to create some contrast, allowing you to see the lines. This piece was originally a drawing. The drawing was a robust network where everything is in direct connection with everything else. While the drawing illustrates this phenomenon, the mural demonstrates it. As you walked by the piece the patterns of light reflecting off of the strings adjusted to your movement. This piece brought my work into three dimensions and led to many more investigations.
String Mural # 2 is a variation on String Mural # 1 and was installed at the same location in the South Hall Basement of Pratt Institute. The construction method is similar. Every point is connected to every other points. How the points are plotted will determine what patterns emerge and how the light will react to the strings. In this case, the points were plotted in a circle so the strings converged to make concentric rings. The light reflecting off of the monofilament created arcs of highlights, like ripples in water.
This was a collaborative project between myself and Pierre Ahlstrom. It was a temporary installation in a tiny room in the South Hall basement at Pratt Institute. The structure was supported by two 5×5 grids of monofilament. The intersections acted as “points”. Every point was connected to every other point with monofilament. The result was a 3-dimensional structure where different patterns form at every angle.
The process of making this piece required one person to lie on the ground and line up two intersections by eye. Unlike previous pieces, a lot of weaving was involved. Once the points were lined up, a thin dowel would be passed through the piece, leaving the rest of the monofilament undisturbed. Then the spool of fishing line was passed through the opening. It became apparent that the grid was compressing from all of the tension. The solution was to add weights on the bottom intersections to tighten the strings.
Notice was in installed in collaboration with my friend Matt Gilbert. It is located at the entrance of the Sakas Theatre for the South Carolina Governors School for the Arts and Humanities. The piece is composed of 64 screws placed equiangular on the perimeter of 12ft/7ft oval, tilted and painted white. Every nail is connected to every other nail with monofiliment. The piece mimics the interconnectivity of the school, something I experienced as a visual arts major in the inaugural class. It was titled Notice because it is meant to surprise and interest visitors to the Sakas Theatre, and spark some observation. I’m told that many students of the Governor’s School like to spend time with the piece too.
The structure used for this piece is the same one I used in Mural #1 and Hark. I made the piece outdoors to see the ways in which sunlight would react with it. The piece changed throughout the day depending on the direction and the amount of sun.
I wanted people to discover this piece accidentally. It was constructed on a fence that separated my old appartment 188 Franklin Ave from an empty lot. The apartment was soon to be demolished so new apartments could be built, which are now being constructed. The piece marked a moment of change while drawing attention to a greater constant.
Hark was installed for my undergraduate senior show at Pratt Institute. It was up for one week. In the gallery there was a row of columns, two of which bracketed the entrance as you entered. These supports created the necessary parallel lines to repeat the structure I utilized in Mural # 1. I used four colors of monofiliment. I designed it so that they stayed seperate and saturated towards one column and gradually blended together as they reached the other. As you walked by the piece, colors appeared and vanished. Patterns of light changed with your movements. Through the piece you could see other work in the show and other people experiencing the phenomenon from the opposite angle. The hope that I had for this piece was to raise awareness, not to the act of looking at art, but to the phenomenon of seeing.
Nimbus is composed of a grid of points repeated and rotated three times. The resulting moire pattern was filled with screws and nails of different sizes. I used larger hardware where points would overlap.
I constructed this piece in Berkely California. This piece is unique in that the fence provided the same support structure I’ve utilized in previous pieces. The piece relies on existing architecture as a formula for complexity. I’m elaborating on what is present. This piece is easier to distroy than it is to make unlike most work created in the context of the street. The process makes little noise and significantly cuts down on construction time.
I tiled my living room floor with lenoleum for functional reasons and because I want to be surrounded by things I desire to see and think about. I chose 4 different colors of 1ft square tiles. I cut the tiles diagonally, making right triangles. I then cut those in half, making an assortment of sizes. I started tiling in the center of the room and worked my out. My apartment has many of the original details (such as crown molding, medalions, and stained glass) that were common in pre-war buildings, one of the reasons I chose to live here. By tiling the floor in this manner I’ve tried to shift the focus of someone entering my place back to these details.
Landing was created on the roof of my apartment in Crown Heights Brooklyn. The piece is composed of 54 nails surrounding a rounded triangular shape that has been painted white. The nails have oxidized and become an umber color. I used different colored monofiliment to create a gradation from warm colors on the exterior to cool colors in the center. Asphalt on the roof that has been kicked up by rain has begun collecting around the perimeter of the piece, creating another unexpected gradation. Throughout the day the piece takes on many appearances. At noon it is a blinding pattern of reflected light. When it is in the shade it looks more like a tricky airbrush technique. Over time it will take on many more appearances, eventually dissipating. I’m exploring whether art carries meaning if made and seen in relative isolation. My ideal scenario for someone viewing Landing is accidentally, like coming upon a species of flower you have never seen before in a place you are familiar with.