Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Notes from Group Critique 10-13-09


It seems like this (skateboard) is harkening back to a particular time.

Skateboard piece, an idea I have had for awhile, and then I executed it.
Have been doing more process/experimentation oriented work, like the paper sculpture.

What is motivating you to work in these different ways? More experimentally?

D: I have been working more from materials. It worries me that I am going to spend all this time putting work into something and then not get that much out of the outcome, whereas if I...

I think getting started is an anxious process. Like this space is a blank sheet of paper. Don’t worry. I think this is a valid way of working, just getting things made, things that you don’t necessarily see as perhaps a legitimate idea but you just try things out and get them out.

D: I was thinking at first about this being more like a treadmill, but it turned more personal, I think with the walkmans etc.

When you say you are interested in walkmans are you interested in other ways, other kinetic sculptures you could make?

Where do you imagine this being? If this was in a white space it may be more interesting. It does really speak to an era, there are a lot of messages music turning the wheels, etc.
The floor is problematic, where it is now doesn’t work. Do you see it in a gallery, on the floor, on a pedestal?

I like the idea of it being higher up, so you could watch the wheels turn and see the top of the deck.

It has a really nice sound when you get close to it.
It sounds like a treadmill.

Are you mourning your youth?

It is sort of frustrating. There is a stuckness, a reference to recurring memories, replaying.
It is lighthearted but at the same time a bit dark, you could look at it nostalgically, or evoking the customs and commodities of a particular scene or subculture, but it also has more going on. (Thank god.)

I was struck by how kinda ridiculous to me. (In a Jan Dibbetts way). When I was a skateboarder, and Discmans came out we all held on to our walkmans because they didn’t skip when you skateboarders.

Are the wheels going the same direction.

This could be a monument to lost youth. Skateboards could be incredibly arty but I like that this one is generic, well used, Is it your intent to use very generalized objects, I notice there are no stickers, brand names etc.

This thing in the middle? The tape? It actually fits.

It actually doesn’t work for me. I didn’t recognize it and so I am spending too much time wondering what it is, without it there I appreciate the simplicity of the piece.
Can you prop it up more by the wheels?

I am interested in how you think this piece ended up being sad? You could play with that, like a small video projection above the deck, as if it is moving, kinda like a sad joke.

I think that it doesn’t need anything else. It is rich as a composition of objects.

I could see a small projection just above it like the view from a car window that is moving but not moving/getting anywhere, so that that sense of frustration is sustained.

D: I don’t really know how much more I want to add to it. Embed the walkmans in the ground.

I think it is important that you have the whole objects, they are so simple, even the tape.

I also agree with the tape, it is a reference to that time and culture – a form of bricolage, diy, kids making do with...
Without the projection it seems more like a clear monument to skateboard/youth/diy etc.
With the projection it would become a kind of character.

About batteries/the problem of cords/How do you sustain the movement: why can’t it just be a duration piece? Change the batteries at night and sometimes it is alive and sometimes it’s dead or running down.

There’s something about that possibility of the death of the motion that is really nice, and really important. The slow death of the batteries seems to attest to the ideas and the sadness you have been talk about.

I really like that element of chance!

I think that the loss of power, the possibility of the batteries dying is in the viewers’ head.
Anytime you have a kinetic element there is that loss of power.

The tape is what transforms it from lighthearted to sad. It needs support.

Seeing a cord would make it less of interest, it would make it less metaphorical, more like an appliance. But if I walked in and it was dead I wouldn’t be drawn to it at all, it would be totally static.

To me one the ways you could solve that problem, can you include that in the title, address the ephemeral nature of the piece.

Put stipulations on how the piece is displayed, a contract for the piece’s constant replenishment. Like Felix-Gonzalez Torres’ pieces.

I think that it has a lot of strong impact for everybody, despite all these things we are talking about working out.

are you targeting an audience? Are you trying to make something that has resonance for any particular people?

Again, I really love the sound, like the skateboard is moving on concrete.

its kind of interesting because in this very studio we had this very emotional conversation about nostalgia. you talk about an urban audience, but its wider than that, it has obsolescence built into it so it is nostalgic to a lot of people.. Are you interested in nostalgia, do you want that to be a part of your work?

I think there are both non-nostalgic elements, and there are other things. I think that the illusion of motion is satisfying enough on one level, it being a skateboard could be left.

I don’t lean toward nostalgia, because you aren’t keeping the walkmans, you are transforming them.

I think it’s totally nostalgic, very connected to that. Cassettes now have the charm back, like typewriters, etc.

I think that it’s not nostalgic because it’s totally a current to reuse/repurpose technology, for fashion, for nostalgia, or just out of necessity.

I don’t think you can get away from it (the n-word), but it is not the only reading.

(conversation about walkmans and hipsters ensues)

You can’t extract that this would be so different if the wheels were new and shiny etc.

How would it change the meaning if the wheels were going in different directions?

I would think first in an innocent viewing of futility.

that’s what’s so striking. honestly I think its intelligent but at first I was like eeh... but when Michelle made the comment about the era it points to and then it opened up all these other meanings.

I could see this piece dominating a whole space.

About the rolled paper sculpture...
You talked a little bit about tinkering but...
D: I thought about it sort of like ceramics, Its not satisfying in the same way I am just experimenting, I don’t know where its going.

Looks like a baseball bat.
There’s at least one of two artists from OCAC where they do these piece that are from NG magazines and then he turns them on a lathe, solid turned paper. It’s the same kind of thing.

I definitely got the ceramics association, it looks like a trimming wedge, thrown on a wheel.

Like miniature architecture. I could see a grouping of them. They are really beautiful.

I like that they are kinetic as well.
Telescopes, so when they are expanded

what about the colors, it looks like there is a plan, my mind looks for patterns.

Brancusi’s endless column, but you are taking common images and creating something.

Innards of marker pens. Just knowing that is awesome.
Could you use the outer elements too so you would know where it came from.\

D: All of this is more in the realm of craft. Coming at craft from a different angle, I have been looking about ways to...

There is something like Cornelia Parker about this.

All of these pieces are about reuse. I think that’s really interesting.


dealing with a situation where the titles are really important and how do we deal with important titles in a gallery setting.

yes, the titles are important for at least the first two. (gingivitis, heartburn etc. All the philosophers)

L: I tend to say less if I can...

These are three very different pieces, do you always work in this many media?
I am particularly curious about the leaves painting. What is the connection.

I wouldn’t have thought that these were three natural remedies for the listed ailments.
Are they rendered like the original images?

Have you abstracted them?

reminded me of a natural food store, its interesting that they are all chemically products, but they are using the natural leaf to sell their product, and then you are playing with that.

I don’t know if you are going for humor but I find it funny.

the titles (or subtitles) would be more effective if they were the actual products,

I recognized the shape I had this weird recognition in the back of my mind.

Not even knowing the titles or associations they are aesthetically pleasing, even without attempting to think about the concepts.

I thought of a field guide.

I think rendering it exactly as on the product is very important, for it to work like a trigger.

When you are talking about them you are using the word refreshing. Can you help the titles by calling them ‘refreshing gingivitis’ and so on.

The position of them is directly appropriated from the packaging. On the packaging it’s almost out of place, and now they are plopped on the wall in a similar way.

Tracing a pattern to make a big deal out of it.
Seeing them I kind of felt like they were a puzzle. I knew you were doing something with them, but I didn’t know what. I think that the title being non-wall is a problem for this. Maybe they could be on an adjacent wall.

I think that they also resemble puzzle pieces.

If you had more, every leaf you were able to record, from packaging, then I think there would be the revelation of an absurdity and a system.
I am on the fence about it being really abstracted and doing it more naturalistically. Have I ever told you to look at Heidi Cody’s work? (colored pencil drawings of Eskimo pie man)

I think that is interesting too something that works as a painting but has a history of being built off of something else.

thinking more about the emotional connotations of all of these ailments, the embarrassment.

It seems like a lot of advertising is about shame, you are remedying your shame and claiming it in a way. How you are talking about feelings and through your own sense of these leaves, how can you convey this “forests/feelings” thing.

The Persuaders, “Emotional Branding” Frontline documentary. Now ads have developed a connection beyond reason to a product. Cult impulses.

I really liked the qualities of the piece, the way it was made and displayed, but I didn’t get any of the connections to ads, or health, maybe you want to think of another way to show those things besides the titles. Something humorous. If it is important that those connections are made.

The other thing that we have talked about before that’s important to your work – its not each individual piece, it is about the attitude that ties together disparate looking things and media and ideas. What happens in this small collection that don’t have so much to do with each other. It seems like you are interested in those intersections and how things/what things rise to the surface in a collection of pieces, rather than it being really important to make the connection to specific products, etc.

Can you talk about how these pieces relate to each other?

its interesting how you use playfulness to determine the seriousness with which we regard things we encounter. Turning that around. Philosophy is not taken as seriously, when mint leaves on medicated shampoo are taken seriously. The titles really clarify this.

All the women philosophers are like Libras.

I couldn’t help but think about Mt. Rushmore when looking at the phil. drawing.
The bracelets are more like other work you have made, referencing manipulation,

the drawing has more punch, you are laying your method bare, when you think of all the things that these guys have done about representation, and categorization and meaning, and then you have turned it around and wiped out a hundred years of serious thought to make this one connection: that they are all the same sign. In that way it is subtly connected to the leaves, like it could be a marketing campaign. This is the way to make philosophy palatable.

What about the choice of pen and crosshatching. A method that allows for easy reproduction, for greater seriousness.

I don’t think that photoshopping it would work, the high rendering of it makes it, because its sort of a hair brained idea to begin with.

I like the photoshop idea, with the piece the humor resides in the title but if you used a different title it would get closer to images of metaphysics and it would twist it.

But then it would be super obvious, part of the reason its funny is because it subverts your expectations.

Are you against like collaging horoscopes onto the work, or putting the title on the piece. I could see if you added/embedded titles to the pieces then it would separate them. Or if it was a solo show and then you create a forest of these things and connections could be made.

There is an inbetweenness to all of this. They don’t function individually, but the connections aren’t strong too.
visually they are very nice, but...

I think the philosophers drawing is so distilled, your attitude, your approach, your humor all is working so much.

Its worth considering the difference between the way you draw and the ideas you try and get across, don’t be constrained by your comfort processes.

What would happen if you added text pieces “Taurus” “Rolaids”

These feel kind of restrained and less obvious than last years work.

I really like that there is more for us to puzzle out.


the desire for absurdity to go beyond the limits of television.

I really like things happening outside of the picture plane, where there is a little bit of the unseen, just a hint. That’s really successful.

I am interested in how you presented them. They are bright and a bit overwhelming, are you getting into the repetitive images of tv? I could see the car for example all alone on the wall.

Are the narratives intersecting? Where you imagining that they would intersect?
Are we supposed to make assumptions about the group? That would be a reason to have them all in one place.

I feel myself wanting to connect them but I cant’ really.

I connect the ones, at least loosely into a category, that seem to be about group dynamics.

Read the “The Function of the Studio” by Daniel Buren.

Looking at hair color in trying to make the same characters appear.

I don’t put them together and I don’t know what I would get as a plus if I did.
The ones that are the strongest are the ones that have some mystery. The one with god and the surveillance cartoons reminds me of a New Yorker cartoon.

look at the backpage of the New Yorker
remind be of Robert Kullscott paintings

Some of these remind me of those Mexican paintings that are made after you survive a traumatic accident.

Last year you commented that you appropriated the style of working from the visuals of an outsider artist but this is really just the way you work, but I see the connection there, you seem to really be embracing that, the natural way you work.

the ones that were strongest, have some kind of intensity, formally.
putting things together so that I wouldn’t be forced but could bounce back and forth to create a narrative. I think if you grouped them differently you could make miniseries.

the prison seems like you were trying but you just didn’t get there. Perhaps its unfinished or it just lacks some of the intensity of the others.

what about if you didn’t display them this way, what is your scale choice about, they aren’t small or large, they aren’t the same size either. from a narrative stance, from an absurdity stance I agree with the comments.

There are some of them that lose something when piled together, if they were to function on their own I would think that they would need to be bigger.

There is some beautiful painterly color in many paintings.
The top of the one with the car for example.

Re: thesis work and posters for show

Making the work the posters, and making the poster ads. before the work.
Free stock images and text. Is this a bullshit idea?

I think you could find even more enticing, problematic, less confusing, extreme, absurd images.

this reminds me of the ads in the back of artforum.

I like the concept that a swimmer image could have more to do with your work than an image of work.
I don’t know how confusing it would be if the same info. is on all of them.

it sounds fun and also it’s a really simple idea.
that guy in the seventies who would advertise in artforum for these hugely conceptual material works and then the work never happened.

I think that in relation to what your paintings are about, having a work that is your message but also speaks to absurdity, an absurd way of advertising. Somehow making a connection through absurdity to advertise.

Can you add a disclaimer, “this does not necessarily speak to the beliefs or work of Ralph Pugay”? This is and/is not related to your work.

I think this kind of other way of speaking outside of painting seems really important at this time. Looking at your painting is only half the story.

You are making wild claims out of excitement, I like that, this excitement and what it elicits could be a piece in the show itself. Some manifestation of your google museum, not that exactly but something to that effect needs to factor in.

regarding artifacts to go along with all this...art factory...obstacle course etc.
you have these bruce conkle aesthetic that you like makes it so that you don’t have to highly craft things.

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