Monthly Archives: November 2014

dana major, chicago artist, light art, led art, crystal seeing

down the rabbit hole

Rigor! That’s what I decide the curator called for during Tuesday’s marathon 3-hour studio visit including fortune reading. I spent the morning sweeping, nitpicking, meditating to support her fortune reading.  She walked amid the illuminated sculptures in the front studio room while I made tea.  We sat on the cubes looking at them, and she began a most incisive and inspiring crit with the question, ‘What’s the wire?’ I told her it’s line.  Leading me through problems about the body of the work, asking directly into the spongiest aspects, popping my clever idea bubbles, ‘why do artists think the conversation is happening somewhere else?’ she asked me, pinching her sinuses like she was bracing her mind for the bad idea she was helping me to discover.

Rigor and tightening the work in every aspect – its body, its relationship to the words around it, what I am asking of the viewer, how I am presenting the ideas that keep me in the studio day and night, and what is the work to the room.  in the room.

She zeroed in on the weaknesses in valuable, concrete ways, not by naming or suggesting, but by turning my attention to where I let pass, where I quit too soon, where I’m kidding myself, to mismatches between concept and execution, to extraneous elements, and questions the work is asking.  Luck-o-the-irish  made it so she stepped in when my studio was the least like a museum installation as it has ever been, no walk-through environments, or address to the space, just 11 discrete illuminated sculptures hung prim and not talking to each other against the walls.  How are the objects answering, how are the objects any more optical than any other artwork, these are the tough-love questions, what’s going on in the space on the way into the fortune? (I see SO much wire knotting)

Then she turned to face the weakest piece, the one with the fabric, work-whisperer, the work soaked into her empty, intrepid eyes, and she inquired of me into the blank corner,  so I could see the questions for myself.

She said to make part of my space a walk-through, to push it, make the closet room that expanding contracting vessel (Well, I said it, but in the gleam of her eye) and what is the word when unframed cloth panels hang blowing like that, and why and what, she asked, is the purpose of every body part of the pieces, and referencing architecture, since I insisted on it, falling into my introduction like a cold water cliff dare, into Vitruvius, and I need a PATH to presenting the work.

She makes herself empty and that makes it easy to see what I am presenting to her.  Instantly I envisioned the atoned, demonstrative works that respond to my specific inquiries.  and interactivity, how can the environment be interactive…  beginning with the part about deep assumptions, and re-thinking them, then the panels which aren’t called that, suggest a pathway, I tell her.  W wants to see the path difficult, wants to see the path have to make you crawl, but I have a better idea, using shadows, let me make a path that only looks difficult, and is in fact a walk through shadows.

and optics, she cited olafur and how he runs a near lab of tinkering and unquiry, well, well…? it could get there, she said, and I do see a whole in service to the madeness of the art, the body of my work, and the presentation of it, and she’s right, I’m not there yet, but I can see it from here, and she spent 3 hours talking about it. She made way through my thoughts so I could see for myself, when the agreement had been I would show it to her, as far as a fortune telling is a showing.  I could have taken her hand a little more, I cold water cliff dove her into the fortune, I could have walked her in.

to craft the journey, the experience of the viewer, the visitor, to make it into something – here’s how you enter, here’s what is offered, it’s an instantiating  installation about perception, a walk-through conversation with a fortune telling core. How it all fits together. Everything in the room at work, like Vonnegut’s Don’t Waste Their Time, every word adds value.  Argh, the wrenching feeling of seeing something I haven’t done yet.

I experienced it as lifting a veil from the work easy and whole. and just like the rest of the practice, I’ll begin with the first line, and fill in the aspects with details and attributes and talk talk talk, in the repeating universal pattern of the parts not predicting the whole.

I say three times, The work satisfies my inquiries and is whole all inside the studio, the double edged maker’s mantra that only works when you do.  She suggested a regularly scheduled fortune telling time, fridays after work, or monthly on the date, something regular, as the installation evolves.

I can’t believe what got brought, a shift in perspective and awareness, too, of how much worker I have to hard, how much more uninterrupted focus is necessary to pull off what I envision. Or, maybe I’ll be surprised, maybe I won’t be living in the iron age, but in the shadow age. What percentage of the work is the shadows and projections, she asked? 100? 50? 0?

and how the grasshopper, this time the live insect, last time the shadow,

sleeves up, it’s not like I ain’t got work