|Forum topic by BuzzardBird||posted 10-23-2014 06:38 PM||1759 views||0 times favorited||6 replies|
10-23-2014 06:38 PM
What is wood good for? For trees? Yes, but this begs the question. Restart.
What are one’s essential needs of wood, good for? A silly, if not confusing, question. Blather. Because “essential needs” need not be qualified as possessing a “positive” requisite. Essential needs are necessary by definition, and unassailable, granted you’re not a psychopath. For example, I essentially need my Lie-Nielsen Rabbet block plane because A.) it’s a sexy-sexy tool (nickers!). And B.) I’m an American—and both China (looking at you Woodcraft) and Canada (hello Lee Valley) freak me OUT.
Why the hell would somebody make a replica of a TSA airport security checkpoint out of wood? Going backwards towards the first question: we certainly don’t NEED it, and it’s almost definitely not GOOD for anything. Not least of which is security—something we unfortunately do need. A fabulous head scratch.
Enter Roxy Paine’s new work and exhibition titled “The Denuded Lens”: an assortment of curious and complex maple sculptures, sure to give that impressive wooden chain you’ve been carving for 11 years, a serious run for its money.
Hello Lumberjockers, Buzzardbird here with a wood report from NYC. First off, this place is nuts! But that’s for a different post. Today I’d like to simply present the woodworking of Mr Paine and some of his whacky if not whackily refined approaches to art and wood.
Mr Paine, no stranger to art making, was once upon a time a stranger to woodworking as far as his earlier works were concerned. These works include life-size stainless steel trees, painted replicas of mushrooms and plants, and honest to goodness robot slaves which (literally) pump out drippy-like crust paintings and globby-goo sculpture barbles. This guy seems to have some genius blood flowing through his eyeglasses, and both fancy people and plain folk alike, seem to enjoy the company of his very high-end output.
Fair enough. But carved wood? Why wood? Why NOW? Have all the art robots gone on strike? What gives?
(for a snapshot of previous work, including other wood works: http://kavigupta.com/artist/roxypaine)
To start: we must understand that contemporary sculpture of this type is vampiric. To explain: the contemporary artist must find “purchase” with his or her material. This material is understood to exude content, context, and history and thus the contemporary artist scours the earth for a suitable material that can be shaped to the artist’s will and “process”. The artist then attempts to suck all the blood from this material: all the history, physical properties, relationships to industry, notions of rareness vs abundance or high-end vs low-end. (Artists Donald Judd or Jeff Koons for example.) Everything that Wikipedia will have listed about this material, and more, becomes “found”, “built-in content” for the artist to claim, and to suck dry. But the artist as vampire hasn’t killed the material. Far from it. He or she has simply absorbed the vital core of the thing in the service of something (potentially) far more grand, sexy, hideous, beautiful, and abstract: the howling rebirth of some new fangled vamp-spawn, art shit. Behold the artist: the most refined parasite there ever was.
So with respect to Mr. Paine–having developed an appetite for wood blood–he clearly did his homework, learned how to sharpen some blades, and has consequently delivered a room full of Nice. Undoubtedly, friends and family got some first-rate cutting boards during the build up to his fairly recent wooden debut.
But to be sure, a woodworker need not go this far with with respect to parasitical practices. We have enough sawdust in the lungs to have almost become integrated with the material, and an ability to almost take it for granted. Almost, but not entirely, because, as a species, wood is unique, and absolutely essential. Therefore most of us still find some wonder in the material despite the familiar rigors of labor. Perhaps similar to how a caring gardener might relate to plants. And through our various processes, we typically have our own rituals to worry about: “Respect the material, the tool, the self, the client”. For some of us, three out of four ain’t bad. In any case, we understand material and notions of history and character like few others. And we especially admire, I think, when an artist or craftsman brings our shared and collective material to unexpected places, and dare I say, new heights. Wood after all, is the ultimate democratic material, free for all to gnaw and give stab at. It seems like it’s been this way forever.
For your pleasure check out some of these new heights courtesy of my greasy cell phone camera. And please, never stop work on that mind-blowing wooden chain of yours just because some nerd from NYC decided to get wicked with some computer modeling, a dremel, and a Harbor Freight rasp (or whatever).
And that TSA checkpoint? I never did figure out the “why” of it exactly, due to the fact that I got lost in the work’s transport and wonder: the press release states that the skewed perspective of the checkpoint, depicts an 80 ft room within only 18 ft of depth, and damn if that ain’t true! Withdrawing from the illusion for a second, I suppose there is a comment to be found regarding surveillance, and our diminished human bodies moving through the conveyer belt of modern life, both helped and hindered by our machines; renewed and destroyed by them; transported and terrorized. So there is THAT. But the woodworker in me simply couldn’t get over all the small parts, whacky angles, and clever joinery—where in tight spots, wood glue probably works just fine.
The Denuded Lens @ Marianne Boesky Gallery, NYC, 2014