What Is My Work About?
I attempt to deal with what Anne Carson describes when she says, “history never looks so possible as when leaving a heart spilt among the stones crying “Don’t read it again, it was perfect.”” Commanding powerful histories all their own, images can be a result of or reason for such experience. Regarding reasons, I try to keep mine in the realm of the excuse, meaning that the work of my work involves the same attention to contextual detail and discerning nuance present when deciding the validity of an excuse or the worth of its reason. I try to accomplish this work mainly through analogy, the same analogy linking photographs and their referents. Photographs remind us that it’s possible for a piece of the world, of reality itself, to flake off and take form. If my work is about anything it is about the ways in which that might occur.
My work starts from fragments of attention to the world around me, and is an attempt to build these fragments back into wholes. Such wholes are not arrived at by a process of composition or construction, but one of tilting and turning, shifts of context and perspective, a kind of alignment, until what was first gathered as a fragment achieves a completion that was already inherent within what (I come to realize) was never a fragment to begin with.
Subtlety and ambiguity are key terms in my discourse, because they describe forms of relation that are always uncertain, but that must go about acting as though uncertainty is simply another form of knowledge. In such situations action cannot depend upon either the strength of reason or the force of conviction, but must instead parlay both strength and force into the neutrality of a third term in which both reason and conviction find themselves in the context of the action that founds them. No matter how large or magnificent the wave, it will never damage the ocean itself.
Drawing is a useful way to think of it. Not only because much of my work takes the form of what can be called “a drawing,” but also because much of my work is an attempt to make such a form occupy a position between which the phrases “drawing of” and “drawing from” are indistinguishable from one another.
Regarding indistinguishability, the fact that two things look alike is not necessarily indicative of the fact that one represents the other. If a single word can have two definitions that are completely unrelated, or that are even antithetical, then the most complex sentences, the most interesting and important sentences, will be ones wherein it is impossible to tell which definition of that word is being used.
Regarding indistinguishability, it is as though the actor (the one who goes about acting as though uncertainty is simply another form of knowledge) really does undergo the drama she plays out before us when she acts truthfully in relation to the imaginary circumstances in which she finds herself. It is as though an image really is the appearance of the world, and it is as though there might even now still be a world outside of images that may yet appear. Art is the voice that says, in answer to such possibilities, “yes, there might.”
But that voice is nothing without the unspoken “might not.” Memories were what we once unthinkingly conjured in front of cinema screens, but have since relegated to the unprecedented usefulness of information and its near limitless capacities. Yet no matter how literate or adept we become at reading the voraciously overgrown system of signs, the cinematic cut can still jar us, and the imaginary is still a function of the real.
The effect accomplished by the movement of cinematic montage is something like what I try to accomplish in the stillness located outside of technical requirements. Sidelong glances and the suddenly meaningful occurrence of one object in proximity to another, opening a book and finding an old letter used as a bookmark, returning endlessly to the scenes of uncommitted crimes, moments like these are as much about method as accident, and betray an ethical as well as a sentimental regard for others and for the world. If there is a politics to my practice, it lies somewhere here in the equivalent acts of looking and showing in public.
Yet the words of others always speak best for me in this regard, and the scene of frustration depicted in the following passage by the film critic Serge Daney in his book “Postcards From The Cinema” contains volumes about my approach to the world at present. All of the attendant complexities, contradictions, passions, and misunderstandings herein I claim for my own:
“The time always comes when one has to pay one’s debt to the fund of sincere belief, and dare to believe in what he sees.
Of course you’re not obligated to believe in what you see – it can even be dangerous – but you’re not obligated to hold on to cinema either. There has to be some risk and some virtue, that is, some value, in the act of showing something to someone who is capable of seeing it. Learning how to ‘read’ the visual and ‘decode’ messages would be useless if there wasn’t still the minimal, but deep-seated, conviction that seeing is superior to not seeing, and that what isn’t seen “in time” will never really be seen. Cinema is an art of the present. If nostalgia doesn’t suit it, it’s because melancholy is its instantaneous double.
I remember the vehemence with which I said this for the first and last time. It was at a film school in Tehran. In front of the invited journalists and myself, there were rows of boys with budding beards and rows of black sacks – probably the girls. The boys were on the left and the girls on the right, all in accordance with the apartheid at work in that country. The most interesting questions – those from the girls – came to us on furtive little slips of paper. And seeing those girls so attentive and so stupidly veiled, I gave way to a rage with no particular object; it was directed less towards them than to all the powers that be, and for whom the visible is primarily what is read, i.e. what is permanently suspected of betrayal and reduced with the assistance of a chador or a police of signs. Encouraged by the unusual moment and place, I delivered a sermon in favor of the visual before a veiled audience who agreed.”
1983 b. Los Angeles, CA
Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA
2014 MFA, Art Center College of Design
2008 BFA, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA
“Standard Candles”, Samuel Freeman Gallery, Culver City, CA
“A Movie Will Be”, Control Room, Los Angeles, CA
“Strange Tide”, Washington Adams at the Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles, CA
“The Thought That Counts”, Gallery 106, Pasadena, CA
“Immitation Rocks”, No Place, Oslo, Norway
“Bed Aesthetics”, 757 Orange Grove, Pasadena, CA
“Drawing a Blank (On Forgetting, Refusal, Censure and Impotence)” curated by Matthew
Brannon and Jan Tumlir, David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
“LaLaLand”, Tent Gallery, Edinburgh
“Monster Drawing Rally”, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA
“US EST”, Pepin Moore, Los Angeles, CA
“Seven Minutes In Heaven”, Control Room, Los Angeles, CA
“Beaten Off”, Control Room, Los Angeles, CA
“For The Dawn of The Decade”, Control Room, Los Angeles, CA
“Monster Drawing Rally”, Outpost for Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA
“Between Us and Them”, Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles, CA
Berardini, A. (2014, October). “Andrew Cameron and Emilie Halpern, Standard Candles”. Art Review, 148. http://artreview.com/magazine/2014/october_2014//
Ollman, L. (2014, August 1). “Stepping delicately through a cryptic union at Samuel Freeman”. Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-et-cm-stepping-delicately-through-a-spare-and-cryptic-show-20140728-story.html
Blind Spot, 46, 2013. http://www.blindspot.com/store/page2.html?mag_id=46