The Event Of A Thread

I found this show to be one of the best art instillation I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. I was completely captured by it. I don’t think my mind ever strayed out of the building while there; and I felt as if I were totally immersed in the world Ann Hamilton created.


FORM: Fabric, lights, swings, people, pigeons, a mirror, room sound, bells, radios, song, air, movement. These were the main elements I noticed while there. A large fabric curtain divides the Armory’s Drill hall in half. On either side of the curtain a symmetrical formation of swings hang. As each swing is propelled by a person swinging, a tread that has been attached to it  contributes to the moving of the curtain. On the other side, the opposite and connected swing in the same location connects to the same thread connecting to the curtain. A sort of swing propelled pulley system to move the curtain. If I stopped moving on my swing, and the person on my sister swing on the other side of the curtain kept swinging, I could feel them, in little heaves via the chains holding my swing.

SPACE/TIME: The lighting in the space seemed constant over time, the same. Dimly lit, the large room remains vast, but also intimate because of the low light. Focused spot lights with narrowed barn doors provide rectangles of light which describe the path of each moving swing. The only time I noticed the light change was before and during the singing at the end of the day. The lights dimmed and a large spot light illuminated the balcony where the singer stood.

While in the space, I had a sense of losing time, I lingered for about 2 hours there. And it seemed I wasn’t the only one lingering and really spending time with the work.

LIGHTING MECH. From what I could see, all the mechanics, lighting and otherwise, were clearly visible. Including the people reading the scripts for the paper bag radios, and the woman writing at the opposite end of the hall. Plus the machine that records the singing on a piece of vinyl to be played the next day.  Other than the lights, much of the mechanics seemed equally lost in time with the piece. Nothing was glaringly modern to my naked eye, which allowed me to become more immersed in the work.

OPTICAL RESPONSE: The room is low lit, your eyes adjust the the warm tones. Because the Drill Hall is so large and dimly lit, the edges of it often fade away when looking closely at certain things. The periphery became fuzzy for me at times. And then at other times, because of the benches lining the edge of the hall, the periphery is very real and another place from which to experience the event.

EMOTIONAL RESPONSE: I processed this in stages. First there was the entry and seeing the curtain, then there was the bee-line to a swing and swinging, feeling it out, seeing what was happening, playing. Then I wanted to go to the opposite swing and swing opposite a stranger, to notice our effect on the curtain. Even though I wasn’t close enough to see the face of the woman swinging across from me, I found myself smiling at her. Then for a while I sat on the swing listening to a paper bag radio. I don’t remember the words now, but I remember being moved by them and the sound of the readers voice, even though it was abstract for me, not a recognizable train of thought.

I walked to the rear of the room and then went to lie down under the curtain. I stayed there for some time. The swinging made me feel a little weird after a while, but lying under the curtain, while mesmerizing and beautiful, was also somewhat unsettling. Like becoming very small in a room full of whirling dervishes.

Then I roamed, looked at the pigeons and the readers. I went and looked at the video of Ann Hamilton talking, I think about some of the inspiration for the show, regarding the archives from the civil war that belong to the Armory? I could be wrong on that. I felt though that she had been using the location and it’s history as part of the work. I’ll have to look into that further.

Finally we sat on a bench along the wall and waited for the singer. Finally the lights dimmed, and a hush came over the room. The woman began singing, and everyone remained quiet and in place, looking up towards the balcony where the spotlight shone on her. It was very surreal, like the show, and very beautiful. A huge shadow of her bust was projected on the white curtain while she sang. The singing stopped and the lights stayed  low and people began to filter out.



activity update for Rose

On sunday I helped clean the interior gallery glass, bought cleaning supplies with Renee for glass, cleaned 2 bars and left them in the gallery. I will be touching up bars and glass walls as needed on wed.

today, planning on reserving tvs, still not sure how many we need and helping install the rest of the gila. Possibly clean floors if appropriate. Otherwise that will happen earlier wed.

Wed, facilitate clean up after event.


Hey All,

I think some of us are having trouble figuring out what still needs to be done off the to-do list. If your group needs help or more people, please post as a reply to this post, or send email. I think some people are at a loss at the moment, lets band together, so we can make sure we’re on the same page. Also, are we all still planning on getting together tomorrow, despite class cancellation? DMX controller progress? I can read through the manual tomorrow and start trying to figure it out, but we need hands on testing to really get it I think.




Flavin Institute visit

So I went two weeks late because I was sick the weekend of the class visit. I’m assuming everyone else had a giant milkshake at the Candy Kitchen after seeing the exhibit too?

Form: Housed on the second floor of a former church and firehouse, a large open room has been partitioned with walls that don’t reach the ceiling, allowing colors to be seen upon entry to the instillation. Colored fluorescent tubes are Flavin’s medium. He uses them to create vertical planes or vectors and color fields. Sometimes there is a solid wall of lights, sometimes they overlay each other like a zoom-in close up of woven fabric. The orientation of the lights, tightly packed or more sparse within a room seems to reinforce the color field effect he’s created. Sometimes it has the effect of walking into an electrified perspective drawing.

 Space / Time: Space and time are very important in this instillation. I didn’t quite realize that until I’d gone around a few times. In particular, a piece that at first is very green, after several minutes goes completely white, which is pretty cool.

Optical Response: Immediately after spending more than a few minutes with the pieces, I began to feel quite visually overpowered by the lights. Like suddenly I might know what it’s like to be a fly that zooms into the light bulb. At first the colors are pretty, pleasing in a sort of soft pastel way, especially the nice glow they cast on the white walls of the main room. But the more you keep looking at the colors, the more they intensify and your eyes begin to play tricks on you, seeing vibrations and waves, a sort of pulsing intensity. Once you experience the green piece, which after a time your eyes adjust to white, it starts to feel really inundating and intense on your eyes.Even though it’s fun and trippy that your eyes adjust to the color, you can also feel that they must be straining somehow.

Emotional Response: I really enjoyed the show. At first on a more surface level, the colors were pretty, the tones cast on the exterior walls were really pretty. But then I was impressed and absorbed by the intensity of the instillation with time. By the time I was ready to leave, I actually felt quite exhausted by it, like my body had physically been through sometime. I enjoyed it, but I was also ready to get back out into the natural light.

Records + Representations: the representation in photos is so fun to make and then it crazy too see white, take a photo and there is the green that disappeared. The only other time I’ve taken photos of a Flavin piece, I thought the photo actually enhanced the piece, that it wasn’t that strong or vibrant in person. But this time, though the photos I took are really cool, the pieces themselves were actually much more intense and overpowering than a photo could communicate. In terms of the few drawings of his that were there, I just see them as structural documents, very clear ones. But not as anything meant to capture or convey the quality of the piece.

Flavin Readings

In a lot of ways I’m interested in the EMOTIONAL RESPONSE to Flavin’s work; my own and others’. Much of the LIGHTING MECHANICS & FORM are clear to see; the sophistication is in his knowledge of how colors change when you eye adjusts, and when the colored lights blend of interact with each other, and then adjusting for desired results.

But I found his seeming abrasiveness in the Tuchman interview, compared with the Bell interview interesting. In the former he is bristling against the style of the questions, the content and possibly her. In the latter he seems more revealing, vulnerable even.

There were a few quotes that stood out from the readings for me, things that created more questions. Firstly in the Tuchman interview when he said essentially, answering questions without breaking them down was an “act of faith.” Interesting choice of words. In some ways I thought the Tuchman interview was more revealing because he was forced to describe in a different way, where as with Bell he could relax a little and respond in more of an insiders way.

When he says that, in terms of religious reference, that perhaps someones note that maybe he was more influenced by the subway system, is hitting the nail on the head more, was interesting. He admits the influence of many things, yet denies that much of architecture and city infrastructure was based or stemming from the architecture of the Greeks and Romans, temples=church. Maybe it’s a stretch on my part? I know why I’m drawn to this issue of his work. Perhaps because he was so adamant in denying it. I wonder, what was the significance of working in  a former church in Milan was? Was there any? The article implies mindfulness of the buildings history, but I’m curious how that really translated for Flavin.

On the one hand he makes reference, even titles works in a “sentimental” way as he calls it, and then he says those things are “incidental.” I draw no real judgement about those things on his part, I’m just curious about them. I find that he has the suggestion of spirituality, but an intellectual rejection of if, in terms of his work and life. Noting the title of the piece The Nominal Three(to William Ockham)1963, who from what I understand, believed reality lies in the experience of things, abstract notions(god) rely on faith. Like a lot of art, up to a very recent time period, I often wonder how much the rejection of religious culture or upbringing, no matter how little, drives an artists work. Consciously or subconsciously. I refer specifically to conventional religious hierarchy, beliefs, rituals and architecture, not spirituality, which I personally think is very different from organized religion.

I’m still removed from this by not being able to write about something that I’ve just seen, in terms of OPTICAL & EMOTIONAL RESPONSE, it’s been a while since I went to see a Flavin piece.

Irwin & Oppenheimer shows

For his show Dotting the i’s & crossing the t’s Irwin uses pyramidal acrylic columns that reach toward the gallery ceiling, but do not quite touch it. Anchored in the concrete floor, they jut far up and then begin to lean slightly under their own weight and flexibility. The transparent material and it’s shape create a prism in the daylight, which seems to create a halo effect around the bodies of people on the other side of the column from the viewer. While creating a sort of prism at eye level, full of color and distortion and the reflection of others in the gallery, up high the pieces tend to get more Irwin like, and disappear into the wall behind. This was my favorite part, to watch and see if I could lose the edge of the piece.  I came to the show expecting to spend some time with Irwin’s work to try and see what maybe I was supposed to see. The show wasn’t what I expected, but I enjoyed it. I could see that others enjoyed the interaction of many people around the pieces, light refracting, rainbow colors etc… but I think after all the reading about how much work Irwin put into trying to dissolve the edge of a work, I was hoping to see some of that in action. I think I did, but I never go totally lost in the piece.

I can see that this piece must vary widely under fluctuating lighting conditions throughout the day, which I would like to see more of. I would be very interested to see what it was like with no artificial light indoors, as well as see it installed outside. Natural light.

Sarah Oppenheimer’s show at P-POW gallery was very interesting, also playing with space and light, but in a very different way. Physically constructing and altering the space inside the gallery with new walls, and then cutting unusual angles into the corners. It had the effect of creating a labyrinth like feel, as well as being very architectural, materially and spatially, while also being unnerving. I enjoyed this piece, I found it beautiful. I guess I would rather see it released from the gallery and actually built into a building or room somehow. I assume that would be the artist’s goal anyway? I wonder what actually having those apertures and angles built into a space that was used and active would mean though. Would people find it disorienting and thus off-putting, or would it be entertaining and intriguing? Hard to know I think, until it actually gets put in place. It would be kind of a fascinating way to divide up something like cubicles in an office though! It would probably inspire some anarchy though, not desired corporate behavior!


Church of Light by Tadao Ando

Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s Church of light, a pretty amazing use of natural light. Osaka, Japan. 1989

Urban Light by Chris Burden

Here is a link to his wikipedia page

This is newer piece at LACMA in Los Angeles. It’s pretty interesting at night.