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For an artist who established his reputation with a series of industrial objects realistically rendered in ceramic, this new body of work is a stretch… Maybe perhaps, but maybe not…

My long established modus operandi has been to use industrial objects and animals, posited as two distinct poles. And often those two ideas are contained in a single sculpture with one idea primary. Examples would be V8 engine blocks the color of a human heart or dogs made from scraps of industrial wood. Placing industry and nature together allows other dichotomies be considered: sacred and profane, rural and urban, empirical and rational, then and now, history and the modern, imagined and real, and so on. And actually they all refer to the same thing: two inherently different systems that are referenced together in a physical and psychological space of conflict and dissention.

Throw over-population and over-reaching technology into the mix and we have a volatile situation where the world is changing exponentially: post-industrial decline is but one nomenclature. Chemical warfare anyone?

How to make sense of all of this? You could start with a map. You do not have to however: you could just hide up in the hills where you do not need one, but I digress. A year in Morocco loosened my grip and I started to place the same dichotomies in a larger framework, recognizing that the world is shrinking and becoming inter-connected, amid signs of inexorable change. A plastic bottle is made in China and sold in the Middle East, but the Fez medina does not have a map. Maps started creeping in as imagery in my work, used not as useful objects but as markers of loss and disorientation.

ground control

 

Mapmaking really took off during the era of scientific and colonial expansion; plenty has been written about that. The travelers travelled and established order with maps, compasses and astrolabes. Then contrast the maps with what they actually found, or rather the perception of what they found: the rest of the world with vast tracts of land (and the potential for wealth) and populations that had developed different systems of intelligence, and we are set for a mapping system, that is one-sided, arrogant and inaccurate. From the web site of the Public Laboratory of Open Technology and Science (PLOTS):

“Maps are often used by those in power to exert influence over territory”

Maps are therefore a great achievement and a great folly. The achievement is now empty, if it ever held anything, superseded by science and technology, and all that remains is folly. A large part of the world is now online, but does the Internet have a map? It is too big for that, I think. I have thus chosen to re-present maps in this context: fractured, complex and irrelevant objects and a starting point for a consideration of things as they stand. The maps are visual systems, technologies, that define what cannot be defined any longer. Jagger/Richards gets the last word:

“…see the fire is sweepin' our very street today
Burns like a red coal carpet, mad bull lost its way”

P.S. The structure of the dichotomy has also now changed: the maps are the technical side of the equation and the viewer is the natural, human side.

chart island culture in case you were wondering container shinkansen rivers of the world asia/navigation explanation desastres de la guerre back

ground control      media on paper      30" x 44"      2013

chart      media on paper      30" x 44"      2013

island culture      media on paper      30" x 44"      2013

in case you were wondering      media on paper      30" x 44"      2013

container      media on paper      30" x 44"      2013

shinkansen      media on paper      30" x 44"      2013

rivers of the world      media on paper      30" x 44"      2013

asia/navigation      media on paper      30" x 44"      2013

explanation      media on paper      30" x 44"      2013

désastres de la guerre      media on paper      30" x 44"      2013