Music is the space between the notes.
Silence, the space between notes is the sound of all sounds, just as Space, or emptiness is the possibility of all things. When considering a work of Art, the inherent success of the object is often based not in how well the subject matter is rendered in positive space, but rather how well the artist made use of negative or empty space. The things that are not there, gives the thing that is there its inherent quality.
All pictoral forms begin with the point that sets itself in motion. The point moves and the line comes into being–the first dimension.
Linefield, our group exhibition was held November 2-13. Our work explored how a fundamental element, the line, is used by a variety of artists to change perceptions of space. The show consisted of abstract organic forms, collage, geometric shapes, letterforms, glyphs, flags and maps. Overall, the goal of the show was to illustrate how fundamental linear constructions, organic forms and geometric motifs could be used to create examples of deep artistic consideration.
One of the most memorable lessons I had in grade school evolved from a conversation about nothing; i.e. Space. I had always assumed Space was the uninteresting emptiness between objects and I explained the same opinion to my grade school science teacher, Ms. Bolton, who smirked at my affirmation, as she stood in front of the class at the “empty” white board and drew a square. “Do you know what this is?”, she asked.
“Duh, it’s a square”, I returned.
“What’s the difference between the whiteboard with the square and the whiteboard without the square?”
I looked at her blankly. “One has a square, the other one is empty. They’re two different things.”
“Maybe.” She tapped the whiteboard with the marker, leaving little spots. “The whiteboard with the square and the whiteboard without the square, they’re the same whiteboard, right?”
“Right, but one has a square and the other is empty.”
“But the space isn’t necessarily different. I defined a portion of it using a series of lines that we happen to call a square, the space never actually changed though. The blank whiteboard isn’t empty at all, its actually very full, its full of infinite squares, or triangles or whatever possibility you can imagine. So what I’m saying is that you’re wrong, space can never really be empty. You’re thinking of space as the absence of something, but really space is the possibility of anything.”
“Ohh”, I said. BOOM
The lesson of that conversation has always stayed with me, and Linefield, our group exhibition is essentially a dialogue between artists who aim to materialize the infinite possibilities within the medium of space.
As artists recognize and then choose possibilities within space, they eventually proceed to make decisions and take creative risks. These actions begin to transmute the infinite options that exist in Space. Space becomes the medium of the Artist’s mind and ultimately represents an affirmed expression of the Artist’s thoughts. Space is a key component within all the work in Linefield, but especially so for artist Dave Eppley. Eppley attempts to draw out the intricacies of space so that he may find its underlying connections. His chosen medium is sign vinyl, an industrial tape that has high bond and is produced in many different colors. Once adhered, sign vinyl behaves like paint, by usurping the texture and tactility of whatever surface the tape has been placed upon. For Eppley, the act of applying lines of tape to a surface becomes a declarative act of delineating space, creating form and refining sculpture. Tape applied to a surface within space represents a conscious decision by Eppley to highlight a select group of available possibilities within the manipulation of space.
A is not for Anything
In his Artist statement, Doug Spearman, declares that his “main focus is the manipulation of letter forms.” Spearman, like Eppley, also works by applying sign vinyl to a surface. Where Eppley applies tape to an environmental surface, Spearman applies graphemes to thin layers of acrylic. Graphemes, the smallest units of written language, are the representative building blocks of words and words are the building blocks of language. As mentioned, Spearman focuses on the manipulation of letter forms, but by studying the small bits of code that structure language, Spearman is also trying to answer a fundamental question, “Are there concepts swimming in the ether awaiting new letter forms with which to express themselves?” This idea/question connects to the earlier memory expressed in the lessons of my science teacher, Ms. Bolton. The square she drew represented one of the many potential shapes available in space. Spearman’s graphemes could be seen to represent the potential all words.
How do I go?
If there are infinite concepts swimming in the ether waiting to be chosen as words, are there also cities in the natural world waiting to be built? The physical environment could be described as a grand illustration of the possibilities available within the manipulation of space. As we move through the physical world, who or what determines our access points, pathways, views and vistas? Who decides not only where we can go, but how we can go? Who decides what lines we follow to navigate space? Zion Decouteau is exploring these issues in his cartography-modeled artwork, which is inspired by his love and appreciation for his home, New York City. Maps orientate us in the physical world by using lines and symbols as best practices on how to navigate physical space. If space is essentially a group of possibilities, as Ms. Bolton taught, how then does the manipulation of physical space, or free movements through space increase one’s awareness of various outcomes or possibilities? Decouteau, by creating his own worlds is literally creating his own physical space. Perhaps his philosophy could be a step on the path to true liberation?
Don’t Thread on Me
As maps represent the delineation and demarcation of physical space with colors, shapes and symbols. Flags often work collectively in space with maps to transmit ideas, concepts and beliefs.
On June 14, 1777 in Philadelphia, the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution that read the following: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation. White signifies purity and innocence. Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.” 1
After an 8-year hiatus from painting, Artist and Designer Edrian Colina, found inspiration for his contribution to Linefield by channeling personal frustration with the current political climate within the US and Venezuela. Colina, whose parents are Venezuelan immigrants, exists in a particular cultural space where he astutely understands the hypocrisy present in Democratic and Socialist forms of government. For some, a space that is composed of thirteen red and white stripes along with a field of blue does indeed symbolize purity, innocence, valour and justice. Yet for Colina, the elements of the American Flag, represent something more sinister. By recomposing the US symbol within his own space, Colina is able to re-define and re-examine its overall meaning. He is able to experience the flag as a new possibility of meaning within an original space.
I Dreamt about a real thing in my dream
As flags are often seen as symbols of communal ideals and dreams, an artist’s work is often considered the manifestation of personal ideals and private dreams. Where do these ideals come from? What role are we enacting when we pursue our dreams? Is the structure of dreams supported on the foundation of material “reality”, or is “reality” merely a simulation; the product of a communal dream. Mayuko Fujino, a self-taught papercut/collage artist, makes dual-layered collages that aim to replicate the structure of dreams. The front layer takes the form of animals, spirits and monsters and represents fantastical narratives and emotions stemming from the subconscious mind. The rear layer makes use of magazine pages, found objects and represents the conscious reality of our waking mind. Fujino is able to illustrate both the material and the dream within the same space. Her work is beautifully economic in that she is uniquely able to express two seemingly opposite states of being within the same object.
Ai Campbell, like Mayuko Fujino also likes to work in opposites, juxtapositions and contrast. Campbell creates natural conflict by creating work on black and white spaces that feature biomorphic organic shapes and natural forms that result from chance encounters. An obsession with organic imagery has become the central theme of Campbell’s work. She combines fundamental elements in layered space and comfortably blends basic elements that over time evolve into more complex structures. Like an organism, her work starts with one fundamental element, a line, a dash or a circle. The work continuously develops into a more complex structure by constantly layering and replicating atop previous layers and elements.
As Ms. Bolton so eloquently taught, space represents presence, never absence. Space is a collection full of possible decisions, opportunities, shapes, directions, lines, graphemes, dreams and organic entities. We, as artists, value the opportunity to imagine the infinite possibilities available to us as we use lines to order, change, manipulate and understand the medium of space. Linefield, our group exhibition, explores how Artists make creative use of a fundamental artistic element — the line. The work consists of abstract organic forms, collage, geometric shapes, letterforms, glyphs, flags and maps. Our work makes original commentary on the perception of space, the structure of language, the design of symbols and the material of dreams.
Our show ran at the Brooklyn Beauty and Fashion Labo from Nov 2-13. With Special Events on:
-Friday, November 2 | Opening Reception
-Saturday, November 3 | Linefield is for the Kids!
-Tuesday, November 6 | Linefield is for the Voters
-Friday, November 9 | Artists Reception
-Saturday, November 11 | Artists Discussion + Closing Reception