When you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for you when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. (Solnit, 13)
My current work is a continuous attempt at representing the world as I remember and imagine it to be. It is about the places I have been and the places I wish to inhabit, with plenty of diversions along the way. There is the hope that the experience of the work translates into a similar or new personal meaning for people who engage with it.
To that end, I am interested in creating new personal spaces in our world. Spaces where people can explore. Spaces where people can meditate. Spaces where people can play. Spaces to feel safe in. To bring the mountain vista to the gallery space, the forest trail to the sidewalk, and in so doing create a new kind of interconnected space. I see my work simultaneously running counter to and parallel to Bourriaud’s relational aesthetics. In opposition, I am often using representational elements from my experience; In parallel, I create concrete conditions of possible ways of being. My central concern is not representation, but creation of worlds or, more accurately, their fragments. In order to explore ways of making meaning, I will look at artists creating dream spaces in sculpture, digital media, and hybrid forms.
This idea of making concrete interventions is central to Bourriaud’s argument in support of relational aesthetics. The primary concern of the work “is not a matter of representing angelic worlds, but of producing the conditions thereof.” (Bourriaud, 83) So, rather than giving someone an image of this or another world, we are attempting to create that world in our present space. This creation may be small or temporary, but its existence as a real way of being is nevertheless significant.
What, then, are these angelic worlds?
The angelic worlds that Bourriaud relates are not necessarily the ones I am interested in (or ones I would consider angelic). Perhaps it is better to consider them as alternative worlds, or dream worlds. They are places “where reality and dream form a whole.” (Bachelard, 23) I want the interstitial elements that I create to allow people “to recapture the naïve wonder we used to feel when we found a nest,” to become comfortable dreaming in their daily lives (Bachelard, 93). Different manifestations of these dream-worlds include the man-machine hybrid, technologically-mediated nature, and my interest,
The spaces for reflection and discovery I aim to create are modeled around the spaces where I reflect on and discover the world. They are landscapes and cities of my imagination. They are pieces of music that play over and over in my head, and the places where I learned them.
These, for me, are dreams of interconnectedness and liminal spaces. Dreams of being simultaneously apart from and in touch with the world. I want to create scenarios where we can see the other world and reach out to touch it, experiencing the journey without going far.
I walk often, as it is how I generally form the strongest association with a place. It is not merely that I am walking, or the place that I am in, but the engagement of all senses with that place. The physical exertion needed to climb a mountain bolsters the view in validating its summit. Wandering and discovery are important themes in my work, even as the landscapes themselves are transposed/mediated, made into objects and made portable.
As I wander, I sometimes dream of occupying Bachelard’s image of rootedness and interconnectedness, “the undergrounds of legendary fortified castles, where mysterious passages that run under the enclosing walls, the ramparts and the moat put the heart of the castle into communication with the distant forest” (Bachelard, 20). Not of leaving the world behind, but being in a vast interconnected state. Of being at home, and simultaneously everywhere.
Continue reading Constructing personal spaces