Escandón at SOMA

August 25, 2014


Mexico City’s two-month SOMA Summer program concluded this week with a group exhibition titled “You Can’t Choose Your Neighbors.” The show was conceived by the program’s thirty artist participants and visiting curator Flora Katz as a platform to share, experiment and respond to Mexico City and our time together as a group.

Escandón, (video still), 2014, silent 3:41 minute loop.

Video still from Escandón, 2014, silent 3:41 minute loop.

My piece is an installation called Escandón, titled after the neighborhood it was created in. Escandón’s centerpiece is a looping time-lapse video chronicling the sun’s path as shot through a colorful array of shifting fabrics from morning to nightfall. The translucent fabrics, shot against a floor-to ceiling plate glass window of the apartment I stayed in, migrate across one another to produce optically mixed color fields that hint at flag motifs while revealing glimpses of street life outside. The piece is a ‘portrait’ of my time and residence in Mexico, serving as a meditation on the insider and outsider, domestic and public space, nature and artifice, stasis and transition.


The time-lapse is projected onto hanging fabric adjacent to a sculptural banner made from the same cloth featured in the video. The vertically-looped banner hangs freely from the ceiling, allowing viewers to experience it from all angles. The play of natural light on the translucent fabric from outside is markedly different than that of the artificial lights inside, encouraging viewers to circle the piece as the video itself loops nearby.

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The SOMA program was beneficial in that it gave me the chance to further develop my work with light and material which germinated in grad school. Furthermore Mexico provided a new context for this work, leading to rich and surprising results. The program also gave me the opportunity to break into video, a medium I’ll continue to pursue.

Many thanks to Stanford’s Department of Art + Art History for making this residency possible and to Enrique Chagoya and Daniela Rossell for facilitating my stay in Mexico City. Also, a special shout out to Eduardo Abaroa for his generous and constructive tutelage at SOMA.

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LV Sketchbook Page 034

July 31, 2014

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Long View Sketchbook page 034 takes the military’s role in Antarctica as its subject. Read more about the armed forces on the world’s most peaceful continent in my latest Long View blog post.

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SOMA Summer 2014

July 27, 2014

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I’m excited to be the recipient of a Stanford fellowship allowing me to attend Mexico City’s SOMA Summer program. This annual event gathers artists, curators, critics and art historians from around the world for seminars, critiques, fields trips and discussions. There are 30 artist participants in total, hailing from Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, and North, Central, and South America.

We’re a month into the 8-week program during which I’m making new work with light, fabric, and video. The final projects will be exhibited in an open studio event at the conclusion of the program. More news as the show materializes at the end of August.

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LV Sketchbook Page 056

June 25, 2014

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Antarctica has no official flag since it’s not a nation nor ruled by any single government. Many designs have been proposed, each with their rationales. I too have ideas of my own which I’ll be posting in my next few Long View blog entries. The first one is here.

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LV Sketchbook Page 009

May 31, 2014

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My latest Long View Sketchbook image isolates elements of the remote Dumont d’Urville research base in Antarctica. Read about the windswept coastal station on my Long View Project blog hosted by the California Academy of Sciences.

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Half Tilt Full Lean at Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery

May 18, 2014

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Stanford’s MFA Thesis show, titled “Half Tilt Full Lean,” is on view till June 15 at the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery. The artists are Galen Jackson, Eleanor Oakes, Ben Peterson, Anja Ulfeldt, and myself. The exhibition is curated by Enrique Chagoya, Professor in the Department of Art & Art History.

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My wall installation, Phase Transition, was created by cutting long, two-inch strips of metallized polyester film, commonly known by the trade name Mylar, that were then draped into loops and hung from clear dowels, giving the viewer the impression of dripping water. The Mylar, with its metallic sheen that sways lightly in the wind of passersby, reflects brilliant shades of green, blue, and red on the wall, facilitated by colored flood lights that shine on the installation from above.

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I utilized Mylar to explore light, color, material, and reflectivity in referencing concepts of transition, modulation, and mutation. This piece treats light in a painterly manner, blurring the boundaries between Mylar, wall, and reflection. In doing so, the space from the area in front of the wall extends into a virtual space beyond it, allowing viewers to deconstruct perceived shifts in dimension and perspective.


My installation also addresses shifts across time and states of matter. Its composition is based on a line graph accompanying a recent study which tracks Arctic sea ice extent over the last 1,450 years. The uppermost ribbon of Mylar accurately traces the peaks and valleys of the timeline, below which bands of ooze hang like swollen droplets or misshapen stalactites. The melting process concludes with the Mylar’s final and precipitous drop to the floor.


Phase Transition also speaks to translating indexical data into subjective and symbolic imagery. Diagrammatic in origin, the installation’s multitudinous ‘eyes’ and bulbous, viscous tendrils acquire a biotic constitution, emphasized by their movement in response to air currents. Seen as both an organism and the cosmic web to which we are united by multiple bonds, my composition proposes a perpetual state of vulnerability and transformation in which human presence is ever complicit.

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This installation grew out of an earlier iteration I created in the studio back in February. That version can be seen here.

Many thanks to my family, professors, and colleagues for their unflagging support throughout the program and a special shout-out to Stanford Art History doctoral candidates Sydney Skelton Simon and Joseph Larnerd for writing thoughtful essays about my work in the exhibition catalog.

The Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 AM–5 PM, and Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 PM. Admission is free and open to the public. The Gallery is located in the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at 419 Lasuen Mall. Parking is free after 4 PM and all day on weekends.

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LV Sketchbook Page 007

April 27, 2014

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Long View Sketchbook page 007 pictures the constellation Sagittarius, the site of our galaxy’s central supermassive black hole. Researchers are on track to imaging the black hole with an Earth-sized array called the Event Horizon Telescope. Read about how the EHT works — and Antarctica’s role in it — on my latest Long View blog post.

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Inside Rodin’s Hands

April 17, 2014


Over the past year I’ve been helping the Cantor Arts Center organize an exhibition titled Inside Rodin’s Hands: Art, Technology, and Surgery which opened last week on the Stanford campus. The show features the French sculptor Auguste Rodin’s sculpted hands that display or resemble known pathologies that modern-day surgeons are able to treat. The exhibit also traces the history of anatomical knowledge and visualization from the 16th century to the present day. I contributed by writing gallery text about the historical anatomical books on display and designing the show’s graphics.


The exhibit was organized by Dr. James Chang, Professor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Stanford, who integrates the study of Rodin’s hands into his training program for surgeons. In his undergraduate seminar, “Surgical Anatomy of the Hand: From Rodin to Reconstruction,” students study the hands that Rodin created and work with 3D digital simulations of those artworks to diagnose and “fix” the pathologies that Rodin recorded. In pairing art and science, Dr. Chang aims to make anatomy lessons uniquely engaging while connecting humanities students with medicine and acquainting premeds with the arts.


There are three sections in the exhibition. The first is concerned with diagnosis and contains Rodin sculptures accompanied by photos of real patients’ hands with the same condition. The text and pictures illustrate contemporary surgical procedures such as realigning fingers using plates and screws, removing a ganglion cyst with exacting surgery, reattaching a severed thumb, and even substituting a big toe for a lost thumb.


The next portion of the exhibition is interactive; visitors move an iPad in an arc around Rodin’s bronze hands and see computer-generated graphics of the bones, nerves, and muscles that might be seen within actual hands. This display describes new imaging technologies that provide three-dimensional views and a sense of depth into internal structures — an application of “augmented reality” representing an emerging frontier in the study of human anatomy.


The final section consists of a series of eight anatomical texts chronicling the progress of Western medicine beginning with the empirical study of the human body in the 16th century. Ranging in publication from 1585 to 1834, the illustrated volumes demonstrate growing attention by anatomists and artists to providing physicians and surgeons with increasingly accurate information on the inner workings of the body.

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The books also reveal actual and proposed medical practices of the day. One of my favorites on display is Les Oeuvres d’Abroise Paré, pictured above. Published in Paris in 1585, it compiles material from Ambroise Paré’s 26 books, ranging from stories of sea monsters to drawings of artificial limbs. Paré contributed greatly to both the practice of surgical amputation and the invention of scientific instruments. He introduced the implantation of teeth, limb prostheses, and artificial eyes made of gold and silver. In this spread Paré addresses the subject of the hand with inventively depicted mechanical appendages, human muscles manipulated with pulleys, and related surgical instruments.

Inside Rodin’s Hands is on view through August 3, 2014. The Cantor Arts Center is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11am – 5pm, Thursdays until 8pm; admission is free.

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Binding Desire: Unfolding Artists Books at Otis Ben Maltz Gallery

March 1, 2014


I’m pleased to be exhibiting two works in Binding Desire: Unfolding Artists Books at Otis College of Art and Design’s Ben Maltz Gallery in Los Angeles. The group show features approximately 120 works from Otis Millard Sheets Library’s Special Collection of 2,100 artists books dating from the 1960s to the present. Otis’s book arts collection is one of the largest in Southern California.


My displayed pieces are Cryo Primer 1 and Vostok. Cryo Primer 1 was produced during a Xerox PARC art residency and casts an eye on the experimental and speculative nature of human cryopreservation. Reverse-printed text pays homage to Leonardo da Vinci’s journals while suggesting that novel technologies, such as cryonics, also warrant ‘reflection’ for proper assessment. Ink-jet printed throughout, the laser-cut eight-fold structure is fashioned from a single sheet of vellum featuring pop-ups on all three spreads, and is housed in a laser-etched rubber case bound with aluminum screw posts. It was issued in an edition of 25 copies.


Cryo Primer 1 is part of a larger project titled Polar Book Lab that juxtaposes science, art and narrative in considering the broader sociological implications of cryogenics, cryobiology, and cryonics. The project derives its aesthetic sensibility from the sculptural quality inherent to scientific instrumentation and material.

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Vostok was produced in collaboration with Dolphin Press in Baltimore during a visiting faculty residency at the Maryland Institute College of Art. The title refers to the largest subglacial lake in Antarctica. Lake Vostok is a relatively recent discovery and research suggests that it supports active micro-organisms that evolved in isolation for several millions of years. This book speculates on those life forms, as well as those that may lie outside Earth’s atmosphere.

The text and images are letterpress and screen printed on French Dur-o-Tone cover stock and the coptic-bound signatures are cased in hinged wooden covers. The wood is a nod to Ernest Shackleton’s Aurora Australis whose covers were cut from wooden provision cases in 1908 to create the first book ever published in Antarctica.

The exhibition is on view from January 25 – March 30, 2014. Gallery information and the list of exhibiting artists can be found on the press release here.

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Projections 2+3 at Root Division

February 14, 2014

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Projections 2 and 3 are my contributions to MFA Now 2014, an exhibition of 17 Bay Area grads at Root Division in San Francisco. The two floor-and-wall installations are situated perpendicular to each other, functioning as a diptych. They engage in dialogue with one another through threads strung overhead suggesting transmission wires or similar paths of communication. On the wall these lines splay into shadows and drawn graphite lines suggesting a larger, possibly infinite web bound by cosmic phenomena.

The exhibition remains on view till February 22, 2014. Root Division is at 3175 17th Street at South Van Ness in San Francisco and is open Wednesday through Saturday, 2-6 P.M. or by appointment. Admission is free.

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