Art in the Hopper 5/22 Installation Art

Our first salon included participants with many varied backgrounds. Those present brought their experience in installation art; interactive art; painting; metal, paper and wood sculpture; carpentry; movie set design, letterpress and other printmaking; art collecting; ceramics; gallery tending, photography, machinery, and uniquely, pointillism with bleach.

Our topic was the preservation of installation art for future generations (see previous May posting for details) Here are some notes taken during the discussion:

Definition of installation art – Uses sculptural tools and other media to modify the way a space is experienced. Installations reflect associations and thoughts, three dimensional art, painting, poetry & prose, and many varied other media.

X brought up Chihuly project in Venice, a city-wide installation with glass sculptures hung all over the city and floating on the water and in the canals

X’s show was inspired by children playing on the beach making patterns out of rocks. He made a table with sand and video screen underneath. Table was divided in half by a wall. People could only see half of the set. On video screens, people could see what was being built on the other side, but could not see the person building. People did not necessarily know that there was another side. Artist wanted to see if people could interact with technology without knowing that they were doing so. It wasn’t immediately apparent that video screen was interactive. People figured it out as they played with it.

X felt that the piece did not want to be preserved. He took it apart, put the rocks in gardens and threw the sand away.

Y raised question: Can artists write a script so the art can be reenacted later, like a play?

Z responded with internet research “The European Project: Preservation and Presentation of Installation Art,” including case studies of documentation, preservation, and re-enactment. The research was lead by the Tate Museum.

M brought up “Rivers & Tides,” by Goldsworthy, who would build sculpture at low tide and let it float away when the tide rose. The work was documented through video. One member of the group described a scenario in which pictures of this work were shown to schoolchildren. The children were then turned loose in the woods to create. This projected Goldsworthy’s art into another generation.

P said, “That’s what storytelling is in some ways. People tell stories from generation to generation and it keeps changing.“

Q said, “There’s Art and there’s art. Someone has to decide if it’s worth preserving.”

P pointed out that some art isn’t intended to be preserved. He recalled Native American sand paintings, and Hindu Mandalas. They’re made, they’re beautiful and they’re gone. And they’re supposed to be gone. Perhaps a larger metaphor of life to preserve and be gone.

R said that in New York, there’s a piece that runs an algorithm and it continues to change over time. Look up “Electric Sheep” at the Modern.

X said that some installations that use technology are exploratory, not thought of as an experience to hang onto. Instead they are intended to ask the question, “How will this help us get to the next step?”

L said that film sets are not preserved, despite their links to installation art. Nearly all are torn down and destroyed.

Y wondered, Isn’t there anyone who wants to preserve these? It’s is preserved on film, was someone’s response. L responds that Universal Studios does save some parts of sets. Spends weeks, months, building something that’s on the cutting room floor.

E brought up the art in the mud flats along the shore in Emeryville. Others responded. Photographer Doug Kiester recorded it and made a book. Some thought it was trash, some thought it was great. Concern for the fact that it was deteriorating? Always changing. People kept coming and building new ones. Graffiti sculpture.

Y brought up that large sculpture is similar to some installation work, and asked if there are ways that installation artists might adopt a similar strategy to building collectors who can preserve their work. Large sculptor on hand said that he does large works by commission only, not on spec. He works with private developers or building owners. He sometimes creates work for a city, but those contracts are much more complicated. He began by making brochures of his work, and mailed them to architects. He didn’t hear anything for years. Finally someone called, asking him to submit an idea.

Sculpture in Justin Herman Plaza – some love it some hate it, some laugh.
Z responds with quote from Robert Henri, “Great artists don’t paint furniture or houses etc. instead he paints the idea of the object.” You might not be able to recognize it. Someone says, “In winter ice skaters move around it, it becomes installation art.” Someone else recites a joke, “If there were an earthquake, would it fall into a building?”

Interested in meeting this fascinating, captivating group of art lovers? Then join us at the next “Art in the Hopper” on Thursday July 10 from 7pm 9pm at 237 E. 14th Street, San Leandro, California in the Anna Edwards Gallery.

Come join us and be inspired.