Feature Inc
276 BOWERY NYC 10012   212.675.7772   feature@featureinc.com
Richard Bloes Text


If you would reduce or generalize your work for discussion's sake to a polemical label - something vs. something or the x y discussion - what would that be?
I think technology always affects the making of art. The question is do you use it directly and try and take on the big "guys" (Hollywood in the case of special effects) or obliquely, to create a distance from which you can "talk" freely. Or lo-tech vs. hi-tech, but this definition is very slippery, as a ten year old hi-tech movie can look very lo-tech today, but by creating these pieces from "scratch" and not using any imaging processing, I avoid the look of a certain time based on what technology was available. But basically I'm on the lo-tech side of things. Lately I also think about complexity vs. minimalism and I try to make these pieces as complex as they need to be but also as concentrated (which is how I see minimalism now) as possible.

Why wood, it always seems to have a distinct presence in your work?
When I first started doing these pieces in the early Eighties, I wanted to use similar materials that surrounded TVs where they were in people's houses. At that time video production was not in everyone's homes and production seemed elitist. So I used hardware store and lumber yard materials. Over time the wood seems like it has come to be more important, in the way that it seems a visual representation of stored information (growth patterns in the wood grain) or the general wave patterns, like a frequency. "Waking Table" suggests that we are in an age of electronic wood veneering or marquetry. The use of wood also led to furniture, which led to "some assembly required" (when you purchase furniture sometimes) and kits.

Do you keep notes, notebooks, or make sketches or diagrams as a way to develop work?
I used to keep notebooks, but it seemed like I got into the habit of writing down every idea or notion, and sorting them out became too difficult. I used a blank notebook in a piece (Mr. L...) with the idea that might "air" it out and I could continue to use them, but I never went back to them. I do write the things that seem important down on paper, which then turns into construction diagrams, but I'm still very wary of the ideas that seem too "conscious" and I rely mostly on the concentration I get in the studio.

I can never tell if your structures are coming apart or being built-which seems to go hand in hand with your use of scale; has micro macro been a big thing for you?
These pieces are very lens based works....when you zoom into a small object it can look quite large on the monitor and zoomed out large objects can look small. I've been trying more to have the sculpture reflect that as well. There is also the issue of abstraction vs. realism and I try not to merge them but suspend them or stretch them so that it almost doesn't become an issue at all. Also, for some reason, I used to always be amazed that the physical objects in my room where still there where I left them when I woke up in the morning. It always seemed that everything should have changed after all the dreams of the night and, in some ways, "Waking Table" is like a table that is slowly going to go back to normal once it wakes up.

Most artists separate video from sculpture yet you keep mushing them together despite their being difficult partners. What is exciting to you about this relationship?
A lot of artists are using video projection now and that rarely involves any sculptural setting, more like mini-multiplex theaters where the viewer walks from one darkened room to another and I can find that sort of oppressive and "closed", whether I like the work or not. I play somewhat with the idea of a theater by incorporating chair pieces into the sculpture but what I like the most is that people can walk around the whole piece and that acknowledges their physical presence and freedom of movement. It also gives the viewer more things to look at, like finding that the black and white monitor with snow on the screen is what was reflected in the plastic tube as blue lines, that relates to the wood veneer below it.


Do you begin with ideas of video images or materials and structures? Do you end up far away from where you start?
Right now it is a back and forth dialogue between the structure and the video images. I start with general ideas, as in Night Space I knew that somewhere in the background there was going to be a "Milky Way" area. Walking through Grand Central one night I realized that those large chandeliers hanging near the painted star map on the ceiling were really the way we bring the sky into our domestic space, like a telescope. When I put the chandelier in the structure, it looked too real and I put some screen material with gloss medium painted on it to break up the light.With the earlier structures I built, the video image was the most important and whatever needed to be done to make the video was built into the structure. Now, however, I think the structure has become the "equal" of the video image in that I have an idea of what I want the structure to look like sculpturally. So, if I have an idea for a video image and that changes the structure too much I call in the "referee".I always build the structures first and that sets the physical limitations for the video images, though there are usually three or four video images in mind when I start. After that it is usually a struggle between the materials and what is possible. There is a lot of improvisation and discarding in ways that I can’t foresee at the start. Then, at some point, things really seem to fall into place and the piece seems to move along as if it had a life of its own.

Kits have shown up in at least three or so works; what’s that all about?
At some point I was working on a piece and I bought some airplane and railroad station model kits, plastic, the kind you had to glue together, like when I was a kid. It struck me that they had something in common visually with circuit boards. What I really liked though was the way the final image (the finished airplane) was stored flat and in pieces, how that abstracted that image, and how it made it possible to ship (transmit), manipulate (like genetic engineering), or receive (put the model together). It eventually seemed similar to the panels in the structures that I make, where the images on the panels are held together by a frame, like that holding together the parts of the model kit. This eventually led to some furniture kits, especially chair kits, which I found at a local lumber yard. They seem generally symbolic of an unease of place, like the places we sit are always ready to be taken apart and put back together again in some new technologically improved place. Specifically for Night Space though, the parts of the chair on the floor look almost as if they dropped from the sky, looking back up to the other parts of the chair that would make it whole (sort of a tragedy I suppose). Or, finding our place in space (you can edit that out I suppose, the next comment will be "lost in space", if someone has no humor).

Was the video done in a single, highly structured shot? Is this so with most of your works?
Yes. I always thought that work that was done in one take was more intense, or at least it is for me....trying to get five people together and move those panels and shoot it in an afternoon. Plus, if it wasn’t done in one take there would be no need to have a structure, you would just have small individual panels. I find that each take has its own emotional integrity, even though it is tempting sometimes to edit out mistakes.

Any comments about the twist of presenting the making of the video while also presenting the final cut? Is that related to your not separating the video from the sculpture?
I wanted to make a piece that was a cosmology of sorts, about the space between religion and science (starting with Galileo’s telescope), and any cosmology always talks about beginnings, about how things were made. So whether the panel movers are ancient gods or guys in lab coats, they are the ones who made the tape and that seemed to add another connection to the sculpture, especially to the light changes in the tape. If technology changes our critical distance from the world and its objects, with its emphasis on close ups and quick edits, then showing the structure that was used to make the tape both shows this change (the physical world as production space) and (hopefully) gives us a physical presence, distance, to look at again.

Dispelling special effects without destroying the magic, or rather maintaining human involvement with technology seems an important, underlying aspect of your work?
Yes, I suppose Calder originally influenced me on this somewhat. When he stopped making pieces that were motor driven and instead made the mobiles, there was an issue of the quality, predictability of movement that couldn’t be had by motorized work. I found that by having people move the panels and by shooting the tape in one take, one finds the limits of human movement....it can be both unpredictable and fragile. Also, of course, these pieces are all built to human scale.

FEATURE INC.  212.675.7772  featureinc@featureinc.com