mirrorsblack (2009, wood, mirrors, spraypaint, lights, casters, 36x66x36 inches / 1×1.6×1 m) is a new sculpture I’ve made for Bellwether, the inaugural exhibition at Southern Exposure’s new headquarters.
In line with my previous work exploring optimism and pessimism using metaphors like light and dark and how art objects mediate relationships between artists and viewers, mirrorsblack literalizes the attempt to create phenomenological installations wherein viewers experience “mimetic engulfment” and the “dissolution of the self” (Claire Bishop, Installation Art: A Critical History, Routledge, 2005).
Literalizing concepts has been a way for me to point out my skepticism about the expectation that art should be transcendent or ineffable. By putting the viewer (or at least, his or her partial reflections) into the work, I’m also exploring whose expectations and meanings are projected onto the art object.
My engagement with this work was further stimulated by a recent article in the Boston Globe (Drake Bennet, “Thinking Literally,” Sept. 29, 2009) on psychologists’ research on how metaphors are not just a way humans communicate, but are in fact keys to the way we think. An implication of this experiment-based research seems to be that — as phenomenological artists have intuited for some time — while philosophers have valued abstract thought, and and conventionally-minded art patrons might prefer visual stimuli, bodily experience is no less a realm of cognition and the conveyance of meaning.
mirrorsblack suggests my ambiguity about the future, and the sense that one can never get a complete picture from any singular perspective.
Bellwether opens this Friday and Saturday with grand opening parties, including a block party with artist-led events. The exhibition continues through December 12, 2009. For more information, visit soex.org.