DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt



Filed under: Sculpture — Tags: , , , — fred @ 00:42

Confabulator, 2009, installation by Joyce Yamada + Joanne Ungar, photo by Fred Hatt

Confabulator, 2009, installation by Joyce Yamada and Joanne Ungar, photo by Fred Hatt

I support my art and keep it free by doing a lot of technical and visual work for others – video production, photography, projection and audiovisual work.  I know a lot of people in the creative fields, so I’ve made a specialty of working with visual and performing artists.  Often it’s fascinating work, and it gives me a window into other peoples’ creative processes.  In photographing artwork, I’m often asked to shoot artwork that’s especially challenging to capture – paintings in silver on white, or elaborate installations inside curtained boxes, or paintings in molten glass on shiny metal.

The piece shown above, Confabulator, is a collaboration between Brooklyn-based artists Joyce Yamada and Joanne Ungar.  Check out their sites by clicking on their names to get a sense of them as individual artists.  This installation is on view now through April 19 at the PS122 Gallery, the visual art space attached to the famed incubator of performance art in New York.  It’s in the “Hallway Space”, just outside the main gallery space, so I guess that makes this real outsider art.

As a photographer of artwork, this one presented an agglomeration of challenges.  It’s in a niche about a foot wide, maybe 18 inches deep and seven feet tall.  That niche is on the side wall of a narrow passageway, so it’s impossible to get more than a few feet away from it.  It has mixed lighting sources, with blacklights, amber bulbs, and a video projector.  I shot lots of details, but for the overall shot the one you see above was made by setting the tripod right up close to the opening of the niche and shooting a series of shots, tilting from top to bottom, and later combining them digitally into a “vertical panorama”.

The stimulating ideas behind Confabulator have to do with neuroscience and mythology.  The archetype of the three-tiered world, this earth plus heaven and hell, or the underworld and upperworld described by shamans, is related to the levels of the brain that filter incoming sensory data and make sense of it by turning it into stories, or “confabulating”.  Here the underworld is seen as an intestinal tangle, the heavenly world is portrayed by a looping video image of blissful fluidity, and the terrestrial realm is depicted by a block of resin slowly melting into an oozy pool, attended by industrious dung beetles.

If you’re in the East Village of New York, stop in to meditate on this piece.  The space is open from noon to 6 pm Thursday thru Sunday.  Be sure to pick up the artists’ written statement about the work.  Something that’s not captured in the photo is the way the ever-changing video images bathe the middle level of the piece in cycles of colored light, a lovely depiction of the influence of the heavenly realm on the earthly one.

NOTE:  Updated and corrected information added March 25:  The PS122 gallery is closed for installation of the next show in the main gallery March 26 through 28.  There’s an opening for that show on March 28, 5-7.  Confabulator will remain in the Hallway Space through that time and Joyce and Joanne will be there at the opening on the 28th.  Regular gallery hours resume Sunday, March 29 and Confabulator will be on view through April 19 (not through April 26 as earlier reported here).

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