Artist of the Month: Taft Green


Image Credit: Taft Green, A Knot that Is the Name, 2012 (Installation section)

Dispatch for Bodies in Space Explores by Dr. G.

"Art is about feelings."  This common misperception about visual art and design has diminished, if not parodied, how we look at and talk about the wealth of objects, images, installations, films, dances, and then some made by creative culture workers through out the globe.  This is not to say, there haven’t been scores of print-makers or painters focused on emotion — think about German Expressionist works by Kathe Kollwitz or Max Beckmann.  Certainly the vast genre  of film is replete with stories of dazzling and wretched humanity that tug at our stomachs, hearts and minds.

Still the “feeling claim” is typically shrouded in a universalizing logic of primal expression, the sort of Freudian catharsis thesis made popular in the early 20th century.   Here in 2013, we should know better.

By that I mean we should not expect artists nor designers to carry the psychological burden of representing raw human expression.  To do is to miss the point offered up by current neuroaesthetic research regarding the deeper story of sensory perception and spatial memory at work during purposeful visual engagement.  Sad to say, it’s even easier to bypass the myriad ways artists and designers now tackle complex currents of intellectual ideas given the distance many maintain from the culture at large.

In the spirit of opening up the lens of perception, especially where aesthetic musing takes up the question of spatial perception, we spotlight the research conducted by Taft Green.  Known and celebrated by the Los Angeles arts community for his complex sculptural riffs on the calculus and algorithm of spatial forms, and as a colleague with whom I’ve shared discussions on mapping perception, I’m excited to share this current body of work that asks us to pause, take a breath and consider just how does our brain construct the space of a rectangle or a square?


Image Credits: Taft Green, A Knot that Is the Name, 2012 (Installation)

In the artist’s own words…..

Language as form; form as sculpture.                                                        12/22/12

            Images are flat. We build worlds with images through our own associations. Strangely enough, those images that are most common are the most powerful.

Take, for instance, the common structure of perspective within an image of a desert. A road in the foreground, leading to a horizons division, marks the lines of perspective. Illusionistic perspective parallels the way the eye encodes space, giving it a common point of view and presents a familiar identification of spatial depth. Text turns the image into a place of meaning through pointing to what common association can identify. Can the above image of a road meeting a horizon be turned over? With the association adjusted, flexibility in thought is realized. Can the tendency of fixed patterns be thwarted? There is scientific evidence that to look without preconceptions, to pay attention without expectations, or to think without a goal oriented concept in mind, allows for a more immersive and insightful experience. That is to ask; “How am I interacting with the given circumstance? What can be introduced?” rather than “What do I identify with?”

When beliefs are tested or no longer match the current conditions, this is not only how awareness emerges, this is when awareness can change what is done in the present. The present is a limit for sure, images might be a reaction to this limit, but the present is also where reinvention continues. To look at various languages (text, photography, sculpture, etc.) as an initial reduction, is to be aware not only of communication, but also the implications of another’s standpoint.   The more we consider alternate experience or an outside to the immediate concerns, the larger ones awareness expands.  Referential outsides are in distinction and related to how much any one language is implicated in routine and standardization.

Image Credits: Taft Green, A Knot that Is the Name, 2012 (Installation)

Working with sculpture as an outside to image making, both images and form are usually implied in rendering a composition. The creative mental image as inside forms of association or orientation. A chain of active mental assertions (as potential actions within the sculpture) develops around formal concerns, which most times are rendered out of text-based language. A problem (an image) can be converted into a question (in verbal language) and then answered (through association) and communicated (by form). This illustrates the potential attributes that sculpture can consolidate. Saito Yoshishige spoke more aptly in his comment to the Mono-Ha Artists, “The operation of phenomena, rather than their appearance, is the subject of Art.”

Words constantly condition images, as well as actions. An image or form is a feedback loop where the here and now is amended to another place, time or scale. Activating desired perceptions does not always mean going to what is known; Freedom is found in the common limits that unify our experience, and knowing we can revert back to them when phenomena is too disorienting or immersive.

                                                                                        — Taft Green

Taft Green’s work is currently on view at the Los Angeles Museum of Art in Eagle Rock (Los Angeles ).  To learn more, click here


Posted on January 3rd, 2013
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