The Presence of Absence
I see my sculptures as metaphors for the subjective nature of history and personal narrative. These objects serve as stand-ins for something absent. This is what sculpture is: the representation of something absent. The primary mode of my work is models, blueprints, schematics and three-dimensional maquettes. They inhabit the same conceptual middle ground as history, for they are both representations of something else and are simultaneously autonomous objects themselves.
I find it an interesting phenomenon that when looking at the water castings of the Blue Meridian series we are put in mind of actual water that we’ve seen, water from a specific place. This is fitting, for as the geographic coordinates in the titles suggest, these models are renderings of water and tidal flats from specific locations in my homeland. I find it telling that as viewers we become divided—one self seeing and recognizing the reality of the object in front of us (and acknowledging that it is in fact solid, heavy, static glass, complete with artifacts inherit to the process of glass casting itself), while the other self is remembering water that we’ve seen before. Our consciousness begins to suffer from the same duality as the object we are observing: here and not here.
This duality also belies another inescapable reality of such work: the seeming inability of documentation to re-present experience. The water models offer sensory stimuli—light, color, and the tension between movement and stasis—but they only hint at the experience of the place they represent and in the final analysis leave us unsatisfied.
The self-portrait models are a recent evolution, a counterpoint to the more visceral stimuli of the Blue Meridian series. Nevertheless, they are a further exploration of the relationship of Place and Self, by overlaying naturally occurring patterns onto models of my face. The portraits toy with concepts of duplication, copying and mirroring—recognizing and embracing the raft of attendant post-modern notions like simulacrum, impersonation, reproduction, counterfeit, forgery, etcetera.
The first few studies in the series use patterns derived from invasive species. They are concerned deeply with place and self, but use models of my head—the head being one of the main signifiers of self and the place where the concept of self resides—as the landscape, the ground of portraiture. It strikes me that there is a connection between the patterns on the sand, the patterns on the fish that swim over that sand, and the patterns on my hands, which I use to catch those fish. Viewed simply as patterns they’re indistinguishable; I am the landscape; the landscape is me.