On “Adding Up,” 2015

This piece is relatively simple at first glance, but reveals itself to have multiple dimensions in both process and concept upon closer inspection. This was precisely the intention of the work, and it is best explained by tracing how it was made. The immediate implication looking at the work is that the concrete on the floor was cast from the foam board patterns on the wall. In reality, however, the foam and the concrete are both the same positive shape.

"Positive #1," 2015, concrete and wood, 60 x 60 x 30 cm.

“Positive #1,” 2015, concrete and wood, 60 x 60 x 30 cm.

The reason for this subtle postitive-negative inversion is the process. Rather than casting the concrete from the foam that is displayed on the wall, I casted it from a second foam pattern, made out of the pieces cut away from the foam on the wall. The result of casting from the negative foam and displaying the positive foam is a double inversion, because what remains are two positives (one foam and one concrete) that don’t add up together when you start to consider their relatedness. I also painted the foam panels with a grey, concrete-esque oil paint and smeared them with the same clay that is seen on the sides of the concrete in order to play up the illusion that they came from one another.

After realizing this odd relationship between the apparent negatives in foam on the wall and the positive concrete forms on the ground, one can begin to divide the work into two conceptual intentions, the first being phenomenological and the second post-structuralist:

(1) I will begin with phenomenology. I am interested in the spatial misconceptions that people have when they first view the relationship between the cast and apparently casted objects. There is a confusion about the casting process, one which I fell victim to myself in the errors I made while planning the work, and I wanted to play this up. I believe it is (a) proof of the phenomenological notion that our constructions of the world are experientially rooted, and until we see something physically, it is hard to think in terms of negative space and positive space., and (b) it requires a certain “intentionality,” to borrow words from Husserl, and an effort on the part of the viewer to focus on objects and understand them spatially, rejecting presumptuous interpretations of spatial relationships, i.e. how the concrete should fit into the foam.

"Negative #1," 2015, oil on foam insulation board and wood, 60 x 30 cm.

“Negative #1,” 2015, oil on foam insulation board and wood, 60 x 30 cm.

(2) The work plays into my recent interest in post-structuralist theory. Firstly, I am interested in these things as neutral objects, with patterns and shapes that avoid much connotation. I aimed to choose patterns that not only skew the phenomenological problem of perceived negatives and positives, but that also remain neutral: as void of connotation as possible, in order to invite “the deferral of meaning” (Derrida). The post-structuralists criticized struturalism for its tendency to divide everything into “violent hierarchies,” such as good and evil or heavy and light. I am playing with such notions of binary oppositions, and how you can– so to speak– throw a wrench into them. I believe this work achieves this in three ways: (a) Many of the patterns chosen have intentional disruptions, where what you would expect of the pattern is suddenly inverted or interrupted by an invisible dividing line. (b) I am playing with the binary of weight and lightness, in obvious ways because of the use of concrete and foam board, but with more complexity because of the oil paint that mimics the texture of concrete and brings in an element of illusionism. This is related to several of my balancing works from the past, and specifically to my last work “Inside Out” which used foam and concrete in similar, illusionistic ways. (c) I think of negative and positive space as being in opposition to one another, and my inversion of the relationshiponly apparent after close inspection– is my way of disrupting this binary, and leaving a gap in which meaning might be generated.

This work is an attempt at what I am planning to do for my final undergraduate project, displayed in the Vault exhibition at the ArtLab Gallery in London, Ontario. I will be moving up in scale, and returning to some of the conceptual preoccupations I had with aerial views in my work “Vantage Points” (2014).

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