gradual small fires (and a bowl of resonant milk)

here is my statement that accompanied the initial exhibition of these works:

“Ed Ruscha’s second seminal picture book – Various Small Fires – was self-published in Los Angeles in 1964. Like Ruscha’s book, I was born in Los Angeles the year the book was published.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about this book – not only in relation to my own history; but how each image in the book speaks, evokes, and continues to open up. Because the book contains neither text nor explanation, Various Small Fires offers an open experience… with little resolve – consisting of a series of generic images of fires and one glass of milk, all supposedly from “stock photographs”. 

Fire, like sound, has a physical form that is relatively un-graspable and constantly changing. Both can feel ephemeral, aggressive, beautiful, dangerous, moving, growing, evaporating, smoldering, smoking – and both can influence one’s experience of an architecture or a landscape.

For me, Ruscha’s book is less a specified narrative and more a trajectory of encounters; where turning the pages of a small book is akin to following a series of stepping stones towards an unknown destination – a path which can be traversed from beginning to end, or end to beginning, and conducive to other paths based on the wanderer’s willingness towards invention.

For the installation, I have built a series of “small fires” (and one “milk”) each consisting of a plexiglass form and a sound piece. each sounding object exists discreetly on site in an attempt to converse with Daniel Libeskind’s building design in ways that encourage unexpected encounters with both sound and architecture.

The sculptural forms are basically a “mash-up”, exploiting certain formal characteristics of both the building’s architecture and the photographs from Ruscha’s book towards a series of architectural fires. There has been no attempt to illustrate existing forms, but to allow these sources to generate analog responses – as if the images in the book and the design of the spaces could be used as graphic scores.

I can’t help but think about the sound, burn speed and movement of fires without taking into consideration Steve Reich’s text Music as a Gradual Process, and thus my own fires were built upon field recordings of fires made several years ago in Odense, Denmark and Parkfield, California. Other sounds include acoustic objects, small electronics, and some instruments, and the compositional approach to repetition and slow evolution, attempts to engage Reich’s text as well.

My hope is that these “fire-sites” will offer a location for casual listening, less a destination and more a kind of “happening upon”… where one might stop to sit around the fire, and get lost in the resonant “flames”. The works seek to create spaces of pause, towards active listening and quiet mediation.”