Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Drip the Paint Fantastic






Drip the Paint Fantastic

By Tom Wachunas
 

    EXHIBIT: ACTION & ACCIDENT: Paintings by Cecily Kahn, Main Hall Art Gallery at Kent State University At Stark, 6000 Frank Ave. NW, North Canton, THROUGH NOVEMBER 30 / Gallery hours Mon.-Fri. 11 AM to 5 PM, Sat. 10 AM to Noon  www.cecilykahn.com

    “What goes on in abstract art is the proclaiming of aesthetic principles... It is in our own time that we have become aware of pure aesthetic considerations. Art never can be imitation.”  -Hans Hoffman

    The above observation by Hans Hoffman is an invitation to consider  motivations and meaning in the 20th century emergence of nonobjective abstract painting. The casual viewer might understandably regard contemporary abstract art as an abandonment of the standards and definitions that had traditionally guided the art of painting. Those standards were at one point largely driven by the presumption that painting should be the skilled representation or even improvement of recognizable reality. This gave rise to centuries of masterful artifice, to be sure, but illusionism just the same, and certainly nothing that photography wouldn’t eventually accomplish.
   Still, much of Modernist abstraction was not so much a forsaking of aesthetic principles as it was the inevitable liberation of the painted picture plane from the formal constraints of imitation. Painting was finally freed to declare a basic truth of itself - pigments on a flat, two-dimensional surface. By the time the Abstract Expressionists arrived during the 1950s, markmaking, which is to say the overall configuration of lines, shapes and colors, had become an intuitive process that was in effect an unashamed surrender to the substance and properties of paint, the physicality of gesture and brushstroke, and an otherwise apparent empathy with chance and accident.
     These painters (as opposed to the reductive Minimalists who undermined the meaning of meaning, as it were, by rejecting emotive or metaphorical content in their works) generated a visual language of essences that transcended the duplication of incidentals from “the real world.” Think of it as evolving a highly expressive visual language comprised of many dialects.
     I think of painter Cecily Kahn, a resident of Manhattan, as eloquently “speaking” a uniquely urban dialect. And while her works gathered for this exhibit indicate a kinship with the Abstract Expressionists, the surface tactility and vibrant palette of her oil paintings (aside from her nine luminously liquid gouache pieces) suggest a  subcategory one might call Abstract Impressionism, as in impressions of urban energy, both visceral and evanescent.
    A dominant characteristic of these paintings is the sense of tension between colors and shapes, as if suspended in moments of flux. Clusters of concentrated activity – repeated linear elements, generous daubs and dots of paint, organic shapes of varying sizes – seem to rise from and/or disappear into fields of color poured on to the surface and allowed to leave intersecting drip trails. Exclamatory patterns emerge from amorphous “background” expanses. Through it all there is a great degree of painterly wit, often evidenced by the interplay of negative and positive shapes and space.  
    These works draw a fascinating bead on the oscillating pulse of a sprawling island city that never sleeps. I see them as suggesting, without literally illustrating, the urban milieu – shifting topographies of mechanical traffic and pedestrian movements, the variable geography and architecture, the nearness to water.  Look long enough and you might even get the sense that Kahn doesn’t just see contrasting rhythms and motion threaded through ever-present structures, but also hears ephemeral harmonies in the cacophony, and savors periods of quiet amid frenetic noise. New York, New York…there’s always melody in the mayhem.

    PHOTOS, from top: untitled oil on panel; untitled oil on panel; untitled oil on panel; untitled oil on linen; Surf, oil on linen

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Soulful Elegance of Sean Qualls






The Soulful Elegance of Sean Qualls

By Tom Wachunas

    EXHIBIT: A Brief History of Things Seen Only in Shadows – published and unpublished work by illustrator Sean Qualls, at Translations Art Gallery THROUGH NOVEMBER 29, 331 Cleveland Avenue NW, downtown Canton. Gallery hours are Wed. – Sat. noon to 5 p.m.  www.translationsart.com

    Lest you think the title of this exhibit hints at things too cryptic, two good places to start in appreciating its aesthetic scope (the show is something of a retrospective, actually) are the artist’s web site at www.seanqualls.com and Dan Kane’s excellent Repository article from November 6: http://www.cantonrep.com/article/20141105/ENTERTAINMENT/141109590/10558/ENTERTAINMENT  
    The world of haute art can be a divisive enough place wherein “illustrators” are still sometimes viewed disparagingly, as if the practice of illustrating is an inferior or insignificant aspiration when compared to “real painting.” I can still remember a college art teacher looking at an ambitious painting by a fellow student who was clearly influenced by Norman Rockwell. With a dismissive wave of his hand, the pompous professor said, “That’s not painting, that’s a magazine cover.” So much for intelligent critique.
    Not that the children’s book illustrations by Brooklyn, New York-based artist Sean Qualls should or could be compared to Rockwellian Americana. But make no mistake, Qualls’ mixed media works (mostly combinations of acrylic, collage and pencil on paper) function quite effectively both as tactile illuminations (so ok, illustrations if you insist) of specific narratives (many of them historical in nature) as well as remarkably striking, stand-alone images.
    While most of them were made to be pages for books about particular individuals such as great jazz artists John Coltrane and Ella Fitzgerald, others are Qualls’ more personal probings of racial identity. A Brief History of Stepinfetchit, for example, is a potent, earth-toned emblem that asks and answers “what’s in a name?” Indeed, as the adopted moniker of a film actor became synonymous with “lazy negro,” this starkly poetic work transcends stereotypical associations and reveals that Mr. Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry was anything but.
   In the simply configured Mother Theresa, the ideological focal point of compassionate service to the needy is certainly clear enough and charmingly rendered. Yet the most important points of visual impact in the work are the  red brush marks that appear to float on the right side of the large empty background of grayish blues. These painterly marks might seem isolated, perhaps even accidental. But in fact they’re vital, abstract unifying elements, activating the blue field in a way that ties it to the dominant red horizontal wave at the bottom.
    This sort of compositional economy and elegance – an impeccable design sensibility - occurs consistently throughout the exhibit. Pieces such as John at Home and Before John Was a Jazz Giant, with their playful variety of organic and geometric shapes rhythmically harmonized through connecting colors, bring to mind the serenity and balance that the great modernist Henri Matisse achieved with his representations of interior spaces.      
    Finally, there’s the distinctive palette that Qualls employs. For the most part, his hues are tinted to a low intensity, washing his scenarios with a haunting softness, and reminiscent of the moody color shifts you might encounter in films when the story cuts away from present reality to a character’s memory of a past event or distant place. So while many of Qualls’ images are imbued with an ethereal sense of remembrance, they nonetheless possess a palpable immediacy, and a vitality that makes them feel timeless.

    PHOTOS, from top: A Brief History of Stepinfetchit; Mother Theresa; John at Home; Little Cloud Dreaming; Before John Was a Jazz Giant      

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sublime Artistry from Canton Symphony Soloists


Sublime Artistry From Canton Symphony Soloists

By Tom Wachunas 

    What is it about witnessing a live performance of orchestral music that makes it so uniquely…magical? While the advanced technology of digital recordings these days can certainly produce thoroughly engaging aural experiences, there’s still much to recommend the notion that seeing is believing.
   So it is that the eclectic program, conducted by Gerhardt Zimmermann for the November 2 performance by the Canton Symphony Orchestra (CSO) at Umstattdt Performing Arts Hall, was specifically designed to spotlight various soloists from the ensemble - to let them literally stand and be seen as they soared. And that they did with astonishing technical and interpretive finesse.
    Featured in Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Violins in a minor, No. 8, were CSO first violinist Rachel Sandman and principal second violinist Solomon Liang. From the propulsive episodes of the first movement and through to the ebullient finale, their shimmering, warm tonalities were nothing short of hypnotic. The interweaving of their respective turns leading and accompanying, particularly in the plaintive solemnity of the central movement with its high lyrical melody lines, was seamless. Throughout the work, they played with inspired unity of purpose, making all the more  palpable an uncanny sense of completing each other’s lyrical sentences.
    That same sensibility was clearly evident among the soloists for the remainder of the program. CSO Concertmaster Justine Lamb-Budge was joined by principal flutist Katherine DeJongh and harpsichordist Parker Ramsey for Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5. While the soloists certainly performed with all the virtuosic grace and vigor that Bach invested in the work, the overall presentation here was not without its problematic moments. Beyond the too-slow tempo of the third movement, casting a somewhat sterile pall over the ensemble, there was the more significant challenge of hearing the harpsichord, a major component in this work. At issue was the instrument itself. Its sound was often so diaphanous as to be nearly inaudible in the mix with other instruments. Still, during the monumental (65 bars!) harpsichord cadenza in the first movement, the audience was bedazzled enough. We even seemed to have stopped breathing as we leaned forward to savor Ramsey’s riveting dexterity.
    The marvelous playing by flutist DeJongh, Meghan Guegold (principal French horn), Terry Orcutt (principal oboe) and Todd Jelen (principal bassoon) combined for a tour-de-force of brilliant expressivity in Sinfonia Cocertante For Winds in E-Flat Major, a work credited to Mozart, though historians still speculate as to whether or not it is wholly a Mozart composition. In any case, aside from sheer technical prowess, the operative word here was playing, and with jubilant energy. The quartet was situated in an arc across the middle of the stage, and watching the frolicsome, lucid interplay among the musicians – seeing their nuanced, fluid cueing from one to the other through many intricate arpeggios – was mesmerizing in itself.
    The program concluded on a more modern but equally mesmerizing note with Variaciones Concertantes (1953), a twelve-section work of remarkable vitality by Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera. The slow, somewhat mournful opening theme was established by harp and cello, forming the foundation for the rich variations that followed. Those were crisply articulated here with emotive intensity by a variety of instruments that act as characters in an unfolding dance. They included animated sprints from the flute; shadowy accents from clarinet, oboe and bassoon; a gripping viola solo; alternately electrifying and serene interludes from the trumpet, trombone and horn; and a stunning melodic whirlwind from the violin. After a strange yet beautiful pairing of harp with double bass in a reprise of the main theme, the full ensemble followed with an invigorating malambo, a competitive gaucho dance that was a recurring element in Ginastera’s compositions.
    The music finally built into a repetition of notes that suggested the joyous thumping of feet amid exhilarating ensemble flourishes. In all, a fitting end to a program that celebrated compelling instrumental artistry.


    PHOTO, left to right: Solomon Liang, Terry Orcutt, Todd Jelen, Meghan Guegold, Gerhardt Zimmermann, Katherine DeJongh, Justine Lamb-Budge, Rachel Sandman

Monday, November 3, 2014

Quo Vadimus?



Quo Vadimus?
By Tom Wachunas
 

“Postmodernism: The cultural condition marked by the absolute gratification of human desires and the absolute neglect of human needs.”                  ― Peter K. Fallon

    “Amusing and perfectly self-conscious charlatans.” – Noam Chomsky

    “Postmodernity is said to be a culture of fragmentary sensations, eclectic nostalgia, disposable simulacra, and promiscuous superficiality, in which the traditionally valued qualities of depth, coherence, meaning, originality, and authenticity are evacuated or dissolved amid the random swirl of empty signals.” ― Jean Baudrillard


    Leave it to the French to come up with memorably lofty expressions of disapproval. The above quote from social and cultural critic Jean Baudillard is a fine example – “…disposable simulacra, and promiscuous superficiality…the random swirl of empty signals.”  Such elevated language! And who could forget the hilariously messy confrontation between English knights and French soldiers in the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” wherein one irritated Frenchman sneers at his enemies from high atop his castle wall, “I fart in your general direction.” Precious. Stretch the context a bit, and that snooty epithet could arguably describe the mindset of not only many viewers but also makers of contemporary art.
    Speaking of Frenchmen with an attitude, there’s Marcel Duchamp and his 1917 Fountain – a porcelain urinal offered as a work of art. I have often commented on this work as one man’s intentional crossing into utterly new and rocky aesthetic terrain – a harbinger of Modernism’s radical redefining of art.
     Signed “R. Mutt 1917” in black, like so much scrawling on lavatory walls, the work always suggested to me just how pissed off, so to speak, Duchamp  was at the impotence and irrelevance of the sacrosanct idealizations touted by the academic art world.  For that matter, so were many other upstart European artists at that time as well as during the previous 50 or 60 years.
    All of the above is by way of setting up a breach of my self-imposed blogging protocol to tell you something about my piece currently on view in the Stark County Artists Exhibition at Massillon Museum. While it’s called A Brief History of Modern Art, in retrospect the overarching “message” of my 3D drawing would be largely unchanged had I inserted “Postmodernism” in place of “Modern Art.” This is because I regard Postmodernism, an open-ended, catch-all term generally designating contemporary culture after 1970 or so, not as embracing anything “original” (and only superficially “new”), but rather as deconstructing and/or re-assessing the 20th century philosophies and cultural practices (which were in turn largely reactionary in nature) that preceded it. I think of Postmodernism as if it were the complicated, even troubled stepchild that views parent Modernism like an ordinary found object.
    So yes, my piece is derivative, but what art isn’t these days? (I can see right now that another post will be needed to further explain my thoughts on originality.) I incorporated three nearly identical vacuum cleaner undercarriages not necessarily as a snarky code for “modern art sucks,” though I can fully appreciate how such an association could be made, as a few folks have suggested recently. I simply found their convoluted forms to be visually intriguing and otherwise appropriate abstract symbols of the complex ideas embodied in Modernism/Postmodernism.
    Retracing all those intersecting and abutted shapes, volumes and planes with graphite on the middle unit – drawing on top of the pre-existing drawing, as it were – represents a dominant tendency in contemporary art toward recapitulating itself into a kind of Classicism in its own right, like sculpting in marble. Hence the faux stone effect of the unit on the right.
    These words from around 3,000 years ago come to mind: What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here before our time…” (Ecclesiastes 1: 9-10)    
    Quo vadimus… where does our art (my own included) go from here? I’ve no idea. But wherever it is, I’m fairly sure it’ll be déjà vu all over again.

    TOP PHOTO: Fountain by Marcel Duchamp

Friday, October 24, 2014

Every Story Tells A Picture





Every Story Tells A Picture

By Tom Wachunas

    “You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”  - Ray Bradbury
    “From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend on reading it.” 
-Grouch Marx
    “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” –Stephen King


    EXHIBIT: OUT OF PRINT (An Upcycled Exploration of books and text into configurations of Fine Art), by Pam Neff, at The Little Art Gallery, THROUGH NOVEMBER 9, 185 North Main Street, North Canton, www.ncantonlibrary.org

    How fitting a location for this show – a gallery in a library. Here is a  gathering of 62 pieces by Pam Neff that are comprised of or derived from recycled (you could say recovered and re-covered) books. Their pages have been cut, curled, collaged and otherwise coiffed into images and forms that tantalize in a variety of ways.
    Books being what they are, there is not surprisingly a generous sprinkling of word play at work, particularly by way of puns and double intenders, so to speak. Generally, the titles of Neff’s pieces offer easy enough handles for grasping the content/intent of a piece, or getting the joke as the case may be.
    Some of her treatments are quite literal (some might say cute). Rock Paper Scissors or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn are good examples. Likewise the titles of her four elegant 3D vignettes of tiny wooden mannequins attached to open books - their pages fancifully blossoming outward, origami style -  tell the tale: A Real Cliffhanger, Relaxing With a Good Book, In the Middle of a Good Book, A Real Page Turner. This is certainly not to say that such works are visually bland or too simplistic.
    Neff is an inventive designer of TEXTures blended into hybrid, often humorous forms – part sculpture, part picture or collage – that can tickle the brain. Trike is a triptych drawing of a tricycle spanning the covers of three books (one of which with the photo of a boy child and his tricycle) arranged in a triangle on the wall. But if you look at the titles on the outer binding of the books, one is “General Ike.” So then a word game might evolve. General Eisenhower’s tricycle? As in triangle, tricycle, Iketrike. Get the picture?
    Still, our experience of a given artwork need not be restricted by its title.  A work’s title isn’t so much an end-all disambiguation, but rather one (and not the only) plausible pathway to its meaning. The most engaging works here are those that seem to allow, even encourage free-association with the title and materials at hand. In that sense, the invigorating undercurrent of this exhibit is one of unfettered playfulness.
    Additionally, the incorporation of vintage photographs in many of the works delivers a nostalgic dimensionality – a sense of recalling and perhaps even longing for bygone days. I left the gallery prompted to all the more savor the memories of being deeply, personally affected by the people, places and things ARTiculated in books. All kinds of books. Real books, with their heft and tactility and very aroma that have the uncanny capacity to transfix and transform.
    And transport. Neff’s austere floor sculpture, an upright ring of paperbacks titled Out of Circulation, brings to mind the circular gateway to other worlds featured in the 1997-2011 sci-fi television series, “Stargate SG-1.” It’s an apt metaphor for how books, opened and read, might then open us to the possibility of journeying to alternative planes of being. Birds Nest, with its paper cutout bird (itself a somewhat unnecessary visual element) nestled on a bed of shredded paper cut from and into the body of an opened book, is invested with a similar spirit.
    In many ways then, the entire exhibit is indeed an impressive expansion of this metaphor. Books, as physical entities, can generate metaphysical experiences. And isn’t that a hallmark – or bookmark, if you will - of the most satisfying art?

    PHOTOS (from top): Out of Circulation; A Real Cliff Hanger (left) and A Real Page Turner; Birds Nest; Trike

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Strained Credibility






Strained Credibility

By Tom Wachunas
 

    The contemporary thing in art and literature is the thing which doesn't make enough difference to the people of that generation so that they can accept it or reject it.”  - Gertrude Stein

    “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear…” –lyric by Spephen Stills, 1966, from “For What It’s Worth”

    EXHIBITION: Stark County Artists Exhibition, at Massillon Museum, THROUGH JANUARY 4, 2015 / 121 Lincoln Way E., downtown Massillon  www.massillonmuseum.org  (330-833-4061)


    For those of you who have not read the review of this show by artist/blogger Judi Krew, I provide this link: http://snarkyart.blogspot.com/2014/10/stark-county-artists-exhibition-2014.html  Like her, I too have a piece in this annual juried exhibit, for which I am deeply grateful as always, and one of these days I might break my self-imposed rule against using ARTWACH to speak of my own work and devote a post to it. The jury’s still out on that one, so to speak.
    Meanwhile, let me also add that there is nothing in Krew’s assessment with which I take issue, and in fact I feel compelled to re-iterate some of her larger points. You will notice the thick black redaction lines through some of her text. I understand that this was done so that her critique wouldn’t be taken as “too mean,” though for the most part I think a reader could fill in the blanks reasonably well enough. I, on the other hand, will let fly my heart and leave it to you to discern the character of its trajectory.
    Jurors of group shows can often be easy targets for second guessing, especially from rejected artists, and it’s usually a fool’s errand to complain or berate their choices too much. But more than any other Stark County show in recent memory, this one practically begs for it.
   So I’ll not overly indulge in subjective dickering about which artists received which awards (Best In Show, Second Place, Third Place and two Honorable Mentions). Besides, there are no surprises here, which is not to say I agree with all of them. In fact, one wouldn’t necessarily need a printed program at all to see how the jurors had tipped their hand before the official awards announcement at the opening reception on October 4. It was simply a matter of probability.  Do the math (which Krew lays out quite sensibly in her comments). Of the 34 artists represented, five artists had all three of their submissions accepted into the show when one piece chosen for the exhibit was ample enough demonstration of their skill and unique vision. Of those five artists, four were awarded something.
    Award winners notwithstanding, the general quality of the artworks throughout the exhibit – whether in content, craft, or both – is wildly inconsistent. Of the 48 pieces on view, I noted about ten pinnacles of mediocrity - an unusually high percentage, it seems to me. Such wholly unremarkable works simply should not have been included, and I shudder to think how many other more deserving works didn’t make it into to this surprisingly sparse showcase.
    All that said, there are more than a few entries that merit praise and attention. In the realm of clay, Laura Donnelly’s stoneware plate, Three Rabbit Day (Second Place), is a fine example of elegant ceramic exactitude. But the raku bowl by Paulette Bartenstein, A Feast of Crows, is considerably more compelling if only for its visceral rendering of the birds and iridescent glazing.
   Amid the photographic entries, Michael Barath’s black and white Phoenix is an especially arresting double exposure. And Judi Krew’s  Mother and Child: Forgotten is a haunting view of an arched chamber aglow with ethereal light, like a softly colored mausoleum fallen into ruin.
    The three paintings by Pamela Glover Wadsworth (one, Buttondown Bravado, awarded Third Place) constitute a prime example of the aforementioned jury overload (and certainly no fault of the artist). While her paintings deftly embrace the influence of several Abstract Expressionists of the 1950s-1960s, I was more drawn to the relatively less derivative acrylic painting by Sherri Hornbrook, Conversation Grid, with its boldly colored spatial ambiguities, and witty interplay of patterns and contemporary glyphs.  
   Overall, this is indeed a STARK display, right down to the almost complete absence of sculpture. To make matters worse for the few sculptures that are present, Kelly Stoddard’s abstract steel Ataxia has been shoved against a wall into a corner like an afterthought;  Lindsay Bryan’s delicately cut and printed paper Waves (Honorable Mention) has been shoddily tacked and taped into the same corner (the work would be much better served by a creative way to suspend it in open space); and the three utterly enchanting clay figurines by Jennifer Avers Benson (one of which, Beech Street Spirit, earned an Honorable Mention) have been grouped together atop a hideous, bulky wooden cabinet. Where’s an appropriately placed pedestal when you need one?
    Interestingly enough, the sheer emptiness of the expansive gallery floor, combined with the generally neutral look and feel of the walls, conjures an eerie impression of an empty ballroom, awaiting the arrival of spectacularly attired guests. Ah well, maybe next year the dance will be more grand.

    PHOTOS, from top: Conversation Grid by Sherri Hornbrook; Waves by Lindsey Bryan; Birch Tree Spirit by Jennifer Avers Benson; A Feast of Crows by Paulette Bartenstein; Mother and Child: Forgotten by Judi Krew    

Monday, October 13, 2014

Trending Now...Some Assembly Required






 Trending Now…Some Assembly Required
By Tom Wachunas


    EXHIBIT: TrendFACTORY: Stark – Prints by Leslie Mutchler, THROUGH OCTOBER 27, Main Hall Art Gallery, Kent State University at Stark, 6000 Frank Avenue NW, North Canton. Gallery hours are Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. / Sat. 10 a.m.-Noon

For more information contact Jack McWhorter at 330.244.3356 jmcwhort@kent.edu or  Leslie Mutchler web site at  http://www.lesliemutchler.com/TrendFACTORY2.html

    Note to my students: If you decide to write your paper on this exhibit, I suggest reviewing the chapter on Alternative Media. Give special attention to Conceptual Art and Installation Art, which will hopefully spark some connections.
    Billing this as an exhibit of prints by artist Leslie Mutchler, an assistant professor teaching 2D and 3D Foundations at the University of Texas at Austin, is only a little deceptive to the extent that it could set up an expectation of seeing a traditional display of fine art prints. While there is an “edition” of images here, in the form of triangular patterns printed on multiple cardboard sheets gathered into wall-mounted racks, they’re actually a secondary focal point. Here, assuming the posture of the casual, passive observer might prove unsatisfying if not inappropriate. This installation is a hands-on collaborative experience – an assembly plant of sorts, designed so that viewers become active makers.
     After following the artist’s general instructions (posted in very large text on a wall and demonstrated in a video loop) for assembling her 2D prints into a 3D form, paricipants then enter the digital world by photographing their constructions and emailing the picture to the posted tumblr address. The last step in the process is to disassemble the form and leave the remains on the floor of the gallery for “recycling” (though for whom or for what purpose is not made clear).
    Mutchler’s printed designs aren’t particularly remarkable art works per se so much as elements or steps in a larger process. In this context, gallery visitors could regard them as found objects to be appropriated for another purpose. From that perspective, they bring to mind the seminal thinking of Marcel Duchamp and his “readymades” (a term he coined to describe pre-existing, found objects).
    The most notable of those was Fountain (a porcelain urinal he placed on a pedestal) from 1917, which wholly usurped historically established ideas (a pre-existing system) about artistic originality. It was essentially a declaration of the supremacy of the individual artist, not history, in setting the parameters of art.  What he set in motion nearly a century ago is still very much a major component of postmodernist artistic concepts and practices – a “trend” if ever there was one. In commenting on the significance of Duchamp’s employment of appropriation, critic Hal Foster wrote in 1985, “…the artist becomes a manipulator of signs more than a producer of art objects, and the viewer an active reader of messages rather than a passive contemplator of the aesthetic or consumer of the spectacle.”  
    I think Foster’s assessment captures the overarching spirit of this installation. On one level, TrendFACTORY could be seen as a metaphor for how we embrace given (or found) systems of manufacturing, delivery and consumption of a product. Further, there is the suggestion/implication that the making and dissemination of art is a social act.
   Evidence of the collaboration with Mutchler will ultimately exist not as a material object for display in a brick-and-mortar gallery, but on line as a virtual symbol of individualized decisions. Uploading a symbol of the maker’s activity in effect imprints the internet with the maker’s presence, which is of course itself an ongoing, ubiquitous trend these days. If you participate, you might consider your virtual sculpture as a surrogate selfie.