Blogger interviews artist pre-opening. . .
Hurley's Resident Artist DALEK and the Dreamachines
When I first met artist Dalek I was standing in the main gallery space on the Hurley compound in Costa Mesa, California. Their VP of Art and Design Scott Patt was filling me in on Hurley's history and extensive community outreach programming, while we waited to meet James Marshall, Mr. Dalek himself. The gallery was dark but alive with neon lines that shot up in rings from a center point in the floor attached to the ceiling, two walls were painted with free form geometrics connected by an occasional glowing hexagonal shape, anchoring the composition.
The floors were too dark to even distinguish texture, while the two remaining walls were covered in some kind of reflective surface, reminiscent of cloudy circus mirrors. There were also intriguing metallic cylinders with laser cut designs mounted on turntables. Marshall later explains that they are dreamachines, original brainchild of artists Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs, and that the team created them right off instructions that can be found on the Internet. The contraptions are to be lit from within and rotate, projecting light through the holes at a consistent frequency that is supposed to mimic the brain's alpha waves. The spectator, relating to the piece with eyes closed, should experience surrounding colored light patterns, intended to bring about a hypnagogical state. Taken as a whole, the surfaces, forms, and colors created a total environment that felt much like being inside of a video game, come to find out that Disney's 80's remake of TRON was a reference for the installation.
Mr. James Marshall a.k.a. DALEK
Feeling a little spacey and having a hard time focusing on the conversation when the towering artist enters the scene and says to me, " You like it?" and I quickly responded, "Do you?" For me it’s not about liking an artwork, as I struggle with my own definition of aesthetic beauty. He notes that he is seeing the space for the first time and that it demonstrates complicity and complete freedom from ownership—the latter stemming from ideas that the conceptual artists of the 1960s brought to the forefront of defining art. After speaking with Dalek about how the installation itself came about, it becomes clear that this space also represents processes seeking to demystify the creative act, acting as juncture for organic and metallic forms, and offering up a clear slice of contemporary trends that illustrate the marriage of art, design, fashion, music, optics and technology- much like initiatives surf culture and clothing giant Hurley is taking. Employees of the clothing line were culled from various departments to help transform the gallery into a complete environment evoking optical and sensorial based exchanges.
It's interesting to think that in today's contemporary art world, full of collaborations, studio assistants, production teams, and curators, that an artist often has no hand in the production of the physical artwork itself, expanding the idea of the creative act to one of direction, conception and vision. But what about collaboration, participation, and contribution? Art world jargon becoming more and more common under todays conditions. Perhaps they represent waves of ideas present in and out of the art world. It was French artist and icon Marcel Duchamp that noted in a seminar on contemporary aesthetics, Houston, Texas 1957, that the artist is not alone. It is the observer who relates or translates the artwork's qualifications, creating a kind of reciprocal partnership between the artist and observer.
To root that idea in this millennium we need only to look at recent trends of spirituality based practices such as yoga, Tai chi, meditation, scientific shifts towards quantum & wave theories, in addition to social networks, the ominous virtual 'cloud', avatars and even groupons, where ideas of unification, or a collective, rather than "I" based mentality are at the core. The type of collective collaboration that artist Dalek employs in this exhibition expands on such ideas and knowingly or not alludes to the concept of "all one" in exchange for "alone", as not only the spectator but also communities and industries are integrated into the weave of this art work.
James Marshall has big plans for the future and views the Hurley exhibition as a success. Plans for taking this collective collaboration into public spaces is already in the works for Dalek & Hurley, intentions to bump things up a notch by bringing in the people that utilize public spaces to the production process is a natural evolution and spurs further dialogue on art's role in today's world. Thanks Dalek for talking to the Blog!
Hurley’s )(SPACE Gallery
1945 Placentia Avenue
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
All photo credits go to Joanna Grasso.
-Joanna Grasso, Contributing Writer