UCR Thesis Exhibition, Cameron Crone
The UCR grad studios are in a motel near the freeway in Riverside. In the central courtyard a swimming pool has been filled in and planted with philodendra and other lush greenery. In Cameron Crone’s second floor studio, a barely reconditioned smallish 1970s space, large photographic images were tacked up on all the walls and two wood constructions occupied the open space in the center.
I recall seeing the edges of several projects in various stages of completion: one was the image below, from Crone’s website, an image titled “Tigers” one in a series called “Stripes.” Cameron told me that the source for this image is a polyester blanket – one of those crazily unreal feeling polyester fluffs that can be invested with any image from Winnie-the-Pooh to, in this case, a sports logo. Crone selects pattern-based images then uses a light pen to connect – and obliterate – the logo, treating them as geometry rather than signifier. I think Crone sees these as shapes which he then connects, calling our attention to them even as he causes them to disappear.
The blanket-shaped consumer goods themselves have a weird relationship to surface – the image we see as surface is in fact embedded throughout the material so that if one cuts into it there is nothing but puff and picture. Crone’s actions on the originary image drawn from these goods heighten the colors and the questioning of surface: I am challenged to hold in one dimension the several layers of imagery both physical and digital.
Like a kid in a candy shop I like the colors and the taste of this work.
(Yes I am leading to the grad show – I uploaded all the images from the Sweeney Gallery exhibition back on Monday, April 20th and have been puzzling my way to approaching them since then. None of this “talking about the work” is very easy, and then perhaps sometimes the words are so easy that they get in the way. It’s a struggle, so I try to be patient. Often I remind myself to start where my experience began: with my body in the space of the work, and how I came to be there. Onward.)
I saw early portions of another project in Crone’s studio, what I saw then became his recent exhibition at Workspace, “Object, Image, Room, Wood, etc.” Holding onto what I saw in his studio becomes impossible faced with my memory of and the photographic images of the Workspace installation. I do know that a piece of white ebony scrap wood has been one of the sources for this and for a few other projects that have become important in Crone’s practice. For the Workspace installation Cameron scanned (or maybe photographed) the surface of this block of white ebony (lovely white base wood with amazing tiger-y black marks, truly lovely wood such as Morgan or Frick might have had a Pullman car paneled in) then made the image huge, cut it into concentric cube-shapes and printed both cutouts onto transparencies. One was mounted on the back wall of the narrow storefront space and one on the front window opposite.
You begin to see the optical confusion that Crone was attempting with this play of flat surfaces that interact and suggest a space between, in this case the space of a gallery which we might enter. When I consider this Workspace project and then think also about the “Stripes” work I get in my head an image of the artist holding an idea in his head as one might hold an object, and turning it one way and another – considering each turn, documenting his findings, adding yet another layer to his understanding and turning again for further questions.
There is more to surface than meets the eye in Crone’s work.
Which brings me to the sculptural objects that I saw in the studio that January day and that you can see in the images above and below and also at the Sweeney: “Wood Wedge” and “Wood Block” both 2010-2011. These continue his questioning by turning the process inside out.
Telling secrets I am, but not spoilers. For “Wood Wedge” Crone made high definition scans of the outsides of a…. small wood wedge – a door-stay type thing – then blew the resulting images up and mounted them on the insides of a plywood wedge structure. Same proportions as the original but much, much larger. Check it out. I know, I know, it sounds simplistic: outside to inside, solid to void, small to large. Think of it rather as simple. A wedge is one of the elemental shapes/structures that we have used for millions of years as a tool, as a structural member, as a shape to worship at. So in this way the sculpture is already affecting my brain and my soul and drawing on my history. Then the notions of inside/outside, surface/mass, one dimensional/three dimensional all fold in on themselves and torque my mind.
Eek, it is as though this object has “moment” or a tendency to rotate – not around a point, but in time and in several additional dimensions, too. Simple in this case becomes elegance.
May I suggest that after our recent age of Baroque excess (or perhaps one we’re still amidst) this work feels like a breath of fresh air?
It’s just 7:00 am on Saturday, April 23. More in a bit. Appointment to go to.