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The Orange Sweater, A Painting by Elmer Bischoff – by Dominic Quagliozzi

Bischoff’s states his ambition for these works, of which Orange Sweater (1955) is a part, to achieve “a condition of form which dissolves all tangible facts into intangibilities of feeling.” – Elmer Bischoff, excerpt from Elmer Bischoff: The Ethics of Paint Last week my life was full of facts, figures, and data sets. For this intense week my being was being defined through numbers and measurables; nothing more than that. Images with grids, and tests with decimal points. Everything that was needed to be known about me could be found on a computer file or a in heavy, thick manila folder with frayed-edged paper and black and blue inked notes. Even as I looked inward at my own thoughts, this kind of sizing up of myself through tangible facts began to dominate my identity. I wasn’t really Dominic that week, I was a file that projected a man: 31 years old, of 5 feet 7 inches, with A positive blood and chest measurements of 33” and the breathing capacity of 19%. I was now a survival rate in a hospital brochure. I wasn’t Dominic—I was a candidate for a double lung transplant at Stanford University Hospital. The intensity of becoming data overflowed by Wednesday night. My evaluations were completed and my wife Debra and I sat heavy or light (I can’t even make up my mind) on the bed with a stunned numbness about the whole experience. The emotions of ME, I, of who I am, cannot be found in or concerned with the raw meat of my body. Emotions are not facts. As the sun rose on Thursday...

James Turrell: A Dissent—Part Two: Four Thoughts on James Turrell, or Where is the Body? By Maya Gurantz

1. Look While the Light and Space artists of the 1970s have occasionally been historicized as “California Minimalism,” Turrell’s recent retrospective at LACMA exposed the gap between the two practices.  The West Coast artists manipulated light, space, surfaces, finish. East Coast Minimalism explicitly considered the body. It developed in intimate conversation with post-modern dance. Robert Morris wrote about the art object as being scaled to the human body: no longer a monument looming over the viewer nor the intricate ornament glimmering in her hand. This human scale shifted the site of the artwork to what passes between the body and the object. Despite the experiential and phenomenological nature of Turrell’s work, in his realm, the body is vestigial. Each piece maintains an ideal viewing position, usually seated. The viewer is meant to sit on the chair or bench—and look, and look, and look. The light installations with their layered, textural beauty become living, trembling color field paintings. The visual information vibrates between the eye and perceiving brain without ever once passing through the body. The body becomes the eye. Not only is the body unnecessary, it is actively interruptive, destructive. A security guard cautioned me not to get my shadow on one of the works. The staging of disembodied visual pleasure falls apart the moment another viewer’s body enters the frame of vision or, God forbid, speaks. This in turn instills feelings of contempt within the viewer for the bodies and voices of fellow museum-goers: how dare these humans ruin my looking? We are not meant to acknowledge the existence of bodies. Nor be in our own body. We...

James Turrell: A Dissent—Part One: Refreshed and Energized: Installation, Subjectivity and the Spa Experience by Maura Brewer

In the catalog James Turrell: A Retrospective, Michael Govan describes Turrell’s ongoing artistic inquiry into the gap between “internal” subjective experience and “external” objective phenomena. This idea manifests in Turrell’s light installations as visual experiments that capitalize on the perceptual instability of color. The blue of the sky, seen through an open window, becomes green, purple, or red depending on a changing set of choreographed lighting effects. The inherent variability of color undermines the fiction of a stable, enduring “external” reality, and the consequences are meant to be revelatory: a transcendent merging of self and other, the act of “removing the distance between the perceiver and the object in order to see ‘truth’…”1 Turrell’s work, according to Govan, speaks to the radical dislocation of the perceiving self. His reading of Turrell hews closely to contemporary and postmodern ideas about the relativity of knowledge, and the instability of the subject position. Govan suggests that Turrell is engaged in the production of a kind of strategic disorientation or disturbance of his audience.2 And to be sure, certain accounts of Turrell’s work conform to Govan’s analysis – his museum retrospective in 1980 ended in several lawsuits when visitors became dizzy, resulting in sprained wrists and broken arms.3 But there is another way to understand Turrell – a reading that has cropped up in the press around his exhibitions in LA and New York. This interpretation deemphasizes the dislocating effects of vision, and focuses instead on a kind of holistic immersion, the ultimate aim of which is a therapeutic re-centering of body and mind. In a recent LA Times article, Deborah Vankin describes...

Palm Springs and the Movies – Paul Pescador

I drive into Palm Springs, it’s early January and I’m down to see a friend from high school, someone I haven’t seen in years. I’m also there to see family, as my previous trip home, a quickie which only lasted 48 hours, didn’t go over well with my mother. On my way into the city, I pass by the Cabazon dinosaurs; these large sculptures, a 100 ton Tyrannosaurus rex and a 150 ton Apatosaurus. These structures have been used as backdrops in many films, including Paris, Texas (1984) and The Wizard (1993). I drive by hundreds of windmills alongside the mountains. I used to go hiking up those mountains. The last time I was in middle school and went with my father. We got separated from our hiking troop and were lost for hours. We were eventually found by a park ranger, after a minor search party had been sent out for us. I continue my drive and pass by Toucans, a tropical-themed gay bar, and a California Pizza Kitchen, you know what that is, and I meet my friend on the downtown strip. She insists that we go crystal shopping, so we go. She buys a clear one, which is suppose to help her with anxiety and will cleanse her chakras; and I buy a purple one, because I think it’s pretty. We walk by Forever Marilyn, a statue by Seward Johnson of the actress Marilyn Monroe. Originally installed in Chicago, Seward’s Marilyn and was moved to Palm Springs in 2012. The 26-foot tall Marilyn stands in the center of downtown in her iconic white dress from the...