2015 YEAR IN REVIEW
Psyched to close out the year celebrating all of the personal and professional achievements I was lucky enough to experience that far exceeded any of my hopes, dreams or expectations. From new, impactful work, appearing in two international art fairs, my first piece of permanent public art, and getting married — 2015 was full of milestones and completely off the hook.
In January, I created the first work of art I felt was actually about something — a piece that was related to something beyond me and addressed a larger consciousness. Created in a period of extreme personal and political doubt, ABSOLUTE ZERO was both an abrasive web-based exercise in experiential branding and a standalone meditation focused on fear, doubt and emotional isolation. Extremely cryptic, cold and severe, the work reflects a world more connected than ever yet completely zoned out.
A version of ABSOLUTE ZERO was featured in a group show in the UK a month later as part of Jack Fisher's FR€€ ₮HI₦G$ at the University of Leeds in the STCFTHOTS Gallery. Organized from the curator's Facebook Friends, the exhibition confronted image culture, value and post-capitalist tendencies in social media.
The documentation of the exhibition was new, and one of the most creative things I've ever seen. It was, in form and content, an excellent way to capture the concepts the show directly confronted. It was smart and fun — a blend almost impossible to capture in contemporary art without being corny.
In March, I conceived and coordinated an international project space focusing on IRL/URL exhibitions performed on location titled JETLAG. Operating at the collision of market, merit and access — this hybrid model was dedicated to presenting compelling work in unconventional locations to provide a new context for artists whose work may be under-valued, globally obscured, or who are working on issues that may exist outside of a popular dialogue.
Debut exhibition DEEP WEB NEVERLAND featured over 14 artists and opened in Fahaheel, Kuwait on 3/28 and has, at this writing, been visited by over 2000 people in its digital space hosted on multimedia publishing platform NewHive. Future 2016 exhibition locations include London, NYC, Mumbai, Beijing, Atlanta and Miami.
ABSOLUTE ZERO was included in Library of The Printed Web Volume 3, created and published by Paul Soulellis. Published in an array of forms in May, the project is a snapshot of artists "who use screen capture, image grab, site scrape and search query to create printed matter from content found on the web."
Library of the Printed Web 3 was released digitally on Rhizome with a physical debut at Offprint London as part of Photo London presented by the Tate Modern in the Turbine Hall.
From May-June I was humbled and amazed to contribute digital design direction and social media strategy to the Seattle Art Museum's landmark exhibition DISGUISE: MASKS AND GLOBAL AFRICAN ART.
Yet another form of ABSOLUTE ZERO was featured in BLACK BOX 2.0, an international digital arts festival that featured a spectrum of artists exhibiting in industrial shipping containers, white cube galleries, black box movie theaters, your living room, and a building on the verge of destruction.
Black Box was organized independently by Aktionsart - a new art and technology nonprofit based in the Pacific Northwest. The festival was created and founded in 2014 by Julia Fryett who continues to connect art & technology interests in Seattle and beyond.
In June I successfully integrated form, content and concept to create INTERFACE — after a long rocky and road full of failure. Derived from the molecular form of silicon, the basis of glass and data storage, the work suggests that a digitally driven world may be our high-speed connection to a more expansive universal other. On a fabricated aluminum pallet with a familiar MacBook Pro feel, it's simultaneously the software of perception presented on an ubiquitous shipping commodity and a standalone tech-geometric sculpture.
Along with ABSOLUTE ZERO, INTERFACE was exhibited at the inaugural Seattle Art Fair with PUNCH Gallery and SEASON, respectively. Not only was I psyched to see my work in an international art fair but to share the exhibition hall alongside contemporaries and colleagues like Platform Gallery, James Harris Gallery, Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, and Greg Kucera Gallery (Seattle), Upfor (Portland) in addition to bitforms, PACE, Gagosian, David Zwirner, Zürcher Gallery (New York) and Charlie James Gallery (Los Angeles) + many others.
Impossibly, INTERFACE was chosen to grace the cover of the 2015 College Art Association Directory of Graduate Programs in Visual Arts paired with the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, Rome, 18–12 BCE, on the companion edition for art history. It's insane to see my work, a thing I made, in a conceptual diptych with a structure from antiquity. The past and the future united around the same form reflecting perhaps even similar truths. Since I never went to graduate school and have always pursued my own knowledge, it's safe to say I never saw that coming. Crazy.
On October 17, I married my longtime girlfriend Rian Robison in front of a neon illuminated tower we designed as part of ceremony with the strongest community of family and friends we have ever known. In short, a spell was cast in that room.
Literally two weeks later, monumental neon-illuminated telecom tower TRYLON (as it became known) was permanently installed outside the Main Art Building in Laramie (41.3167° N, 105.5833°) at the University of Wyoming from November 2-6. Based on concepts I've been realizing for the past five years, the tower was designed and engineered in partnership with Chris Blanchard and built by a team of collaborators including Head Fabricator Lars Borgeson, Assistant Professor of Art David Jones and Western Neon. David, Denver-based freelance Art Technician Anthony Teneralli and myself completed the final fabrication and onsite preparations at the sculpture studios outside the School of Art.
To be honest, I'd like to populate the American West with them. They're like a form of psychic countersurveillance that not only realign the skyline, but perhaps our values with it. In the end, TRYLON is a standalone site-specific intervention that combines analog sculptural form with the warmth of neon to disrupt contemporary feelings of what ‘being connected’ means in a digital age. It asserts that universal truths and cycles have a power and presence. That we might see each other as people just like us as opposed to something we swipe left, unfollow or delete.
I was super pumped to represent Seattle in Brian Doben's At Work Project featuring artists, sumo wrestlers, taxi drivers, and postdoctoral research fellows - among many other disciplines - working in places like LA, NYC, Mumbai, and Tokyo. Totally a fluke and extremely honored to be a part of this amazing endeavor.
What can I say, somehow I was able to cap off the year by showing a five year retrospective of my work in CARS IN A CIRCLE at PULSE Contemporary Art Fair with SEASON in Miami as part of the events surrounding the 2015 edition of Art Basel — with a KILLER shout out on NewHive? Seriously, WTF?!
I exhibited a selected body of work ranging between 2011-2015, each piece representing an aspect of my studio practice investigating what it means to be human in a data-driven world. It was pivotal to show this collection of blown glass, fabricated steel and multilayered neon to connect the dots between a broken home and Blade Runner. How a gangly, precocious teen spirit spent an alcohol and drug-fueled adolescence trying to escape the backwoods of Anywhere, U.S.A. and onto another planet. It's like I showed all this disparate work to see how it all relates, close this chapter and finally walk away from it into the future.
Opening in early 2016 at Seattle's Glass Box Gallery, NOT A HOLOGRAM will be the first exhibition of my work in a dedicated new direction that considers the Anthropocene, late-capitalist ecology, artificial life, and posthuman contemporary existence as they relate to the moral aesthetics of survival in a burgeoning Neo-feudalist society.
The work is a multi-pronged, material-based critique of quotidian digital and analog life but really exists in the rendered third space of hyperreality itself. It's the irony and absolute banality of what it means to exist right now. Like junk mail, it's a call to action and a blow to the head. The work is teeming with existential meaning and completely idiotic — just like the Internet. NOT A HOLOGRAM opens February 4, 2016 in Seattle at Glass Box Gallery.
Thank you for everyone who has and does support what I do and how I do it. I will forever be indebted to you. Keep it in motion and always remain PSYCHED. Happy New Year!