Surprise. Negative-Positive. Macro-Micro. Organic. Ambiguity. Recognition. Pulse. Red.
These words describe both the thematic and physical attributes of this installation and represent ideas which I have been working with for some time yet in quite different physical manifestations. In my painting practice prior to making Tensile, it was increasingly important for the work to envelope the space and immerse the viewer. In this project, I am landing in a place that embraces that hybrid space between painting and spatial, site-based exploration. At the same time in this project, I am exploring the concept of devising a repeatable ‘wall-work’ kit. This installation is an exercise in conceiving and executing an installation that could be both re-created and re-installed by someone other than myself, thus a complete documentation, instruction guide and purchasable certificate is part of the process and the final outcome.
Having for years mined Prussian and indigo blue, in Tensile I make an about-face and embrace bright red, vibrant red, dramatic red, passionate red, un-gentle red. By using this colour, it is my intent to bring to mind flesh in its glow, corporal pulse in its depth, blood in the veins. In front of a large wall painted an intense shade of red (Benjamin Moore’s Neon Red 2087-10 -eggshell), I pin a large origami-like folded swath of seamless paper, which cascades diagonally downwards from a high point on the right. The paper is digitally printed with the exploded view of a microscopic section of a moon jellyfish, and the surface of the paper takes on the ‘appearance of skin, porous and pitted, effervescent and shadowy, veined and torn. The bottom of the folded paper splays across and outwards from the base of the wall, allowing the folds to create cavities and cavernous hollows, and allowing the tears and perforations to reveal the red wall behind. A light is hidden in the lower left fold, reflecting upwards to create a dance of light and shadow in relation to the variable sized tears in the material. The light also causes the red wall to reflect onto the back of the material, creating a soft, glowing blush.
This realized iteration of Tensile was installed for a few months into the lobby of 401 Richmond St. West, a heritage building with a lively, creative community of businesses and artists as both tenants and visitors. In an area primarily used as a waiting, resting or launching place – in other words, a static environment – I want the installation to emanate both movement and transition. I also want to engage the viewer in a game of perception whereby they partially recognize what they are seeing, and are partially confounded by it. I want to create a sense of push-pull generated between negative and positive space with the saturated red wall pulsing through the tears and the gaping wounds rendered into the folded structure. The suggestion is that this is an ambiguously organic and biological entity presenting a dynamic, energetic force within an otherwise static space, thus prompting engagement and a closer look.
401 Richmond St. West, Toronto, Winter 2013