In conjunction with Hauser & Wirth’s presentation of the work of Avery Singer at Frieze LosAngeles, the artist will join Hammer Museum curator Aram Moshayedi for a conversation “[exploring] Singer’s distinctive use of digital tools, including 3D modeling software, her deft engagement with established traditions of archival documentation, and her groundbreaking techniques that she uses to question the ways in which images and their distribution are increasingly informed by new media and technologies.”*
The whole MANIFESTOS series is created this way: I put manifestos that I come across in a research file. And then I translate the text of each manifesto into musical notation. All the letters of the alphabet from A to G are converted directly into musical notation. So if the letter A pops up, then that’s translated into the note A. I also translate H as B flat, which is part of a Baroque tradition… All of the letters that are not notes becoming resting silent beats…
The whole idea, of course, is that the music is not produced subjectively. It’s produced following the system. The uncanny thing is that sound is subjectively realized. That happens because of the notational system; it’s a diatonic scale. The notational system is intuitive to anybody familiar with Western music… The listener finds the music meaningful regarding content and representation but fully understands there is no intention to produce meaning, or that the music is an expression of the artist… Whoever’s listening is making the meaning, because we’ve been trained to make those links. In other words, our cultural learning is producing our comprehension of the sound. That’s crucial to all my work. I’m arguing that the idea of the subjective imagination is an ideology, it’s not a fact. — Charles Gaines*
In conjunction with the exhibition CHARLES GAINES—PALM TREES AND OTHER WORKS, the artist’sMANIFESTOS 3—”a multimedia installation that functions as a systematic transliteration of two revolutionary manifestos into musical notation”—will be performed by pianist RichardValitutto at Hauser and Wirth in Los Angeles.
An interpretation of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1967 speech at Newcastle University and James Baldwin’s 1957 essay “Princes and Powers”—a report from the famous 1956 Sorbonne conference of black writers—this MANIFESTOS 3 premiere will be followed by a conversation with Gaines and a book signing of the artist’s current exhibitioncatalog.
HA-M-LET—created and performed by Los Angeles-based theater artist Peter Mark—is a “multi-lingual, multimedia performance housed within a projection cube. Sourcing material from Shakespeare’s play, pop internet culture, home videos, and 3D animation, the projected image becomes landscape, body, narrative, and biography—shifting at a rate which pays homage to Hamlet’s own velocity of thought.”*
Presented by CalArts Center for New Performance and Hauser & Wirth, Mark will perform HA-M-LET this week at the gallery’s Arts District location.
When I went to graduate school in the 1960s… I was faced with a dilemma… I was surrounded by ideas about art that I couldn’t identify with. I couldn’t identify with the practice of trying to decide what to put in a painting using a kind of intuition. Or looking at a painting as a vehicle for self-expression. It’s not that I looked down on that, or that I thought it was such a bad idea. It’s just that I wasn’t working in a manner that required that kind of behavior… Then I ran into a person who told me about a couple of books, which I bought and read. One was by the art historian Henri Focillon [1881–1943], called The Life of Forms in Art . The other was a big picture book on Tantric Buddhist art by Ajit Mookerjee [1915–1990]. In those books I began to find things that made sense to me in terms of art production.
[Focillon] had a Platonic perspective, that form was synonymous with number, with mathematics, with structure. And he said that form had a life of its own, had its own reciprocal fitness, had its own autonomous exigency..
This sounds like the tenets of high modernism. I don’t think it followed those tenets in talking about some kind of tautology or self-referential or self-reflexive apparatus. I saw it as a general critique of expressionism, which was central to my problem. I didn’t feel connected with the objects I was making, because when I made them, I wasn’t convinced that there was any connection between my motive to make something and the thing that I made. It just seemed arbitrary to me. I would see painters laboring in front of a painting, trying to decide whether a corner should be red or blue. To me it didn’t make any difference. It could be red or blue, you know? How can they feel good about a judgment that they make? On what basis do they establish this connection? And for the life of me, I couldn’t figure it out.
Focillon gave me the idea that you’re ultimately not the author of the object. You’re more like a vehicle of this realization without an author. With Tantric art I saw visual representation of the same idea. — Charles Gaines*
“Charles Gaines, January 31, 1995,” in ArtCenter Talks: Graduate Seminar, The First Decade1986–1995, edited by Stan Douglas (New York: David Zwirner Books / Pasadena, CA: ArtCenterGraduate Press, 2016), 172–197.