Friday, January 27, 2012

Lineage

I visited the Crane House today to check out our fellow classmate, Marcus Siu's installation.  His installation was complemented by a gallery of his father's, Siu Hao-ming.  Siu Hao-ming's gallery consisted of long exposure photography transferred on to aluminum.  Marcus's intstallation was in a room of a considerable size with the floor covered in packed down dirt.  Towards the center of the room, pine needles were inserted into the dirt to look like grass.  My initial reaction was to run my fingers through the blades of "grass".  The pine needles didn't feel as sharp as most do.  I remembered what Marcus had said about wanting his audience to walk on the "grass", so i walked on it.  If I wasn't afraid of looking like a total weirdo, I would've liked to take my shoes and socks off so i could walk on the grass with my bare feet.  I then began to wonder about all of the dirt.  It was packed down to create a surface resembling one found in nature, much like the way the pine needles were arranged to create the illusion of grass.

Before seeing Marcus's piece in person, I had ideas about his use of pine needles and the meaning behind the choice.  The pine needle's ability to maintain the chlorophyll in their leaves for quite some time after being removed from a tree makes the leaves a perfect candidate to imitate real, living grass.  At first, I thought the choice to use pine needles and the transporting of dirt indoors suggested that this piece dealt with illusions.  Upon my visit to the Crane House, I began to wonder about the artists's desire for people to walk on his work.  I was also curious to know the purpose of all of the dirt surrounding the grass that one must walk on to get an up close look of the pine needles.   I began to consider the coniferous tree's ability to adapt to extreme weather conditions, as well.

The title Lineage and the inclusion of artwork by both father and son makes me wonder how this piece might tell a story about the artist's generation or heritage.  The barren dirt surrounding the grass could express rough conditions for development.  Perhaps the coniferous leaves' resistance against both very cold and very hot weather  relates to the personal adaptations people make in unwelcoming territory.  Marcus's and his father's works share a common theme of nature.  The adaptive quality of coniferous leaves and the manipulation of these leaves and dirt could refer to the ways that we, as artists, adapt or alter nature into works of art.  The shared aspect of nature explored by two generations of artists might tell of changes in artistic approaches nature are over time.

Marcus's will that his work be stepped on may mean that even though he worked hard to capture an essence of nature with his art, he doesn't want the work to be treated any differently than a naturally occurring patch of grass would be treated.  The act recreating a nature scene indoors might also refer to the disconnect that occurs when comparing man-made things to things that occur naturally.  With so many different concepts that could underly Marcus's work, perhaps he is interested in the cognitive dissonance that happens when we encounter his piece.

Thanks for the art and food for thought, Marcus!

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