Labour of Love Installation by Elyse Hochstadt, Eggshell halves on end 11’ x 9’ and wooden swing, Courtesy of the Artist

Eggshells.

Easily discarded but often associated with the idiom of not wanting to hurt one’s feelings (hence, walking on eggshells), Elyse Hochstadt’s Labour of Love installation of eggshells with a wooden swing hanging off to a corner of the piece provides the viewer with an identifiable reference – a carpet.  Yet, the thought of walking on this eggshell carpet makes actually walking on it an impossibility, which proves the point that most, if not all, colloquial phrases have a sense of absurdity. The cliché as art form proves to be a laborious task for the artist as well. According to Ms. Hochstadt, this piece must be assembled every time it is shown. The appeal, for me, has mostly to do with the process in that it is meditative in nature as well as a mental and physical exercise in creating order. Without seeing the assembled piece, I gather its similarity to Andy Golsdworthy due to the organic nature of the material and precise structure of laying each shell to create the perfect amount of tension for the entire piece to be held together. Its assembly and orientation differs every single time and no eggshell is ever put in the same exact place. In addition, to take such simple material and make a rather complex visual statement, there’s a sudden barrage of activity associated to the material that comes to mind. The act of cooking, cleaning, the notion of the home, of instability and the precarious nature of childhood with the swing. This imaginary being swinging atop eggshells must rely on a force other than their own body, perhaps, to gain momentum but with a resignation that something may break. As a viewer, you either want the setting to be serene and untouched or you want to run over the eggshells like a child running after birds on a sidewalk or through crispy fallen Autumn leaves.

There is something that stops you though. What exactly is it? Love has never been such a laborious or strenuous task to understand, which probably explains its intensity.

Portrait of George I by Elyse Hochstadt, Courtesy of the Artist

With the valiant effort of keeping with my “art diary” format and writing as much as possible in the new year (every day to be exact), I figured it would be nice to write about a Bay Area artist. I’m hoping to learn more about her work as well as her processes as the year progresses. There will be more, I can promise you that, dear reader. For now though, I’m just spinning my wheels and getting the juices flowing. So, let me begin today’s entry…

As an adult, I’m much more fascinated with fairy tales and their allegorical meanings than ever before. Today, I had the opportunity to sit down with artist, Elyse Hochstadt, to discuss her art work. During our conversation, I was drawn to Portrait of George I instantly. Hochstadt mentioned her affinity to Grimm’s Fairy Tales as we talked about some sources from which she draws inspiration. Intrigued by her fascination, I couldn’t help but read through some of the various stories (i.e., The Wild Swans, The Juniper Tree, etc.) when I got home. Recalling my experience of seeing Portrait of George I, it was both a visual and physical representation of a fairy tale. Although a chair has a function and purpose in daily life, there is a repurposing of the ordinary into something extraordinary with this piece. It is enigmatic and magical. At first glance, there is a sense of wonder and fear as if the chair were to suddenly come alive to the touch. The illusion that what you are seeing in space must become something other than what it actually is, which is a well crafted piece of art work with carefully placed feathers using the chair as a base for the overall structure. However, the organic form offers no hard lines other than the wooden legs visible at the very bottom of the piece. It’s a mirage of sorts that welcomes your own interpretation and re-working of your mythologies.

This is just a mere introduction. More thoughts to come…

"To develop its Neurocapital applications, Acclair implements a fundamental architecture that includes (a) a wearable sensor (consumer brain-computer-interface) communicating with a (b) smartphone (personal application) that send information to a (c) “Data cloud” server (“meaning production” system), which provides the arguments for a (d) progressive reward mechanism used by both individual and institutional entities". ~Photo and text from the Acclair Neurocapital Services Site

As much as I would like to view art as an escape, it’s not. I use my brain (a lot) when I’m looking at art (all types). Of course, I enjoy art yet I’d like to think I glean as much as I can philosophically, psychologically, as well as artistically when attending an opening or a much-anticipated exhibition because it is my hope that a deeper meaning and connection are forged that correlate to my passions. Yet, I’ve wondered, what if my musings and perceptions were to take on some form of currency, would I be hard pressed to return to my day job? Seriously though, even with such a simple act as looking, what if there was some reward? An incentive for looking?

Contemporaneously, art is rather demanding, isn’t it? Even with paintings, drawings, and photographs, there is a higher level of skepticism, processing, and perception that adds to the already multi-layered experience of viewing art. With many genres, cultures, and sub-cultures capturing a myriad of ideas in various forms that already add to our growing lists and categories of things in the world, what if there was a way to evaluate art per the user’s experience? What if there was a way to measure and quantify cognitive processing? What if your brain activity served as an exchange for something you wanted, maybe needed?

With your neural network engaged synapse after synapse regardless of you enjoying or vehemently disliking a work of art, the Acclair Neurocapital Services uses technology to create brain scans of your art experience. Imagine a scientific method that would allow you to see how you process artwork! In turn, helping refine your tastes, allowing you the ability to experience art in a way that is truly interactive, and witnessing the parts of your brain most activated by particular works.

Artist, Luther Thie, partnered with Cognitive Researcher, Eyal Fried, and created the Accalair Neurocapital Services, which involves brain scanning and looks at neurological processes to somehow transform what we see into “biometric currency”. I have yet to put on the brain scanning device but I’m awfully intrigued to see what my scans would say about me, my preferences, or what emotions are triggered. As innovative as the project is, it steps far into the realm of science where beauty and genius become demystified by our collective experiences (i.e., data collection and metrics) and presents a new way of governing ourselves. Yes, I used the word governing because even tastes and preferences can be controlled (Maybe not in the Western world but I’m also thinking historically. Art has been used to govern and/or teach people ideology. I also realize this is a whole other issue so I’ll try to stick to the topic at hand). Imagine if this device were used by people who wanted to see a sampling of individuals intellectual and emotional reactions to some sort of propaganda? I know, crazy thought but just throwing it out there. As much as I admire and see the value in the neurocapital services project, there is a part of me that feels discomfort in seeing my profound love or dislike (for something I may or may not be able to even explain) as a cluster of data. I would, however, love to see the brain scans morphed into a project later on down the line but I’m sure there are other important aspects of the project that have yet to be fleshed out.

Either way, the Acclair project has certainly caught my attention and here’s hoping I get a chance to physically see arts effects on me in the near future.

I’m a huge believer in seeing art everywhere. Many people believe art must be an object (i.e., painting, drawing, etc.) exhibited inside museum and/or gallery walls and reserved for some elite group’s viewing pleasure. The contemporary artist must be well-rounded though (i.e., staying apprised of the arts and technology). Look at Takashi Murakami. Fans of Hip Hop artist, Kanye West, are probably very familiar with Murakami’s art and design for album cover, Graduation. Yet, I’m wondering if these same individuals know Murakami had a series of sculptures exhibited at the Palace of Versailles or that his work is auctioned off by Sotheby’s to very wealthy collectors. Probably not.

Having the technical skills and a fine arts sensibility to execute graphic design and illustration that inevitably becomes a part of a culture’s visual language makes for one powerful artist. I like to believe that graphic designers and illustrators have that fine arts artist in them. Like Murakami, Aaron Lawrence is well on his way to designing himself into the Bay Area’s visual landscape.

So, how did I found Aaron Lawrence? Well, I was sitting at The Summit cafe (which is a fantastic and unique cafe/gallery/tech space and oh so fitting for my discovery) in San Francisco’s Mission District. As always, I was thumbing through the books and zines displayed in their library. I found a piece of wood with a well designed print on it. It told me to find its creator – Aaron Lawrence.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now…if he can only create more of that fine art. Crossing my fingers. Enjoy his answers to my Art 10 questions.

* * * * * * * * * *

1. What is your favorite (art) word?

Collaboration

2. What is your least favorite (art) words?

Cannot

3. What keeps you going when you’re in the studio?

Everything. People, architecture, nature, other art – there is inspiration all around, if you look.

4. When do you know you’re done in the studio?

Time schedule or when I finish a piece.

5. What words do you love to hear at an art show (your show or any show)?

Inspiring, fun, and had a good time.

6. What words do you hate to hear at an art show (your show or any show)?

$10 cover

7. What is your favorite curse word?

Shit

8. What profession other than being an artist would you like to attempt?

Helping the poor.

9. What profession would you not like to do?

I saw this TV show where this guy’s job was to squeeze the shit out of baby chickens. I don’t want that job.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Welcome.

You can learn more about Aaron’s work by visiting his website.

A special treat for you – image of  next month’s SF Guardian’s Christmas issue! Thanks, Aaron!