Saturday, March 29, 2008

Inventing Meaning and the Wheel

Shaun Gladwell
Guide to Recent Architecture: Fountains (excerpt), 2000-07
PAL DVD, 4:3, stereo
Edition of 30 + 2 AP, loaded on USB flash drive embedded in skateboard wheel
Videography: Michael Schiavello, Gotaro Uemtasu
Sound: Kazumichi Grime
Courtesy the artist and Artspace

We live in a time where meaning is made multiple by the burden of interpretation. The more we think, talk and write about things, the more meaning is generated. One day soon, so much meaning will exist in the world that we will have to implement a kind of population control to limit meaning’s ongoing multiplicity. You certainly wouldn't want to be claustrophobic in a world overtaken by meaning. Give me the wide open spaces, I say. Call in pest control - meaning has taken over.

These were thoughts going through The Artswipe’s busy brain this morning while deciding whether to wear denim or stretch cotton – getting dressed for the day can sometimes be such a post-structural challenge. I eventually decided on a corduroy pant-suit embroidered with hearts and moons on the back right hand pocket (a semi-vintage heirloom passed down from Aunty Patsy who told me she went to Woodstock when I knew for a fact she never made it out of the housing commission where she grew up and eventually died). I picked up my baseball cap and wore it backwards just to mix things up a bit. Marveling at how much I looked like a skater dude, I picked up my mobile phone and sent a text to a friend that read, “sk8ers rock 4eva”. Later I got a reply that read, “hay artsvipe stay gold dont change keep up tha good werk lol xo”. I have since deleted that friend as they either can’t spell for shit or use predictive text – two qualities I look for in a friend.

It’s this little anecdotal gesture, communicated through costume and family memory that (probably) goes some way in illustrating how multiple meaning really is. I’m sure you could appreciate the subtle nuances and still take away something new that says less about me than you. It was either that anecdote or the one about catching the bus while wearing rollerblades and I don’t have all day to get my point across. But while we’re talking about things with wheels let’s illustrate meaning and its multiplicity by examining what’s new in art multiples. Over at Artspace you can purchase a Shaun Gladwell multiple of Guide to Recent Architecture: Fountains (excerpt) (2000-07) presented on a USB flash drive embedded in a skateboard wheel. The edition is 30 + 2 Artist Proofs and the price is $1650. According to the Artspace website:

Guide to Recent Architecture: Fountains is an ongoing experimental self-portrait project in which various urban spaces featuring water fountains provide the stage for skateboard performances. Each performance describes a relationship between the designed and proscribed functions of the civil space in which the performance takes place, and the reinterpreted function of the space as a skateboarding park. In Guide to Recent Architecture: Fountains (excerpt) the featured performance takes place at Cook and Phillip Park – one of Sydney’s most renowned skateboarding sites, and a space that has undergone constant redesign in order to displace the skateboarders who use it. Named after the colonisers, ‘Cook and Phillip’ is in turn colonised by these skaters.

That sounds convincing enough so I've been saving up to buy four of them so I can build my own multimedia skateboard with a some wood custom cut from Bunnings. Imagine how fast such a skateboard would go! Just to be powered with such meaning is all one can ever really ask for in this brief lifetime. What I admire about Gladwell is how he makes his work relatively accessible to the more working class among us art collectors but then withholds by only providing the video in excerpted form. It’s like the time I went to the cinema and said, “I only have a fraction of the admission fee” to which the ticket vendor replied, “We can let you watch the trailers but then you have to leave”.

With that in mind I checked how much I’d saved in my goal of owning four “Glad-wheels” and only had $19.95, just enough to purchase Australian Art Collector magazine and see what’s out there, more affordable and perhaps a little kinder to my class-conscious self-esteem. I stumbled on the pages of “Undiscovered” artists and the one who took my eye was a chap called Renny Kodgers (aka Sydney artist Mark Shorter who my sources confirms has a day job – coincidentally – at Artspace). One day I'll go to Artspace, introduce myself to Mark Shorter and see if he can cut me a deal on a “Glad-wheel”. Or better yet, maybe I could take a liking to what art multiples his nom-de-plume, Renny Kodgers, has on the market and invest my money where the sun don’t shine.

And shine it don’t because one of his works is called American Anus (2007), a series of four photographs of Renny in spangly red sequined suit and cowboy hat, in an edition of 5 and a mere $900 each. More alluring is a signed prosthetic penis, in an edition of 20 and the dollar dazzling price of $300. His DVDs are POA (price on application) which I take means he will learn how to burn DVDs on his computer when and if the demand sets in. Another picture reproduced in Art Collector is from The Heat is...On! performance at Chalk Horse in November 2007. At the time, it was there I first learned of this mighty generous performer, who sweated it out with art punters in a communal steam room installed in the smaller of Chalk Horse’s spaces. Having seen how impressive his manhood is - in the flesh, so to speak - I must say it is great he had it cast for art as a prosthetic member readymade for whatever interactive delights I’m only guessing are left up to how far your imagination extends. And extend it will! Knowing I'm never gonna enjoy the sweet ride of those four "Glad-wheels" I tried saving up for, what better ride than Renny's latex love.

Before I go, let me share Renny’s philosophical approach to artmaking as quoted in Art Collector:

For me [my performances] are about how the audience engages with the artwork and how the meaning changes as it progresses.

There you go: meaning and the multiple perfectly summed up by the “undiscovered” Renny Kodgers. If you can’t afford a multiple, then take that little bit of homespun wisdom home for free.

Renny Kodgers
The Heat is...On! 2007
Digital C-Type print
80 x 40 cm. Edition of 5 + 2 AP
Photo: Rowan Conroy
Courtesy the artist


Skanky Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Skanky Jane said...

I meant 'Renny'. I really like his artist statement - thanks for publishing that - it's inspiring - seriously.

SJ xx

Anonymous said...

oooh you are so very witty , Glad wheels!! I would like to see some Glad wrap myself.
Is Renny going to put out a limited edition calendar for the 08/09 financial year? If so ,where can I get one or do I just download the images and save them as my new wallpaper?

Anonymous said...

why is glad wheels always throwing his arms up in the air?

Skanky Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.