DIALOGUE a conversation between Rebecca A. Dugal
Relique L. Lott
advisor Van Dyk Lewis
ur age is one of increased prohibitions. What we say is censored, how we act is censored, how we dress is censored. Censorship existed before the freedoms proposed by democratized living, yet the promise of post modernity has not lived up to its billing. Freedoms are being restricted: freedom to access lines of communication, freedom to work outside the guidelines dictated by impossibly trenchant authorities, freedom to enable the flame of creativity and innovation to burn. I often think about the human who invented the wheel. She or he must have had a dialogue within. Over days or microseconds? How long did that invention take to manifest? The subconscious divided into questioner and respondent in a series of musings until the “voila” moment was attained, and humankind’s lot was substantially improved. This discourse and its outcome, not the journey, are what captivates the experience of Rebecca Dugal and Relicque Lott’s DIALOGUE. In September 2012, Dugal and Lott commenced a multivalent dialogue loosely based on the Ocean Park series of paintings by Richard Diebenkorn. The abstract and impressionist nature of Ocean Park is assailed in thoughts around the possession of territory, which is always of political concern. The significance of verbal dialogue is fleeting just as the sentiment of your last SMS is lost minutes after it is read. Territorial dialogue does something different. Dugal and Lott’s visual and textual call and response, followed and repeated by more calls and responses, exemplifies a unique venture into artistic method, a worthy addition to a wider cultural visual conversation. The works are not presumptuous in materiality. They are handcrafted and avoid containment prompted by questions of quality or legacy to tradition. Yet these are beautiful pieces, with moments of reflection, of consideration, of acceptance. They are as intellectual as the viewer would regard them, or trite enough to be dismissed from a lack of grounding in the wider visual conversation. The truth is that honesty prevails. DIALOGUE deals with the freedom of making marks, occupying space and uncovering the detail and certainty that words provide while contriving to dismiss punctiliousness for the freedom of possibility. This is borne out by one visitor to the DIALOGUE exhibition who, with the freedom of a small child, took the possibility of committing to dialogue as invitation to connect directly with us all. Dipping a finger into a bottle of Klein International blue ink, which was part of one of the exhibition pieces, the visitor on opening night of the gallery dripped ink and drew scrolls on the gallery floor. The violation of gallery rules was stressed already by Dugal and Lott’s piece, blackboard paint applied directly on the tiled floor. This act was an affront to protocol (as permission from gallery management had to be sought, and was only allowed since the gallery was being renovated the following week), which places hindrances upon the production creativity and the free practice of thought. The substance of Dugal and Lott’s proposition is founded in the opportunities that restriction provides-- what is not said in dialogue is found in the marginalia of the balsa pieces that greet the visitor, crayoned comments graffitied over meticulous, laser cut text. This theme of undermining the gadgetry of complex living runs throughout the exhibition, reminding us what we lose when we do not see, touch and experience for ourselves. DIALGOUE is rich, varied, and assiduously planned. Each work is a territorial possession, self-contained but vexingly reliant on the piece that comes before and the piece that follows. Ultimately, DIALOGUE encourages us to consider freedoms of access and to deliberate and engage in experiences, a monumental task made easy by two skilled manipulators of media. Van Dyk 12.12
Ok (sigh) look at this board. I noticed you just glanced around it, but notice that it’s right in front of you at the door. It’s confronting you. Take a minute.
It’s basically an instruction manual telling you to go hog wild in here, and to use everything but your words and to observe how we used everything but verbal conversation. Ok, ok you’re right. Talk if you want. But it’s more than just words.
Pause, really read it.
Use your words too! Use everything.
Itâ€™s just us, having a conversation. Relicuqe and I inviting you, to our conversation. This gallery is going to catch you up on what you missed, but we want to know what you have to say.
So here, talking directly to Richard Diebenkorn, asking him why he painted the ocean and park the way he did,
Why is he so particular about his geometries? What are these forms doing in the painting? This is what I would ask Richard Diebenkorn. Because when I saw his Ocean Park Series, I didnâ€™t immediately see oceans and parks. I saw meticulously organized shapes and colors and I imagined Rich being angered by the gentrification of his time. Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Monterey, to some extent were being refabricated so quickly, the population was growing so rapidly, his serene coastside was no longer what he once knew. I guessed. I imagined an angry painter without any power over the situation, only over his canvas. So I became angry because California is my home too. And Iâ€™ve seen this happen. And I have never had any power.
Ocean Park No. 17, Richard Diebenkorn, 1968 oil painting, 80x72 in
Light Control. digital photography, 36x24. 35
In Light Control, I wanted the piers to be alive, to be more dynamic and more distinct from the body of water that engulfed them. Light Control is a reinterpretation of Ocean Park No. 17, the human body representing the piers and park and I literally wanted the body to get out. Now.
Early Studies for Light Control. digital photography.
Detail of Light Control. digital photography, 36x24 in.
Stills of Ink Moving through Water. digital video.
When I saw Light Control, I already understood Relicqueâ€™s intention. I was part of the process. I understood the prompt. But when I really looked at it, separated it from the rest of the set, I saw it could have different meanings. Where she saw a light study, I saw a study of known and unknown, the intersection of which is both cloudy and pronounced, presented in a piece that is wholly unidentifiable
My task was to respond with an image of my own, created entirely from my reflections on light control. Ink. As it creeps in the unknown ocean deep, alien in its subtle diffusion as it disorients and infuses with doubt, I let the ink creep. I created a situation in which the medium shaped the product,allowing the ink to spread and stain freely, only adding an homage to the depths with an image transfer.
Ink. ink, water, ethyl alcohol, paper, 72x48 in
As I watched Becky work with the ink, the paper bubbled. The water spilled to the floor creating deltas, valleys, and mountain peaks. She created a topographic condition the ink and water could inhabit. As the ink dried, I saw maps, coasts. It reminded me of outerspace views of earth. Google Earth maps of arctic coasts where glaciers cover vast continents, editing the earth the way the ink was editing the paper.
What I appreciated the most about Beckyâ€™s production process was her ability to manipulate the inkâ€™s motion in multiple directions. She choreographed a vivid dance across the paper. 40
Deltas. digital photograph.
Ice Encroaching. Google Earth.
I wanted to experiment with that level of control, so I painted a coast and controlled the motion of color in one direction. Color ate color, detail vanished and a monstrous blob looked back at me from the center of the canvas.
Coasts. oil on canvas, 24x24 in.
The dark mass was erased, smudged and painted over until it was unrecognizable. Gone. But not without tainting the new layer. What else is erased?
Applying Paint Stills. digital video.
Participant Steps on Paint Stills. digital video.
Concept Sketches of Skin pen, paper, 8.5x11 in.
I wanted to transcribe the topographic map Becky presented on the floor in a three dimensional form using the human body. So I cast burlap over my legs, arms, back, hands, and feet. I created a tunnel of mountains for people to fit in between to fill, with their own bodies. I wanted the light to stream through these mountains, and I wanted the people within the tunnel to filter out the light, to erase the light at various points, creating a flickering and an ever-changing light pattern. 46
Steppinâ€™ on Paint Stills. digital video.
Wall. burlap, wood glue, 6x9x7 ft.
Where the burlap depicts the surface, I wanted to dig below. I wanted layers, something that builds upon itself.
Clay looked like the earth to me, like a core sample we learned about in second grade science class. I felt very small and childlike when I looked at this piece. I thought a lot about playing.
It did not occur to me that if I hung such a tactile material at an attainable level, people would touch it and leave their mark, bringing more meaning to my writing than I ever could have predicted.
Core. modeling clay, wood, 49x5 in.
Oceans and Parks. Google Earth Images.
Astronaut Detail. digital photography, dark room manipulation.
I was flying on an airplane shortly after Becky composed Core. The world felt small below me, I felt very big. Little creature-like snowflakes stuck to the plane windows and they all looked like miniature earth fossils. I felt even larger. I was a child going on a trip to the moon, a mighty astronaut. I was a second grader with the world under my feet.
From the Air. digital photography.
Astronaut. cardboard, bow tie pasta, paper, digital photography, dark-room manipulation, 8x8 in .
I think everyone has tried to fit life into a frame. We stretch it and pull it, sometimes cutting it up and gluing it down until it is no longer recognizable. Shift the borders, move the mountains. But you missed the focus. Youâ€™ve been affecting people all along.
It was a breakthrough moment when people started writing on the floors and on the artwork itself
I enjoyed watching the ink move around in the glass cylinder. It is hypnotizing, really, to be able to control the dropper but not the ink. People are a lot like this. You can put them in certain situations but you cannot control their reaction. Opinion is unscripted. I am afraid, I am screaming and shaking. I am excited, I am jumping and laughing.
The Depths. ink, water, found objects, 30x9 in.
I needed them to take the leap. Set the piece in motion.
The Depths in action. digital photography.
Elena. 59 digital video.
I asked Elena to talk about our work on camera as she viewed it for the first time. The film, however, was silent in the gallery. Her physical reactions to each piece, her bodyâ€™s involvement in our gallery. This is what I wanted.
Elena. digital video.
fter completing DIALOGUE, we discovered new connections in our work. The colors, the textures, they all came to life. They all spoke in unison on opening night.
The emotions involved in creating the work became more personal as we went along. The pieces became about perspective, life experience. They incorporated our bodies, our hands. Displaying the work in the gallery seemed to unleash a completely new definition of “conversation.” Our guests interacted with the work in unpredictable ways: dripping ink on the ground, writing on the backs of the balsa wood boards, vigorously swinging our suspended pieces. The gallery became a theatrical production. Visitors left enjoyable notes in the guest book. One guest joked about the construction process of Skin using a sketch of a chicken. Many wrote in other languages. Most left drawings. A child, aged 7, left a note: “This makes me think of magic.” This child, at his smaller vantage point, was able to experience the gallery from a truly enchanting perspective. In the end, everything was written in the same charcoal but no note was the same. Not one was in the same voice. Working with Van Dyk Lewis will always be unforgettable. His commitment to the rawness of our production endowed our work with an extra-ordinary level of honesty. His advice and experience allowed us to achieve an end product that was professional, thought provoking and delightful. We could not have picked a better advisor. We want you to keep talking. Respond. Be present. Make your mark. Becky and Relicque December 17, 2012
ABOUT THE ARTISTS Rebecca Dugal grew up right outside of Manhattan and currently studies in the department of Fiber Science and Apparel Design at Cornell University. She loves purple and is an excellent speller. RAD274@cornell.edu Relicque Lott grew up in San Francisco. She studies Architecture at Cornell University and lives with a crazed chihuahua named Sushi. She likes both playdough and Plato. RLL92@cornell.edu
Published on May 9, 2013