James Woodfill - Code Practice

July 22 – August 29, 2020

James Woodfill Code Practice, digital software, Ed. 2 of 3 (hardware not included), 2019

James Woodfill Cart Set With Lights #1, mixed media, 45" x 72" x 84", 2019

James Woodfill Code Practice Cart, mixed media, 2019

James Woodfill Frame Sequence: Table Model #2, mixed media, 24" x 24" x 10", 2019

James Woodfill Frame Sequence: Table Model #3, mixed media, 24" x 24" x 10", 2019

CODE PRACTICE refers to a body of sculptural works created over the last year and was intended to be the subject of a solo exhibition physically installed at Joseph Nease Gallery starting this summer. The novel coronavirus instigated our shift to a virtual web-based platform for an exhibition of his recent stop frame animations and sound work HERE.  From the artist:

At a basic level we perceive our world by moving through it, continuously receiving information from the shifting relationships between THINGS. We form our reality kinetically in collaboration with the world. In our daily existence, pattern and repetition cause habits to form that distance us from this direct encounter. The expected slowly becomes invisible. – from my pre-coronavirus statement regarding CODE PRACTICE

The abrupt move to a “stay at home” situation this spring brought on by the coronavirus pandemic changed the normal balances of my relationship to the space and time of my studio. Granted, I normally spend a lot of time in my studio and I also am a regular user of the internet, but now I was isolated beyond usual and my only daily communication outside of my family life came through the computer.

There is a newly defined situation known as a “plausible deniability of absence” where our mind is tricked into the idea of being together with someone, via video calls, but our body knows that we are not. This dissonance is taxing, and it is a hurdle that we soon learn to ignore. We are existing primarily in a virtual world once removed from the real, and our response is to slowly “forget” that this barrier exists. It’s like the idea that we learn to forget we are wearing eye glasses. This new stimulus slowly becomes expected. The expected slowly becomes invisible.

When faced with the prospect of an exhibition moving to a virtual state, I became acutely aware of this barrier, realizing that my focus on the work for CODE PRACTICE had been, to a great extent, about the kinetic perceptions of the work as viewers moved in relationship to them in space. As I studied images of the work I became aware that a virtual representation would be just another layer in the barrier. I looked for a way in which the work for the exhibition existed in a natural habitat on the screen, not as a representation of another reality. And I looked for a way in which the viewer was an active agent, not a passive observer.

Certain Objects and Certain Systems is my response. Building on previous explorations with stop motion animation, I worked to develop a layer of kinetic activity that could only exist as moving image. Starting around an attempt to animate images of the original sculpture, my interest quickly moved to include the idea of animating the mundane objects that had gained influence in the adjusted time and space of my studio.

The camera becomes an engine. The object becomes a pattern. Sound becomes a drawing. The gatherings presented can focus our attention in the foreground, or the entire operation can drift into the ambient. My intent has been to complicate the expected by resisting narrative and presenting the primary conversation between myself, the objects and the technological systems.

James Woodfill

June 2020

While the art work in the Code Practice series may not be physically present in the gallery, much of it is shown here and is available.  In addition a very nice exhibition catalog has been put together associated with this exhibition HERE.

During summer 2020, we exhibited a large scale projection of the Certain Objects and Certain Systems digital animations and sound, plus exhibit a couple of the artist's related kinetic works.  In fall 2020, we exhibit this same work on a more intimate scale in our Gallery B.

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