This text is an extract of a class discussion on inferences drawn around the semantics of a catalog essay by Robin McKenzie and was first uploaded to the original REWIRED site as a review of key points in a particular lesson.
In itself; it is not, and does not, represent a critique of Gladwell’s work but exists as evidence of what a certain line of reasoning might uncover as interpretation.
In 2001 Gladwell was one of the 10 recipients of the Samstag Scholarship. Below is the catalog essay by Robin McKenzie.
“Using an absurdist logic that joins together things belonging to different categories, the project of Shaun Gladwell is loose canon anarchic. Historical cultural material, contemporary technologies, and the urban landscape are boiled up together in his pot. The result, in Gladwell’s own words: ‘John Glover would have made excellent skateboards in his spare time.’
(Interestingly John Glover could not have made skateboards in his spare time, for reasons that are fairly obvious, unless Gladwell is projecting Glover’s persona, which we know little about, into a present day context. Either way, Gladwell is forcing an association with an already existing iconic figure. Gladwell makes a similar type of association based on atmospherics between his Storm Sequence and Turner’s paintings).
“Gladwell is interested in the creative distortions resulting from the transmission of images and ideas between different cultural zones and historical periods. In Warped Wood, he juxtaposes a Glover painting (an image that has been digitally copied and compressed along the horizontal axis and then repainted) with two custom-made skateboards. Building on the superficial connection between the curved lines of a typical Glover tree, and a skateboard’s bent plywood deck, Gladwell sees a parallel between the two cultural activities. The distortion of natural form in Glover’s paintings is mirrored in the way in which the skateboarder recodes the urban landscape, reassigning or distorting the use-value of urban architecture: ‘the hand-rail becomes a slippery dip.’
A champion ‘freestyle’ skateboarder, in the video Kickflipping flaneur, Gladwell draws a connection between the activity of the skateboarder in the contemporary urban city and the Modernist hero of the nineteenth century city, Baudelaire’s flaneur, ‘strolling/rolling incognito through the city’. The compelling, yet curious, works resulting from these wide-ball associations make a convincing argument for the ‘wrong science’ school of art.”
From her Samstag catalog essay
Art and Research
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