Addressing the base is essential in understanding how my work functions in relation to the viewer. Historically, in sculpture the base separated the viewer from the object, creating a barrier between the behaviour of the viewer and the behaviour of the object. Rodin, Brancusi, Serra, Hesse, Horn, Antoni and Beuys and others all contribute to removing sculpture from pictorial space into behavioural space. Working in the round, incorporating the base (or its elimination), embracing the common object and the involvement of the body all concern themselves with the problems of existence, consciousness and the body. This transformational aspect of sculpture uses material as experienced by virtue of the symbiotic occupation of space and time. Of course, this ‘experience’ is difficult to negotiate primarily due to the tendency to read sculpture with the devices of painting and linguistics. A problem arises in reading the works as surfaces that operate in relation to a ground plane. Consequently, the viewer proceeds into a pictorial arena and is faced with negotiating symbols, signs and other concerns of language.
The absence of the base is a fundamental step in creating an experience that shares the viewer’s actual space with the work I create. Focusing on gravity, density, placement and scale of the work reduces the dominance of the optical experience. Therefore, the awareness of the object’s presence in conjunction with the viewer becomes apparent. What I am suggesting is that the need to investigate the work tactilely, physically, spatially and not just optically is imperative in order to fully realize the work’s full propensity in relation to behavioural space and thus its full phenomenological impact.
My choice of material and how it’s handled is done in such a way that a base does not need to exist and no external or internal support is provided. What I phrase as ‘expansive construction’ can be defined as the ability to retain a form by applying methods dictated by the material’s given qualities in relation to other components in creating a form. The inherent physical properties of the sculpture/material allow the work to support itself in relation to gravity. Thus the work exists directly in space relating, as I relate, to the force of gravity.
To further understand how material can relate to structure, I draw on the example of Tallow constructed in 1977 by Joseph Beuys. The work was created by pouring 20 tons of fat into a mold that was taken from the underside of a pedestrian overpass. This work was divided into five parts, the largest measuring 200cm x 200cm x300cm, all of which are solid fat. The finished work is then displayed on the floor, letting gravity and the material dictate its form. The worked sagged and split in areas, yet Beuys would not add exterior or interior support in order to maintain the initial form of the work. The material, fat, was left on its own to locate itself in relation to gravity. The core value of the material dictates the form of the work in correspondence to the totality of its parts.
As seen in the above example there is a correlate between the object’s core properties and the body that resists gravity; this resistance is unaided by prosthetic devices. The mass of the objects force is one of resistance and conformity to the pull of gravity and the degeneration of material and form over time. The relationship to gravity and time of the object evokes a relationship to our body’s physiology. My work operates with our bodies, sharing space, gravity and tension. The phenomenon can only be realized by concentrating not only on the lack of a base but the internal composition of the object. These decisions are not based on visual decisions to construct a pictorial subject, but based on a set of relationships between mass, form, weight and measure.