Oct 042013

September 2013



384 slabs mounted on 6 wooden panels. Panel edges painted with tar: 2.25″, 4.5″, 9″, 18″, 3′ and 6′ square. Arrays of 64 paper thin porcelain slabs arranged in 8 by 8 grids on each: 1/4″, 1/2″, 1″, 2″, 4″ and 8″ template size. Finished work fired to cone 10 is roughly 12.5% smaller, 0.22″, 0.44″, 0.88″, 1.75″, 3.5″, and 7″.

384 slabs stacked on a wooden panel. Stacks of 64 paper thin porcelain slabs each,  1/4″, 1/2″, 1″, 2″, 4″ and 8″ (finished size 0.22″, 0.44″, 0.88″, 1.75″, 3.5″, and 7″), arranged in a row on a 11.5″ x 34.5″ wooden panel coated with tar.


My fascination with numbers is probably rooted in the order and control they offer. While sitting in a room I’ll often count the ceiling or floor tiles to give me a rough idea of the square footage. My somewhat dyslexic brain happily translates letters into decimal, hexadecimal and binary code, and likes living in a place where J = 7410 = 4A16 = 0100 10102. From such a soup of grids and squares, lines of machine code, and the desire for flat and smooth, this work emerged. It is a play on the commonly used phrase Binary Opposition. There are several ways that “binary” and “opposition” are used within the work, and this is what knits the piece together.

Binary Opposition

Binary: Refers to the base 2 number system of 1s and 0s. At its most basic, it is a system of doubling and redoubling, an incredibly powerful way of creating. This series is binary because each group of slabs is double the size of the one before it. The groups are displayed two ways: 1) arranged stacked on a table and 2) mounted in arrays on the wall.

Oppositon: The opposition is between the volume and the area that the work occupies, as well as between the work seen on the table versus it seen on the wall.

It is a formal work in that piece can be described and thought about without being made, much like a Sol LeWitt drawing. And like his drawings, once the work occupies real space it takes on a different meaning.

For the arrays the five doublings in size (which is a four times–a double doubling–the area) make the extremes dramatic: from very small to very large, 2 inches to 6 feet. The panels echo the doubling in thickness and size, so they seem to be blown up copies of each other. But they don’t actually come out that way. Each feels quite different.

8 x 8 array of 7″ porcelain squares, 1/32″ thick
Mounted on 6′ square panel, 4″ edges coated in tar

The largest array of the 8 inch (7″ finished) squares is mounted on a 6 foot square panel, 4 inches off the wall, and takes over the gallery. The white on white, makes the work interact actively with the room and the constantly changing light. The edges of the planes meet in a regular grid, but the lines are irregular and the slight puckers of the not-quite-perfect slabs add interest.

8 x 8 array of ~0.22″ porcelain squares, 1/32″ thick
Mounted on 2.25″ square panel, 1/8″ edges coated in tar

For the smallest array of 1/4 inch squares, the edges and imperfections take over. It is all irregularities, and the tiny planes are too thick and awkward, looking like old teeth.

Stacks of 64 each (1″, 1/2″ and 1/4″), up close

The feeling with the stacks is quite different. The small one is more dramatic than the others, teetering like a miniature high rise. The largest stack sits there solidly like a stone pile of paper napkins. They take up much less space than the arrays, so are seen together in one glance. They are connected and one piece, and the interest comes in walking around the work and seeing it from different angles.


Clay and Tar

Another type of opposition is in the materials which came about when figuring our how to display/install the piece. The work began as plain and simple porcelain slabs, rolled as thin as possible and cut to exact sizes with templates. The concept was to mount the planes on a large wooden plane that was 10 times the piece size, leaving a margin of 1 piece all the way around. I was unsuccessful at finding a good dark paint to contrast with the white of the porcelain. It needed to be very dark and absorb light, in same the way that porcelain was creamy and reflected light. It needed to be its opposite. Tar was the perfect material to frame and contrast with porcelain, and like porcelain was both a color and a material.

Tar-edged panels for arrays

The tar painted on the edges gave the right feel to the panel edges, and made it seem like the panel’s surface was hovering off the wall. But now the surface of the panel needed a more complex white or just-off white to give the slabs the right background. To achieve this I used a wash of tar, which is then removed. This left a residue on the panel which matches the clay body well, especially as the light changes. So while the clay and tar are opposites and form a binary pair, of white and black, off and on; they are also related. Like all oppositions, each really already contains the other within.

Note: this is a 6 step series of the doubling, a form of 26.  To reinforce this, each part is made up of 64 pieces which is also 26 (2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2).