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2019 Projects Projects 2010-2020

Avalanche Dynamics

For further information and documentation of process and reseach related to these works please visit: Research 2019

For the 2019 session of Forrest Island Project, an artist residency program in Mammoth Lakes, I co-curated a collaboration with the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory (SNARL) administered by UCSB titled Avalanche Dynamics—derived from snow science that offers a metaphor for creative breakthroughs. My ongoing research and contributions to the project run along three tracks: (i) digital composite images of snow taken through filters; (ii) attempts to produce an ice lens to act as a temporary sculpture, observational instrument and camera; and (iii)sculptures based on Rudolf Luneburg’s description of a spherical gradient index lens.

From Avalanche Dynamic an exhibition of work developed by artists (myself, Alice Könitz and Nina Waisman) during the 2019 iteration of the Forest Island Project’s Residency in Mammoth Lakes, CA:

The process of data collection assumes that a critical mass of minute parts will accumulate into a whole producing a picture that has meaning. 
Seen through the right instruments, snow, as Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory researcher Jeff Dozier describes it is “the most colorful substance on earth.” But a clear picture of data requires interpretation and interpolation. Brian O’Connell’s interest is in the inbetween parts of this process. Here, triple digital exposures of the same scene, each with a different filter (red, blue and green) are altered at the pixel level to recreate what a sensor sees. Layered back on top of each other and cropped down to a tiny fraction of the actual image, the fragments are then printed as elements of the total data set. 

Zoomed in models of structures that, when combined, could create a version of the “gradient index lens” (invented in the 1940s by scientist Rudolf Luneburg at USC where O’Connell also teaches) manifest again as tiny parts of a larger structure, one that is actually used to see. Growing out of conversations with SNARL researchers and missions to various locations around Mammoth Lakes, a quixotic mission to produce a perfect ice lens, an experimental sound dish, and other technological experiments further explore the various processes of capturing and filtering information as playful examinations of our contemporary understanding of visual space, both as seen by the human eye and as augmented by technology.

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2016 2017 2018 2019 Projects Projects 2010-2020

Collectors and Observers

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2016 Projects Projects 2010-2020

PALOMAR

The exhibition Palomar takes its name from a 1982 novel by Italo Calvino. It extends ongoing investigations of photographic process, sculptural form and color . Calvino’s book consists short vignettes each organized according to a schematic distribution of three thematic areas resulting in of 27 chapters (3x3x3=27). In the index, Calvino explains there are “three kinds of experience and inquiry that, in varying proportions, are present in every part of the book. Those marked ‘1’ generally correspond to a visual experience…Those marked ‘2’ contain elements that are anthropological, or cultural in the broad sense…Those marked ‘3’ involve more speculative experience, concerning the cosmos, time, infinity, the relationship between the self and the world.’ With the exception of a 16mm film titled PALOMAR , all the work in this show, sculptural objects and  gum bichromate prints take their titles from the chapters of Calvino’s book any in varying degrees formally and conceptually invoke Calvino’s distribution of interests.

The World Looks at the World is a parabolic dish made up of 79 individually cast colored glass hexagonal tiles. It is a physical and metaphoric model of a series of larger dishes planned as part of a project to produce extremely wide band radio portraits of specific locations. These dishes are an exploration of radio as an extension of the eye in which radio waves are thought of as colors of light that fall well outside human visual spectrum.

The Model of Models is a small-scale cast plaster model of the 79-part form used in The World Looks at the World. Each surface cut from a hexagonal column. The arrangement stands on a circular mirror.

The Infinite Lawn is the set of nine colored steel balls and wooden hoop used to produce The Eye and the Planets.

The loves of the Tortoises is two ceramic forms originally editioned by Casey Kaplan, NYC & Cerramica Suro, Guadalahara. Individually titled (Not)Turtles they are approximations of a Gömböc. Devised by mathematicians** Gömböc are self-righting: they will roll as if possessed before coming to rest on one precise point.  Gömböc  share a striking similarity with certain turtle species. By providing turtles with a shaped shell that allows them to avoid finding themselves on their backs, evolution had anticipated the Gömböc by millennia.

PALOMAR is a 16mm film approximately twelve minutes long, the film is a colored document of a partial solar eclipse viewable from Southern California on October 23 2014 and arose from an ongoing interest in the function of reflection and shadow in the production of an image and color. I filmed the eclipse using an adapted amateur telescope from Mount Wilson near LA ( the site of the largest aperture telescope in the world until 1948, when it was over-taken by Palomar Observatory some 90 miles southeast in San Diego County). The film captures the primal light source, the sun, invoking procedures similar to the photogram—complicating the process of using shadows cast by the sun by depicting the shadow on an image of the sun from within that shadow.

Working with a Hollywood color timer, the professional who adjusts the light used in printing color film to affect the color of a final print, I made a color negative from the black and white original. Each shot was colored according to the formal structure laid out in Calvino’s index, matching the numbers 1, 2, 3 with red, green, and blue light respectively. There are 33 shots in the film, one for each chapter plus seven shots at the end to represent the index.

16mm film, trt: 12min, 2015

Color positive film printed from color-timed internegative printed from black and white original positive film. Shot Oct. 23, 1014 at Mt Wilson Observatory, 1:33–3:45 pm.

The Eye and the Planets is a series of gum-bichromate prints. Each print was exposed three times using the sun. Each exposure used one of nine colors resulting in a distribution of colors similar to that of the PALOMAR film (3 sets of 3 colors were exposed 3 times). The images are the result of allowing nine 3-inch steel balls (like boccia balls) to roll into a position by chance within the boundary of a circular hoop the radius of which would allow the exact packing of 19 such balls. This process imitates on a macro-level the microscopic arrangement of particles within the colloid solutions of bum-bichromate and other photographic processes. Recently the shadows cast by spheres in such solutions have been used to examine and classify the dispersion patterns of such particles.*

*see:  Characterization of Patterns Formed by Shadows of Spheres, Sarah V. Kostinski, Elizabeth R. Chen, and Michael P. Brenner, Physical Review Letters 112, 235502 – Published 13 June 2014

** discovered, named and sold by mathematicians Gábor Domokos and PĂ©ter L. Várkonyi,  a Gömböc, is “a convex three-dimensional homogeneous body which, when resting on a flat surface, has just one stable and one unstable point of equilibrium”  (Proc Biol Sci. 2008 Jan 7; 275(1630): 11–17. Published online 2007 Oct 17.)

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2015 Projects Projects 2010-2020

PALOMAR (the film)

Color positive film printed from color-timed internegative printed from black and white original positive film. Shot Oct. 23, 1014 at Mt Wilson Observatory, 1:33–3:45 pm.

PALOMAR is a 16mm film approximately twelve minutes long, the film is a colored document of a partial solar eclipse viewable from Southern California on October 23, 2014.

The film takes its name from a 1982 novel by Italo Calvino, Mr Palomar. Calvino’s book consists short vignettes each organized according to a schematic distribution of three thematic areas resulting in of 27 chapters (3x3x3=27). In the index, Calvino explains there are “three kinds of experience and inquiry that, in varying proportions, are present in every part of the book. Those marked ‘1’ generally correspond to a visual experience…Those marked ‘2’ contain elements that are anthropological, or cultural in the broad sense…Those marked ‘3’ involve more speculative experience, concerning the cosmos, time, infinity, the relationship between the self and the world.’

I filmed the eclipse using an adapted amateur telescope from Mount Wilson near LA ( the site of the largest aperture telescope in the world until 1948, when it was over-taken by Palomar Observatory some 90 miles southeast in San Diego County).

Working with a Hollywood color timer, the professional who adjusts the light used in printing color film to affect the color of a final print, I made a color negative from the black and white positive (reversal) original. Each shot was colored according to the formal structure laid out in Calvino’s index, matching the numbers 1, 2, 3 with red, green, and blue light respectively. There are 33 shots in the film, one for each chapter plus seven shots at the end to represent the index.

Categories
Exhibition Projects Projects 2010-2020

Made in L.A.

Categories
Exhibition Projects 2010-2020

How To UCLA

click or scan QR code to access: http://howtoucla.info/

HowToUCLA is a website that was part of my contribution to the 2014 edition of the Hammer Museum’s Made in LA. Accessed by visitors through QR codes printed multiple times on the wall of the gallery in the same gray vinyl as the institution’s other informational texts, this site consists of randomly accessed titles drawn from a search for the term “how to” in the library catalog of UCLA, the institution of which the Hammer Museum is a part.

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Projects Projects 2010-2020

WALLS & LIGHTS, 6757 SANTA MONICA BLVD

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Exhibition Projects Projects 2010-2020

Openings to the water…

The full title of this work is:
Openings to the water I stopped searched for cracks
and the wanting parts I fixed A boat
sold by the daughter of its builder, a fisherman,
to a shipwright who left it there

In the summer of 2012, I used a dilapidated 1960s fishing boat found near Istanbul’s Yenikapi district as a mold to produce a concrete boat. The outside shows a generalized form, while the internal surface reveals a detailed impression of the original boat’s exterior (lower left) both of which are the result of generations of local boat-builders adaptations to specific challenges— meteorological, economic, and aesthetic.

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Exhibition Projects Projects 2010-2020

Ways & Means

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2011 Projects Projects 2010-2020 Research

CBII

From: Brian O’Connell [mailto:cbrianoconnell@gmail.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 7:43 AM
To: xxx@neo.tamu.edu
Subject: Bodrum Tirhandil Project
 
Dear Professor Bass,
 
My name is Brian O’Connell. I am an artist based in New York. I am currently in Turkey planning a project meant to take place in the next year. I’m interested in the way that forms, ancient and contemporary, carry known and sometimes unknown records of their cultural and structural antecedents.  In the spring of 2009 I made a 13 foot functional cement hull in Los Angeles (see: http://boconnell.org/ART/BOAT/Boat1.html). The form of this hull was based on that of an earlier boat used by Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader in 1975. 
 
My current project involves a much more complicated history that I am hoping you may be able to lend some insight into. I’m currently looking for a disused and or no-longer seaworthy 9-10 meter boat in or around Bodrum. This boat will be used as a mold for a “new” concrete vessel which will bare the impression of the old structure on its inside surface. 
 
I am hoping to find a tirhandil which according to some internet sources (I’ve been unable to find reliable literature on this subject) dates back some 2500 years.  Apparently Tirhandil are the oldest form (and shape) of boat still used in the region. Furthermore, the name is said to derive from Greek for 3 to 1. Based on the working boats I’ve seen while here this seems plausible but I’m wondering if you have any ideas about whether or not this is true and where I might look to better source such claims. I also found it interesting and  encouraging to note that many of the wrecks – e.g. that at Bozburun (15 x 5 m) – have similar proportions. 
 
This form and its history (if true) is of particular interest to me because like ancient Greek sculpture, proportion directs all the boat’s dimensions. If one could start with a single dimension and go from there just as ancient mathematicians did (after all Pythagoras couldn’t and didn’t need to calculate Pi as long as he could define and use it) the implications for how form is transmitted over time and across cultures and disciplines are fascinating to me as an artist. 
 
Thanks you very much for your consideration and I look forward to hearing any suggestions you may have. 

All the best,
Brian O’Connell
_______________________________________________________________________
Brian O’Connell  / www.boconnell.org / 436 Willoughby Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205 / tel. +1.917-553-4227
 

I left for Istanbul via Paris in mid-July. When I took this picture I had no idea of the closeness of the machine I was about to board to the ancient technologies for which I was setting out in search.

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Projects Projects 2010-2020

New Museum Projections

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Exhibition Projects Projects 2010-2020

Harry and Pete

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Exhibition Projects Projects 2010-2020

The Illusion of Plans

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Projects Projects 2010-2020

Details: Meeting, PS1 July 2010

A series of cyanotype photograms exposed directly on the surface of the benches in James Turrell’s installation Meeting (1986) at MoMA_PS1, Queens, NY. 

These cyanotypes were later a part of Ways and Means at Redling Fine Art, Los Angeles in January 2012.

Categories
Exhibition Projects Projects 2010-2020

(Not)Architecture