Reviews of recent solo exhibition Territorial Markers at Fill In the Blank Gallery:
New City review by Jason Foumberg:
Monday Morning Quarterback review:
Rated in the top 5 weekend picks by Bad at Sports:
By Jason Foumberg
Like zombies and cancer, sometimes machines are positioned to reflect the troubles of modern life. Im not talking about coffee makers but atom colliders. Real or fictionalized, machines (and zombies and cancers) are human-born, but left to their own devices, can become automata that produce malevolent acts, and so they are perfect vehicles for artists, or anyone, to embody the fears and conflicts of our age. There is the fear of losing control, and the fear of destruction. While machines are good at destructing themselves or other things, they mostly excel at being perfect. The fear, then, lies in mechanization. If everything were to become mechanized, then humans, too.
What, then, of drawing machines? One drawing machine, built by Harvey Moon, is currently on display in a vacant storefront window in the old Carsons downtown building, and several by Mark Porter were recently working up a frenzy at Fill in the Blank Gallery. Both machines make drawings. Moons machine reproduces, on a large sheet of paper, a photograph that he chooses using a micron pen. Moon programmed the machine to work day and night for the next three months. The little machine works quickly but the image is very large. It lowers a small metal arm to move itself around the sheet of paper.
Mark Porter's machine
Whereas Moons machine is precise and controlled, Porters machines gurgle, spit and spew pigmented soap to make drawings directly on walls. They look like experiments in robotics. In one, metal arms with sponges move back and forth on the wall like a cat settling in for a nap. Another is powered by a motion sensor, so that a viewer is complicit in making the drawing. The wall drawings look like accidents, of the sort that a surrealist would foam at the mouth for.
Harvey Moon says that his drawing machine is programmed to make its own decisions about how the drawing will be made. This is evidenced in the intricate patterns of shading that are taking shape. He admits that the finished drawings interest him less than their actual making. The computer code that produces the machines movementthats the real art, says Moon, where the machine itself, like the pen it holds, is just a medium. The computer that controls the mechanism is hidden from view.
Porters machines work in plain sight, their skeletal gadgetry exposed without need for aesthetic cover-up. Like Moon, Porter seems interested in how something is made rather than its product. With its frothy sputum drying on the gallery walls, these are abject machines. They produce material, but nothing useful. Seen in tandem with Moons machine, which runs in a vacant commercial space, the machines are rigged for the apocalypse, again.
Monday Morning Quarterback:
Territorial Markers, work by Mark Porter at Fill In The Blank Gallery
S: I love crazy machines that invert or corrupt the normal function of what we assume them to be or to do. These machines, cleaning machines, or so they looked, proved to do quite the opposite, They bubbled, spewed, and dirtied the pristine white walls of the gallery, in a mechanical, maniacal Dada performance. A couple of the had ceased to operate by the time we got to the gallery, and hung limp alongside their wall stains, bringing to mind specifically Tinguely's self-destroying Homage to New York, if slightly less epic in the finality of mechanical failure.
J: Drawing machines are kind of hot right now. There was a great electronic one at Studio 1020, and Conrad Freiburg has built an oldschool version called a harmonograph which I got to see in his studio; he'll be doing an exhibition related to it at Hyde Park Art Center in the near future. In the 1960s, artist Desmond Paul Henry made a harmonograph out of surplus analog bombsights of Second World War vintage; the drawings it produced, like Freiburg's, look like something made by an advanced-level Spirograph. Roxy Paine made a painting machine, as well as a sculpture machine. Mark Porter's machines have more in common with something I saw while on a trip to San Francisco earlier this year. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find my records of that work, so unless you happen to know what pendulum-based painting machine was being demonstrated in San Francisco in March or April, 2010, I think, then we're out of luck.
This just in! It was Owen Schuh, at Receiver Gallery.
At any rate, Mark Porter's drawing machines, and his accompanying sketches, are part of a tradition of building machines to create artworks, and as is almost invariably the case, the machines themselves are more interesting than the works they produce. Porter's machines produced little more than watered-down stains on the walls, but watching them in action (or inaction) is worthwhile in and of itself. But what I really liked were the sketches or plans for the machines, which bore only a passing resemblence to the actual machines. They had a sort of kick-ass child-like quality to them, the way a kid might design his fortress-like dream house or the ultimate dinosaur.
New Book Available for purchase
A new book titled Replication Machines, Territorial Markers and Preliminary Drawings is available for purchase through Blurb. The book features full color photos of recent works on thick paper with a matte finish and an interview with the artist conducted by artist and curator Chelsea Goodwin.
The book can be ordered by going to the following link:
Territorial Markers: recent drawing machines by Mark Porter, Fill in the Blank Gallery, Chicago
Territorial Markers: recent drawing machines by Mark Porter
November 5-December 4, 2010
OPENING RECEPTION November 5, 7-9pm
Territorial Markers features recent kinetic sculptures and preliminary drawings by Chicago artist Mark Porter that can be described as drawing machines or as Porter terms them Territorial Markers. Emphasizing the quality of the hand made object, Porters sculptures serve as prototypes, which expel a pigmented and soapy sludge, which, oozes and drips onto the gallery walls. Each sculpture is a fusion of found and custom made-objects, comprised of aluminum, steel, electric motors and air pumps. The exhibit also features drawings which serve a schematics or blueprints created during the development of the sculptures.
Porters creations embrace experimentation and the spirit of invention. Collectively, they act to convert the gallery into workshop or experimental laboratory. Individually, each work serves as commentary on the concept of ownership and the act of creating an object, which automates a process.
Replication Machines, Territorial Markers and Preliminary Drawings, Spoke, Chicago, Reception August 6
Replication Machines, Territorial Markers and Preliminary Drawings, an exhibition of recent kinetic sculptures and mixed media drawings by Chicago based visual artist Mark Porter.
Exhibition: August 2-13, 2010
Reception: Friday August 6, 7-9pm
Gallery hours by appointment.
Through the fusion of found and custom made objects, Porter creates mechanical prototypes which mimic human and animal behavior as well as natural phenomenon. Emphasizing the quality of hand-made object, Porter's sculptures serve as performative prototypes, which embrace experimentation and the relationship between inventor and invention, as well as invention and user.
All works in the exhibit were created with funding generously provided by The Illinois Arts Council, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and City of Chicago.
For more information, or to make an appointment please email SpokeChicago@gmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Upcoming Solo Exhibition, Fill In The Blank Gallery, Chicago, November, 2010
Upcoming Solo Exhibition, Spoke Gallery, Chicago, August 2010
Current Group Exhibition, Start, Stop, Repeat, Anton Art Center, MI
Upcoming Solo Exhibition, The Front Gallery, New Orleans
Group exhibition presented by the Chicago Park District and the Anatomy Collective.
Runs through October 22 at the Douglas Park Field House.
Internal/External will be exhibited in Olfaction, held in the Empty Shop Gallery, Durham, UK starting May 27, 2009
OLFACTION PRESENTS EIGHT PIECES OF VISUAL ART WHICH CONTAIN AN ELEMENT OR AN ALLUSION TO THE SENSE OF SMELL. ATTEMPTS HAVE BEEN MADE BY NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS TO SUBVERT THE DOMINANCE OF THE VISUAL SENSE WITH THE INTRODUCTION OF THE OLFACTORY. THE WORKS WILL EMIT SMELLS AMONGST OTHER ARTWORKS IN SMALL INTIMATE SPACES AT THE EMPTY SHOP GALLERY.
A show of kinetic work in its first form of production
Mark Porter, Robert Andrew Mueller, and Michael Una
Opening reception: December 13, 2008
Show runs until January 17, 2009
Nurture/Alter Solo Exhibit at NEIU Fine Arts Center Gallery