FEBRUARY 24 – MARCH 23, 2012
RECEPTION: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2012 AT 8 PM
ARTIST TALK: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25 AT 1 PM
LOCATION – STRIDE GALLERY
1004, MACLEOD TRAIL S.E, CALGARY, ALBERTA
Everyone’s welcome… do you dare get suited up, dive under and GET THE GLEAMER?
MEGAN DICKIE’s work uses play and physicality to expose the human tendency to indulge in spectacle. Get the Gleamer transforms Buckminster Fuller’s Jitterbug Discovery into an interactive sculpture for amusement. The form incorporates serial patterns and the same potential for endless action that one might expect of a slapstick movie. As a “tongue in cheek” response to the distance between thinking and doing, the Gleamer invites viewers to experience how imagination and play lead to intellectual discovery.
MEGAN DICKIE is a Victoria-based sculptor and printmaker. She has exhibited across Canada and in the United States, with upcoming exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and Latitude 53, Edmonton. She currently teaches at the University of Victoria as a sessional instructor.
GET THE GLEAMER
Emergency motivates my threat to become a high school guidance counselor. I possess the only wisdom young people really need embrace. Suggesting employment options or colleges to teenagers is futile, even damaging. Being amazingly general, their studies have prepared them for possibility, not specificity. This is the moment where I swoop down upon their pliable minds. I won’t administer aptitude tests or help them write resumes. I will begin their education with the simple prelude, “Forget about careers, kid. Let’s talk about geometry…”
Everything concerning shape, size, space or relativity (so really, everything) is geometry. A solid grasp of the discipline ensures you’ll never find yourself lost in the woods, whether mossy or cosmic. You’ll eat pineapple efficiently by furrowing the spines off in a Fibonacci spiral. You’ll sew gowns without waste. You’ll see it everywhere and wonder if all matter is stuffed into a corset of algebra. It’s not surprising why New Agers get so excited about it. The gods are credited with its development – geometry is so mysterious and perfect, so pleasing and recurrent, it’s hard not to couple it with the spiritualism of folk math. However, a shape will tell you all about itself if you ask the right questions, play with it, design with it. A triangle will deliver wild narratives about the universe, but all of this information is apparent, it’s all “right there.”
Nature organizes around principles that offer advantage. Structures based on natural patterning, be they sculptural or architectural, will enjoy the same strength, economy and functionality of the forms they were inspired by. It is seemingly marvelous that this is routinely proven across disciplines with diverse applications, but it is a fairly obvious thing if you think about it. Buckminster Fuller recognized a subtle yet critical design logic working through natural constructions. Moved by his chief muse, the equilateral triangle, he made a series of geometric models to study how shapes behave in composed relationships. What he arrived at is familiar to those friendly with microscopes. His maquettes, specifically the brilliant “Jitterbug”, revealed that even periodic, regular shapes could experience a multiplicity of expression in connection with each other without sacrificing their original properties. Moreover, seemingly rigid elements could morph with elegant fluidity. Independently, the components of a system do not predict the behavior of a cooperating whole. Materially, this might be imagined as a molecular contra dance. Individuals interact, collapse and reconstitute form, act holistically, reduce and expand without loss. Philosophically, the resulting magic offers profound relational possibilities and radical reproach to departmentalization. “Synergy” can solve practical problems from energy and resource conservation to efficient nutrient absorption.
Now look at The Gleamer. A flattened, two-dimensional form, it’s interesting as a stage. With an actor or two underneath, it’s brought to a boil – what was placid and planar now crumples and bubbles into unlikely combinations. Like a chemical reaction, the intensity of interaction is based on the personality of elements. The Gleamer’s surface articulates responsively. It moves in accordance with its own specific properties, but your gestures and explorations animate this strange puppet. Consider also that “you” are not “you” under there. “You” are now a pile of triangles – an origami storm if you’re vigorous, an apprehensive shuffle if you’re timid. You have transformed from ego to seismic activity and the more energetic your performance, the more spectacular the effect. The Gleamer is beautiful! It’s a supple crystal, then a herniated geode, next a dazzling igloo. It’s dancing math and rock n roll.
The true flexibility of reality is known to certain human varietals – children, physicists, shaman, better high school guidance counselors and artists. These people witness transformation regularly. Their minds notice linkages and can easily imagine inventive relationships. Often their best discoveries are the result of unhurried fiddling. Insight happens as a result of tangential thinking brought on by touching, tinkering and sometimes ruining things. Studies have suggested that apes spend a healthy part of their day occupied with “unproductive” fooling around. Breakthroughs born from distracted or intuitive play can reveal important connections and juxtapositions. Expectations of success (in the case of apes, obtaining food or transmitting genes) are suspended and independent from this activity. A free space is made. In evolutionary theory, it is estimated that play builds skills that assist survival. The Gleamer can help us ask and maybe even understand physical, and by extension, metaphysical questions through amusement.
Having fun can be branded unintellectual, apolitical. This sad idea has deep connections to our feelings about work. Fun is what happens outside of productive hours. Unproductive pursuits are about recuperation and regaining the stamina needed to continue valuable production. To make a career of trivial pursuits is to risk exposing yourself as unserious. Once people know you’re a comedian, credibility is suspect. Maybe you can be written off because you’re poking holes in yourself as well as systems. Being funny in an art context is especially brave and surprisingly hard to manage. Sculpture is traditionally grandiose and sedentary – “Behold! My massive thought!” We see a lot of furniture too heavy for wrestling. Megan Dickie tempts us to shove statues off their foundations. Her work is assertively playful. It is the equivalent of cow tipping the lardy history of sculpture. Humor, when critically deployed, can be absolutely lethal.
The Gleamer riffs on a prior discovery, but this iteration is personal and manifold. Its form is undecided until manipulated – without artist sanction. It is the “x” part of the equation. Toys are frivolous, models are serious and the Gleamer is hybrid. It is performance geometry. The projects it will inform next are just developing. As an instructional game, it may encourage indefinite rather than conclusive attitudes. Its ability to compact without loss presents a topical possibility. In our contemporary survival situation, perhaps abundance can be realized without compromising systems that support life. Perhaps design can alleviate sensitivities. The Gleamer’s beautiful, tessellated simplexity has edges – it is finite. Its public shaping, however, will be continuous and influential. Give your best performance when you get under there – so many potentials demand it.
MARLAINA BUCH I’m a maker and doer living in Victoria BC. I like to think I can tackle anything with the casual excellence of a Renaissance polymath. On occasion, this hypothesis has been disproven. It has, however, encouraged energetic exploration, chiefly in the areas of physical culture, humor, gastronomy and science.