Date of Submission

Spring 2011

Academic Program

Studio Arts


Kristin Lucas

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Austin Julian


Pause Decay 20:

Over the last few years that I have been making sculptures, I’ve been trying to make work that physically brings about the motions of the sub-material world, and the forces underneath it, finding an intrinsic energy of dilapidation and fission. I feel like there is a meaning behind these forces that functions as a proper metaphor for the way that people abandon and break themselves and the things around them. I found sculpture, for me, is the best way to realize the relationship between these things. Sculpture has been relatively new for me; I have only started working with it the last three years or so. I feel that while exploring the medium, I have found better and more direct ways to express this that was lacking in the painting work that I had been doing before attending bard. In this piece, I feel that this theme shows this theme clearer than work I have done in the past. In the piece, Pause Decay 20, these sub-material forces are amplified into a physical monument for them. Pause Decay 20 is the schism of positive and negative matter, constantly alternating on and off, neutralizing each other’s extremes. This atomic relationship is meant to exude an unstable, broken, violent energy that takes hold of trash, garbage and debris, twisting the matter into shape. The video and sound aspects of Pause Decay 20 were meant to add to this unstable feeling, rickashaying and orbiting around the structure. I wanted this piece to show the unstable stratus cloud that existence and humanity reside on through the instability of a strobing mess of light, sound and trash.

I first came about thinking about this project from a couple ideas. One was the image of a flickering paused video. When you pause videotape sometimes, the tracking will flicker while the frame is still. This in between space that the images are in when this happens creates a lot of space to think about the human issues of dread and uncertainty. The parallels that you can draw from this reflect the anxiety and hyped-out pace that we live in now. The other was an experiment in the particle accelerator; where to sub-atomic particles were shot into one another. In this collision, the particles split into matter and anti-matter, for a fraction of a second anyway. This idea, where these two extremes, these two forces collide and split and cancel each other out, and in general, the way that sub-atomic electrons strobe in and out of existence, struck my interest. I thought that these themes needed to be represented physically to a scale that it could be climbed on and engaged with as a architectural monument in order for me to understand my relationship to them better, and to better understand my link to the material world that I mold as an artist. I needed to explore the part of physical things like wormholes and the linking of matter to a larger scale than I have in the past, to a scale that would overpower a person.

This piece is split into parts, front and back. These two sides are meant to relate to each other as the positive and negative. They’re not meant to relate to each other like “good and evil,” but as positive and negative particles, or matter and anti-matter. The back is the kinetic side, caving in on itself and imploding into the other side drawing energy towards it, and the other side is the static side, that exudes energy outward into the rest of the space. The texture of the piece was also meant to reflect this.

When I was thinking about the material treatment, I wanted to show a blown out culmination of found materials, like debris was magnetically pulled together, then covered in torn grime. All of the materials that I used were somehow found or re-appropriated. I feel that the ingrained abandonment in these objects adds that element to the piece. I stuck the materials in the jagged positions that they were in to show the fractures in the material world. These jagged lines are also meant to draw the eye uneasily around the form. The front, exuding side, has outward lines and is meant to shine light out. The material is treated so that it is not rotting or decaying, bout expanding and consuming. The backside is meant to represent decay and collapse. It is treated with black tar, and hangs down in shreds.

The decision to have the sound aspect of Pause Decay 20 performed live at the opening was one I made pretty deep into the planning and construction of this piece. Originally, I was going to have the sound a mechanical aspect to the piece, like the video is. I have worked in performance with my sculpture before, but thought not to use it in this piece at first. But as I thought about it more and more, I figured that having people performing together would be the best way to construct the sound and have it work as a whole. There are two elements to the sound. The light-triggered oscillators that each performer has three controls for, and a mark-making instrument (one has a de-tuned guitar, the other has a contacted metal structure to hit). There is a performer on each side that is meant to perform based on the energy of their side. The one in front is exuding the framework of the music, playing heavy, solid hits. The performer in the back takes this input from the front and reverberates the framework around in the echoed wasteland in the back of the sculpture. This circular relationship, where the sound goes out from the front, collapses into itself from the decay side, and then is shot out of the front again as physical light and structure, creates a covalent unity in the piece.

The video aspect mirrors this cyclical motion. The images of hands in the video jump form monitor to monitor in a circle, orbiting the piece. The images of hands were meant to represented hands passing through dimensional planes and breaking them, like the idea of a ripple growing and causing a hurricane on the other side of the world.

The title was the last decision I made about this piece. I drew the “pause” from the video tracking idea. The “Decay 20” is taken from the ideas and language around radioactively charged materials like carbon 14. It is meant as a measurement of particle decay.

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