The overall piece Future Positive was initially inspired by the early LucasArts (lo-fi / 8-bit) video game "LOOM" from 1989. In this video game the only people to survive the apocalypse are shepherds, blacksmiths and weavers. Christy became familiar with the game and has made previous work inspired by the game that in turn inspired me to want to collaborate with her - which also led me to make sheep as part of the collaboration. She and Jon have been collaborating on interactive electronic installations for a couple of years so it was a natural thing for us all to work together to try to use LOOM the game as a point of inspiration but also as a point of departure.
We decided to use the structure of the video game to create three tiered "levels" (environments / kits / etc) with the idea that the three installations would be in order with the first one being plant based, the second one with conductive sheep, and the third inspired by a lightning storm. At this point there is no direct correlation between the actual game and the 3 different pieces in the show but we do feel there are numerous relationships between materials (cloth, rocks, metal wires, paper), representational imagery (shoes, rugs, sheep and flower sculptures) and phenomenology (lighting, sound, implied narratives from the titles, etc) which are rich with possibilities such that the entire show might lay bare an elemental vocabulary through which viewers might reconstruct any number of narratives.
Early on in their collaborations Jon and Christy had their astrological charts made (online) in order to create a complex two-part interactive wiring diagram for an installation. One result of this has led to them receiving regular emails from some branch/brand of super new age webinar-promoting / tele-conferencing-opportunity based spam. The titles of the emails, however, when edited, are really interesting and we decided to continue to title the "levels" of this imaginary video game with the astrological email titles. The works then became more inspired by the titles than by the idea of a video game. We decided that each piece would have a background image and a sculpture--creating a more saleable "kit". We chose the titles first and then created the installations to fit. (The light brain became the background "image" for Star Doves Smokey Mountain Light)
6 Minutes to Diamond Consciousness with Disco Cat Avitar
6 Minutes to Diamond Consciousness Clock
6 Minutes to Diamond Consciousness Detail. White Sheep with Ear Tag
6 Minutes to Diamond Consciousness Detail. Black Sheep with Ear Tag
Disco Cat Avitars
White Sheep with Star Dove Smoky Mountain Light
Star Dove Smoky Mountain Light
Star Dove Smoky Mountain Light
Star Dove Smoky Mountain Light
with Christy Matson and Jon Brumit
Artists Sarah Wagner, Christy Matson and Jon Brumit have teamed to create the large-scale, interactive installation titled "The∞Quantum∞Field," at Hamtramck’s Public Pool art space from July 24 – September 4 2010. The installation is inspired by, and adapted from, the early LucasArts 1989 fantasy adventure game LOOM, wherein the only people surviving the apocalypse are weavers, blacksmiths and carpenters.
The installation consists of a large-scale print and two sheep made from conductive fabric, woven by Christy Matson and patterned and sewn by Sarah Wagner, in addition to custom built electronics & lighting by Brumit. Through the images, objects, lights and sounds, the immersive environment is constructed as a narrative that, in part, mirrors the early graphics of an 80’s video game to imagine a post-apocalyptic world.
“The∞Quantum∞Field” was initially installed as the entryway piece for the 2010 NEXT Chicago Art Fair and is the first of two large-scale installations by the artists, both of which will be shown in 2011 at Patricia Sweetow Gallery in San Francisco. All three artists currently live in Chicago, and have exhibited at range of venues worldwide, including the Whitney Biennial, the Fuller Museum (Boston), In-F (Tokyo), Homie (Berlin) and the San Francisco Museum of Folk Art. Brumit and Wagner are also founders of DFLUX (dflux.org) a residency program designed to engage the neighborhood and general public with creative research, actions and workshops. It’s located in the (now famous) $100 house on Detroit’s east side.
American Darling Valve is a collaborative project with my poet sister Catherine Wagner. I have been intrigued and inspired by her recent trance poems and wanted to use them as a framework for artmaking. The poem “American Darling Valve” was created when she recorded the sounds she made with her voice while in an intentional trance state, then interpreted (“translated”) the sounds into writing. In trance state, the mind experiences time differently, and she was using the trance state as a tool for investigating time as a construct in her writing. She titled the poem "American Darling Valve" (after the hydrant company) wherein there is an implicit analogy to a person as a valve, a locus for connections, for the passage of ideas. The valve might be gushing, trickling or shut (or something in between), implying an individual's openness to ideas and experience.
For this project I use the form of fire hydrants as a focus for investigation. I like the idea of a person as valve and also of time seen as construct rather than limitation. I’m curious as to what it means to be “open” and as to what expanded time might look like to a fire hydrant. These two ideas are the conceptual underpinnings of the American Darling Valve project in its physical manifestation. The sculpted hydrant also has the appearance of a buxom woman; references to the breast have interesting sexual and maternal connotations, particularly when that busty object is inanimate and so ubiquitous.
My usual raw materials are tagboard paper, masking tape, fabric and thread, but the fabric is usually all the viewer sees. My work begins as a three-dimensional paper sketch wherein I work out all of the formal and conceptual issues before manufacturing a final rendition. The tagboard paper is akin to the trance state in its warmth and rawness. For this collaboration, I am choosing to present what is usually hidden and discarded as without value, the pattern for the finished object. Like the trance sounds written out in Catherine’s poem, registration points, notes, mistakes, taping and retaping and repairs are left for the viewer to experience along with the forms that are wrought.
with Lee Montgomery and Jon Brumit
Lepidopterist is the technical name for a butterfly. Le podiatrist was how this word was sometimes fittingly mispronounced. Lepidopterists was the material manifestation of three creative individuals’ travels to and within Berlin, and (more specifically) Homie gallery. It began as a conversation about fusing the combined interests of the collaborators and ended up as a salsa fresca, chopped parts stirred together, each retaining identity and integrity, as opposed to cream of asparagus soup, where the parts are blended. There was a sweetness to the installation, most likely a reflection of the delight of travel and the documentation of cross cultural interactions with creative people that ended up fueling the work conceptually.
As you walked into the room, pinned to the right wall, were “thank you” letters adorned with butterfly stickers. Written by Lee Montgomery, the letters were reflections of his gratitude for people he met on his journey through Europe on his way to Berlin; ending with a sincere appreciation of the hospitality shown by the Lepidopterist’s hosts at Homie. Hanging from the ceiling, floating above the viewer, throughout the gallery space, were colorful laminated butterflies, created by Jon Brumit. These crazy butterflies were comprised of cut outs of household paper refuse and unused stickers of football heros from the World Cup Games that were sealed hermetically in plastic and hung almost invisibly from plastic string. Hanging sporadically among the butterflies were shimmery white silk pods, created by Sarah Wagner, that sit somewhere between butterfly nets and ghostly shadows of feet. They were traces of the feet of the people who lived at or visited Homie during the Lepidopterists’ stay.
In the rear left corner, next to the window, was a free radio studio that broadcast through the internet to the next room, creating an echo of conversation from one room to the next due to a delay in transmission as the signal generated in the gallery was sent out to the rest of the world before it returned to Homie. As you entered the gallery and passed through the gallery on the way to the bar, your first stop would invariably be the radio station. You could have a conversation, and end it with a knock knock joke that you could tell to yourself in the next room where people were drinking. If you spoke on the radio in the gallery you never had to worry about having someone to talk to when you entered the party in the next room. You could always just talk to or listen to yourself or the next person in the studio. On the left side, right as one enters the door, was a shelf filled with objects. Below the shelf was a guitar that generated sound through a digital delay. The objects were used to create looping sounds with the guitar. With the guitar and the digital delay any visitor could create their own looping soundtrack. Equipped with a soundtrack and the drifting remnants of their first conversation in the gallery, all visitors were constantly engaged and interacting with the products of this intricate installation even as they escaped the gallery for the socialization of the bar. Everything served as collected evidence of the interactions that the three lepidopterists had during their cultural excavation of Berlin and Homie gallery.
Love has been home for us, re-discovered and re-invented in our hearts and minds as the multiform and frequently fugitive structural relationship between ourselves and something larger than ourselves. This something larger has and continues to be our families, each other, our cats, our friends, a houseboat, dreams, food, travels, moving trucks, our studios, vans, tents, bike bags, friends' couches, a container home, a $100 house, music, adventure, stories and most importantly colorful characters. Through our 17 years together, thus far, we have worked together as artists, sculptors, builders, remodelers, repair-people, educators and most recently as parents, growing through spirited and fierce dialog, sharing dreams, visions and hope. Our Life Laws, perhaps unwittingly our first creative - albeit slightly deranged - collaboration, began almost immediately for us, growing in number and serving as an ongoing series of cautionary and bleakly humorous counterpoints to the struggles of working together. As soon as we're caught up on our rest, we will surely have some misadventures in rearing our son Otto to share with you - and warn you from trying.
"Home, for us, has been re-discovered and re-invented in our hearts and minds as the multiform and frequently fugitive structural relationship between ourselves and something larger than ourselves. It is our families, each other, our cats, our friends, former houses, dorm rooms, stories, a houseboat, dreams, foods, moving trucks, our studios, vans, tents, bike bags, friends' couches, an in-progress container home, our newest $100 home in Detroit and most importantly and perhaps most constantly each other - a morphing, evolving and strengthening bond through time and space, going on 17 years as a couple. Over this time we have worked together as artists, sculptors, builders, remodelers, repair-people and most recently as designers, growing through spirited and fierce dialog, sharing dreams, visions and hope." -Sarah Wagner and Jon Brumit