Lunar Refractions: Repetition and Remains [part IV]

This text, which appears on 3QD as the last of a four-part post, was begun as a musing on the theme of series and repetitions in modern and contemporary art inspired by a challenge issued by an art historian colleague of mine. For the previous posts—considerations of the work of Wade Guyton, Frank Stella, and Georges Seurat, respectively—click here, here, and here.

Ps1982 Shapes_petzel

Allan McCollum Allan McCollum
Plaster Surrogates, 1982–1984
The Shapes Project, 2005–2006
Enamel on cast Hydrostone
7,056 framed digital monoprints, 4.25 x 5.5 inches each
Installation: Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York, 2006

Conclusion: Once Again, in Other (Perhaps Entirely Unrelated) Words….

We now find ourselves at the end of yet another summer, looking toward yet another autumn, and I’ve yet to bring this wandering tetralogy to a close. Today’s the day. While a neat little conclusion summing up (dare I say repeating?) all that was said of the previous artists’ work might be a nice way to end it, I must confess, dear Reader, that I’m in the mood for neither clarity nor ease. Initially, I’d hoped to trace these many artists’ work in series back to some multiform, manifold re-, which I’d perceived as echoing through the arts—from photography to painting to print to music to mass-produced goods—between the late nineteenth and early twenty-first century. The heat and rains of summer seem to have dampened my springtime ambition, hence I’ve deemed it perfectly permissible to nod at the work of yet another artist dealing with repetition, and then wash it all down with a little list of res.

Allan McCollum (1944–)

Iw1987 The Shapes Project is an ongoing work that uses a system devised by McCollum to produce unique shapes, ultimately creating at least one singular shape for each person on the planet, with no repeats. Because McCollum’s website has more resources and information on this than anywhere else, I’d like to direct you there for a look at the many (aesthetic, social, geographic, computational) intriguing facets of his œuvre. This current project is certainly an elaboration of ideas previously explored in his many other series, including the Surrogate Paintings series of the early eighties and the Individual Works series of the late eighties. Now, aside from the impressive goal of creating more than thirty-one billion (31,000,000,000) unique shapes for each individual on earth as the population of homo sapiens reaches an estimated 8 to 20 billion people (see his site for details on that broad range), he has also made these shapes available to others, in hopes they will put them to various—ideally interesting—uses.

Merely doffing my hat to McCollum’s work, since anything more would serve only to prove that no amount of words could really address such boundless reiterative creativity, I’d like to leave you with a very short and inconsistent list of the first re- words that came to mind; they range from noun to verb, from the obvious to the curious, and I hereby invite you to add to it:

read
resolve
research
respond
review
recall
regard
relate
replace
repeat
react
repudiate
repress
reference
recognize
remiss
restrict
residue
reflect
refectory
reside
rescue
res
recur
replicate
reminisce
renege
return
remain

Thanks for reading; previous Lunar Refractions can be found here.

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