"After Chuck Close..." Series, 2002-03

My current body of work consists of sculptures assembled from thousands of ordinary objects -- spools of thread, marker-pen caps, map tacks, chenille stems. The imagery is derived from photographs, which I digitally manipulate and translate into low-tech pixels. Within the framework of digitization, repetition, compulsion, and obsession, I am interested in the effects of digital technology on issues such as: what constitutes reality, the effects of scale on perception, and how the eyes prioritize.

While many contemporary artists utilize digital technology to create high-tech works, I strive to "dumb-down" technology by utilizing mundane materials and low-tech, labor-intensive assembly processes. I place equal emphasis on the whole recognizable image and how the individual parts function as abstract elements, selecting materials based on aesthetic and functional characteristics as well for their capacity for an interesting and often contrasting relationship with the subject matter.

The series, "After Chuck Close…" is constructed from thousands of chenille stems inserted in foam board. I selected a Chuck Close self-portrait as the subject matter out of my respect for his work and how well he balances each individual cell, the interrelationships between cells, and the whole recognizable image. I rotated the self-portrait 45 degrees, returning the cells to the orientation in which he painted them, resulting in square cells vs. diamond shaped cells, emphasizing the minimalist aspect of Close's work. The fact that his imagery moves in and out of focus, according to the size of cells, made his work all the more compelling as a subject matter to me.

The largest work in my series "After Chuck Close…" is a 6'x6' rendering of a single cell. With each work in the series being incrementally smaller, one would expect fewer units/chenille stems to result in lower resolution and thus lower image quality. However, because the smaller works also contain an incrementally greater number of cells from Chuck Close's self-portrait, the imagery becomes incrementally more recognizable peaking at 2'x2'. The works measuring 1'x1' and smaller are based on the same number of cells as the 2'x2' work, and thus behave in the usual way with less units/chenille stems equating to lower resolution all the way down to the smallest work consisting of a single chenille stem.

When seen in its entirety, the series functions as a neurological primer, literally priming or teaching the brain to make sense of visual imagery, which is only recognizable when seen in the context of the greater whole, ultimately emphasizing a subjective reality vs. an absolute truth.

-Devorah Sperber, 2003