Introduction to Hermosa Beach, CA


Hermosa Beach, CA is an edition of 50 viewmaster reels and viewers accompanied by text written by the artist, David Horvitz.  The reels depict a lone figure, the artist’s mother, with her back turned to the viewer as the waves of the sea crash endlessly in the background.

In December 2008 I went with my mother in the early morning out on the sand in Hermosa Beach, California. Until then, I had never asked her to be in any of my photographs. I told her to stand in front of me and watch the waves as they crashed on the shore. I stood behind and photographed her. She did not move much, just stood there and did what I had told her. The only time she looked back at me was when I loaded another roll of film. I would call to her to tell her I had finished shooting a roll, and she would  turn around and look back at me in silence as I put the next roll of film into the old Viewmaster camera. When it was ready, she turned back around again to the sea. I do not remember how long we did this. We must have been there at least an hour or two, standing in silence on the beach separated by the distance of the camera.

2_l 1_l 3_l

David Horvitz was born in Los Angeles and currently lives in New York. He is an artist that works in many forms, including photography, books, curated projects, writing, multiples, and video. He has been featured internationally in exhibitions and publications, and has had solo shows in the US

Interview with David Horvitz

David Horvitz was interviewed via Skype on February 13th, 2009 by Oliver Wise and Eleanor Hanson Wise of The Present Group.

Listen: (~15:50) 

icon for podpress  Interview with David Horvitz [15:50m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Swelling, Shrinking, Fragments: David Horvitz By Genevieve Quick

Synecdoche allows a part to stand in for the whole, pars pro toto, as in using the word “wheels” to stand in for a car.  Synecdoche not only substitutes, but “swells” the part and “fragments” the whole.

Asyndeton eliminates conjunctions and adverbs in a series and uses “fragments”, rhythm, and timing to “shrink” the descriptive, communicative, or narrative act, to produce an extemporaneous or climatic tone.

David Horvitz’s work intervenes in the banality of the everyday through simple gestures that harness everyday media (web-based, print, photographic, and audio media) to engage his viewers in his activities.  In The Practices of Everyday Life, Michel De Certeau illuminates the myriad of creative opportunities that exist within the minutia of everyday activities using the grammatical principles of synecdoche and asyndeton.  When applied to the pedestrian aspects of life, typically taken for granted, they allow the everyday to be inscribed and read with nuance, complexity, and a multitude of meaning.  Horvitz’s work demonstrates how the synecdochical quality of souvenirs and the asyndetic nature of the View-Master swell, shrink, and fragment ideas and images and how banal media formats (e.g., photographs, texts, etc.) and distribution channels (e.g., websites, email, and the postal service) can be mined for their ability to share and extend narratives to remote observers and participants.

In the ultimate victorious gesture for the capitalist world, in 1989 Macy’s sold fragments of the Berlin Wall to allow people to share in an event that while globally significant, really only effected most US citizens remotely.  Souvenirs’ material quality, i.e., its ability for a sea shell to stand in for a trip to the beach, creates an expansiveness, a “swelling” of the reference and of the networks of participants to include those who are only remotely involved in the actual event.  In his series Things for Sale I will Mail You, Horvitz harnesses the web and Pay-Pal to interact with his viewers.  On Horvitz’s website he has established several goals to achieve and accompanying budgets that he invites his audience to purchase, or donate towards, and in exchange receive mailed documentation or souvenirs from the piece.  The gestures in this body of work range from the simplest, where Horvitz will think about you for one minute, sending you emails at the beginning and end of your dedicated time, to the more elaborate that stipulate that Horvitz will travel to Iceland; rent a car; mail you a lava rock, a photograph of the Aurora Borealis, and a photograph of him inthingsforsale the hot springs thinking about you.  All three items will be mailed to participants who donate more than $150 or who buy the whole piece for $2,443.   For some, Horvitz’s work begins with his website, then progresses to purchasing or donating through Pay-pal, then receiving documentation or souvenirs through the mail, and lastly the participant may monitor his website for further updates.  All of this may occur without ever meeting or speaking to Horvitz himself.  For most of us who do not participate by donating or purchasing Things for Sale. . ., our involvement is even more remote, as we only participate through monitoring Horvitz’s website.  Moreover, the souvenirs and documents that Horvitz mails his participants and displays on his website verify that the events have actually taken place, as the anonymity of the web makes us all incredulous consumers and participants.  Susan Stewart explains that, “[w]e do not need or desire souvenirs of events that are repeatable.  Rather, we need and desire souvenirs of events that are reportable, events whose materiality has escaped us, events that thereby exist only through the invention of narrative.” (135 Stewart)  Because the, “materiality [of Horvitz’s work] has escaped us”, the only ways that we, as remote viewers of his work, can experience Things for Sale. . .  are through his website where he constructs his narratives and through the synecdochical souvenirs and documents.  The souvenirs that Horvitz mails his participants are traces or residue of the art act itself.  The art piece is not so much the lava rock or the photographs, but the act of trust and cooperation that occurs between Horvitz and his participants.

In Hermosa Beach, CA, Horvitz utilizes the View-Master, which was based on the late nineteenth century stereoscope and debuted at the 1939 New York World’s Fair as a 3-D alternative to the post-card, itself a souvenir.  Like the stereopticon and magic lantern (the forerunner to the slide projector) that preceded the development of the motion picture camera, the View-Master operates asyndetically:  like jump cuts, it shrinks time by juxtaposing or creating a series of ideas, words, or images without transitions.  When the viewers are screening the images in Hermosa Beach, CA with the View-Master, they do not see the sequence numbers printed on the reels and quickly loose track of where they are in the series of images, as the only difference is the shifting formation of waves in the background.  The beginning and end are irrelevant or nonexistent as the viewer moves abruptly from image to image.  While Horvitz indicates in the accompanying text that the whole shoot took an hour or two, the time frame between images is ambiguous, as any transitions that would indicate how much time has passed have been eliminated.  Moreover, Horvitz explains that he would shoot his images, tell his mother he was done, she would turn around, and he would reload his camera and repeat the process with much of the time spent in silence.  The repetitiveness and silence of the shooting is mirrored in the viewer’s experience of screening the images through the View-Master.  The narrative that Horvitz provides transforms the images on the View-Master reels into documents or souvenirs of an event and urges the viewers to compare their experience of looking through the View-Master with what we know from the text about this event in December 2008.  Like much of Horvitz’s other work, the viewers participate in this event remotely, voyeuristically, through rather banal textual and image based narratives.

Horvitz’s strategies range from mailing souvenirs from distant locations and sharing simplistic images all with a wry sense of humor or a sincerity suggestive of a naive boyishness.  Horvitz uses the ease with which communication is established (email, YouTube, Tumblr, websites, etc.) to establish contact with his viewers and balances the alienation of the web, where everyone is a MySpace friend, with the very personal relationships between friends and family.  While Horvitz’s participants may do very little in terms of actual interaction with him, they are necessary for the work to be successful.  As, De Certeau would assert, while most of us are not primary producers, from a top down perspective, we are neither passive consumers.  Rather, by working within the pre-existing social, spatial, conceptual structures, we have the ability to reconfigure and restructure meaning.  By applying synecdochical and asyndetic devices, Horvitz creates alternative stylistic ways of organizing the world, communicating with each other, and creating narratives.

De Certeau, Michel,  The Practices of Everyday Life,  University of California Press,  Berkeley, Los Angeles, London,  1984.

Stewart, Susan,  On Longing:  Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection,  Duke University Press,  Durham and London,  1993.

Genevieve Quick received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and has shown her work in galleries in the Bay Area.  She has done residencies at Yaddo and Djerassi and included in exhibitions at the Headland’s Center for the Arts.  Quick is co-curator of the traveling exhibition “Gold Rush: Artist as Prospector”,

Her personal website is

Annotated Links

David’s  Links:


Sunrise, Sunset Calendars and Local Time
South Bay, Los Angeles
La Perruque
New York Public Library Map Division

Other related Links:

Tickets to the Sunset- “A time based solar transaction”  They make use of ticketmaster. “Money back guarantee if sun does not set”

Xiu Xiu – The band that David tours with and does projects with

Emily Jacir – an American/Palestinian artist, in her project resulting with the show “Where We Come From” asked other Palestinians from around the world, “If I could do something for you, anywhere in Palestine, what would it be?” The artist used her American passport and its accompanying “freedom of movement” status in an attempt to realize desires of people who have limited or no access to their own nation. The exhibition documents in text, photography and video the artist’s fulfillment of these requests across artificial and dangerous borders.

Josh Greene – Another artist interested in financial transactions spurring actions.  Greene’s ongoing Service Works project used one night of tips per month to fund varied small projects

Artists working in 3D:

Vladimir makes Vladmasters.  She also has performances.  A Vladmaster performance is a simultaneous Vladmaster experience. Every attendee is given a viewer and set of disks and then led through the story by a soundtrack featuring music, narration, sound effects, and ding noises to cue the change from image to image. The CLACK of hundreds of viewers turning simultaneously fills the air. Mass euphoria ensues.


Florence Thomas was an Oregon scluptor who was employed by View Master to create and photograph many clay scenes and dioramas of fairy tales, nursery rhymes, comic strips, and other popular childrens stories.  The techniques she developed have been put into use by many major motion picture studios.

Georgette Freeman made “contemporary stereo cards” from 1995 to 2002.  Her stereo cards utilize the blank back of the card to put the card in “context” where she creates narratives for the work.  She continues to teach classes at the San Francisco Center for the Book.

Viewmaster Resources:

Reel mounts from Fresa Volante – based in San Francisco, they are one of the only remaining reel mount manufacturers.

Oakland Camera Club, Stereo Division meets every third Monday at 7:30 pm.The Oakland Camera Club (OCC) was founded in 1934 and is a member of the Photographic Society of America (PSA) and the Northern California Council of Camera Clubs (N4C).

Viewmaster Resource: A repository of View-Master information-information about the View-Master Personal Stereo camera, printable copies of manuals, printable reproduction packets, and a general resource page with info and links to other related sites.

3D Stereo, Inc.: All sorts of 3-D supplies

3D Center for Art and Photography is a non-profit museum/gallery featuring the best in antique and contemporary 3D imagery. The Center houses everything from antique stereocards to View Master, contemporary 3D photography, lenticulars, anaglyphs, and computer generated 3D art.  Apparently the home for 3D is Portland, Oregon.


Please use this space to comment on the project, to come up with more ideas, or to suggest solutions to these problems. We look forward to hearing from you.

Here’s what we’ve been thinking about and wrote to our subscribers:

We’re used to seeing View Masters in antique stores depicting scenes for children constructed from toys or showing majestic travel destinations like Paris’ Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame.  But David Horvitz, in the piece he created for you, re-purposes and reinvigorates this forgotten medium.  Like so much of his work, here the focus is on something simple, mundane, but the result is grand.  We’re transported to another place as observers; turning inward, we become participants in this quiet moment.  Like a conch shell that can return you to the sounds of the sea, “Hermosa Beach, CA” transports you not only to this beautiful place but to that serene state of mind that comes from watching it.  This is not an accident, as the resulting emotions are enhanced by the structure through which you experience it.  In his proposal he wrote, “Since the slide reel is circular, one can get “lost” in viewing it, having forgotten where they have begun since there is no set start or end.  This relates to ideas of romanticism that I am drawn to, of looking out into the distance (giving that view to others), of being immersed in a moment.”

As you may know, earlier this month we organized a Visual Arts Town hall focused on the current situation for artists where we live in Oakland.  It was an extension of our last piece “State of the Arts” and it brought together many of the artists who participated in those original discussions along with representatives from the broader art community (local non-profits, private gallery owners and city government officials). Part of the discussion centered around the idea of creating an awareness campaign to impress the value of the arts on elected officials and the public at large.  This caused many of the artists in attendance to recoil.  Not only do they already know the importance of art, they also understand that art’s power lies in its resistance to definition. The value of art is the experience of it.

This is not to say there aren’t real, tangible benefits to supporting the arts.  There are.  Arts industries account for 5.7 million jobs in this country and generate $166.2 billion in economic activity.  Children who enjoy arts education perform better in all subjects.  Neighborhoods that house artists frequently “turn,” becoming some of the most desirable places to live.  But at the end of the day that isn’t why we make or appreciate art.  It’s to be afforded the opportunity to get lost, to experience a moment, like we do in “Hermosa Beach, CA.”

Oliver and Eleanor

Web hosting that supports artists.


  • TPG21
  • TPG20
  • TPG19
  • TPG18
  • TPG17
  • TPG16
  • TPG15
  • TPG14
  • TPG13
  • TPG12
  • TPG11
  • TPG10
  • TPG9
  • TPG8
  • TPG7
  • TPG6
  • TPG5
  • TPG4
  • TPG3
  • TPG2
  • TPG1

Lego Hello World
I wish all my printers were made of legos.

LIFE photo archive hosted by Google
Images from Life Magazine going back to 1860′s, hosted by Google

Coming Face To Face With The President
Well crafted story about an under-heard point of view.

In California, Pot Is Now an Art Patron
A new funding source for the arts – reaping big rewards and funding many projects.  It’s pot.

Notes on Portraiture in the Facebook Age

Celebrity Book Club: A List to End All Lists
Because, well, it’s sortof awesome.

Are "Artists' Statements" Really Necessary?
The pros and cons about that nemesis for most artists.

This to That
You tell it what you’ve got and it’ll tell you what to glue them together with.

Work of art: Online store for buyers, sellers
Not the TV show!  Kelly Lynn Jones from Little Paper Planes is interviewed on her project, gives us a cheat sheet to local affordable art resources.

How to make a Daft Punk helmet in 17 months