Annotated Links: TPG 18 Aaron GM

How many Billboards? was a large-scale urban exhibition debuts 21 newly commissioned works by leading contemporary artists, presented simultaneously on billboards in Los Angeles in February and March 2010.  It was organized by MAK Center Director Kimberli Meyer with co-curators Lisa Henry, Dr. Nizan Shaked, and Dr. Gloria Sutton, and public art consultant Sara Daleiden.

Authentic Movement is an expressive improvisational movement practice that allows a group of participants a type of free association of the body. It was started by Mary Starks Whitehouse in the 1950s as “movement in depth”.

An introduction to Performance Art

A discussion of Action Art:  “The purpose of this text is to discuss the phenomena of actions, especially the type of action that is found in what is known as the “art world”. (1) In the following text this special kind of action is named action art. Central questions to this discussion are: 1. How should action art be categorized? Is it a special kind of theatre or dance? 2. Are there similarities between action art and other forms of human activities? 3. And finally, what is the intention of the use of action art as expression?”

Tom Marioni – A conceptual action artist, who has created a large body of work in drawing and printmaking. He is very influenced by simplicity and many of his prints are created through repetitive activity with a Zen-like concentration on the mark-making.

Tree, Drawing a Line as Far as I Can Reach, 1972

David IrelandConceptual sculpture artist who is most well known for creating site-specific installation pieces where much of his work is guided by Zen thought and postmodern aesthetics. Here is an interview with Ireland in Art Practical. Ireland has shown in many great museums, this is an exhibition Ireland had at the Oakland Museum of California.

Jason Rhoades – Conceptual installation artist well known for his colorful energetic installations. Here is an article about him in the Guardian newspaper.

Will Rogan – Mixed media artist who works with photographs, video, sculpture and installation. His use of material examines the potential for beauty, manipulation and function in art making.

Tom Friedman – Conceptual sculpture who works with everyday material and found objects such as toothpicks, sugar cubes, fishing line, playdoh and much more. Here is good article about Friedman in Arts Editor.

When There Is No Narrative: Searching for Meaning in Aaron GM’s 5 Improvisations within the mundane to affirm the present moment

The questions that emerge when watching multiple, virtual Aaron GMs perform in the spaces of an apartment are those I might ask when attempting to understand a stranger speaking and gesticulating in a foreign language. What is he trying to convey, if anything? Why? What relationship do his words, or murmurs, have with the space he inhabits, and to his movements?

With tight, fluctuating hand gestures and repetitive spoken words, Aaron is seen busily occupying five areas of a domestic interior. He seems to be mapping out a kind of disjointed narrative on a kitchen surface, on blank walls and in the air, with some degree of urgency. This is not, however, a story of any linear kind. Instead, Aaron lists and repeats words, in a monotone, and, maddeningly, the narrative goes nowhere. The interactive feature doesn’t help. Viewers, by moving their cursors to the right or left of the screen, can navigate a circular path around the apartment to observe Aaron perform in the five spaces he occupies. Investing viewers with agency further confounds the expectation of locating some narrative progression, making the experience all the more circular.

At times, Aaron has an aspect redolent of an obsessive compulsive, or a malfunctioning robot, reduced to a limited repertoire of physical and linguistic vocabulary. Yet, there is also a sense of intense concentration, of careful method and study to Aaron’s actions. The inclination to subject these collections of human expressions to some order is, for me, irresistible. It is tempting, too, to grasp for familiar media that the performer’s body language recalls. The precision and restraint in the movement of his hands, for instance, conjures sign language, or the art of mime. I imagine a round red ball will materialize between his fingers fleetingly and disappear again. By the couch, he employs a leg to create sculptural spaces, thereby adding another layer to the expression of his voice and hands. But Aaron’s work ultimately defies categorization. After a long period of time struggling to discern patterns in the video, it occurred to me that there might be no narrative here at all—that Aaron’s actions are not an effort to communicate with his audience through any known language.

Indeed if there is a conversation underway here, Aaron is having it with himself. Viewers are silent witnesses to the performer’s outward expressions of internal thought processes. The nature of these expressions suggests the workings of an unconscious mind: his speech takes the form of unorganized and repetitive (and sometimes undecipherable) references and fragmented phrases. In other words, the kind of unmitigated and mundane references and images I find myself scrawling onto a page through automatic writing. In the corridor, for example, Aaron lists a hodgepodge of celebrity names (“Mena Suvari”), brands (“Tylenol,” “Sprint”), television programs (“Entourage”), media-popularized phrases (“trickle-down effect”) and abstract images (“invisible string”) among many others. In the kitchen, Aaron is fixated on describing (what sounds like) a “walk”. The word is repeated over and over again in slightly different phrasal variations. At the same time, his hands negotiate the spaces around him thoroughly, using them as reference points for his nonsensical narrative.

Through this outpouring of everyday references, Aaron’s words absorb weight (not in the sense of meaning, but in the sense of physical presence) and rhythm. With every repetition, the words become less and less meaningful, and take on a material quality of their own. Aaron’s actions are, perhaps, best approached as a multilayered inquiry into human interaction with space; using his body and his voice, Aaron creates space, acts on it, measures it, inhabits it, brings textures to it. He bounces words and sounds off walls and surfaces, and uses his hands to frame and define them, as though to affirm proof of their physical presence. This is where Aaron’s title springs to life. Using his voice to draw forms and reinforcing them with corresponding movements, the artist effectively employs his body to assert the present moment.

The ubiquity of Aaron’s references matches the ordinariness of the apartment setting he inhabits. If we accept (as hard as it is to do), that his words don’t contain meaning, just as we cannot draw any intellectual sustenance from the commonplace white walls and modern furnishings of the apartment, we can begin to approach Aaron’s actions simply as the building of shapes with his arms, and legs, and voice. By using the tools of language to occupy and create space, viewers may fall prey, as I did, to the urge to decode Aaron’s unfamiliar mode of expression through traditional channels of communication. The artist challenges us to unlearn, for a few moments, the trappings of language, and find the message in the medium. Liberated from the cognitive processing of language, I found something far more stable: the tangible, physical occupation of space.

Tess Thackara is Senior Reviews Editor at Art Practical, an online arts journal to which she also contributes writing. She holds a BA degree in English Literature from Trinity College, Dublin, and has completed internships at Phaidon Press, and McSweeney’s—where she contributed research to Dave Eggers’s creative nonfiction work, Zeitoun. Her photography has been exhibited in London, and she recently produced a short documentary film about artists Richard and Judith Lang.

Interview with Aaron GM

icon for podpress  Interview with TPG18 artist Aaron GM [22:58m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Introduction to “5 Improvisations Within The Mundane To Affirm The Present Moment”

5 improvisations within the mundane to affirm the present moment by Aaron GM is The Present Group’s eighteenth piece.  The edition of 100 usb drives contain an interactive video of Aaron performing in 5 locations within a domestic interior.  Users may navigate through the 360 degree experience by moving their cursor back and forth and resting where ever they like.

One way or another, Aaron GM’s work is about presence.   When we first encountered his performances we took him to be lost in a single moment, repeating and playing with sounds and movements.  They were reminiscent of the joyous and strange songs we find ourselves singing at the end of a long car trip, only in physical form.  But in our interview with Aaron, he explained that he didn’t consider himself lost in his performances, but supremely present, internalizing and translating the environment into his own personal form of expression.   Either way, his movements and use of language creates and invigorates the space and the public around him in a way that both challenges and invites the viewers in.

Aaron GM (b. 1978 in Washington D.C.) lives and works in Los Angeles. He studied at both San Francisco Art Institute and UCLA. Recently he exhibited a solo presentation at the NADA Art fair in Miami Beach (2010). Other Recent solo exhibitions include capezio (2010) at ltd los angeles, Timeshares (2009) at Parker Jones Gallery in Los Angeles, and sales calls (2008) at Blanket Gallery in Vancouver. Aaron has shown in group exhibitions both nationally and internationally.

TPG18 in the mail.

First edition out while being parents.  Harder than we thought.

Upcoming artist Aaron GM on Art Practical, Bad at Sports

The current issue of Art Practical has an excerpt of a conversation between AP contributors Zachary Royer Scholz, Elyse Mallouk, and Patricia Maloney and artists Aaron GM (TPG 18) and Ginger Wolfe-Suarez that took place at the Art Los Angeles Contemporary Fair.  It was one of several conversations held over the weekend of the fair as part of “In and Out of Context: Artists Define the Space between San Francisco and Los Angeles,” a program that invited artists to consider the two cities as a continuously evolving constellation of dialogues, shared interests, and overlapping approaches. You’ll be able to listen to the full interview on Bad at Sports starting Sunday, May 22, 2011.

AGM: “I want to reflect life or this affirmation of life. You know, this optimism of transcendence in the mundane and in the domestic. That’s the space I like to dwell in, reinvent and play with. There’s a lightness and playfulness in that space.”

Read more on Art Practical >>

Upcoming: Aaron GM

The Present Group is pleased to announce that the 18th artist edition for their Art Subscription Project will be by Aaron GM.

Aaron GM (b. 1978 in Washington D.C.) lives and works in Los Angeles. He studied at both San Francisco Art Institute and UCLA. Recently he exhibited a solo presentation at the NADA Art fair in Miami Beach (2010). Other Recent solo exhibitions include capezio (2010) at ltd los angeles, Timeshares (2009) at Parker Jones Gallery in Los Angeles, and sales calls (2008) at Blanket Gallery in Vancouver. Aaron has shown in group exhibitions both nationally and internationally.

Aaron is currently getting a new set of performances ready to show at Green Gallery in Milwaukee, WI.

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