At 2732 S. La Cienega Blvd, Cherry and Martin is pleased to present an exhibition of new sculptures and illuminated lightboxes by T. Kelly Mason. The word “charrette” refers to any collaborative session in which a group of designers draft a solution to a design problem; in this case, the design problem is the past - how the objects with which we surround ourselves embody that past.
Walter Benjamin, in his famous essay, “Unpacking My Library,” (1931) invites the reader to join him in “the disorder of crates that have been wrenched open, the air saturated with the dust of wood, the floor covered with torn paper.” Benjamin points out that the [book] collector’s passions border on the “chaos of memories.” He writes that the “whole background of an item adds up to a manic encyclopedia whose quintessence is the fate of the object.” This need for personal connection is so strong in fact, that Benjamin suggests that it is often better for us to individually own and cherish objects, rather to have them to rest in public institutions (where they would be available to all) because it is only in the loving hands of the informed individual that an object's 'manic encyclopedia' reaches its full potential.
In our present virtual age, Benjamin’s conundrum seems deeply physical, perhaps perverse, something we both do and do not understand given our current position as residents of a digital world, albeit living in a real one. We are told that digital circumstances circumvent the need for objects. Objects like books, for example, need no longer exist as they are always available on-line.
T. Kelly Mason's videos, light boxes, sculptures and installations address space and structure as both object and idea. Mason's longstanding interest in the ideological coding of space plays off the experiential and direct currents that appear in his art. Thinking about how we build our private spaces, how we decide what to keep and what to throw away, Mason turns to the programmatics of a writer like Vilem Flusser, who suggests:
“Hard objects have the advantage of being relatively stable. A stone knife can preserve information about 'how to cut' for tens of thousands of years. Information stored within hard objects creates informed objects that constitute our 'material culture'. The disadvantage is that such informed objects (tools) are used not only as memory supports but also as data banks: the knife not only keeps information on 'how to cut' but also is used for cutting. The use of the tool wears out the information it carries, much like a shoe which loses its shape with wear. This wear creates the problem of waste, which is at the center of ecological problems. Disinformed objects constitute a pernicious type of memory failure.” Vilem Flusser, On Memory (Electronic or Otherwise) from LEONARDO, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp. 397-399, 1990.
Mason's past works and texts cite Foucault, Piaget, Athusser, Deleuze and Guatari; in this exhibition, a traditional expressive vehicle (painting) finds an analog in a series of colored light boxes, such as “Richter Kopernikus-VII Precision Drafting Set” (2016). Each lightbox image is a hand-cut collage of lighting gels. The gels Mason uses are commonly employed in animation; they are not paintings. As Mason has noted, "I always had a problem with color in paintings. I grew up watching TV." The light source for these images is the transmissive magic light of lightbox advertising, common throughout Los Angeles and other world cities.