Studio Visit: James Huang
Wednesday January 27th, 2010
January 27th, 2010: James Huang presented a collection of recent work at his Williamsburg studio.
Often James’ sculptures employ narrative and decorative elements, which thematically imply different notions of time and makes tangential reference to architecture. During the discussion James mentioned the disconnect between two-dimensional representations of the third dimension and the actual visual and physical experience of objects and spaces. The group discussed the push that some 2-D artists feel toward working in 3-D, and that some sculptors feel toward a theoretical fourth dimension. This push seems to play out narratively in James’ sculptures, particularly in The Final Frontier, which makes reference to a sci-fi show’s stage set and to the idea of the non-corporeal body via teleportation. The physical surface of the sculpture is laden with finishing techniques made to look like venetian plaster, marble, and metal through faux finishes, lighting effects, and reflections encouraging the viewer to reflect on which materials are actual and which are implied. In The Golden Age of Plaster, a series of contemporary tools sculpted in plaster with hardwood details–a chain saw, a coffee maker–imagines a hypothetical archaic people envisioning the future though plaster.
Participants debated how the level of invention in James’ smaller works compared to the larger highly realized pieces, and whether the small sculptures serve only as drawings/proposals or if they also succeed as complete works on their own.
The group discussed the sculpture titled The Origin of the Things not only as rumination on the four elements (earth, wind, fire, water) but also as a study of evolutionary theory. The group posited the nature of the artistic creative process as “non-Darwinian” in that evolution in art work is determined by a cognizant force (the artist) and the variations on a theme are created whole. Simultaneously this sculpture plays with themes of myth, creation, science, humor and narrative – each theme eclipsing the next.
In many ways James’ sculptures are tableaux of subversion–indexical objects, that in their meaning or making transpose the response to the ideas or objects the sculptures refer to.
-Amanda Lechner & Rachel Frank
Discussion and Artist Links:
Dematerialization – Lippard
Dematerialization – Roddenberry