Essay by Jim Heitzeberg
Cardboard is ubiquitous in our society. It is one of the foundations of our current economy allowing for the efficient packaging and transportation of goods. It touches our lives everyday and it scarcely registers with us. We have become so used to its presences that we just don’t pay any attention to it.
Attention is one of the tools we use to gather information about our world. It is a primal function one that has allowed us over the course of human history to pay attention to those thing that are life giving or life threathing. We focus our attention at will when we are motivated to do so. One motivator for shifting our attention is a change of context of something in our enviroment. A couple of things happen when we place our attention on something. The first is that as we see the thing we are paying attentiion to in more detail the second is that we begin seeing it in places that we had not noticed it before.
By shifting the context of cardboard from our daily environment at large to the gallery we are forced to focus more of our attention on cardboard than we normally would. We consider what we know about the attributes and uses of cardboard and apply that to the art before us. The artist must recognize the same uses and attributes as the viewer and play on them to bring meaning to the art work.
There is the work of several artists represented in the show an each focused on the subject of cardboard from a slightly different angle. One piece plays with the ideas of modern technology and our expectation of instant results. There are pieces that play with the definitions of what they are made to represent. Understanding how we respond to the painted image cardboard is elevated as it becomes the subject of paintings and asks for our attention in the same way a more traditional subject would. Cultures have always produced images of what was important to their mythology from easily accessed materials i.e. wood, clay, fiber. By rendering familiar religious and cultural imagery in cardboard, one of today’s most plentiful materials, these ideas and the frameworks from which choices are made and meaning is derived are examined.
Have fun with the show. Watch how your mind refocuses your attention and using what you know about cardboard ask questions about what a given piece is pointing to and what questions it is asking. We are all part of the same cultural experience so the answers are not hidden.
video link for Cardboard Photo Booth by Julia Bradshaw