Jasper Goodrich attended Skidmore College, focusing his studies in sculpture, in particular metal casting. He has exhibited in New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Press includes Art New England and the Newport Mercury. He is currently studying Printmedia at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The first artwork I was happy with was a hollowed out tree trunk measuring 4 feet tall. I drilled about twenty holes at random into the side of the trunk, each 2 inches in diameter. Inside the trunk I affixed circular mirrors supported by metal rods, corresponding to each hole. The mirrors were positioned so that when the viewer looked down into the tree trunk, they saw a reflection of the world outside. In one glance, the viewer could see the inside of the tree trunk and the ground it rested on, in addition to twenty snippets of the outside world. I playfully titled the work Reflections of a Woodpecker.
Sitting in my studio recently, I thought of this piece in connection with my current work, titled the Digital Project. Producing this work, I did not know the exact subject matter, but did know that I wanted the piece to be made of many elements, creating a loose narrative. Influenced by music videos (aren't they great, there are no rules), I imagined the narrative could start with a character waking up and starting their day.
I have been thinking of the Digital Project for three years. It has gone through many iterations (at one point it was solely going to be an internet work, hence its title, which seems to have stuck), but they all arose out of my desire to include current culture. Like many artists, I am often reacting to my past work. Primarily cast in materials such as iron, bronze, and concrete, these relief sculptures incorporated compositions influenced by entities such as geometric abstraction, cornfields, ziggurats, and Lorenzo Ghiberti. All these influences are old stuff. In the Digital Project, I wanted to include current culture. I wanted to be like those young kids with their internets and embrace the flood of images.
This year, I have been influenced by the Swiss collaborative Fischli and Weiss. In the 2016 Guggenheim retrospective catalogue concerning their installation for the Venice Biennale in 1995, Nancy Spector writes, "Aspects of their own daily routines also provided convenient material for videos, such as dropping Fischli's son at school, getting their tires changed, visiting the dentist, and making art... Since Fischli and Weiss were filming so many people at work, it occurred to them that they should turn their camera on themselves, documenting a day in the life of their studio..." This quote is not overwhelmingly interesting, but for some reason, it produced an aha moment. As I am making work about this character starting their day, I will simultaneously make work about producing the Digital Project. In other words, I will turn the camera onto myself and my production in the studio. I reproduced sketches and notes jotted down over three years of planning. I made images concerning options of display. I ripped photographs out of fashion magazines, because I could later sample their composition or colors. The piece started to show, not only the studio as a site of production, but also the anxieties, vulnerabilities, and contradictions an artist experiences as they plan and complete artwork. A recent chain of thought concerning the project goes a bit like this:
"I want to have 4 different characters. In the beginning, the characters will be separate, but as the narrative unfolds, their lives will meet. Very similar to that movie Crash. Should I treat/paint each character in a different style? Perhaps the scenes with each character will be color coordinated, blue, green, yellow, orange. Who should these people be? Old or young? Then I would have to speak from someone else's point of view. I bet writers don't worry about point of view as much as artists. Actually, I bet they do. Lets just go from my perspective and scratch the characters all together. It sure will be easier in production, but might dig deeper in the end."
This type of discourse and constant self reflection in the making of things is exactly what I want to bring to the foreground. Do I love finished, clean art? Yes. I have made monochromatic artwork cast in delicate plaster with rectangles and right angles. I love seeing an Ellsworth Kelly shaped canvas hung confidently on the wall, the yellow radiating onto the white wall behind it, casting a ghostly shadow onto the polished gallery floors (wow that sentence...). I am more interested in the paint swatches in the studio, the yellow school bus that Mr. Kelly saw reflected in a puddle, and the shape of his cat stretching, which I imagine all went into that painting.
Going back to Reflections of a Woodpecker, at the very bottom of the trunk, there is nothing but the floor it rests on. This is similar to the Digital Project. The "subject matter" is banal and everyday. Waking up is something that everybody does and is not particularly interesting. What is exciting are the mirrors and reflections of the outside world as you peer down into the sculpture. I find this a perfect analogy for the Digital Project: the most interesting parts of the work are the thoughts of the artist, the plans, and contradictions, not the final subject matter of a morning. The viewer sees small slices of the world, as they attempt to see the center, which is ordinary and empty.
My past work was about the apparatus of pictures (its presentational devices): frame, mat, and picture plane. I have slowly been working from the outside of the picture to the inside. Now I am digging underneath the picture plane. I am investigating how creative people create and combine ideas to produce things and images. In other words, my work is about creativity and imagination (two words that make me cringe a little for some reason).
Investigating how ideas come about, I made an "Idea Chart." I found that many ideas recorded in my sketchbooks were often lost. So, I copied them chronologically on large charts, some measuring 7–10 feet long. Once, listed in one place, I am able to see patterns and the work really becomes the art of combination (note to self: I just read this over and this is like being an interior decorator...ha!). What if I create a Filemaker database with all my ideas, which is constantly updated? Everything goes in, ideas big and small. Textures and colors I like, influences, random compositions, things from TV, complex musings, the list goes on. Just looking at the last few pages of my sketchbook, ideas could be something like this:
—Idea: Make abstractions only using realistic photos in Lightroom. Alter basic settings and arrange with the "Print Packages" function.
—Idea: Use all the tools I own to make one work (haha)
—Idea: Taken from Asel Adams—photos of people behind screens (or scrims).
—Idea: Make a modernist sculpture!!!!
—Idea: Make an abstract painting, but footnote everything in the painting with numbers, so as not to plagiarize... FUNNY.
The archivist in me says to inventory these ideas. I will create a large set of tags/keywords for each idea. Maybe even 50 tags. They could include categories such as landscape, figure, funny, sad, composition, formal, color, and on and on. So, if I ever wanted to make a painting about a sad figure in the landscape with a formal composition and hints of pink, I could search just that and a list of ideas would appear. If many ideas came up, it would be a game of exquisite corpse with my past self. If there was only one idea for each tag, then I would have my artwork there, ready to ship. I should have pictures for each idea, so the computer could make a rendering. I can't believe I am about to use an inventory program for my art... but before I can afford one, I guess I will use Excel.
My friend is making work about human intelligence. I was thinking of him and got scared for a moment. What if the computers got hold of my idea inventory. Could they become me? Or if the key to human creativity is in such a program (absurd statement), what happens when computers learn how to be creative and gain an imagination, signaling the end of the world?
To conclude, I am interested in how ideas come about. I am interested in the tangents in the studio that often weave their way into the final piece. I explore the anxieties, vulnerabilities, and contradictions of creative thought. I want to make work that incorporates many influences and images but perhaps is empty in the center. When you do not commit to one thing, one idea, it opens the work up to incorporate a multitude of small slices of the world.
Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.