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Odd Interview #4 with Trevor Gainer

Odd Mailing #4 from Trevor Gainer (LA)

Conrad: I first saw your work in the Hershberger barn at 8550. You
were using a pull saw to fashion a tripod stand for what turned out to
be a sort of modular beacon. Wherever you placed it, it charged the
air. It opened up the landscape to a kind of other-worldly
atmosphere, while also being an elegant solution to a practical
problem. What do you see as the primary wonder and/or the primary
technical innovation of that sculpture?

Trevor Gainer's beacon on the pond
Trevor: I find wonder in the search, wandering generally until the specifics
are dialed in. Prior to Harold Arts, and the Hershberger barn, I was
looking for lighting equipment for a video that would volumetrically
explore the confines of a pitch black cave. I experimented with
numerous lighting solutions, from clusters of headlamps to disco
balls. I found the right light in combining some mechanized DJ
equipment that projected a high density of little round lights. A
distant cousin to the disco ball, the equipment projected a light
quality that read as if it were searching for something rather than
the party object language that is reflected off a disco ball.
I arrived at Harold Arts with the intention to continue a similar
exploration inside several caves that I had read about near
Chesterhill, OH. My plans changed after a late night on the porch
overlooking the pond when I realized that the entire night sky and
landscape generally funneled down into a point on the pond, and that
this could be an interesting place to project back from. I was very
surprised with the results from the pond even though I had a pretty
good idea of what would happen. All of the elements seemed to conspire
together to produce something with so much more impulse than I could
have predicted.

C: The way you describe it, the point on the pond (or wherever the
sculpture is placed) has a voice in some kind of artist/object dialog.
If dialog is the operational metaphor, are you giving voice to the
pond? Or less poetic: is dialog with the cave the process that led to
a more delineated and beautiful space made visible by DC batteries and
rotating LED's.

T: I see this as an ongoing project that will have other iterations, each
one dependent upon the characteristics of a site to provide productive
connotations that transform it beyond its thingyness. When the
construct is not working it's just a funky object set into motion
amongst a backdrop, but when it works, it works as an encapsulating
experience where the dialog between viewer and site can get really
interesting. I do see it as giving voice to the site, but I don't
trust what it's saying. The way in which the device aspirates and
rearranges the things that it reveals pulls me between beauty and
something dark.

C: You raise the notion of trust. Can a work of art ever be trustworthy?

T: Absolutely, but only when the last person alive on Earth proclaims to
have made the the most trustworthy art ever made on Earth. But then,
since they are an artist, self doubt would creep in and its
trustworthyness would be questionable.
I think that if it were necessary to have trust in art, then maybe
over time there would be a consensus on the definition of art. Then,
by default, any work of art would be trustworthy.
What I really think is that maybe truth can only be experienced by the
artist, and all that is witnessed from afar is but shadows cast from
objects illuminated by flashlights carried by natives hauling a
river-boat over a mountain.
At the end of the day though, I still find it interesting to try and
toe that line of veracity and realness amidst a landscape built for

C: It all sounds so grand, being an artist, searching, boat hauling,
being the last person alive... And then someone opens up a package in
the mail to find a bag of chips frankensteined to a soda can top and
painted yellow and white, and this is the result of your flashlight.
For Odd Mailing #4 you have made an intriguing vessel, from commonly
used things. Could you tell me and our readers what compelled such a
strange mingling?

T: Some of my earliest memories are of the piercing pain and funky echo
chamber sounds of my voice caused by ear infections. apparently I had
enough of them to effect my speech development which made my
enunciation loose and I did not favor proper spacing between words. I
still have to fight the urge to speak asfastasicanthink.
I was reminded of this after having made most of the odd mailings,
probably 2/3rds of the way through production. At some later point
with the finished product in my hand I recalled the feeling of
getting a peculiar stomach ache at a movie theater after having eaten
too many red vines, including the one that was utilized as a
straw to sip my coke.
It's literal inception came while cleaning the console in my truck
after a Home Depot lumber/hot dog run. I really liked the way the
mostly empty bag of chips, mustard stained napkin, and can of squirt
all stayed clumped together as I tossed them into a gas station trash
can. They hung on to each-other long enough for me to think about them
as a single unit, so I made them that.

C: At last, the depot dog is honored! Back when it was open 24 hours,
the north avenue home depot in Chicago was the only place to eat at 4
in the morning. Late night dining choices aside, I think that you are
onto the future of food. You have figured out how to make hot dogs
that are also chips and mustard and a can of Squirt. There you have
it, the unpredictable consequences of a trip to Home Depot. Thank you
for sharing in this Odd Mailing the effects of a little moment of
leisure taken from the clutches of lumber tossing. We thank you.


weird Hot dog picture from Trevor