The other day when the air quality was so bad from the fires we drove to Joshua Tree because it was the only place nearby with good air. We drove east to the 330 and up into the San Bernardino Mountains. I love that landscape as you increase in elevation, the conifers and oaks gradually appearing, especially those grand black oaks. And all those boulders that are remnants of glacial movement. Then to the 18 and over and down the northeast side of the mountains where the landscape dries up to scattered desolate pinyon pines and desert plants. And finally descending into the Mojave, and then southeast around the mountains into a forest of joshua trees. Whenever it is dusk in the desert, when the light has that certain quality, I think about the long drives we used to take near Desert Hot Springs.
I have been thinking about your after-images. I am having a show in the space where you used to exhibit years ago. Your shows back then were about after-images. So I am wondering if there are any after-images still here. If I go in the space and close my eyes I could maybe still see the sycamore tree in your backyard that I saw here years ago. An after-image 15 years old. Maybe our work will co-exist as retinal memories.
My show is mostly empty so it’s perfect for after-images. What I am trying to exhibit is the passing of time. Or, more precisely, the passing of times. There are six re-programmed digital clocks, each running on a different rhythm. There is one that follows the wind. And one that follows rivers. Another has seconds synchronized with a heartbeat (my heartbeat). Another with my cat. They are subjective, biological, alternative, de-standardized times. Looking at the time used to be knowing the position of the sun in the sky. Time was a connection with natural and celestial movement. Now, when I look at the time on my phone, I just feel an emptiness, connected to nothing. What is anchoring those passing numbers? I want a time that can only be the time of right here.
I also made a new text work. It is the word ocean with a new spelling, looking like waves blown by gales of wind across the water’s surface. It is a reference to Aram Saroyan’s one- word poem from the 60s: lighght. Maybe you can say that poem has an after image within it. And now that I think about it, his poem is perfect for dusk in the desert, when the sun’s light stretches out from below the horizon and ricochets across the western sky.
You know the parking lot adjacent to the galleries? I heard a rumor it couldn’t be developed because there was a stream below it. I looked on an old water map of LA and saw streams running through the area. They were probably going from the swamps of La Cienega to the Ballona creek, and out to the Pacific. On the western side of the gallery building I have begun to water a vacant piece of dirt. I am coming in twice a week, cleaning out the trash and soaking it. I don’t expect a riparian plant community to re-emerge. But something will grow I’m sure. If only wind-blown seeds buried in the dirt waiting for their moment of resurrection. Waiting for the river to re-emerge.
(Text by David Horvitz)