Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Art Space Talk: Carla Falb (Part 2)

Roller Coaster Series: Statosphere by Carla Falb

This is Part 2 of my interview with Carla Falb. To read Part 1 click, HERE

Brian Sherwin: Carla, what about other influences? For example, are you influenced by any specific artists?

Carla Falb: The idea of combining roller coaster tracks from various viewpoints in a single composition is derived from Cubism. In Gertrude Stein’s words, I am attempting to create a world where there “There is no there, there.” This notion can also be likened to Einstein’s imagining that he could travel on a beam of light where space contracts, time dilates, and now enlarges to encompass the past and the present.

The Futurists were also interested in creating this experience of simultaneity in their work while using imagery that glorified technological advancements, speed, youth, and violence. My subject matter certainly seems to fits the Futurists’ iconography, and simulates the experience of traveling the length of the roller coaster in a single instant. However, being a Post-Modernist, I use the imagery of the rides with a sense of irony and wonder of the need to experience extreme thrills and fear as a recreation in our twenty-first century pop culture.

In graduate school, during the summer of 2001 when I was just beginning my series, I saw two exhibits that would profoundly influence my work: Wayne Theibaud’s retrospective at the Whitney, and architect Frank Gehry’s models and sketches at the Guggenheim. Prior to viewing these exhibits, I always considered constructed/man-made forms and natural forms to be diametrically opposed.

When I saw Gehry’s spiraling wave/shell-like buildings and Theibaud’s plummeting waterfall San Francisco streets, I realized that natural and constructed forms could be melded. My roller coaster tracks could become strands of DNA, circulatory systems, explorations of time and space, wormholes, and universes. In addition, partly because of Theibaud’s influence, I enjoy employing roller coaster imagery in my work so that it can be appreciated on a variety of levels: by the general public, young and old, as well as the art world.

BS: So what is the specific message you strive to convey to viewers? Do you adhere to a specific philosophy as far as your work is concerned?

CF: In Meyer Schapiro’s essay, “On Perfection, Coherence, and Unity of Form and Content,” the concept of unity in a work of art is likened to the “mystic’s experience of the oneness of the world or with God.” What does this have to do with roller coasters? Certainly on a formal level, I focus on uniting my compositions through use of color and repetition of forms. But the question remains, how can spiritual awe and the thrill of amusement rides be compared when they are on entirely different planes of existence? Perhaps like the process of art making itself, each is associated with a need to transcend the mundane experience of everyday reality.

A critic once described my roller coaster drawings as twenty-first century versions of M. C. Escher’s work. After hearing this, I did some research on Escher and found that his complex black and white prints are influenced by an unlikely combination of Mathematics, Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, and Eastern philosophy. According to Leonard Shlain in Art and Physics, Escher’s depictions of Mobius strips in several of his works vividly illustrate the Chinese concept of Tao. On the site, www.thetao.info, Robert Friedler states that “common dictionary translations of Tao include: road, path, way, means, doctrine.

In the Tao Tee Ching, it is generally used to indicate the unseen, underlying law of the universe from which all other principles and phenomena proceed.” Roller coaster tracks can be viewed as pathways and equated to a complex Mobius strip, since at the end of the ride, the cars arrive back where they began. This cyclical law of the universe, where opposing forces are unified, is the philosophical core of my work.
Roller Coaster Series: New York, New York by Carla Falb

BS: What are you working on at this time? Can you give our readers some insight into your current work?

CF: I recently received a Dodge Foundation Visual Artist/ Educator Fellowship and will use part of the funds to travel to Los Angeles this summer to photograph roller coasters and various amusements at Tomorrowland in Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, and the Santa Monica Pier. When thinking about the next progression in my Roller Coaster Series, I considered that even though I have always lived on the East Coast, the imagery in my Roller Coaster Series has more of a West Coast/ pop culture vibe. So I decided that LA would be an ideal location to gather new source material for paintings.

I’m looking forward to being taken by surprise by the unexpected amusements or images I will encounter, not just the rides I’ve viewed online. I’m also interested in photographing the parks at night. This is something I have never tried before, and I think I might like the disorienting effects of the colorful lights and the blurred motion.

To read Part 3 of my interview with Carla Falb click, HERE

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin
Senior Editor
Myartspace Blog on Twitter

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