Never one to be terribly excited about group exhibitions due to its nature. However, I was impressed with what was experience at Dimensions Variable. Fathoms is presented by Florida International University to showcase their MFA works. I had been given the opportunity to investigate the process of this collaboration with Andrew Horton, a graduate student in the Masters in Fine Art program who has agreed to elaborate on the method.

Eddie Arroyo
I was curious to know your impulse with the use of space in your work. What notions are you contemplating/ addressing?

Andrew Horton
When I’m working in any space I’m interested in how it’s used, how it is occupied, how a person moves in the space, and what assumptions are made about the space. There’s certain notions we take for granted, especially in galleries: the lighting will be a certain way, the room will be a certain shape, there is organization, accessibility is key. But spaces have the possibility to shape your perception and I think they can do it in a much more subtle way then people generally consider. So if you go to see art, the art may be telling you certain things, but the spaces in between –when you move from place to place– will shape how you interpret that information. And that action of movement adds an element of time. So I want to prod into those things and subvert them.

Arroyo
I clearly noticed this to be the case with the Fathoms exhibition at Dimensions Variable. Its notable to point out that its a group show and what makes this particular exhibit unusual is that it moves away from the compartmentalization which usually dominates the presentation of an effort like this. There is an organic sensibility to. Yes, you can see that there are sections in the room where the work changes but it has a fluidity to it. Can you talk more specifically to this collaboration?

Horton
At the point when this show came up our ideas were beginning to converge: we were dealing with issues of place, absence, and change so addressing those concepts was a no-brainer. When we started getting our ideas together there were several of us talking about sculpture and installation and doing things that would really modify the space. I wanted my contribution to be structural and to not only modify the shape of the space, but serve as a platform off of which other things could happen. Gardner Cole Miller proposed his tarp piece which would cut the height of the ceiling down and cast the room into a low blue light. At that point there were two major interventions in the space that had to recast how we thought about how it would be seen. We acknowledged that the work we were making was going to be heavily influenced by other works and rather than fighting against that or trying to carve out niches or conversely trying to make one massive collaborative piece we readdressed our work in relationship to the space and to one another. Everything there was made specifically for that show and we embraced the idea of each element acting as a site for other actions and we addressed the curation of the show among the group. It was no longer about just the individual pieces, but of creating an entire environment that was meant to be navigated.

Arroyo
We discussed Gardner Cole Miller’s tarp piece as of tremendous value to bringing the space together and successfully presenting the environment. This show is much more different in approach recalling Repeated Marks which was the last exhibition your group collaborated in at the 6th Street Container. I am still very curious to know what led to this impulse to collectively decide to create an environment. Are there any influences that may have aided the project?

Horton
The contrast between the two shows is actually something I keep coming back to, and I can’t pin it down to anything single source in the interim. I think for some of the group it was just part of progress: the themes were there but it was a matter of addressing them more directly. Less representation and more about the physical presence. We also just had a very different feeling going in: it was all “go big or go home” and the notice we had on the show was barely more than a month. The work was really developed specifically for the space and we all had our input on one-another’s work. It was a kind of art boot-camp: it was so imperative that we operated on an accelerated pace and spend a lot of time working together that we developed better ideas faster. Breaking through peoples’ comfort zones was a big part of it. I had an initial idea for my piece, but when Cole proposed the tarp I got really excited about the show and the possibilities for really changing the space.

Arroyo
I wanted to touch upon an approach we discussed in the space when comparing an aesthetic of a piece versus the content of a piece. Do you feel that this exhibition is driven more by an aesthetic or some abstract narrative that is being conveyed? Especially when you describe the show as an environment meant for navigation.

Horton
I don’t think that a hierarchy of content vs. aesthetic can really be applied. The aesthetic experience is one which reads as decay, entropy, and change simultaneously. The aesthetic of the space and the viewer navigating it is the story. The space is set up in such a way that it requires the viewer to walk through, experience, and discover the work. It’s a slow revelation process. Without that process I think there are aspects that would be lost. The core of my contribution was creating a scenario that would force that situation and create a dynamic of things hidden and revealed.

Arroyo
What has been the overall response to this method of presenting a group exhibition?

Horton
I think a lot of people have been really surprised by the dynamic of this as a group exhibition. It has clearly articulated individual voices, but they are not compartmentalized and the way works casually move from one to another. There is a clear dialog among the pieces that is more than just careful curating: they came into existence together. The scale of the show is also pretty big and the spacial modifications are drastic which just doesn’t happen frequently either. It will be interesting to see how everyone will choose to present the works outside of this exhibition or if they will even consider showing them again.

Arroyo
I’m glad you mentioned that. What concepts will you be addressing in the next exhibition now that space has become more integral to the work?

Horton
I’ve been finding that my relationship with objects has been changing: rather than thinking about the art occurring in the objects I’m much more concerned with the temporal aspects of viewing a show. The objects are more of a means. I do hope to build on the piece that I included in Fathoms outside of that group. The free-standing room created a situation of interiors and exteriors inside a bigger space and created something to contend with, but it was up to other people to address the outside and as I said, they were corresponding but separate works. If I’m taking it on solo then I’m not really making something for others to contend with; I’m responsible for choosing what the outside is. The contents of the room can totally change though, as can the shape. It’s really not important that it continue being the same thing in different places.

www.andrewhorton.com