Jay Sullivan @ Conduit

by Chris Jagers February 23, 2010


If there were three balls on the floor (1lb, 50lbs, 100lbs) but all the same size, shape, color and surface … could you tell the difference from just looking? The questions of mass, ambiguity and perception seem to be Jay Sullivan’s starting point. I had previously written about his rock-forms here , and now he has just opened a new show at Conduit gallery: More pictures here.


This show included his straw-based figurative work, drawings and his new direction – manufactured “rocks.” This includes the smaller “rocks” from before, which people have to touch to understand: the materials are not really natural after all. This context casts into doubt the two large rock-forms in the center of the space, which look semi-natural. You have to knock on them to figure out they are cast iron. But what are they cast from?Jay has been designing rock forms digitally, a mode that is the seeming anti-thesis of rough natural forms. The line-based prints on the walls are actually schematics of rock-forms he has designed. I overheard him say that he “became interested in how an ambiguous looking design could represent such an un-ambiguous form.”

Looking at my photos later, I started to see a relationship between his straw figures and these prints. The line in the prints have wire-like quality, very similar to the wire which pinch his straw-based work into a figurative shape. Except in the prints, the flat schematic lines push on each other.It is as if Jay progressively isolates one part of his studio practice, and then expands on it. This is a great example of how sorting out the parts of one’s activity can become the representation.

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