vincent fecteau

In the summer of 2002, I was asked by curator Adrienne Gagnon of the Berkeley Art Museum to compose and present a work in response to the MATRIX/199 show of Bay Area sculptor Vincent Fecteau (you can see more of and about Vincent's work here, here and here).

Vincent's work at BAM consisted of approximately fifteen intimate sculpture, each slightly larger than a shoebox, arrayed on six waist-high tables. The work was quiet, in muted earthtones, dirty whites, industrial grays. Though on close inspection obviously constructed with everday materials and objects, the work could at first glance be construed as architectural models. The tension between these two oft-mentioned qualities of the work — an intimacy reinforced by scale and familiar materials; and a clear suggestion of scale, of the architectural rendering of inhabitable places (if of uncertain use) — were the focus of my response.

I sought to create a work that would reflect or invoke the sense of hovering between two scales: between inhabiting a space, and inspecting an object. I sought also to reflect the way Vincent's sculptures simultaneously repurposed everyday objects, eradicating their banality — and frankly disclosed that banality, even flaunted it.

On September 27, I presented Serendipitous Landscapes in the MATRIX gallery at the museum.




the other rooms
gauntánamo express

desert sun
the other side
on top of the world
what the thunder said
san francisco sauvignon

would you, would you?
invisible cities
deep creatures
vincent fecteau
monkey pod

Work of Vincent Fecteau
Vincent Fecteau 's work for the MATRIX/199 show at the Berkeley Art Museum

Knowing little of Vincent's working methodology, I fixed on the detail that some of his work evolves for years before it is considered complete. I tried to compose a work that in its own way existed in an in-between state, initiated but not closed.

To those ends, I worked with chance processes, as I have done with my Serendipity Machines. I established a constraining framework, but determined that the content of the piece would be determined by chance, when as I performed. My procedure was simply: from my collection of original minidisc recordings, I chose several dozen at random which met a single criterion: they had to contain at least one track that captured a consistent soundscape longer than five minutes. Tracks that qualified were identified on the disc with a sticker. (A unifying frame for the piece was provided by a nine-minute long looped recording of my wife thumping the wall in Angkor Wat's Hall of Echoes.)

At the beginning of the performance, I shuffled all of the discs present and arrayed them in several stacks. As the performance unfolded, I took one disc after another in the shuffle-determined order; and from each, I added a track into an evolving soundscape. Though the order of discs was random, I allowed myself the license of selecting which track on the disc (if more than one was listed) to use, and how long to use it.

This chance procedure, and its effect on the piece as it unfolded, was described to the audience in a brief question-and-answer period following the performance.

As with all of my performances to date, I 'played' a set of minidisc recorders and a small mixer. For this one, I placed five speakers between the six tables on which Vincent's work was arrayed; I decided early on to try to work with, rather than fighting against, the long narrow shape of the gallery. Different recordings were mixed to different speakers simultaenously, producing a different mix and emphasis depending on where one sat.

About MATRIX: MATRIX is twenty-year-old program at the Berkeley Art Museum, a unique 'framework for an active, experimental interchange - a triangular conversation between the artist, the museum, and the viewer.' Inviting an audience into the galleries after hours to hear my reaction to Vincent's work is typical of the unexpected, delightful, and provocative gestures undertaken in this highly-regarded series.

It was an honor to be invited to participate in the MATRIX program; special thanks to Adrienne Gagnon and Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson for the opportunity and enthusiastic support.

serendipitous landscapes21.9 MB

Excerpt from my response to the sculpture of Vincent Fecteau, in the MATRIX gallery of the Berkeley Art Museum. Recorded from the audience; the sound quality leaves something to be desired I'm afraid.