Booksculpture: Part 1 of 4 : The Beach.
Photographs by Arthur Tress. Text by Steven Brown.
edition GALERIE VEVAIS, 2011. 32 pp., 32 illustrations, 12x12".
Special binding: 4 folders in an acrylic glass sculpture
INTROS by Steven Brown
Part I : The Beach
Arthur Tress...notes these familiar patterns with an eye discerning not only the beauty of shape and form but the 'grace' that accompanies our relationship to it, our dance with it, our seduction by it. And if grace is the intent of our creative impulses, then these pictures show that it is something we are constantly moving toward. But in our everyday lives, that which we move toward is not the angelic host materialized. It is the road sign, the gas pump, the quotidian and ineluctable. We ask ourselves what practical purpose do these things—the neglected stairwell and the doorframe—serve? What could they possibly mean in the absence of human care other than a stress in the poetics of universal geometry—the balance between terrestrial directives and cosmic symbols?
Part II : The Country
To the inattentive, the crosshatching shadows of a guardrail or the zigzag of toppled 2x4's are little more than peripheral inconsistencies with our neatly put-together lives. To the intuitive eye, however, (to the Tressian eye) a stranger, more sacred space exists between, underneath, behind, and among our factoried facades. Those shadows and stairs are the visible tracings, as Tress himself notes, of the ineffable mandalas that surround us; those misplaced 2 x 4's are the sun's rays engraved on so much of our tribal pottery and native totems. Look at them long enough, as with a stereogram, and these loose stitchings of form merge and facet together by their own familiarity of being, revealing—as Tress's vision has done time and again—the threads of works and wonders on which we balance our lives.
Part III : The City
Tress calls his diamond-framed pictures, 'pointers.' Indeed, each picture points us back, not only to the sacred obsessions of our human past—obsessions with the beauty of proportion: the Tetraktys and the Golden Section—but the sanctum of the human imagination itself. These images then are the facets of a singular, cathedral window through which we see the prismatic emanations of our world defamiliarized.
Part IV : The Desert
This is not entirely the Modernist vision of the apocalypse now. What we find here are particles of and passageways to paradise—the manifestation of W. B. Yeats' dialogue between self and soul where 'we are blest by everything' and 'everything we look upon is blest.' The multiform glyphs we see in these photographs are not only preexisting phenomena, as in the shape of a tree, but a byproduct of our own existence, as we see in the gate that mimics the tree. Tress mentions in a letter the 'semi religious vibration' of 'how things are in the world and simultaneously in the great beyond outside of that—found in the most ordinary of things...a cracked sidewalk, some geometrical shapes at a construction site, building shadows, etc.'