Notes from Buster Simpson on his lecture “Shards of Incidence,” Wilson Lecture GAS Conference, 2016.
Shard Cornice (2000) and Incidence (2002) are two projects that share a conversation about the intrinsic qualities of glass as material and its associations with social and economic values at the edge between desires and need. Shard Cornice was first exhibited in 2000 at the Henry Art Museum and later at the Bellevue Arts Museum in 2005 and is now in the collection of the Corning Museum of Glass and presently on exhibit. Incidence was a temporary installation located in the top plaza reflecting pool for the opening of the International Museum of Glass in Tacoma Washington in 2002.
Shard Cornice repurposes detritus of ornament into a deterrent of intrusion, drawing from the tradition of placing sharp objects, often broken glass, along the cornice of defensive barriers. Glass shards were gleaned from the dumpsters and studio detritus of some of the most skilled art glass studios and then redeployed as a pragmatic means of homeland security. “Shard Cornice, a wall of concrete blocks topped with multicolored blown-glass castoffs, sure to detain the most discriminating home-invaders” (Sheila Farr, review of a show at the Bellevue Arts Museum, Seattle Times 2005). Shard Cornice is a baroque, seductively vulgar and transparent acknowledgment of social discrepancy and as such, glass is often the first target of that discontent. Ironically here the detritus of aggression is appropriated in the service of a defensive posture.
Incidence responds to the phenomenon of the incidence of ambient light on glass to provide an ever-changing reflection to the sky and surrounds. Incidence reflects the geometry of Architect Arthur Erickson and Wyn Bielaska signature conical “burn cone” Fibonacci cladding. Incidence is in response to the recent 9/11 Word Trade Center attack and references a series of performances and installations titled Glass Card House created in the early 1980’s which were constructed of 3’ x 2’ sheets of Spectrum Glass to referenced the iconic “card houses.” The assembled structure was approximately 9’ high. A performance of constructing the glass card house was conducted at the Pratt Art Center during the 1981 Glass Art Conference in Seattle. This performance consisted of precariously stacked glass sheets held only by friction of glass to glass, presented a condition of chance. The eventual collapse of the card house during the performance supplied shards to incorporate into an early version of the Shard Cornice.
These two pieces relate to Purge Diptych (1983-1990) recently shown as part of Sublime Les Tremblements Du Monde at the Center Pompidou-Metz 2016. The diptych consists of a document of two “street actions” one that heals a wrong, and the other that confronts that wrong. Shard Cornice and Incidence present a parallel concern “if not this, then this.”
© 2000 Buster Simpson
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