Carl Pomposelli will present a new video work and an immersive installation comprised of all of the objects in his studio. Throughout the duration of the exhibition, Carl will be in the space cataloging all of his possessions.
I am picturing Dax sleeping. Your dog. He is dreaming. He is dreaming me writing this letter to you. He is dreaming me picturing myself in a swamp, someplace equally green as wet. I am there with the dog of Odysseus, Argos.
Argos and I are sloshing through wetlands. We hear frogs croaking and cicadas chirping and the hyper-beating hum of dragonfly wings. Some yards ahead of me I notice a blue heron. Argos does too.
His fur is stretched taught over his shoulder blades. Head bowed low, snout just above the water. He exhales sharply. Ripples travel outwards across the gilded surface, contacting cattail stalks. The sun is setting. A single engine plane glides noiseless overhead. It's reflection skims the brackish surface then disappears. Golden hour. Thick splashes. Argos is making lunging pounces towards the bird. The sludge water is too heavy, too noisy. Sloppy suction sounds. His paws are drooling mud. There's no chance. He loses footing on a front paw and careens shoulder first into swamp water. The blue heron flies off.
He's panting now. Muzzle droplets. Hanging salty tongue, toothy grin. As if it never happened.
Let's review dog memory for a sec.
Folks who study canine cognition echo the scientific sentiment that dogs lack episodic memory. We possess it and we know we do because we can wrangle our present alongside our wanton future and our wanton past. Dogs seem not to share this concept. Rather, they are assumed to be blindly unaware of temporality, merely stuck in our concept of time. They are caught in its unidirectional flow to the point of not noticing it move, a perpetual present without needing for it to be consciously examined. Where we are mired up to our nostrils in time, inundated by the sound of its ever-creaking fossilization, the dog is the one truly unstuck, burying the damned thing and going about the rest of his afternoon.
In your video, a suspended stick wrapped in fishing line dances merrily in concert with a suite of other objects: Duchampian puppet theatre. All of these objects have a story of a memory, your story of meaningful acquirement. The stick, you tell me, belonged to Dax, one of a few, procured in Idyllwild whilst visiting Erich. You all shared a day in your lives together. Tangibly speaking, it occurred not because you remember it, but because you have the assurance of the object, a ward against solipsism: schizophrenic memory. I'm jealous.
You dramatize the narrative of object attachment on both a cosmic and microscopic scale. Worlds of memories team about you. An ecosystem at any power of ten. A Sierpinksi gasket of things. Private things, things gifted to you, common things, forgotten things, everyday things, things of hers, things arrived to by chance and things stolen. All public yet still intensely private. All available for micro and macro consumptive dynamics. All in the same field, all sharing the same skin of light and volume of air. They exist as monuments and maquettes of monuments but remain organic, fungal—moist, ever heaving, exhaling moments lived and inhaling moments of re-imagination. You're shifting the laws of material aura, from one developed in think tanks, to one embodying your personal museum of memory. You are archivist, cartographer and librarian. To reach your museum we canoe through bogs of peat-moss and trees with bark the colors of mercury. Pass through Rorschach menageries of butterfly patterned oil slicks. Ever calcium white skies. Methane bubbles popping. A Corot quality of light.
Object collecting points to a subconscious disavowal of mortality. It helps us forget for a brief moment that we will die, instead stewing us within fuzzy feeling sentiments like nostalgia, longing or beauty. Within the archiving of a collection, determination is partnered with the imposition of will. Order is demanded and permanently sustained. The risk of knowledge gleamed is as redolent as knowledge lost. Ever engendered conditions within the development of any system. But you archive not knowing where it is developing, or who will wish access. You trust that it takes you where it needs to.
But you are also an embalmer of memory, a macabre practice by which you asphyxiate it within your collected objects. It undergoes the preservative art of mummification and shares your living quarters. You live with still lives. You are in a tableau of many tableaux. You are in the house of Vanitas where food is precariously served. But it's in the dinner chatter where things become other things. It is in the retelling of the memory, immortalized through language or as object—that it becomes something other. Like water.
Water is the same everywhere and not the same anywhere. In the span of now, water's volume, color, surface tension has changed. Water is the twin of memory —siblings sired by Father Time. Janus. One watches the sun rise in the east, the other watches the sun fall into the sea. I'm waiting for the big splash that never comes.
In another video, you suspend your dear nephew in perpetual mid-fall above the surface of a swimming pool. Gravity's removal bequeaths to your nephew the look of cloud. A drink in honor of the permanent cusp. The Swimmer, a short story by John Cheever comes to mind here. A man swims the span of each of his neighbors'swimming pools to get home. Jump in, you swim a span, time passes. As you climb out chlorine slicked, your memory begins to fail and death gets a little closer. Let your nephew hang in the air for as long as possible.
Fireflies now. Appalachia is the land that time forgot. We can be in any of the summer months. You've finished guiding on the upper Pigeon River for the day. You trudge up Faith Mountain to your lodgings while carrying a large rock as futile armament against bears. One mile and a half. Bears and dogs are from the same evolutionary branch. An abundance of trees. Too many to name, but one sticks out: ailanthus altissima. The constellations Ursa Major and Canis Major up top, lightening beetles below. The Smokey Mountains sit beneath the Milky Way, on either end of Tennessee and North Carolina, between Venus and Mars. A place very green and very wet.
Pisces is your zodiac sign. There are unfinished drawings and paintings of pool life in your studio. Drawings of friends in bathing suits, little ones in kiddy pools. Some of your online photos include you wakeboarding and playing favorite uncle at the water park, as well as you with your father paddling down white water in a bright yellow canoe. You love color. You're a painter at powers above and below base ten. At base ten you can be confused for a sculptor really "into entropy." Your work's entry point is simultaneously granular and topographic—take a magnifying lens aboard a plane, grab a window seat and enlarge the world visible in glass. It's all about perspective.
So as you set out to begin this epic task of memory sorting, be prepared for the references to mythological tales of labor, penance and deliverance as well as paradox. This is a Herculean task, a John Henry of an ambition, is your back meant to fit this burden? Are you prepared for the eventual encounter with this unknown yield? This swamp thing?
Writing specializes in misdirection. I haven't talked about trash magic, your favorite color (pink), composting, bottle caps, there's so much I've misplaced....What I have written points to the innate folly of a single mind with specific interests. Picture me, felined, in a cobwebbed study. Plato's bust split open. Mandrake seeds germinating in the pit of his skull. And roller skates, roller skates. We see, we name, a descriptive function is provided, a use value. We effectively blanket the thing we see in words. Now all we see are the words.
Memory is cruel you know. The more we remember something the more it warps, a funky superpower—like Medusa's glare—the moment we see in our minds, we destroy. We are bound to always approximate, further distanced by the approximation field of our language. Our life remembered is technically pure imagination.
And when we die our keepsakes will carry the last vestiges of our time spent physical. That too will be misremembered. We will die in multitudes. Prismatically. To our friends, our families and lovers our lives exist as pure memory, then, upon our death and after, we exist as pure dream. Into the silent water.
In the days of Roman Empire, the name "Dax"was shorthand for a place. Aquae Tarbellicae. The French region of Aquitane. D'Acqs —"the waters." Dax. You say he dislikes bathtubs and pools, but takes to waters from oceans and lakes.
As it should be. World without end.
Letter writing is a formality. As is your show. You'll be living there, things will be seen and we'll treat them as art—a largely informal setup no different than your current studio, but for the fine formal difference between "seeing"and "seaming." It's all about how we're looking at it. Perspective. An artful life within an art life: a dream within a dream.
When are we going to the desert?