Artist Statement

Ren Adams
Project Statement – 
Whitespace-Bluespace – Televisual Memory and the Implied Catastrophe

Life is a rush of contingencies. The wonderful, terrible sublime of “before” and “after,” a strange and delicate dance of relativity. As we commit experience to memory, details become blurred, lost, remixed—fact folded with sensation, sequencing lost to the abyss of recollection. Over time, we embellish, or crystallize moments, often losing more than we retain. Like episodic TV viewing, we construct a mosaic by assembling clues extracted from the media flow—from our life experiences—allowing us to “know” people, places, and events by collating often disparate pieces of data, much of it reframed (often misunderstood).

Using cell phone photography in a real-time system of manipulation, I captured digital “monotypes” from the TV screen, generating an archive of 23,000+ experimental images. These image-cells were mined from a personally poignant television series–Miami Vice, which I watched in its original context, during a time of personal loss and disruption. Using an obsessive, ritual system of watching and extracting, combined with manual and digital glitch, I suggest the imperfection of memory and our incomplete understanding of situations–colored by a disturbing voyeurism. These suspended moments are seemingly extracted from the “before” and “after” of an unclear, yet disturbing, system of events that vacillate between the almost-gained and almost-lost.

The characters, like memory, are composed of fragments, sampled and informed by our own recollection of other images in the installation. The viewer might begin to understand, but true clarity is denied. This endless catastrophe of “instants” combines passive works on paper, active video and intimate View-Master spaces—and my eroded heroes are denied resolution, forever stuck in transition. Undermined, human, uncertain, temporary.

(2016)


Ren Adams
Project Statement – 
Whitespace-Bluespace – Televisual Memory and the Implied Catastrophe

Life is a rush of contingencies. The wonderful, terrible sublime of “before” and “after,” a strange and delicate dance of relativity. As we commit experience to memory, details become blurred, lost, remixed—fact folded with sensation, sequencing lost to the abyss of recollection. Over time, we may even embellish, or crystallize moments, often losing more than we retain.

Memory formation relates to the way we engage television—we grab bits and pieces of information about characters and situations, often by viewing episodes out of order. We understand events by assembling a sensitive web of memories, culled, even appropriated, from different seasons. Like episodic TV viewing, we construct a mosaic by assembling clues extracted from the media flow—from our life experiences—allowing us to “know” people, places, and events by collating often disparate pieces of data, much of it reframed (often misunderstood).

Using cell phone photography in a real-time system of manipulation, I spent 8 months capturing digital “monotypes” from the TV screen, generating an archive of 23,000+ experimental images. These image-cells were mined from a personally poignant television series–Miami Vice, which I watched in its original context, during a time of personal loss and disruption. Using an obsessive, ritual system of watching and extracting, combined with manual and digital glitch, I suggest the imperfection of memory and our incomplete understanding of situations. These suspended moments are seemingly extracted from the “before” and “after” of an unclear, yet disturbing, system of events that vacillate between the almost-gained and almost-lost. An eerie voyeurism casts additional fragility.

The characters, like memory, are composed of fragmented, episodic information, sampled and informed by our own recollection of other images in the installation. The viewer might begin to understand, but true clarity is denied. There is a tense passage of moment into moment, an endless catastrophe of “instants” presented as passive works on paper, active video and intimate View-Master spaces.  My eroded heroes are denied resolution, forever stuck in transition, their lives suspended as frozen, oddly linked moments—undermined, human, uncertain, temporary.

(2016)


Ren Adams
Artist Statement – Poppy Transitory

Poppy Transitory investigates the sincere absurdity of processing loss with decorative memorials, themselves transitory tokens of grief. Based in a fiercely personal, yet oddly abstract pain, the series considers the story-infused space of mourning—colorful, obsessive layers behave like memory extracts.

Conflating the mysterious Mojave Desert deaths of my sister Cindy Adams (1972) and musician Gram Parsons (1973), I ask what it means to “know” someone through location-tied story; to “understand” events via embellished clues, just as I “knew” both individuals through family narrative. What does it mean to assuage loss through well-meaning transference? Do gifts for the dead resolve our perplexity?

To engage this, I use transparent layers to suggest recalled memory, story cycles, and the deluge of tokens posthumously offered to Cindy and Gram. I deconstruct and reframe the language of the Mojave Desert, the visual vocabulary of memorial shrines, and personal iconography from Cindy and Gram’s clothing, whirling them into a sensitive system of overlaid shapes. The desert they loved represents and consumes them.

Aware of its own artificiality, the work earnestly embraces our candy-colored attempts to mediate the space of grief with flowers, cards, and condolences—the physical trappings of a cultural process of mourning, often our only recourse in grappling with the unexplained. Poppy Transitoryis itself a fragile, momentary monument to the passage of imprints, the trace of Cindy and Gram, and to our moment, an undeniable passage of its own.

(2016)


Ren Adams
Artist Statement – Desert (Loss)

Desert (Loss) investigates the suspension between loss and distance, through the language of a fractured desert. These remixed landscapes imply the weirdness of the West; vastness and density become memories of memory, mutations of a white-hot encounter. Historian Simon Schama says “landscape is a work of the mind. Its scenery is built up as much from strata of memory as from layers of rock,” just as our own stories and memories are constructed of layered moments.

My strata are flattened, graphic layers, which suggest the way recollection develops a fictional sheen, with pinpoints of lucid detail; certain moments burn and remain. The play between flatness and depth asks what it means to inhabit the space between memory and experience, where fleeting exchanges flare and dissolve. My compressed imagery is remixed, just as we shuffle memories like tracks on a playlist—moments fade and recur. Some details get replayed.

In processing a personal sense of dislocation and loss, I am drawn to the landscape of media and television—complex spaces I’ve inhabited in life and through the ambiguity of fact-fiction. Like memory, TV offers a dual sense of place, a spark of the ‘here’ and ‘elsewhere.’ Imagery in Desert (Loss) remixes my own media-infused artwork, drawing on television, personal photographs and even Google Street View to form a composite desert; a California-New Mexico-Hollywood of past and present.

(2015)


Ren Adams
Artist Statement – (Spring-Summer, 2015)
The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert
Catalog Version

Rooted in a personal connection to Southern California, which permeates American television from the 1960s-80s, I hunt, excavate and deploy conceptual instances of the Mojave Desert and its entanglement with the real, the vividly scripted and the culturally iconic. Mediated by television, Los Angeles County becomes mercurial, behaving as stage and script, environment and blueprint—a mythic, cultural hunting ground. In this telescoping space, landscape conflates time and memory, location and topography, television and reality.

The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert engages this TV-inflected landscape as an interdisciplinary installation: a hot-and-cool mosaic that asks viewers to seek, receive and connect. Using semi-narrative focused on suspension in the moment, I compress the essence of site into a meta-narrative of television itself, where loops suggest watching and remembering. Populated by a vulnerable recast of heroes engaged in a kind of primal forensics, an endless hunt plays out across layered, time-compressed paintings, through active, audio-infused videos, and via dreamlike digital montage.  Viewers (and characters) investigate this anxious environment, bouncing between media, events and their realizations. There is a pervading sense of déjà vu—such that television becomes its own self-haunting memory. The environments thus inhabit the actual, the imagined, and the transient place of recollection, a collapsed space conflating personal history, topography and cultural production.

(2015)


Ren Adams
Artist Statement – (Spring-Summer, 2015)
The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert
Alternate Version (13.3)

‘Landscape’ is an active site of occurrence—a platform of media-influenced exchange. Reflected through televisual language, it offers a relative experience, tied to our sense of geography, time and shifting notions of history. The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert engages TV-inflected landscape as a permeating condition. In this telescoping space, landscape conflates time and memory, location and topography, television and reality.

Rooted in a personal connection to the Southern California landscape which permeates American television from the 1960s-80s, I hunt, excavate and deploy instances of the conceptual space-place of the Mojave Desert and its entanglement with the real, the vividly scripted and the iconic. Mediated by television, Los Angeles County becomes mercurial, behaving as stage and script, environment and blueprint—a mythic, cultural hunting ground. The Cascade seizes this instability as an interdisciplinary installation: a hot-and-cool mosaic that asks the viewer to seek, receive and connect.

Using semi-narrative focused on suspension in the moment, I compress the essence of sites into a system of surface-screens—a meta-narrative of television itself, where loops suggest watching and remembering. Populated by a vulnerable recast of heroes engaged in a kind of primal forensics, an endless hunt plays out across layered, time-compressed paintings, through active, audio-infused videos, and via dreamlike digital montage.  Viewers (and characters) investigate the anxious environment, bouncing between media, events and their realizations. There is a pervading sense of déjà vu—such that television becomes its own self-haunting memory. The environments thus inhabit the actual, the imagined, and the transient place of recollection, a collapsed space conflating personal history, topography and cultural production.

(2015)


Ren Adams
Artist Statement – (Winter-Spring, 2015)

The Cascade – Moments in the Televisual Desert

Landscape is relative and performative. Tied to our sense of geography, time and shifting notions of history, it serves as a physical anchor, a philosophical boundary—the innate expression of time tied to the measurable boundary of space. The Cascade engages landscape as a permeating condition—a collage of interpretive macro and micro understandings, always in a physical and socio-political state of flux.

Rooted in a personal connection to the Southern California landscape which permeates American television from the 1960s-80s, I excavate instances of the conceptual space-place of the Mojave Desert and its entanglement with the very real, the vividly scripted and the culturally iconic. The LA County of my youth carries personal, regional and cultural levels of understanding and history, intensified by its presence in television narrative. This transitory, televisual landscape punctuates a shared understanding of time and location. The Cascade freezes a trace of this literal and ephemeral physicality—folding the elastic moment back in on itself. Within this wormhole, landscape conflates time and memory, location and geology, television and reality.

The Cascade installation suspends geographic, semi-narrative traces once removed from their physical location by the original television filming and again removed by the act of capturing and mutating a temporal instant. The environments thus inhabit the actual, the imagined and the transient place of recollection, emblematic of a collapsed space that conflates personal history, geologic reality and cultural production. Both an experienced and imagined sense of place adopt non-linear roles in this elastic-space: landscape becomes a memory-textured platform of exchange.

(2015)


Ren Adams
Artist Statement (Spring, 2014)
The Cascade Project

Landscape is relative, performative. Tied to our sense of geography, time and shifting notions of history, it serves as a physical anchor, a philosophical boundary—the innate  expression of linear time tied to the measurable boundary of social space. The Cascade engages landscape as a permeating condition—a collage of interpretive macro and micro understandings, always in a physical and socio-political state of flux.

Rooted in a personal connection to the Southern California landscape which permeates American television from the 1960s-80s, I excavate instances of the conceptual space-place of the Mojave Desert and its entanglement with the very real, the vividly scripted and the culturally iconic. The LA County of my youth carries personal, regional, cultural, and international levels of understanding and history, intensified by its presence in television narrative. This transitory, filmic landscape punctuates a shared, macro-level understanding of time and location. The Cascade freezes a trace of this literal and ephemeral physicality—folding the moment back in on itself as distorted screen captures that undergo digital transformation.

The Cascade suspends geographic (and linear) traces as photographs once removed from their physical location by the original television filming and again removed by the act of capturing a temporal instant. The environmentsthus inhabit the actual, the imagined and the transient place of recollection, emblematic of a collapsed space conflating personal history, geologic reality and cultural production. Both an experienced and imagined sense of place adopt non-linear roles in this digital elastic-space. Serialization, multiplicity and accumulation allow counter-memory to emerge as stills excavated from the “porous container” of film.

(2014)


Ren Adams
Artist Statement (Fall, 2013)
Alchemy of Image 

We live in an age of information—a socio-cultural climate that straddles the material and immaterial, our daily interactions taking place across physical and theoretical environments. Space and time collapse in the face of this digitally-driven landscape, redefined by delivery and access. As we engage this data cascade, theorist Henry Jenkins claims “[we] construct our own personal mythology from bits and fragments of information extracted from the media flow… transformed into resources through which we make sense of our everyday lives.” This pronounced hypertextuality allows for connectivity, remix and recombination previously inconceivable in visual art (and culture at large).

My primary body of work investigates the nature of emergence in the data cascade—addressing the way being materializes from non-being, matter from the void of non-matter, in relation to time-relativity and fluid perspective. Extending into the hypertext of time and space, I use visual vocabulary to address information as matter, the interconnectivity of networks (biological, social, spatial) and the deep virtual space where it all takes shape.

Synthesizing ideas found in physics, information theory, Eastern philosophy, archaeology, digital culture, mass media and linguistics, I embrace the interdisciplinary nature of mixed media, layering printmaking techniques with drawing, painting and digital processing. These layers address convergence, the originating space where substance takes root, generating a virtual archaeological dig where viewers uncover artifacts, moments and mysterious terrain. The resulting alchemy of image integrates micro and macro components, revealing transitory connections while expressing multiple points in time simultaneously.

There are endless networks within networks—the systems of matter, information and social interaction spiraling, remixing, inviting deep exploration. I aim for a relativity of past and present, matter and awareness: pieces become field notes for a digital, personally mythological, universe.

(2013)


Ren Adams 
The Cascade – Project Statement (Fall, 2013)

Landscape is relative, performative. Tied to our sense of geography, time and shifting notions of history, it serves as a physical anchor, a philosophical boundary—the innate expression of linear time tied to the measurable boundary of social space. The Cascade Project engages landscape as a permeating condition—a collage of interpretive macro and micro understandings, always in a physical and socio-political state of flux. It investigates the hypertextuality of time, space, matter and information flow, resulting in an alchemical whirl of images that address the collapse of linear time and the generation of personal mythology.

Rooted in a personal connection to the landscape of Southern California which permeates American television from the 1960s-80s, I excavate fluid instances of the conceptual space found in fleeting media backdrops.  This transitory landscape punctuates television narratives, knitted into production, reception and even a shared, macro-level cultural understanding of time and location. The Cascade freezes a trace of this literal and ephemeral physicality in an instant—folding the moment back in on itself as distorted screen captures that undergo myriad transformations.

The hundreds of pieces that make up The Cascade form a virtual archive that engages space, information and time relativity. It suspends geographic (and linear) traces as photographic stills once removed from their physical location by the original filming and again removed by the act of capturing a temporary instance. The archived environments inhabit the very real, the imagined and the transient place of recollection, iconographic of a collapsing space between personal history, geologic reality and cultural production. In The Cascade, both a native and imagined sense of place take on non-linear roles, existing within the relativity of deep digital space.

Characters and commerciality are de-emphasized in favor of transitional space (conflicting narrative time) and regional collisions (shifting camera views), though inevitably present. Compositions are posted in a virtual gallery, allowing the viewer to sift through images in an individualized fashion, while the gallery format allowing connective links to behave as a hypertext supercluster. The project currently makes use of stills from The A Team, Knight Rider, Emergency! and MacGyver, filmed across Santa Clarita, Valencia, Topanga Canyon, Carson, the Antelope Valley and greater Los Angeles County, California.

(2013)


Ren Adams
Artist Statement – The Archaeology of Being (2012 – Spring, 2013)

The Archaeology of Being explores the nature of emergence—depicting the way being materializes from non-being (literally and metaphorically) through paint, print, and digital techniques. Drawing from philosophy, science and visual art, I attempt to unpack the point at which something takes form, in conversation with the semiotics of anthropology and Taoism. By carefully arranging visual components in layers, each piece offers a glimpse into the ethereal connection between form and the spark which initiates and combines. Through the layers themselves, I open dialogue with the nature of interconnection, analyzing the originating space where all substance takes root.

Visual elements in the show can be viewed in their entirety, yet allow the viewer to peel back individual moments, offering a virtual archaeological dig of the combination and recombination of elements. As scholar Robert Wenger says, “Archaeological excavators and visual artists are involved in a process of image formation. They not only document and replicate the appearance of things, but also make ideas, concepts, and experiences visible.” Moving beyond mimetic representation, the esoteric becomes visible within a new visual vocabulary.

(2013)


Ren Adams
Artist Statement – General (2012)

“Mt. Sumeru is contained in the grain of a mustard seed.” Li Yu

Printmaking is a philosophical art.

The printmaker produces work by capturing the fleeting, almost intangible impression of the original, holding it delicately in space as an imprinted memory. Every print is, as artist William Kentridge dubbed, a “trace” of the original matrix; a clue left behind like a bit of archaeological detritus. Layers of printed images, therefore, become a fractured historical record of the concept of image itself, revealing the process and mystery of image-making the way pottery shards combine to unveil the vase.­­

Ren Adams combines printmaking and Chinese brush painting (another philosophical art) in formal exploration. With an insatiable desire to document the inter-connectedness of all things, Ren allows the viewer to actively peel away layers of visual evidence, discovering what it means for being to emerge from non-being the way an archaeologist brushes away time to reveal relative truth.

As a Taoist, her work is both a form of moving meditation and an articulation of the Tao itself, investigating concepts of balance, harmony, and enlightenment, while celebrating the ordinary as extraordinary. Through “li,” or vigorous strength, lines are expressive and loose (paired with the tight and contemplative), conveying a sense of timelessness that unites philosophy, science, history and mysticism. Each piece captures the present moment and offers a virtual archaeological dig of being.

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