Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT


I was in the city by the bay and I went to the newly refurbished San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.  The thing I really wanted to see was the exhibition by Sohei Nishino titled New Work.  It consisted chiefly of what Nishino calls “Diorama Maps,” a kind of photo collage. 

Image - Michael Hoppen Gallery

The method, as I understood it, is that he chooses, or gets a commission to photograph, a city.  He goes there, explores, and takes thousands of pictures.  Much of this exploration is done by walking the streets and most of the photographs are taken at ground level, though some are obviously taken from much higher viewpoints.

Nishino prints off contact sheets, cuts out single frames, and assembles them into large-scale collages that looks somewhat like a map, somewhat like an aerial view of the city.  These collages are then rephotographed and printed large scale, and this print is the final product.


I didn’t absolutely understand all that before I went, and I found myself just a little disappointed by the size of the works on display in the exhibition.  Having seem images like the one below, I’d imagined they might be as big as a gallery wall.


Still, it would be churlish to complain that the prints weren’t big enough, so I’m not going to do that.  Like real maps, these works by Nishino allow a dual perspective – you see them from a distance and they give an overall sense of the city but then you need to look closer at all the details.

Image - Michael Hoppen Gallery

Nishino has been making the diorama maps for the best part of fifteen years but lately he’s started a series he calls Day Drawings.  He tracks his own movements via GPS, brings them up on the computer screen, places a piece of paper over the screen and punches holes in the paper tracking his route.  This then becomes a kind of negative.  He shines light through the holes onto a sheet of photographic paper, thereby again forming a sort of map. 

Photograph - Ivan Vartanian

Nishino cites the great artist, walker and mapper Richard Long as an influence (well, how could he not?) and a work by Long titled “Autumn Circle,” 1990, was situated in the museum conveniently close to the Nishina exhibition. Thus:


You may already know that I once had a job guarding a stone circle by Richard Long in the Tate Gallery in London (I was a security guard – long, not very interesting story) and I spent hours on end walking around it.  This was not long after there’d been some controversy about the Tate acquiring Carl Andre’s “Equivalent VIII” otherwise known as the bricks.


People would come up to me as I was pacing around the Long piece and say, “Is this the bricks?” and I’d take great delight in saying, “No it’s the stones.”  How we laughed.


Meanwhile elsewhere in San Francisco, at the Paul Smith store on Geary Street, the window-dressers (do we still call them window-dressers?) were showing a certain disrespect for the printed map – I mean, really.


2 comments:

  1. In museums- as much as i love them- i find i get museum foot after about a half hour

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean Keith - I think an hour in a museum is ideal. But since it now costs $25 to get into the SF MOMA there's a terrible sense that you have to get your money's worth.

      Delete