(If a bird was perched on the bow of this Bark, what song would it sing?)
We gather knowledge by collecting symbols. They can be arranged and ordered pictorially and phonetically. Clues yield to context which builds history and becomes universal understanding. Mark-Making becomes an object, personal heirlooms travel generations and are carried on the backs of a full spectrum of disciples—from Elders to Easy-Riders.
In a short span of time, technology has digitized the interpretation of our contemporary culture and spawned a massive array of communications. These are easy absorbed through personal devices. Our conversations have become enmeshed with abbreviated synthetic patterns that move from hashtag to common place.
William Corwin’s work are forms of this hybridization. His style equipped with an enormous alphabet of abbreviation, footnotes of the primitive and with the immediate depth of a wiki. The edges are jagged like binary blocks and also realized sensuality. These are works of Synthetic Digitism. Eyes are sunken-in, arms wrap to embrace, flat tiles are stacked and arranged to make small interior spaces and they all refer to active information gathering. The sculptures appear to be found fragments. The shattered architecture reveals mystical significance and they transform into contemporary Icons.
Chapollion, is a presentation in a Bark—a ship that would guide a pharaoh on their interstellar afterworld journey. Set up for this exhibition, Corwin’s solar vessel is on a burial voyage for the Father of Egyptology. Jean-François Champollion (an original Hacker) who freed the hidden narrative held captive by poor translation. He deciphered hieroglyphics and opened history.
Like any process of 0’s and 1’s, there is always buffering—some works share a repeated element—the shape of a Bivalve Shell—which looks embossed or chiseled onto a surface. It is a gesture of fertility delicately adorning a Madonna’s face or womb, and also more ubiquitously—like a design on a temple wall. Color is only provoked by way of obsessive documentation .
With a multitude of deep rooted connections there are only future possibilities. What begins as phrases on cocktail napkins, if provoked, can turn into words that lead a Nation. Similar confidences have been whispered into the cracks in the sides of these totems—split and re-stacked forms. Initially deciphered and accepted like contemporary HTML, now revealed as legendary.
Essay for the Catalogue accompanying the show Champollion at GEARY
curated by David Goodman
July 21- August 12, 2016