Is it conceivable through conventions of knowledge-production to see the world through the lens of a fish, a tree, a rock, or from the perspective of petroleum? Even this simple proposition seems absurd, flawed, and hair-brained at best. Culturally and scientifically, our faculties for the apprehension of truth can only ever be approximations and flimsy metaphors. David Brooks, 2012
American Contemporary is pleased to present an exhibition of new work by David Brooks. The title, Notes On Structure, is from an essay by Erik Henriksen and Rene Morales describing the behavior of oceanic fish and our ill-fated attempts at understanding what structural principles determine the shape and movement of their schools.
A phylogenetic tree is a branching diagram that indicates evolutionary relationships between biological entities, and their common ancestors. Brooks has orchestrated the exhibition around a three-dimensional layout of a phylogenetic tree that traces the evolutionary paths of humans and one of the world’s most sought after game fish – the Atlantic Tarpon – a fish with enigmatic migration routes, whose ancestors were some of the earliest predatory fish, and is able to breathe oxygen through an air bladder rather than gills. The sculptural diagram is disrupted by the approximation of a school of fish writhing through it, defying their classification on the branching tree.
The structure of a phylogenetic tree is a format that allows science a glimpse into the processes of the world and organizes them in a manner that can be called knowledge. While such contrivances are requisite for maintaining a sense of stability within a world that is perpetually in flux, by definition they are only able to provide a single perspective of the state of things: they guide our use of natural systems while simultaneously omitting the elusive components that make up a complete representation of this dynamic world. The wall constructions lining the back gallery function as portraits of this conflicted notion of perception. The works behave like conventional interior walls but behind each of them is a scaffolding system, analogous to those used for museum artifacts, tenuously holding specimens in positions only partially seen from the front. The exhibition will be punctuated by Industrially wrapped habitats, invented ecosystems heat wrapped beneath plastic, which lay blunt emphasis on this notion of our imposed and limited theses on the world.
Notes On Structure (imbroglios, heaps and myopias) sets architectural components and industrial packing materials in playful conflict with approximations of diagrams and specimens, reframing and interrogating the aforementioned myopias. The shortcomings in seeking the essence of things becomes subject matter and medium as Brooks capitalizes on these imbroglios to infuse process, motion, and adaptability back into the static structures that apparently define the world around us.
David Brooks (b. 1975) has exhibited at the Miami Art Museum, Dallas Contemporary, Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, Bold Tendencies London, Sculpture Center, New York and MoMA/PS1 where he had a two-year major installation. In 2011 Brooks opened Desert Rooftops in Times Square, a 5000 sq. ft. earthwork commissioned by the Art Production Fund that received laudatory reviews from the New York Times, Art in America and Artforum. He lives and works in NYC.