December 03, 2003
Memories But Not Yet


Well, for a while I've been trying to figure just how to write about the artist Sam Easterson. Some people have heard of him, others not, but now it's MeFi'd so fuck it.

When Sam was at Cooper Union, he lived with my friend Matt, and I remember being taken in to see his bedroom, which was a loft bed and almost nothing else. Matt: "See? The rest of the apartment? It's total chaos? And then you come in here to Sam's bedroom, and look... it's just this bed, a clock, and these weird marks on the walls."

During and since then, Sam went on to do some of the greatest videos I ever and never saw. It started, far as I'm concerned, with the video he produced by putting his camcorder in the running clothes dryer. Maybe earlier. It was simple enough to be brilliant, and complex enough to be dumb. Later, there was Blowout, in the Whitney Biennial, which was something like what a hot-air popcorn machine would say if it could speak.

Since then, the simple has gotten much more complex, and also more simple. Sam evidently got his hands on some small and durable cameras at some point, and also got his hands on some animals. Here's a sheep, for example.

From Creative Capital: "Easterson's technology enables a cow, a pig, a goat, a chicken, a sheep, and a horse to guide us around their world; what they look at, what catches their attention, how they move through space, and how they relate to one another, on the farm."

During the years of making art and during the years of not, no question was ever less interesting than what was or was not art. I learned for myself however, that my main criterion was whether I saw the world any differently, before and after seeing someone's work. In that Sam's work does nothing less than providing us with eyes that we do not otherwise have, I think it's extraordinary for doing that.

There's a great deal more to say about it, but the simple link to his lifelong project Animal, Vegetable, Video on Mefi may not really do the work any justice. It's the opposite of simulation, somehow, to just duct tape a camera onto a frog, to see how the world works. To see the world so slow, to see the trees fly by that quickly, to feel the ground that low, they feel like memories, sometimes, but not memories we have yet.

Posted by kevin slavin at December 03, 2003 02:43 PM

and Easterson has a show at CLUI right now. LA readers, go!

Posted by: dbrown on December 3, 2003 04:56 PM

See also the German WWII pigeon-powered surveillance cameras, at the International Spy Museum.

Posted by: Kevin Slavin on December 30, 2003 07:23 PM
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