Nicolas Trembley: How did you get the idea of working on this project? What was the starting point?
Sam Falls: I had the idea because I was already working outside making long-term sun prints on fabric in California, leaving objects that were referential to the place the work was being made on top of a textile that suited the subject matter for as long as it took (usually 8 months to a year) to make an image of the object by the sun fading the fabric around the object; natural long term photograms essentially. A good example of this is when we lived in Highland Park in East Los Angeles I collected tires discarded on the streets around the area and left them on pre-dyed polyester (a synthetic substrate to match the rubber subject). Then we had recently moved to Topanga Canyon where we lived on a dirt road in a more natural environment and our neighbors said they were getting rid of their record collection. I took three boxes, about one hundred of their records, and selected the most naturalist symphonies, Vivaldi's Four Seasons being the best example, and used them as my new subject matter. I took the records out of the sleeves and placed both the vinyl LP and its case on the fabric.
I matched the color of the fabric to dominant colour of the record sleeve. As I was doing this I dually conceived the sound element and knew it would be a dramatic piece, so I chose a bedazzled fabric and pre-planned for the installation to be a dark room, like a theatre for example where a symphony would be performed, and the works will be spot lit like an orchestra. I ultimately silver-leafed the frames so the sparkles of the fabric and the frame catch the light like the metallic instruments and strings in an orchestra.
I should also say the record and its cover are ideal for my work because they are pure circles and squares respectively, so they speak to abstraction and geometry in the context of art and art history, but they are also very recognizable sizes in western culture and have an indexical quality that is totally representational and referential to the every day. Just like a tire, two by four wood, or gardening lattice as I had used before.
Why is it important for you to use recognizable forms?
To point out the capacity for abstraction in everyday elements (or experience), and the indexical nature or abstraction. This translates really well in highlighting the differences (or similarities) between photography and paintings and sculpture, or rather gives me the ability to employ them all equally and their respective histories. So while photography is the immediate tool for representation and painting is the go to tool in art for abstraction, they merge in this method of material and process with the object/subject as both an abstraction and indexical image.
Lets go back to the project, what's the title of this project?
There's no overarching title for the show – however each piece has been titled the name of the record that was used to make the image. The corresponding sound piece which is Vivaldi's Four Season slowed down to the course of one year and lined up exactly so the length of each movement lines up with the season it refers to will be titled Untitled (Vivaldi's Four Seasons for the four seasons).
What will we see / hear finally?
The twelve framed fabric works are spaced evenly in the room, spot lit, and the music will play in the same space for one year. The reason for one year is that is how long it took to make the works in the sunlight – to create the image, as well as the fact that the four seasons occur over the course of a year. I have slowed down Vivaldi's Four Seasons from a little over 40 minutes to 365 days. The speed has been altered accordingly since each season is a different number of days, and each movement thus occurs during its respective season, in the space of the works which were exposed to these seasons in their making. It's the fours seasons in it's entirety. So there are four concertos: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. Each one will play in order during its respective season, the same as the full four concertos but just much slower.
Twelve pieces are in the show, and only one of those pieces was made with the Vivaldi recording, the rest were made with different symphonies or concertos by various composers, which are specified by the title. But the Vivaldi sound piece will accompany all the works on the wall.
So it's a photogram installation? Are you interested in those questions of medium and why?
They are sun-faded fabrics, not photograms. Of course the qualification is interesting to me and a large part of why I work this way – however I don't find it my obligation to qualify the works. This presents an interesting question of medium specificity and process, but that's only one element of the work's structure. I find it interesting because I think it undercuts a large and ultimately tangential if not meaningless conversation of certain mediums and their placement in art. I'm much more concerned with the art itself and the digestion/conversation thereof. But it is very exciting of course to merge various mediums with a result that is surely art yet unclassified medium-wise. What do you think about the medium at hand?
You worked also specially on the soundtrack for the exhibition, can you explain the process of the sound?
To explain further than above, the work was first transferred from vinyl to tape, then digital. It was then brought back up to the proper pitch since slowing it down changes that, then separated second by second into files that run through a program that continuously alters the pace by fractions to accord with each season. The reason for this is the length of the seasons change little by little every year and in order to have the sound play exactly at the right time over the years we had to work with a programmer to make the timing perfect every year as the seasons change their duration on earth. So the entire Four Seasons will always last 365 days, but the length of each individual movement will vary year to year.
Are the paintings autonomous?
I like to think my hand is absent. The image or layout is the same for each work, a standardized composition to match the standardized size of the vinyl LP and cover. The idea is to limit my involvement so the real producer of the work is the sun, a natural process that everyone is familiar with and not mediated by my own hand or taste. Thus the experience for the viewer is immediate, familiar, and the interpretations are subjective and not prescribed.
The installation is talking about notions of absence, past, why are those concepts central to your practice?
There are overlaps with photography there for sure, that the image and work refers to a time past, and it holds that Barthian melancholy, that it is irretrievable. The difference here is that it is not a transferred image, it is less a document than a relic. The object is unique and carries the time with it rather than transferred. So it is a subtractive process rather than additive. The work has this melancholy because holds time in a corporeal way, the way a body does. There an optimistic, productive quality to the object, the way a person grows, but also a sadness that's present with aging.