Seth Weiner, a Sci-arc graduate and long time friend of Roger, recently collaborated on an installation at the Standard Hotel as part of the on going PST exhibits happening in Los Angeles.
Turns out, we have been following Seth’s work for a while. Take a moment to read our Q&A session with Seth where we tap in to his experiences as a fine artist who found his niche through an Architectural school, and his journey from Michigan to the thriving LA art scene as a working fine artist. He will share with you his secrets of past, present, and still to come projects… Read the full article here:
Q: So from being an aspiring artist growing up in Michigan, how did you circumnavigate to Los Angeles?
A: I started looking around the country for areas which had the highest population of people with the name Seth Weiner. Surprisingly Buffalo, NY had around six or so. A close second to LA, which has nine Seth Weiners, all within ten years of each other. Also I’d spent time out here in my formative years running amok with Terry, so I felt like I had a small community of friends who knew me for better or worse since I had started the awkward transformation of puberty. The city itself was appealing, strips and pockets of difference, an allusive art scene, plenty of parking.
Q: Why did you choose to go to Sci-arc instead of pursuing the more traditional route of say a Masters of Fine Art?
A: I had gotten really obsessed with light and space works from LA in the 60’s and was basically working through similar issues. I was stuck in some unhealthy tunnel, wandering around and searching for ethereal phenomenon which placed and rearranged my perception of space. I felt like I hit a wall in terms of thinking, but honestly at the time I thought I would go to architecture school to learn how to draw and build these installations. What happened was entirely different, so I kind of stumbled into it on a whim and stuck it out. I was envious of friends in MFA programs, the lack of prescriptions they had to wrestle with but ultimately felt like it was the place to study the economic, social, political and spatial aspects of how people organize and are organized within built environments.
Q: Being a seasoned student and artist, how are you now able to apply the knowledge and skill sets you learned while being a student to your present circumstances or projects?
A: There’s this odd balance of simultaneously trying to forget and remember my education. The skills carry through but the difficulty is unraveling the various dogmas which are linked to them. I think the most interesting work I could make would be to thoroughly confuse my art and architecture educations. What I’ve realized since finishing school has been that not all projects and research lead to a building proposal. It sounds obvious, but it was easy to forget that in school, because that was the primary goal of most of the course work, but ironically arch school opened me up to working on more temporary project ideas. I think it pushed me to look outside of the interior of buildings, away from isolated objects and rooms to how neighborhoods and even cities are organized. We live with architecture and experience designer’s decisions constantly without reflecting upon the implications. Somehow that’s beautiful, that it falls so neatly into the banality of our lives, but also this becomes a problem because it is an incredibly powerful mechanism of control. It simultaneously allows us to forget about our surroundings because it functions so smoothly, but that ease is indicative of its capacity to order our actions. To literally contain, divide and group us. So I guess I’m able to use certain practical and technical tools to articulate and explore some of these ideas, dissect certain institutional situations and spaces in ways I probably wouldn’t have had I not had to design a gem-like art museum or truck stop in school.
Q: What’s it like going from student to teacher?
A: It’s great, I really love it. When the students are curious it doesn’t feel like a job at all but an extension of my research and practice. The room will carry this buzz of discovery where I’m also part of that excitement, learning along with the group. When they’re not, it’s a shitty atmosphere where you spend more time trying to convince them that it’s important to interrogate their reality, rather than actually questioning it. After having to respectfully listen for so many years I find myself getting intoxicated with the pre-fabricated authority of heading a class. I could see myself doing it for a long time, existing on a diet of only power and cigarettes, no food or water
Q: Who have you enjoyed collaborating with lately and what are you in to these days?
A: Untitled Collective, the group we started in 2010 is a constant collaboration. We’re all from really different backgrounds in terms of disciplines but there is this overlap and ambition to start from a specific condition, pick aspects of it apart and somehow present it in terms of a performance or proposal. We all thrive on various combinations of criticism, absurdity and ambiguity. Generally we’ll throw around ideas, piling up the absurdity than stripping layers away until it feels like the project has the potential to create a more expansive conversation about the ideas and site involved. Also, I pretty much make Claus (Experimental Scholar Claudia Slanar) look at and listen to every idea I have and do, so really any work I make is in part a collaboration with her. She’s quite generous with her willingness to be a personal critic / life coach.
Q: One last question we would love to ask, what do you hope to be dabbling in next, any cool solo or collaborative shows or ideas on the horizon?
A: The collective (Untitled Collective) recently received two rejection letters for projects: 1) A proposal to create a cross-historical partnership by making Bat-Yam, Israel a sister city with its former self, Bayit Vagan. 2) An application for a residency which collapsed our resumes and work samples, presenting us as one super-stacked overly qualified human. The proposal was for pursuing a legally collective identity, a shared social security number. Basically mimicking the way a corporation is set up, but using personhood instead. We’re still working on these ideas, continuing the research etc. We were recently asked to come up with a project for a show at the Standard in Hollywood (http://pacificstandardtimefestival.org/events/art-in-the-parking-space-by-warren-neidich-and-elena-bajo/). In our first pass we proposed adding an addendum to their valet parking contract which would require guests to list all of the items in their car they wanted to keep, we would then remove anything left off of the ticket and display it in a nice glass case in the lobby. Then, after we were told the project would disrupt the parking services too much we decided to play with the history of the building by mapping the Golden Crest Retirement Hotel (1977-1999) in the parking garage, and offering guided tours of its diagram in multiple languages.
Thanks for the questions and I’ll leave you with an excerpt of a list I’ve been trying to compile of every project idea I’ve had in the past five years:
- a direct feed of every text message sent in the county.
- karaoke made from phone conversations.
- parking meters which display or print receipts with the breakdown of city budget.
- a gospel choir performing in the configuration of a corridor.
- open email account (anonymous).
- an early levittown house made to scale in only drywall and folded within an interior.
- all of the lights inside of a building gathered and put into one room, creating a cast of the interior space.
- architectural average between colonized city and its colonizer and made into an inhabitable model.
- a speed bump that follows the 1967 Palestinian borders.
- transferred air rights as public art.
- history as a spectator sport with bleachers and teams (with Carly Short).
- a series of highway overpasses installed with seating.
- buildings made of sand on an ocean shore depicting the structures directly across the body of water.
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