joeldempseydean@gmail.com





Excerpts from a line of questioning surrounding a missing circle

Earlier this summer, I watched what I’ve heard called “the Great American Eclipse of 2017” while standing amongst a group of strangers outside the Jacob Javits Center, a tradeshow and convention center located on the west side of the island of Manhattan. A lot of people that I know had traveled to various places, mostly throughout the Pacific Northwest, to experience the eclipse in its totality. I did not. New York City was not in the path of totality, so neither was I.

During the weeks leading up to the eclipse I was busy at my 9-to-5, preparing for a semi-annual trade show, an event unrelated to this specific cosmic happening, but one that inarguably finds its origins in the same forces that compel our singular moon's orbit around planet earth. My responsibilities related to the trade show were what would require my body remain in New York City on the day of the eclipse, and what would ultimately require me to witness the event at Javits. I knew this all year, so naturally I anticipated them together. That the eclipse and the trade show happened to unfold in tandem, likely helped me to conflate the events which have since been forged together in the reality of retrospect. I paired them, like two sides of the same coin, into a sovereign unit cast through time.

Yet any serious comparison between the two would only unfurl in false analogy. Mapped onto the circle of life, a tradeshow and a total solar eclipse are so far apart that they begin to approach each other at opposite ends of the curving line, creating the possibility for an illusion of meaningful proximity. This symbiotic polarity may also be true of art and life, but this relationship is documented to the point of cliché. Art, like life, is made possible by the experience of limits, time constraints, duration. Life is not an eternal condition, at least not in the human scope. By our own definition it exists only in opposition to death. This is somewhat paradoxical as it’s through the process of death that the infinite energy of the cosmos is able to create new life.

This ebb and flow, obvious in nature, extends into civilization. Businesses close so that new ones may open, holiday decorations, powered by electricity, light-up lifeless winter landscapes, and the market value of precious metals tends to wax as the collective faith in speculative global investment opportunity wanes. But while the festival of man has been fashioned in the image of earth’s natural cycles, art is its actual image. Just as art could not be possible in the absence of life, does the possibility of art cease to exist in a deathless world?

We may already be living in a deathless world. Most of us have digital versions of ourselves that, in the unfortunate event of our mortal being’s expiration, will continue to broadcast whatever traces we’d articulated before passing. One need only look as far as the New York City subway to journey through capitalism’s latest reanimations. Last night on the L train I saw relics from the past like Blade Runner, Twin Peaks, and music by Michael Jackson, all being advertised as future entertainment events. Or consider urban renewal, which employs an optimistic rhetoric of revitalization to describe a process more akin to a conjuring of the undead.

The concept of being brought back to life is central to the production of capital through real estate in the United States. The most notable example might currently be Hudson Yards, a redevelopment project that sits kiddy corner to the Javits Center, on the opposite side of 11th Avenue, a street that fittingly was once nicknamed “Death Ave.” According to the project’s own website, Hudson Yards is the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States. This fact is not especially surprising when face to face with the ascending buildings. The structures are so far beyond a human scale that, standing before them, the forces of gravity and time feel eclipsed by the display of all-encompassing capital. One begins to wonder whether the laws of physics can too be bought.

On the day of the eclipse I did not possess the recommended glasses, only a deep faith in whatever spirit of generosity is responsible for the miraculous resurrection of Hudson Yards. That afternoon I walked outside with the hope that this spirit might too grant me the tools to extend the reach of my being toward the sky, if only to catch a falling coin.

The Anatomy of Out of Body Experience in Human Capital Organization Systems and Planning Culture after the Age of Discovery

pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters
2017

Understory Ontology in a Two Dimensional Growth System: the Long-term Effect of Adding Another Zero

sandstone print, graphite, wood
2017

Twin Tower Mathematics

carved wood, steel
2016

Powers of 7-8-9

Dear Joel,

Jason and I are trudging through your press release text--it's heavy. All the historical descriptions of the twin towers feels particularly intense given the political climate right now. So much of your text talks about the "balance" between two harmonious architectural entities crumbling to the ground and being replaced by a hegemonic monolith. I can't help but think about the two-party political system, and this toxic dichotomy that has made such a mess of this country in an acute way since 9/11--or how binaries always seem to fail. It's almost like we're living in those suspenseful asymmetrical 29 minutes (between the falling of tower 1 and tower 2) before the whole thing crumbles. I love your reflections on the countdown (count up?) to the end of the twentieth century and framing it through this preoccupation with scale and idealism and architecture in reference to the Eames' "Powers of 10".

I'm not sure how to transform the text you sent into clear and cogent language that helps make your research and references neatly explain the objects you are working on for the show. I think part of why you're struggling with the text (and why Jason and I are too) is that there feels like a renewed urgency for art to help us locate our humanity and our confusion and our anxiety in a moment when no tweet or talking head or think piece can. Art speak and cleverness and sharp research doesn't feel right anymore. I want a grunting, stupid, but honest language--a language that tears off our mask of entitlement and separation. So here's my shot at explaining your show:

Joel is a twin, he grew up in Atlanta during the economic abundance of the 90's and his childhood was characterized by "you-can-do-anything" directives from the baby boomers that brought our generation into the world; parents who grew up with their own promise of a new liberal social order following the protests and upset of the late 1960's. Joel was just exiting childhood and entering the abyss of teenage gloom when the twin towers came down. The external event provided a clear break from the innocence of childhood, and set in motion a violent global reorganization more in tune with the chaos of a changing teenage body.

Now Joel is an adult living in New York City, wondering how to ascribe any kind of order to a zoomed out version of his context as the planet buckles under the gigantic ego of productivity and human exceptionalism. A table set to serve its own severed leg, two cities fit into one, a child with an imagination made of wood, two abici, and a split line of communication… “Powers of 7-8-9” is a historical mashup cum art exhibition that playfully turns a value system against itself. Here, a cultural reference, turned riddle, turned allegory replaces Eames’ Powers of 10’s promise of exponential growth towards infinity with, instead, a building set of single digits that might propose a new cadence for indivisibility.

How's that?
Love,
Erin and Jason




www.inter-species.us

Jerry Cullum for Arts Atl
Victoria Camblin for Art in America


No Body Can Say No
carved wood
2016
Tin Can Telephone
found objects
2016
The table is set, so now eat
enamel on wood, ceramics
2016
Twin Tower Mathematics
wood, steel
2016
City
founds objects
2016
Tin Can Telephone
found objects
2016
Architectual Digest
found objects
2016

The Transformative Power of Symbolism in Storytelling, Part 1

ostrich egg, alphabet pasta, squid ink
2016

The Transformative Power of Symbolism in Storytelling, Part 2

found objects, wire
2015

Strategy Focused Organization

found objects
2016

A human guide to inter-dimensional politics and shadow policy under a dying sun

wood, steel, brass, apple, peanut, peach pit, hydrocal, sumi ink
2016

Empty Stomach Challenge

A beekeeper begins reading a story. The story's words are written in an ever-expanding combination of numbers and symbols. The numbers and symbols are variables in the evolution of a self-generating algorithm. The algorithm's rate of growth and complexity is accelerated exponentially with the calculation of each sentence. The beekeeper watches in amazement as the code continuously compounds. This is a story about taking up space.
[Honey, I shrunk the kids.]

The beekeeper now understands a few specific memories from its past as dots connected in an abstract timeline; a count-down to worldwide integration. Juvenile fictions from the past mature into a fact called future as echoes of an empty present find resonance in the form of a relentless crescendo.
[Honey, I blew up the kid.]

The beekeeper folds the story in half, adding dimension to the previously flat narrative. The angle breaks the equation. The algorithm reverses into a degenerative free fall. The incoherent gibberish of an increasingly intricate self-similar pattern crystallizes into a beautiful downward spiral.
[Honey, we shrunk ourselves.]

The story's new edge cuts the suspense. A concluding event appears just over the horizon. A string of taps against a bed of dormant solar panels resembles a fruitless drum-fill awaiting an overdue punch-line. [Honey, we don’t have any more Honey.]


www.princessonline.nyc

cast silicone, rose stem
2015
Earthling
coca-cola life can, 4m kidzlab soda can robot, aa battery, flower
2015
dollar, ribbon
2015
amazon prime delivery box, cast silicone, microchip, wire, styrofoam, babyshoe, hardware
2015
Untitled
found object
2015


poland springs water bottle, frog, bird's nest
2015


Untitled
sharpie on chipotle vegetarian burrito
2015

Changeling

coca-cola life can, 4m kidzlab soda can robot, aa battery, flower
2015

Mr. Universe

polystyrene print, neoprene, nylon
2014
polystyrene print, neoprene, nylon
2014

The Mutant and the Melody

www.jancarjones.com
Because four is better than one
themochromatic vinyl on aluminum
2013
Like a Rock
found objects
2013

switch to desktop for full site