Gallery Talk on Allan McCollum by Andrew Witkin
Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 2:00 p.m. as a part of the
Boston Art Dealers Association’s Gallery Talk Month
Barbara Krakow Gallery is proud to announce our latest exhibition with Allan McCollum:
“The Shapes Project: Perfect Couples”
Working over the past few years, McCollum has designed a system to produce unique “shapes.” This system allows him to make enough unique shapes for every person on the planet to have one of their own. It also allows him to keep track of the shapes, so as to insure that no two will ever be alike. While previous parts of the project have been monoprints, embroideries and rubber stamps, this time McCollum has made “perfect couples” of the shapes to exist in large collections that are reminiscent of the color combinations of Sol LeWitt and the relief forms of Jean/Hans Arp, yet somehow balancing between formal abstraction and the anthropomorphizing of pairs into couples.
McCollum’s reasoning for the quantity of shapes comes from following the present rate of birth. It is generally estimated that the world population will “peak” sometime during the middle of the present century, and then possibly begin to decline. How many people will be alive at this peak are estimated at between 8 billion and 20 billion people, depending upon what factors are considered and who is doing the considering. The most recent estimate published by the United Nations puts the figure at around 9.1 billion in the year 2050.
To make certain that his system will be able to accommodate everyone, McCollum has organized it to produce over 31,000,000,000 different shapes, which is more than the highest population estimates might require.
For the time being, a potential of around 214,000,000 shapes have been reserved within the system for creative experimentation. These can be used for many different purposesnot only for fine art and design projects, but also for various social practices: as gifts, awards, identity markers, emblems, insignias, logos, toys, souvenirs, educational tools, and so forth.
McCollum is presently using a home computer to construct Adobe Illustrator ‘vector’* files that allow the shapes to be produced in many possible ways. The shapes can be printed graphically as silhouettes or outlines, in any size, color or texture, using all varieties of graphics software; or, the files can be used by rapid prototyping machines and computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) equipmentsuch as routers, laser and waterjet cuttersto build, carve, or cut the shapes from wood, plastic, metal, stone, and other materials. For this exhibition, all the shapes were cut by hand on a scroll saw by Horace and Noella Varnum, founders of Artasia, in Sedgwick, Maine and the colors were designed by Marcie Paper in Brooklyn, New York.