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Monday, June 16, 2014

Dashboard resident Jason Peters explores spectacle in 'Plexus'

Jason Peters Plexus
  • Jason Peters' "Plexus"

Nexus, Sexus, Plexus is the first exhibition on Dashboard Co-op's semi-permanent spaces. After months of searching, executive directors Beth Malone and Courtney Hammond honed in on three spaces in the Midtown area. "We've wanted a permanent space for a while, but this is simply a project for a year," said Hammond. Just being able to not wire ceilings and rent toolbank equipment every other week has helped us focus on the content of our projects more and nurture Dash's growth."

Nexus, Sexus, Plexus, composed of three different exhibitions inspired by Henry Miller's The Rosy Crucifixion, features Susan Loftin, John Salvest and William Downs in Nexus, the Plastic Aztecs in Sexus, and Jason Peters in Plexus. Opening on June 21, connectivity and transition are among the themes explored in the exhibition.

"Each individual exhibition and individual book within the series references a network or linage of thoughts, instances & people. Each instance, or in Jason Peters' case, each chair, informs the next chair, supports its location and, ultimately, determines the shape of the overall piece," Hammond said about the show. Artist Jason Peters makes large installations, often composed of puzzles and optical illusions, paired with light and recycled materials.

Here, CL talks to 2014 Dashboard artist Jason Peters about Plexus, his larger than life installations, and visual spectacles.

Tell me about the concept behind Plexus.

I started thinking more and more about it and 'ridiculous' and 'overwhelming' came to mind as an emotional thought. Mainly, because this is my last show, [it's about] the idea of spectacle and wanting to push myself within that environment that they provided. They narrowed it down to Nexus, Sexus, Plexus and I kinda went from there. That it's spectacular and visually defining was one of my hopes, but as things progressed things became more realistic. I started thinking about using black as a canvas, so it's white on black. My hope is to create something spectacular and have it redefine things that people think about my work. I want them to walk in and just say "what," but with an exclamation point.

Tell me about your thought process when planning a particular piece.

The first show (COSMS), we definitely reacted to the space. This being a commercial space with 50 foot ceilings is really nice. I had all of these ideas and I had seen pictures of the space beforehand. I started thinking about things and I expected the space to be bigger. The emotional feeling from it made me feel like the gas station in the middle of nowhere, with the light shinning down, and kind of reveals what's underneath. The way the light shines on that object just says, "I'm here." But it's not like Las Vegas neon lights, [it's] a more urgent sort of a call.

I like to absorb situations through people and conversations. Through conversation and knowing my wants and needs, the next time I'll know someone who produced an interesting element or material that I would've never expected or thought of. Almost like using your circumstance as a brush and be[ing] open to that. I start with a loose idea. By the time I get to the opening night, it's a different idea with the original as sprinkles on top. Often, I use people as an inspiration and the things they see.

You use a lot of recycled items and lighting in your installations.

There's reflective cordage that I wasn't able to use so I was left with 12,000 feet of this particular product. It was donated. I wanted to create something that I hadn't created before. I like being uncomfortable. It's almost masochistic in a way - putting yourself in a position where failure is an option. Especially when you just have 10 days to make something. It's different from spending three months on a painting and you get to walk away and come back to it. Here, I'm taking a six-month process and cramming it. But if I run various scenarios over and over in my head, it will allow me to have options as I progress and allow me to go faster. I go through a lot of reworking because of that, to make sure that the choice I made was the right one at the time.

Puzzles and optical illusions are often essential pieces of your work. How and why do you feel like this affects the viewer?

I like having many access points for the viewer. I like to take consideration for the viewer to make their own mind and create the illusion. Duality - like working with black and white - gives us the idea of seeing patterns. It puts us at ease with things that are beyond our comprehension and control. Like when you walk into one of the installations I like to create, you might not know what's going on and you might feel a little bit less threatened even when it's larger than you. And then as you get closer and it starts to break up, you start seeing patterns. The longer I try to keep your mind from figuring out what it is, the longer you hold on to your emotions or fantasy of what it is. It's all about creating visual spectacles or even simple ones.

Nexus, Sexus, Plexus opens on Saturday, June 21 at Dashboard Co-op's semi-permanent spaces located at 621 Spring Street and 31 & 33 North Ave, Atlanta GA, 30307. For more information, dashboardcoop.org.

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