Manufactured Status

Created specifically for Graffiti Stories, a group exhibition, “Manufactured Status” combines my interest in identity construction with aspects of graffiti. Graffiti is often expressed in the form of writing which, because of font style and/or subculture slang, can read like a private language or secret code.

This idea of abstracted writing or specialized communication brought me to the book and then to the poetic form of the folded book. The folded book is common in Asian cultures but much less so in other parts of the world which makes it an expression of a specific artistic subculture.

In general terms, our individual identity begins as a preset structure, our DNA code, which is subject to mutations and anomalies. This identity is further customized by random external cultural and environmental influences and also by the choices that we make.

As math is an underlying principle in all of life, and my works most often refer to identity construction, I like to use math as a structural foundation. The form of the folded book, especially in multiple rows, makes a natural reference to the grid. In order to generate a seemingly random pattern, thereby writing a unique and specific identity into this structure of 50 same-sized flat rectangles, I utilize the first 50 digits in the infinite number Pi to create a system for color, pattern, and form distribution.

By placing flat panels perpendicular to the wall at 45 degrees, this sequence of forms creates an environment that has no choice but to result in a type of “graffiti”. As light passes through the knotted cellular pattern of the crochet realized in translucent colored fiberglass, shadows as linear scribbles in varied degrees of focus and whispers of color project onto the wall. A secret and private code etched into the clean wall asserts its new identity as it works against and in tandem with the structure that allows it to exist.

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© Yvette Kaiser Smith 2004