Remix Boogie-Woogie (Dance, Descend, Repeat)

For this new collection of three artworks launching exclusively on Sedition, John Sanborn has used proprietary digital processing algorithms to incite the abstraction of form and content. Each figure is treated and then layered within a sequence, and then the sequences are layered and offset, with variations, until the single figure becomes a corps de ballet. Video projection of animations of Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase onto the figure acts as a kernel for the convection of altered palette and line.

In these works, abstraction is a kind of mediation, and a manner by which we can use dream logic to decode our chaotic lives. In the sway between concentration and adaptation, becoming inured is different than going numb and one can become trapped by continually resolving to do, yet doing nothing but resolve. Abstraction is freedom.

In orchestrating and collaging this trio of works, Sanborn drew on short instances from a previous work called PICO (Performance Indeterminate Cage Opera) where the nonchalance of a nude descending a staircase was used to tease out our tolerance for assimilation, proving that it is indeed possible to do something trivial in a significant manner.

Dance, descend, repeat.


“Short ideas, repeated, massage the brain” – Robert Ashley from “Perfect Lives”

Two things are in collision; constriction and repetition. The limit of our social capacity reduces our ability to refresh; and routines, once essential building blocks of sanity, are growing stale.

Rhythms, patterns and structures drawn from singular but evanescent elements form the fundamentals of self-definition. We find clarity in repetition and duration, as John Cage suggests “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”

So, it makes sense to embrace repetition and use it as a weapon - follow a thread by focusing on a note, a color or a gesture, only to find the thread unraveled and the focus transferred - not in a bad way, but so that you discover a new sensation where before there was only blank space. Usually we fear a vacuum and nature abhors it, but right now, it’s all we got. In fact, using the smallest things to create the grandest structures is heroic, when words like truth, trust, love, honor and respect have been rendered meaningless. It’s true that our practice mirrors our consciousness, we are how we are.

This approach has a downside. One can argue that rhythmic procedures closely resemble the schema of catatonic conditions, the spiral of thought which defies time and place, is a warning sign of addition becoming subtraction. In certain schizophrenics, the process by which the motor apparatus becomes independent of the mind’s control leads to boundless repetitions of gestures or words, following the decay of the ego. In other words, as Ashley suggests, eudaimonia is the goal and boogie-woogie is the process.

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