Ashton Bird investigates invented realms of mental and physical spaces through constructed fortifications and assemblages. His work explores human entropy, growth, energy, and community through discovering, re-invigorating and re-inventing potentiality in material.
Rambles and Un-Edited
Material // Endurance // Conversations
What are the conditions we make to define our places? Universality, conversation and commonality between people is a reoccurring motif.
The sculptures are fort-like structures displaying hastily production. Human temporarily interests me and time's impact of perception. What is it that makes people find an intimate connection to a location and what are the steps people take to make their ideal place to be? Installations question perception, habit and age through reconstitution and structural ruin -build, rebuild, change, reconstruct, hide, fix. How do you show placelessness through form and fragility of material? I am interested in the inconsistencies of human growth and energy.
My practice asks how refuge builds through life’s experiences. What are the conditions we make to define our places? Universality, conversation and commonality between people is a reoccurring motif.
Temporality interests me. I am re-imaging spaces and challenging my physical endurance and biases during the construction of the work. What is it that makes people find an intimate connection to a location and what are the steps people take to make their ideal place to be? Installations question perception, habit and age through reconstitution and structural ruin. I display the inconsistencies of human growth, decline and energy through making.
I use the potential of abandon objects, transforming them into co-dependent fragments that when apart fail to make a compelling composition. They later become selected components in the larger installation. Discarded wood, drywall, tile, concrete, metal, cloth mixed with dirt, clay, grime, and other debris become reconstituted and fused. Sometimes I cast deconstructed or broken objects, regenerating them into new forms that are familiar, yet un-identifiable from their original purpose. I add or remove surfaces. I cut, shatter, drill, dissect, manipulate or exaggerate found marks left on the surfaces of re-purposed fragments. The way I use joinery, such as screws, cloth, glue or other attachments suggests a raw, structural rhythm, activating the larger sculptural forms. I do not see these as gestures as violent, but resourceful reconstitutions portraying hints of what the material once was. The accumulated marks are descriptors of my involvement with the materials. Some of the marks appear archeological – are archeological - capturing declining entropy and mysterious ruination.
Clay is equally important because its natural weathering process is a quick and efficient expression of time. Using recycled raw clays I convey recorded time, energy, temporality and cycles of existence. The clay’s malleability reveals my presence on-site and acts as a record of exerted energy. I repeatedly slap wet clay into handmade patties making sure to leave imprints of my palms and fingers. It is quickly pushed into large free-standing mesh walls before becoming brittle and dry. Air causes the indented fleshy composition to shrink and crack over time, revealing the gridded mesh underneath. The bone-dry clay becomes a fragile, fossil-like sheet that within moments could crumble to the ground.
I pursue automatic thought by mimicking the endurance and stress involved during the induction and recovery of my illnesses when constructing the large, site-specific architectural assemblages. I deprive myself of food and sleep while over-exerting my body for extended duration of the installment. I destroy habitual cognition, test my body and intentionally enter a precarious state analyzing my inner self, place, social interactions, nostalgia and memory. I constantly change the work in the space inducing the frame of mind. The strain lets me see without hesitating and wasting energy on conscious action. I work at full pace, exploiting my youthfulness and challenging burn out. I make the final edits just before physically crashing. I do not resolve any emotion only interpret them visually through distorted forts, towers, crypts, ramps, walls, floors and ceilings.
I work in series. A series develops from the amount of “emotional residue” per experience left from finishing the piece prior. If I was too tired to finish my thought, I try again. Alterations of the structures in multiples could seemingly be a never-ending process where finishing is intuitive. Examples of this are Exploit Subject, Exploit Subject 1 – 4, Exteriors 1, 2 and Exteriors (remix). Works eventual in evolution are Mirage, Picket Fence and Palace. I see the attributes from house-like compositions as important reference points for the on-looker to enter. The installation plays on the balance of abstraction, literality inviting the participation of the viewer’s imagination. The works are familiar and share the commonality of the home.
This method of production is temporary and congruent with my age. When I am making I question the longevity of the practice. There is an important urgency to produce while I’m still physically capable.