Last July, Shaun Kardinal created an interactive piece for Seattle's web-based gallery project Violet Strays. It blew my mind. At first glance, it's an image. Then it occurs to you to hover your mouse over it, or perhaps this happens accidentally or intuitively. Things start to spin around, and layer up as you move the arrow. Once you click the image, it reloads to start something new and your dance begins again. The joy of the piece is in your discovery of an invitation to play.
This user-dependent browser-based piece is built from a photo feed which accumulated over the course of his one week "installation". The overlays are geometric and graphic but if you know Kardinal's work, you know these marks are essentially a virtual embroidery stitch on a virtual card. The piece is titled "Heptaparaparshinokh" which upon some research was revealed to be "The Law of Seven (or Octave)" - fascinatingly having to do with seven points of swerving from a previous direction of a force's movement. Heptaparaparshinokh is an elegant marriage of concept and aesthetic.
Kardinal's sewing came at a time when there wasn't much sewing going on in Seattle, but it was beginning to creep into view. Unlike large scale projects such as my own where the stitch is large and spans a 13 foot wall; this vein of work brings art down to an intimate level where the work is cherished and hand-held. Artists love postcards. They trade them, they add to them, they become elaborate exquisite corpse projects. But Shaun keeps it quiet, simple, and contained. They are created from his own world but he is offering them to you without pretense or expectation. They are what you want them to be.
I appreciate that Kardinal's stitching has become more integrated with the collaged image, that there is a visual storyline of colour, shape, and form that springs from the composition underneath. The fault of many artists who embroider is that the stitch has little or nothing to do with its source, serving more as an arbitrary treatement of line and colour for the sake of design. That isn't necessarily bad, but it's the particular virtue of Connotations that the hand of the artist aligns itself with the material so well. This integration is what makes it so strong and in my opinion, though it manifests in Connotations it truly culminates in his web project Heptaparaparshinokh. This is an experiment that I look forward to seeing continue both in tactile paper pieces and hopefully, some day on a screen once again.
GO SEE CONNOTATIONS AT JOE BAR
Capitol Hill Art Walk, 12 April 2012810 East Roy Street @ Harvard
12 April - 8 May