Photos by Jacob Koestler
Photos by Jacob Koestler
Artist talk given at the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Lunch on Friday artist talk series on February 15, 2019.
Euclid Ave. Gallery
January 25 – March 15, 2019
Dual opening receptions, Friday, January 25 at 5:30-8:00 P.M. with Kelley O’Brien
The Artist Talks: Ryan Dewey, 6:15 p.m. in the Euclid Avenue Gallery
The Artist Talks: Kelley O’Brien, 7:00 p.m. in the Main Gallery
As a species, our first tools were made of stone, and ironically it is our contemporary tools, modes of production, and manufacturing processes that have accelerated our move toward extinction as a species. We are at the mercy of climate change and the planet is sweating us out in a hot fever. In the deep past, glaciers moved granite boulders across the ground, scouring and marking the terrain before depositing these boulders erratically in the landscape. These glacial erratics dot the landscape and stand as markers of past geologic activity, much like the way we use granite tombstones to mark the past activity of a human life. But for the glacier, granite erratics are much more than mere markers; these stones are also the mark makers, the very tool used by a glacier to shape the landscape in the process of moving the stone. Might this be adapted to our conception of tombstones as latent objects? By recasting the tombstone as a potential mark making tool for a glacier to pick up and use in the deep future, tombstones can be reframed as our final stone tools. This means that we can predict the future landscape patterns that our cemetery fields of stones might leave behind after the next ice age (should the planet be so lucky). The slow advancing and retreating motion of a glacier grinds grooves into bedrock much like the use of a carpenter’s hand plane to flatten and flute details in wood. Lines of Descent takes this idea and iterates the development of a series of progressively complex hand planes with strange granite blades fashioned in the shape of common tombstone profiles. A series of landscape models produced using those hand planes helps to visualize a future terrain that will be formed by the memorial stones we leave behind. The tombstone markers of familial lines meet the iterative lines of incremental drift in the developmental process of tool making to predict what new lines our memorials will leave in the landscape after the descent of humanity in the deep future.
Ryan Dewey’s work is a kind of socially-engaged ecological dreaming that takes shape as installation, performance, research, workshops, and land art to highlight the entanglements between people, places, and land use. He has been a resident at ACRE, the Alps Art Academy, and a visiting researcher in the department of cognitive science at Case Western Reserve University where he wrote Hack the Experience: Tools for Artists from Cognitive Science (now available here). He is a member of non//sense collective and founder of the collective Geologic Cognition Society (geocog.org). His work blurs disciplinary lines and often appears in unexpected venues including the British Society for Geomorphology, the American Association of Geographers, Kickstarter, the University of Bern, Concordia University (Montreal), the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, the Annenberg School for Communication (Philadelphia), Progressive Insurance (Cleveland), MONU (Rotterdam), KERB (Melbourne), and living history festivals, as well as more traditional art venues including SPACES, ACRE, and other artist-run spaces. Visit Ryan Dewey’s website.