Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Last month I was invited to contribute a text to the catalogue for Kevin Schmidt's current exhibition at the Contemporary Art Gallery. The exhibition features two new works by the artist -- EDM House (2013) and High Altitude Balloon Harmless Amateur Radio Equipment (2013) -- but it was mostly the former that I wrote on.
In considering what to write I found myself recalling Rodney Graham's The System of Landor's Cottage: a Pendant to Poe's Last Story (1987), where the artist takes a short fiction by Edgar Allan Poe ("Landor's Cottage: A Pendant to the Domain of Arnheim", 1849) and, with his own writing, expands it into a 14-chapter novel, a la Raymond Roussel's Locus Solus (1914).
As it turns out, it was Poe's second-to-last story, "The Domain of Arnheim" (1847), that revealed some curious parallels between the story's "Ellison" and Schmidt. So, a la Poe, I activated a narrator to tell the tale of a college professor who, while driving home from work, comes upon a radio narrow-cast that, by virtue of its fading signal, has her turning around to find its source: a farmhouse whose coloured lights are timed to a music track.
My text features three quotes by Poe. They are (in order of appearance):
… that the creation of the landscape-garden offered to the proper Muse the most magnificent of opportunities.
… that no such combination of scenery exists in nature as the painter of genius may produce.
The original beauty is never so great as that which may be introduced.