Friday, September 22, 2023

In The Trace Of The Law: The Deep River Project

In a sense, and like the judiciary, a deconstructive approach has the power to give body to a shadow, and thus raises the question of whether the two can be told apart.

– Samuel Weber, In the Trace of the Law


(Front view: Deep River Space, Los Angeles, California, 2001)

DeepRiver was based on a commercial gallery model. It had storefront windows, glass door, and finished white walls. It had a sprinkler system and track lighting installed just below three ceiling partitions that ran East to West. The rectangular symmetry of the gallery was broken up by the projecting frontal part of the West wall.


(Above: Original floor plan provided by DeepRiver)

My interest in the physical space began when I received the two-dimensional floor plan to DeepRiver. Of immediate interest was the function of the floor plan as a two-dimensional inscription of a three-dimensional space. The floor plan seemed to function as a drawing of not only an architectural structure, but of sculptural elements as well, such as the track lighting and its armature, the water sprinkler system, and the front door and window frames.


(Drawing showing transfer of floor plan schematic to wall-drawings)

Upon my first inspection of the floor plan and site, it was apparent that the space that the floor plan did not transcribe was that of the floor space itself. I became interested in the dual and oscillating relationships between two-dimensional and three-dimensional space. In a sense, how a trace or inscription engenders a read. I then proceeded to document via measuring tape and still-camera DeepRiver’s floor space.


(Internal empty view of DeepRiver space)

This documentation led to certain problems, as there was a mixture of seemingly “obvious” prior traces of structures with some traces that were more abstract and ambiguous as to their prior functionality. The issue of mis-representation came to the foreground.


(Detail view of floor traces at DeepRiver)

For the purpose of this project, the historical traces on the gallery floor were evaluated, measured and read in order to allow the marks themselves to be the text that engendered a construction.

Thus, the two-dimensional component of the floor at DeepRiver engendered four three-dimensional walls and partitions. Three three-dimensional elements from within the DeepRiver space engendered three two-dimensional wall drawings which were executed via graphite pencil directly on the three white gallery walls, and to their true size. The three wall drawings were selected according to the three views given by the floor plan: top view; side view; and front view.

The three two-dimensional drawings are as follows:

1. The track lighting structure, sprinkler system, three ceiling partitions (top view).

2. Fire sprinkler system, track lighting, three ceiling partitions (side view, facing West).

3. Aluminum entrance door and window frame (front view).


The four three-dimensional partitions and walls were constructed according to the four apparent engravings on the gallery floor which indicated a mark or trace of a previous and permanent partition or wall.


The surface finishes of the constructed walls were to be left in a rough and unfinished stage, primarily to highlight the mode of production necessary to allow and facilitate the art objects existence and exhibition as a finished and autonomous art object.


The measurements were taken in width and length, and the height of each was referenced to the standard height of drywall material (8 feet). The width of the walls wsa rounded down to the narrowest section of each floor engraving where a prior partition existed.


The partitions were then constructed from building materials: 2″x4″x8′ metal studs; 1″x2″x8′ metal studs; and 3/8″x4’x8′ drywall, joined with joint compound and compound tape.

The lighting of the space was left according to the previous exhibition at DeepRiver. The four partitions were to be destroyed at the conclusion of the exhibition, and the wall drawings were to be painted over with white paint in order to bring the walls and space back to its previous condition..

The images you are viewing here are from the initial documentation of this project before, during, and immediately after installation. Unfortunately, final documentation of this project was not possible due to the unforeseen destruction and “de-installation” by DeepRiver without consent or permission of artist.


It is believed that the critique of DeepRiver as an institution instigated the destruction and de-installation of the work, and that the “rising frustration” was largely due to the critique being made evident in written format via a handout. To view a replica of the original handout in PDF format click here.


Copyright © 1997- 2012 Sergio Muñoz-Sarmiento. All Rights Reserved.


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