CURRENT ISSUE | FALL 2017: THE IDEA OF HISTORY
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Scott Rogers

The American conceptualist Mel Bochner didn’t like the term Conceptual art, but then most of those guys seemed to have problems supplanting hand for head. It’s not surprising it took so many gallons of ink and tons of paper to prop up the precarious new mind on its primitivized body. Actually, it was never really about ideas replacing matter. No matter how dumbly statistical or self-referential the work seemed, the best Conceptual art was more about the inscrutable (or intolerable) depth of things.

Scott Rogers digs into this paradigm. Paying homage to Bochner’s Measurement Room (1969), Rogers’s Wireframe demarcates the physical dimensions of the gallery, this time as photoluminescent outlines. When a visitor enters, a sensor turns off the lights and Stride Gallery’s early-20th-century storefront is reduced to glowing traces and flourishes. The eccentric white cube is transformed into a surprisingly convincing 3-D facsimile of its former self—both there and not there, especially in those moments of optical adjustment. The most pleasing view is definitely toward the entrance, where the nuances of bay and entryway reveal the quaint details of the space’s construction.

But this remembrance of things past also binds Wireframe to the world of the charming and delightful. The installation’s truth to site, underscored by its obsessive attention to, for example, chipped concrete and holes in the floor, prevents Rogers’s project from assuming the full status of proposition.

A broadsheet text by Charles Stankievech bolsters the historicism at play here with a set of instructions à la LeWitt or Ono. While solicitations to tap walls, open and close one’s eyes and so on reinforce the phenomenological and existential concerns of the artist’s Conceptual forbears, other, more social and anarchistic calls to find partners, get naked or puncture the walls extend the work into the realm of the future, and politics.

This is sculpture: it is about bodies, space, perception and action. An earlier work by Rogers illustrates Rosalind Krauss’s notion of sculpture as “the addition of the not-landscape to the not-architecture.” Campus Revitalization Plan, made with Wojciech Olejnik in 2005, proposed an improvement upon the design of tennis courts. Sightlines were reduced to a single point of view: through a security peephole located on the court’s chain-link gate. The artists constructed a small anamorphic structure on the other side that, when seen through the fi sh-eye peephole, looked like a smoothed-out, perfected version of the real weather-worn courts: it was both a proposal and a cheeky, if nihilistic, solution.

Wireframe, like its anamorphic cousin, intensifies its subject by dematerializing it. The gallery becomes more physically palpable, more socially embedded and more animated through Rogers’s representation of it as a simulation.

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