The piece is not site specific (I would describe it as stretchy to a degree: responsive but not a response)…
Though the stretched rocks that make up R o c k f a l l are cast in hard materials, I realized as I started to see them take shape that their surfaces are pleated. I’ve often used fabrics that have been pleated by a company that usually pleats fabric for clothing. Pleating is useful to me because it multiplies a flat surface to give it volume and body, changing its dimension and making it stretchy.
I don’t understand size, but I do understand scale. My works attempt to include radically and awkwardly different kinds of scale at the same time. I think that this awkwardness threads through my work, and speaks to my experience of materiality in the twenty-first century.
R o c k f a l l is also an investigation into the relationship between time and space; the interface between permanence and transience that makes us question our traditional understanding of the natural landscape. Channer’s layering of time—perhaps the work’s most potent and poetic aspect—encompasses industrial time (the material and way in which the object is manufactured), postindustrial time (the 3-D scanning and use of a digital platform to alter, crop, and shape the image), and present time: by our mere presence, we become acutely aware of our body in space and our manner of observation. Yet, rather than embodying cyclical time, Channer’s R o c k f a l l presents a long, unending line, stretching forward and back like the horizon. Both fast and slow, the work integrates not only our understanding of history, but also the development of our physical landscape.
– Press Release for R O C K F A L L
Alice Channer: In making work, I’m always trying to pull or push flat surfaces; to pleat, stretch, curve, fold, expand or contract these flat things to give them volume and body. These surfaces have been sheet metal, fabric, paper, even marble, which I use like a flat surface. It’s only recently that I have considered volume and body in relation to printed images.
Althea Hamilton: Flatness is expanded from 2D into something 3D via the time required to add facts to the objects you make and show. Does this idea also question the distinction for you between flatness and thinness?
Alice Channer: I’m not sure, but maybe it’s interesting to think about that in relation to Duchamp’s idea of the infra-thin, or infra-slim. I don’t think an object could ever be truly flat, only a surface. And it’s interesting that he never uses the word ‘flat’ either. Flat things, clothes for example, which might not even qualify as objects, aren’t enough on their own, they need to be embodied, expanded into something else, or exist in relation to or as part of other elements, and that’s why they are such useful things for me. Duchamp’s infra-thin is just a step away from flat and into thin.
It’s very in-between, this place Duchamp describes, which I think both of our practices are. And he describes it in terms of things that are supposedly “absent”— the warmth left on a seat after someone has got up, or the sound of corduroy trousers rubbing together.
Channer, whose practice compresses objects into a flat surface, creates new environments that question the idea of three-dimensional sculpture, challenging the viewer with its awkward connections. Much of her work is exploring and manipulating objects. A shiny group of stones sits upon her desk. They are made from rubble she collected from outside of the studio. Covered in aluminium foil they become transformed into extra-terrestrial .
She traces her use of fabrics back to her mother. Large flags, printed with silk-screened images of synthetic hair, bedecked with what she tells me are blobs of chewing gum, hang from the ceiling, swaying lightly in the breeze.
“My mum was always making things or sewing things; that was my first experience in how the world could be made. I did not have a father who was an architect: I had a mother who was a seamstress.”
Karen Wright, In the Studio with Alice Channer, The Independent, 2013
Ms. Channer went through a similar sequence of converting object to image and image to object to create “Rockfall,” a set of sculptures mimicking jagged rocks. She began by taking photographs of small chunks of concrete rubble, which she then digitally altered. Those images were turned into three-dimensional molds by computerized machines, and the final works, much larger than the original objects, were cast in concrete, aluminum and Cor-Ten steel.
Like Mr. Rafman’s works, Ms. Channer’s sculptures are both objects and images. So what’s the difference between an image and an object? For the purposes at hand, an object is a unique, physical thing. An image is a nonmaterial pattern that can be physically incarnated or reproduced in multiple ways. Most artworks, it can be argued, are fusions of imagery and objecthood.
-Ken Johnson, group show review, ‘Image Object’ Looks at the Relationship Between the Virtual and the Physical, The New York Times
“Cold Blood” (all works 2012) was the young British artist Alice Channer’s first solo exhibition in New York and, in the manner of many of her peers, she offered less a display of individual objects than an overall atmosphere. Also, as is common today, much of the essential information about the work could not be determined from looking alone.
Context was available in the press release, which stated that Channer’s practice is concerned with the disappearance and mutation of bodies and materials in a “post-industrial” environment, by which she means the virtual realm. In the exhibition, objects related to the human body had often undergone complete transformation. For example, she stretched an image of a Pantene shampoo bottle and printed it at a monumental scale. For MAR108 and MAH684G, she made resin casts of a Topshop skirt, plying the casts while still warm to create forms that resemble large blue leeches suctioned to the wall.
– Brienne Walsh, review, Art in America, 2013