I make scale drawings of objects, surfaces, and locations that exist in the public or personal space that I regularly interact with.
Each selected object, surface, or location is measured, photographed, and drawn to scale in pen or pencil on 8 ½ x 11 inch paper. The finished drawing is then scanned, adjusted in scale as needed and printed in book, poster, or room covering form. Objects and surfaces are often enlarged back to their original size but are also offered in book form in multiple smaller scales. The posters and books are sold at a price roughly twice the cost of printing so as to make them realistically priced for consumer purchase.
I have undertaken a multi-year project that is dedicated to the visual replication, manufacture, and distribution of objects that exist in my visual network. Objects selected for replication fall into three groupings, ones that have been driven by, walked by, or that exist in my personal space.
Categories of Production
Currently replication processes fall into three relatively distinct categories.
(1) Life-sized 2-dimensional prints of individual objects where one side of each selected object is measured, photographed, and drawn to scale. The drawing is then scanned, blown up to the original size of the object, printed on a large format photocopier, and folded to a 7′ x 10″ package. Objects in this category include domestic items such as a television and a sofa, and public objects such as a utility box, a dumpster, and a light pole.
(2) Life-sized 2-dimensional surface coverings that are replicated similarly to category one but are packaged either as rolls or folded packages. Replications in this category include wall surfaces such as a brick wall section from a 7-Eleven store, a section of asphalt, and wood wall paneling. In many cases these surfaces are layered with objects from the first category to create more complete scenarios.
(3) 3-dimensional scale models of objects that are created as cut and fold kits to be assembled with tape or glue. Items in this grouping include a vacant lot with chain-link fencing, an apartment building, and a bus shelter.
The structure of this project is to first find and copy selected items and later to place these objects together as part of a larger cataloging process. Selection criteria is predominately based on whether an object is “of interest” at the time of its having been noticed. This idea of an object being worth copying because it has been noticed is central to the growth of the project. By placing this intentionally inarticulate criteria on the selection process the intent is for each object to exist as close its own entity as possible.
Production of an object starts with consideration of an object for drawing. At the beginning of the drawing process some objects are rejected. The primary basis for rejection is that the object is not “interesting” enough to draw. The decision to hand draw each object is necessary for the final inclusion of objects. While from a practical point of view making the drawing is fairly unnecessary. The drawing is in fact sandwiched between photographic processes, it is a drawing made from a photograph and then scanned and thus converted to a photograph again. The reasoning for drawing each object is that this labor and time intensive process filters the objects as each must be worthy of the time expended.
All items are made to be distributed at the lowest possible cost to interested parties. Pricing is generally set at double the cost of manufacture so that, including distributers’ 40 to 50 percent commission, I am able recoup my expenses and to continue to produce new items. Distribution at this time occurs through a limited number of booksellers such as Printed Matter, Half letter Press, and Quimby’s Bookstore, and through personal sales. At a later point objects that lend themselves to home printing will be offered as free downloads.
This project is built on an internal need to find, copy, and collect items that may or may not have personal meaning to me. As this collection becomes larger the focus will become less on the individual objects and more on their interactions as a group. The next year will be spent coordinating the already made objects and selecting the next objects that will become part of a whole set.
Gary Kachadourian challenges conventional means of art production with his open-source/endless supply approach to drawing. The artist brings fresh eyes to even the most mundane places or objects – a parking lot or a Pepsi machine. He encourages us to view our environment anew. He plays with the role of the artist as creator, as well as reproduction and illusionism in art by copying the world in mass quantities.
Kachadourian’s process entails sketching and photographing his subject, noting its dimensions, and then creating a detailed drawing. The drawing is scanned and enlarged to the dimensions of the actual object. His to-scale drawings are then reproduced in xerographic prints on paper or on vinyl in infinite supply.
By rejecting notions of ownership and the preciousness of the art object, he undermines the Western view of the artist as the unique creator. In this democratizing of the economies of art production, Kachadourian has been influenced by Lewis Hyde’s 1979 classic treatise The Gift. Hyde’s central assumptions are that creativity is a gift; art is also a gift, not a commodity. Art increases in value as it circulates and fosters relationships through exchange of ideas if not actual objects. Conceptual artists such as Sol LeWitt and Lawrence Weiner also challenged notions of authorship and replication of visual art, allowing others to install their works, which are based more on ideas than material concerns. Kachadourian values artists who have elevated the everyday, such as Ed Ruscha in his un-numbered editions of books like Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1962, 1967, 1969) or Robert Smithson’s homage to the industrial landscape of Passiac, New Jersey (1967) through photos and text. Group Material, an artist collective working in the 1980s, blurred the boundaries between fine art and commercial imagery through mass distribution of their material via conduits like bus advertisements, billboards and shopping bags. Kachadourian continues in this lineage of Conceptual art combined with cultural activism, which heightens the artist’s connection to the audience, and critiques the art market’s determinants of aesthetic value.
In the Arkansas Arts Center gallery, Kachadourian’s drawings become part of the architectural support, reorienting the museum space. One of the artist’s installations becomes part of the original 1937 façade of the Museum of Fine Arts, the ancestor of the Arts Center. The drawings are no longer isolated objects, but form an immersive environment that displaces real space. The one to one scale allows the viewer to enter the drawing. Look around the museum for other examples of his work hidden in plain sight. His prints, a form of poetry of the everyday, can be purchased in the museum shop for the cost of their reproduction.
Gary Kachadourian is a native Baltimorean, where he continues to live, work and have fun.