Magazine article Artforum International

John Williams: Sister

Magazine article Artforum International

John Williams: Sister

Article excerpt

For just over a decade, John Williams has been cleverly employing sculpture as a useful conduit for time-based action. In 1998, the Los Angeles-based artist produced the first objects of his ongoing "Record Projection" series, a group of small, flashy assemblages crafted from colorful, mass-produced plastic forms--drinking straws, dish scrubbers, stick-on bows, hair rollers, and poker visors, for example--attached to vinyl records that, when set atop spinning turntables, become animated instruments in Williams's expanded cinema-like performances. During these events, Williams randomly selects and interchanges these top-heavy albums to play on turntables, wired to amps and speakers, scattered around the gallery floor. As they twirl, the records produce crackles and warped, droning tones. Working on the floor around each turntable, Williams repeatedly positions slide and film projectors that suffuse each assemblage in broad patches of raw, white light. When illuminated, the sculptures cast vividly colored shadows like homemade dream machines a la Brion Gysin that flicker in time to the rhythmic, atonal sounds. For his recent exhibition at Sister gallery, Williams presented "Record Projection" (all works 2009), a new group of fifteen assemblages built from unexpected odds and ends, including a plastic magazine rack, a play sword, pipe cleaners, a baby-doll hat, Christmas-tree ornaments, blue tinsel, and packaged-food labels--collectively brought to life in three performances during the run of the show. These formally balanced but materially unruly, toylike objects complemented four large, untitled sculptures and an extensive group of related drawings.

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In a claustrophobic installation that lent itself to the materialist busyness of Williams's overall aesthetic, this new body of work demonstrated the artist's constant attention to and sustained consideration of form. Just as the new "Record Projection" works continue a ten-year undertaking, the homogeneous forms of Williams's four seven-foot-tall sculptures are also the product of a long-standing formal "investigation"; they were modeled after a haphazard arrangement of cast-off materials that, for the past decade, had been sitting in the artist's studio. …

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