Using found scenarios and the readily available, Corey McCorkle continues to vary his spatial improvisations, acknowledging the environment he is a part of and creating conceptual alterations to both natural and architectural surroundings. His use of inversion, mutation, and prolonged observation allows for an altered sense of spatial awareness through unlikely transformations.
There are two primary works in McCorkle’s Artpace exhibition. In the first part of his installation, he presents a film featuring the monumental signage of the Robert E. Lee Hotel, located less than five blocks south of Artpace on West Travis Street. The scene, which was captured from the roof of the hotel, displays the hotel sign-filmed from behind-paired with its urban surroundings, including neighboring buildings and the sprawling rooftop heating, ventilating, and air conditioning units. The sign, here extracted, is seen as a cipher, prop, and political prism. Similar to Tower of Shadows (2006), Bestiaire (2007), and March (2008), three earlier films by the artist, nostalgia remains the lining of aspiring social order.
The second part of the installation stretches throughout the interior of the Artpace building. McCorkle articulates the industrial and domestic space by bringing the respiratory system of the structure to the public foreground, reconstructing and rerouting the once inner air conditioning system. The elaborate path of the operational ducts first unfolds in the ground-level exhibition space, ascends through the building’s staircase, serpentines through the Hudson (Show)Room on the second floor, and ultimately finds refuge within the artist’s residential space upstairs. The meandering, organic quality of the formal piece is also a diagram of constant unrelenting circulation.
McCorkle’s work is both reminiscent of and contrasts with Michael Asher’s revealed and displaced radiators at the Kunsthalle Bern in Switzerland nearly two decades ago. The geometric placement of the empty volumes situated here results in a poetic movement of an orchestrated course. The literal system of respiration emulates the impossible act of resuscitation through a certain and fixed distance. The artist’s attention to detail and nod to utilitarian architecture is also aggressively unassertive, providing a sense of humor and romance using the easily overlooked infrastructure. The stretch of conduit is hidden in plain sight, offering the familiar vernacular of the functional as an elusive object of contemplation.
Liberating the air conditioning ducts and hotel signage from prior restrictions, McCorkle’s work provides another layer to each of his featured objects, recalibrating the conventions of accommodation, historic and otherwise. Objects we pass by, or under, are effortlessly brought together, transforming the everyday into aesthetically revitalized emblems.
-Amy Elms, Graduate Intern