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Look Ma, No Hands: William Lamson at Marty Walker Gallery


by Gail Sachson 3 Nov 2009

Guest blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me about Art, offering lectures, tours and program planning. She is Vice-Chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission and a member of the Public Art Committee. Just as we have personal and unique rhythms in our individual walks, writings and words, nature has its  rhythms as well. Brooklyn performance artist […]

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MWG_Lamson_SeaInstall72

Photo: Marty Walker Gallery

Guest blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me about Art, offering lectures, tours and program planning. She is Vice-Chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission and a member of the Public Art Committee.

Just as we have personal and unique rhythms in our individual walks, writings and words, nature has its  rhythms as well. Brooklyn performance artist William Lamson, with a smile, the excitement of a child and the determination of a scientist, has documented nature’s beating heart on a trip to South America. The result is the art now on exhibit at Marty Walker Gallery.

I imagine that Lamson smiled during the entire project. He must have envisioned us, his future audience, smiling also. He might have said on a dare to us, “What if I could make beautiful drawings without actually touching the paper?” We would say “Show us!” And he did.

Eleven automatic drawings, created not by his hand but by contraptions he devised, reveal Lamson’s engineering feats.  But, like any performance artist, he doesn’t leave the scene entirely. There are two videos with undoctored sound, which were edited down from a few hours of drawing to a few minutes. They mesmerize the viewer, like a magician explaining his tricks.

How DOES he do it? The elegant marks of the “Sea Drawings” are produced on paper by a make-shift machine Lamson made with a pencil, strings, a tin can and water bottles. When the tides splash against the rocks, the machine is activated and the result, untouched by the artist, is on the wall at the gallery. (Check out the video below to see how it works.) The artist wants us to smile, to be amazed, to appreciate the idea, the effort, the scene and, of course, the art. And yes … to applaud. After all, it’s a performance.

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