This fall, Braden King (2005 Film/Video) and Matthew Moore (2008 Visual Arts) were in residence at Grand Central Art Center (GCAC) in Santa Ana, CA, creating the multimedia installation Cumulus (on view through January 5, 2014). A massive, four-ton, 60-foot long sculpture and video installation that employs custom programming and projection mapping, Cumulus is a meditative reflection on the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.
GCAC’s Director and Chief Curator, John Spiak, describes the installation: “Through the use of building materials, specifically used scaffolding planks, the artists have created a massive pipeline that emerges from one side of the gallery before quickly disappearing into the other. Projected upon it are moving images of atmosphere and landscape, traversing its surface as fluidly as water flows through the aqueduct itself.”
Along with his work as a visual artist and founder of the Digital Farm Collective, Moore is also a fourth generation farmer from the Phoenix area. Water and its journey to arid climates have been central to Moore’s family history and livelihood. He writes, “The audacity of the human endeavor is never more apparent than when societies come together to construct such industrial feats as the Aqueduct, achieving a perceived common good.”
King, whose work as a filmmaker often deals with landscape and geography, adds, “The Aqueduct made it possible for a lot of things to exist. Los Angeles wasn’t there, and then it was there, which made the success of Orange County possible. People thought, ‘Hey, we can take that water from up here, and make a channel and take it down there, across the desert, and then we can make more things and more people can live.’ And then they did it. They turned clouds into concrete.”
Moore and King’s collaboration grew out of conversations at the 2012 Creative Capital Artist Retreat, which they both attended as Artist Advisors to the 2012 class of Creative Capital awardees. I connected with them to learn more about the installation and how their collaboration took shape:
Matthew Moore: We talked at the Retreat about the work we were exploring at the time, and realized we should try to work on something together. At the time it was a big question mark on what that something was, but we knew our artistic practices had much in common. We’re both exploring sense of place, be it landscape or even the more elusive philosophical state itself. We also strive for a poetic aesthetic in our work, and by that I mean that a pinnacle the work might achieve is a state of wonderment from an audience member. While that is a quick generalization from hours of conversations and comparing notes, I think we felt from the gut that our collaboration might push our respective practices to new levels.
Braden King: Absolutely. As we became more acquainted, it became apparent that we were wandering through similar territory in our practices. I think we both kind of knew it was only a matter of time before we found a way to do something together. We’re each highly focused on asking questions about how one finds their place in the world (both literally and metaphorically) and creating work that combines a sense of awe and wonder with those searches for place and orientation. We’re pretty solitary artists and people, but the collaboration has been incredibly inspiring.
VIDEO: Braden King and Matthew Moore’s CUMULUS
Moore: Aside from our connection at the Artist Retreat, what truly enabled the collaboration was John Spiak at Grand Central Art Center. He was up for letting us give this unrealized dream of sorts—to work together—a shot. He had secured funding from Metabolic Studio to create a show based on the 100th year anniversary of the LA Aqueduct. With that funding and the use of GCAC’s residency space, Braden and I were able to stay in Santa Ana, travel the aqueduct and take much needed time to seed some ideas. The rest of the project was like writing a novel that we both intuitively knew the ending of, and knew what needed to be done to get there.
King: One of the most exciting parts of the collaboration for me was the time we spent driving the aqueduct route and going out into the desert around Mojave, CA. I spent the past few years in the film world, making and distributing a feature film (HERE), which was an exciting expedition but a very, very planned and methodical one. It felt fantastic to be out wandering again, to just go, and to realize that’s actually the work—and where I came from. In that sense, the collaboration was both liberating and grounding—it allowed me to breathe in a different (but very familiar) way as an artist. I think I’d temporarily forgotten how these experiences bounce off of and inform each other. I’d put this piece right up there alongside anything else I’ve ever made—I’m that proud of it. And I can’t wait to do more.
Moore: I am also incredibly proud of Cumulus—its the best work I have created in years. Braden and I are already working on another project together and plan to continue the collaboration and start looking for opportunities to work together more. It just goes to show how the ripple effects of Creative Capital and its community continue far out and beyond the grant itself. The impact of the CC experience continues to be exponential in my art and life. Thanks to all of you guys for creating platforms for us to cannonball off!
Cumulus is on view at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, CA, through January 5, 2014. Major support for the project was provided by the Metabolic Studio and Casio LampFree Projectors. You can read more about the exhibition via Grand Central Art Center here and here.