This project originated when a handyman was in the studio getting the place up to the current fire code. He was bending conduit (steel pipes that protect electrical wires) and attaching it to the ceiling and walls in long lines. The shaped portions negotiating corners seemed almost cursive, and appealed to my calligraphic eye. I wondered what the wall would look like with hundreds of lines of curved conduit on it. Could I do a beautiful, big, sculptural, Twombly-esq drawing from this off-the-shelf material?
Around the same time, I was working on the 300 panels that comprise the Acceleration Still. (That work was to be a remixable sculpture, and I wanted the ‘skin’ of the work to hang over an armature that was also reconfigurable). So my first use of conduit was shaping it to outline a large flat line drawing of a jet/butterfly, which I then picked up and rearranged three-dimensionally by bolting it together as my armature.
Using prosaic materials to create something poetic hearkens back to my first collages using magazines and posters (and continuing today using nature detritus). So after the armature success, I bought hundreds of lengths of conduit at a hardware store, lugged them home bent and assembled them, using ordinary metal strapping and nuts and bolts, into a 60′ diameter by 12′ tree-slash-dendrite configuration.
After the tree was done, I noticed it was aesthetically similar to this small tree-code drawing I’d done much earlier. The sclupture is also a large work composed from smaller discreet parts, a digital/analog approach I’ve used in a lot of my work, from the early collages right up through the intermixable installations and resequenced sculptures. Everything is connected.
More of these large three-dimensional line drawings are in process: a waterfall, a tornado, a comet, a dustball (see below for some example diagrams.)
Conduit Room Line Drawing