A Sentence Splayed

David Roesing

June 3 – July 13  2012

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Link: http://cargocollective.com/davidroesing

David Battle Roesing’s project at A Slender Gamut continues his exploration of the painterly possibilities of communicative symbols typographical and cultural. Roesing examines their accumulation into texts and maps, their uses, stresses, slippages, their banalities as well as their sublimities, their status as the only way the distant and the dead speak to us. He camps out in data meant to be communicative and authoritative, and through paint renders it naked, inviting the eye to linger where it normally would not. As Roesing once explained to me: “I personally seem to like things that have some recognizable source, and a gesture of fidelity, but also a separate agenda. An ambition to be their own thing.”

This sensibility is on display in “A Sentence Splayed”, the artist’s first solo project in New York. Originally created for an artist book published by Booklet Press, these seventeen drawings, which take a Borges story as their point of departure, map an eye’s movement across a portion of a text. The story, “Dreamtigers” is a meditation on memory in which the narrator describes his youthful exuberance for tigers, and laments that their image has faded, become distorted, as all remembered images do. While Borges’ brief story delineates the progression of time’s assault on memory, Roesing’s drawings separate content from text, feverishly diagramming the act of reading itself.

The drawings imagine the brain processing clumps of words at a time, the focal cones of their sensors, and the mysterious “brain noise” which is the stuff of thought itself. Complicating this schema, each drawing contains invented stereoscopic information, and can be viewed in 3-D by un-focusing one’s eyes and allowing the two images to refocus at the center of the drawing. Says Roesing, “Stereoscopic 3-D is very simple, but also very frustrating. It slows the whole viewing process down immensely, and produces headaches quickly. It immediately feels like you’ve been reading for too long. But the illusion is very visceral, and in a moment the words submerge, and your hands cease to feel like your own.”