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Matthew Picton: Surface Tape Recordings
Almost everyone knows about frottage, the technique of making patterns from the surface of objects by rubbing them through paper with a piece of chalk or graphite. In the method Max Ernst pioneered for the Surrealists, the rough designs were used to stimulate the imagination and hints of form were worked up by drawing, collage and other media. Ashland, Oregon artist Matthew Picton has advanced this concept in spades. He sees his task as "noticing the unseen," and "recording and preserving the slowly disappearing world that is ever present but for the most part invisible." To accomplish this, he applies closed ranks of double-sided tape to the fusty and oxidized surfaces of old buildings, oil tanks, stovepipes, shutters and shingles ñ anything with a promising surface of texture, pigment and patina. The resulting tapes, when reversed in exact order and re-adhered to a foam-core support, reveal a 1:1 scale "photogram" of sorts, utterly true to the original, but in mirror image. Picton does a variation of this technique by drawing the cracks and corrosion in streets and car parks on acetate, then transferring them to paper. Or he applies charcoal directly to pavements and then lifts the composition directly with tape, producing otherworldly filigrees out of stressed fractures. All of this may sound absurdly simple ñ until one actually goes out with a roll of tape in search of worthy "subjects." With a developed eye and sure instinct, Picton preserves the skin of an evanescent world and makes swatches of it, in its own pigment and colour and detritis, intriguingly concrete. Arte Povera is far from dead.
© Ted Lindberg