In viewing most of Bob’s work, I continually think of the concept of give and take; as an artist, Bob creates work that gives and takes various things from the viewer, and uses these gains and losses to create an experience that would otherwise not be possible to achieve.
A recent example of this give and take is his creation of a sensory-deprivation chamber, which works in conjunction with a series of either pre-recorded soundtracks or live audio microphones set up in the gallery space. Viewers are invited to enter the chamber, which starts the process of the give and take; their sense of hearing and sight are all but eliminated, cutting them off from the gallery environment. Then comes the give: audio recordings or live stream are pumped into the room, causing the individual to gain a new sense, hearing the intimate conversations taking place over the work inside the gallery. With the initial sacrifice of their sight and hearing, they are gifted back a new form of hearing, creating a secret experience unique to each viewer, each location, and each round in the chamber. This may come off as a violation of privacy to some, while others view it as a tool for growth, being able to learn and hear things that might not normally be part of gallery conversation. The openness of interpretation in this regard is something I feel makes Bob’s work strong.
More recently, Bob has begun working on a series that involves a series of roadside crosses from the state of Montana, and the exploration of the idea of death, and it’s association with those crosses. My biggest concern/criticism about this new direction is that the idea of exploring death in artwork is both an incredibly broad and loaded concept, full of baggage and association, and also that the exploration of death in artwork has been done time and time again. These factors might be a struggle for Bob to overcome in the creation of his work, and he’ll need to have the research and a defense of his work to be incredibly solid to back it up. However, if he can get over this issue, I think that this could be some of Bob’s best work. The simple beauty of these crosses, the finality of them out in the bare Montana landscape turns them into art objects before anything else is done with them, and with the right tweaking, Bob could elevate that level of beauty even further. I’m interested and excited to see where he takes this newest exploration, and I’m hopefully that he’ll succeed in his goals.
To learn more about Bob’s work and his process please visit http://refalcone.tumblr.com/
As part of the second-year graduates’ Thesis Projects I course, candidates were each assigned two of their cohort to review. As students begin writing their thesis papers and constructing artist statements, this review process proves to be beneficial twofold. Students not only exercise their written critique skills, but are able to read about their own project from other voices. Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting these reviews, so be sure to visit regularly for insights and photos of the second years’ progress!