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In “The Projection Principle,” the artist erects a tower from alphabet and number-shaped toys using his mouth to house the foundation of the structure. Practically in orbit, Setzer’s rotation complicates the fabrication of the pile, forcing an association between kinesthetic learning, linguistics, and the lineage of meaning. Setzer’s work often addresses the tenuous relationship we have with language in our attempts to paraphrase our experiences of the world, and in this work he portrays the mouth as a space of both lofty construction, and great discomfort.

If at first glance, the friendly aesthetic of the work appears to be excerpted from children’s television programming, further investigation would expose its shared roots with more process-oriented artists such as Joseph Beuys, Janine Antoni or Matthew Barney. The work playfully blurs the distinction between these two languages—the extremely digestible palette of an audience-friendly educational experience and the less accessible lineage of the avant-garde. This awkward blend allows these two mythologies to reveal their common role—that of the transformation of the viewer through the representation of the abstract.

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All video and sound © 2013, Gary Setzer. All rights reserved.

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