TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT March 2010

TOP TEN

Margaret Honda

Los Angeles–based artist Margaret Honda most recently exhibited her sculptures and photographs in group shows at S1F Gallery, Los Angeles, and Estación Tijuana, Mexico, and as part of the 2008 California Biennial. Currently she is constructing a full-scale paper rendition of a house that is being published and distributed piece by piece in publications such as North Drive Press and the Drawing Center’s Drawing Papers.

  1. DAVID L. MACADAM COLOR SOLID, 1944

    A color solid proposes to be a standardized representation of how color differences are perceived, and no such rendering is stranger and more beautiful than the one devised by MacAdam. Of course, if you’re doubtful that such a bizarre shape––which looks like a partially unwrapped burrito—can accomplish this feat, you’re not alone. In his 1981 book, Color Measurement, the scientist admitted the failure of his own attempt (and everyone else’s, too). Still, I’m grateful he tried.

    Illustration from David L. MacAdam’s Color Measurement: Theme and Variations (Springer-Verlag, 1981). Illustration from David L. MacAdam’s Color Measurement: Theme and Variations (Springer-Verlag, 1981).
  2. CHARLES DARWIN, THE FORMATION OF VEGETABLE MOULD, THROUGH THE ACTION OF WORMS, WITH OBSERVATIONS ON THEIR HABITS (1881)

    Darwin brings to this study of modest and overlooked creatures the same rigor that informs his better-known work, demonstrating the role earthworms play in forming topsoil, in the subsidence of the land and subsequent preservation of archaeological finds, and in the disintegration of rocks through chemical and mechanical processes. At the same time, he observes how worms pave their burrows with tiny stones to keep warm and dry, how their taste in food varies, and how they determine the best method for dragging paper triangles of different proportions. It is clear that Darwin finds his subject both charming and formidable, and in fact, we can describe his writing in those very terms.

  3. ROBERT BRESSON, AU HASARD BALTHAZAR (1966)

    Everything I love and admire about Bresson is encapsulated by just one minute of one scene in this masterpiece: The donkey Balthazar, pulling a hay cart through a circus menagerie, comes face-to-face with four animals in succession—a tiger, a polar bear, a chimpanzee, and an elephant. As Balthazar passes before each, the film cuts back and forth between his gaze and that of the other creature. Presumably, only a few feet separate them, but that distance is insurmountable. It’s a standard construction in film to use this technique when two human characters meet, revealing in the eyes of each something of their feelings and motivations. In Bresson’s film, however, these looks are exchanged by animals. He gives us their point of view, but no entry into their thoughts or feelings, and thus no entry into the moment of which we find ourselves a part. The sequence is entirely inscrutable and can only leave us spellbound.


    Robert Bresson, Au Hasard Balthazar, 1966. (Excerpt)

  4. CHARLOTTE POSENENSKE, “VIERKANTROHRE” (SQUARE TUBES), SERIES D AND DW, 1967

    All of Posenenske’s work is amazing, but her square tubes of corrugated cardboard and sheet metal are a marvel. Her idea of producing modules in an unlimited quantity, pricing them at their production cost, letting other people install them according to their own criteria, and making them disposable was incredibly prescient and influential. The fact that you can see the screw holes at the exposed end of a tube means that more modules can be added and that the piece can go on forever, across space and over time. Lucky us.

  5. MICHAEL ASHER, INSTALLATION MÜNSTER (CARAVAN), 1977, 1987, 1997, 2007

    In this work the temporal and spatial ramifications of what you are seeing just melt together: For each of the four Skulptur Projekte exhibitions, Asher rented the same make and model trailer (Dodge Grand) and parked it in the same sequence of locations during the same time intervals. The project would be exactly repeatable, but for the world we live in. We see this quite plainly in the work’s photo-documentation, where a gap in the image sequence indicates that a given installation was not possible or the exhibition’s time frame had changed (or the photo wasn’t taken). I have seen this work only in 2007 but look forward to seeing it again in 2017, 2027, 2037, 2047, 2057 . . .

  6. GIULIA LAMA (CA. 1685–1753)

    I first learned of Lama in Venice, where I saw her Allegoria della Chiesa (Allegory of the Church) in the apse of Santa Maria Formosa, the church for the parish where she was born. Hooked, I’ve searched ever since for whatever else I could find by this painter who has barely escaped total obscurity; only a few works survive, but the power of their sketchlike assurance makes you wish there were many more. In Venice, you can also see the Crucifixion at San Vitale and Judith and Holofernes in the Accademia. Then there is The Martyrdom of St. Eurosia (probably a sketch) in the Ca’ Rezzonico: Even headless, Saint Eurosia appears to be pushing herself up, brazenly turning to deal with the smirking executioner behind her.

    Giulia Lama, The Martyrdom of St. Eurosia, 1728, oil on canvas, 23 1/4 x 15 3/4". Giulia Lama, The Martyrdom of St. Eurosia, 1728, oil on canvas, 23 1/4 x 15 3/4".
  7. JACK BROGAN’S SHOP, LOS ANGELES

    Jack has fabricated work for Robert Irwin since the 1960s, for Lynda Benglis since the 1970s, and for artists of every generation since. In his studio, there are always major pieces being produced or conserved. But the objects that really catch my eye are the templates and tools he makes to make the art he constructs, each one usually with only a single function—whether it’s polishing or forming something or routing a single piece of material—so that the given step is done with absolute precision. Each jig is unique, uniformly handsome, and intriguing, reminding me what fabrication is all about.

  8. CLOTHES INSIDE OUT

    My mother was a couture dressmaker for the Hollywood designer Howard Greer. She summed up her deep knowledge and extreme standards as follows: A garment should be constructed well enough that you can wear it inside out.

    Jacket made by the writer’s mother, Ruth Honda, ca. 1960, shown inside out. Photo: Margaret Honda. Jacket made by the writer’s mother, Ruth Honda, ca. 1960, shown inside out. Photo: Margaret Honda.
  9. WORTH FOUR-DOT TEST

    Those of us who lack binocular vision need not miss out on 3-D media: We alone have the Worth four-dot test, a simple exam involving four lights and a pair of red-and-green-lensed glasses. Those with binocular vision who take the test see a standard combination of four red and green dots: Boring! Those without, on the other hand, are in for a treat: only green dots, only red dots, extra dots, shifting dots, dots that are half green and half red as in a painting by Gabriel Orozco. Because the anomalies are constructed in your brain, however, you realize, after taking the glasses off, that what you were looking at was, in fact, never there.

    Chart for Worth four-dot test. Chart for Worth four-dot test.
  10. KAMABOKO

    The texture and flavor of this steamed fish cake define comfort food for me. But the main attraction is the piece of wood on which the kamaboko is made—and that, when a whole packaged loaf is bought, remains present as a kind of pedestal to which the treat is firmly attached. If kamaboko didn’t already exist in this form, I would have liked to have made it as a sculpture.