Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Meeting Mark Zirpel

I have been researching graduate programs in an effort to find the best fit for my work. University of Washington's developing 3D4M program has been tossed to the forefront of my mind on many occasions. The acceptance of diverse approaches to making paired with a strong public art background lend the advantage here. While researching the program I devoted a good amount of time to browsing the images on their site, then digging for information on the various faculty members. Akio Takamori, Doug Jeck, John Young, Jamie Walker; their work speaks volumes and the diversity of approaches to creating certainly provides support for my interest in this program.  Then I catch the work of Mark Zirpel; intriguing, dynamic, kinetic, intense, and unforgettable. With my recent interests in work by Arthur Ganson, Theo Jansen, and Joe Gilbertson it's now wonder that i am captivated by Mark's work. What is most exciting is the fact that he retains an unbelievable connection to natural phenomenon, and invests this into his work. 

Mark's work in recent years has involved the body, patterns in nature, and an edge of sound. It is more often than not kinetic, at times incorporating motion sensors that detect viewers movement initiating a series of responses in the work. He uses many different materials but there appears to be a strong relationship to rusticated metals, glass, conduit and rubber skins. These materials combined perform all sorts of engaging activities from smoking cigarettes and asking for change, to making sounds and measuring weather patterns.  

I was informed last week that Mark would be in Richmond to give a lecture and visit the studios of several graduate students in the craft department. And so, of course, I packed my bags and headed back to RVA to try to catch a few moment of his time and undoubtedly his lecture and presentation. 

I am far from being a graduate student, but somehow i still get away with a lot on the VCU campus. No need to digress, as the one and only Jack Wax would say, but I guess they still support my awkward methods. What is important is that i am one motivated non-student who works in apparently divergent ways. But its rather simple in my perspective. Im a non-linear thinker and all things being connected will eventually work themselves out. As chance and a touch of commitment would have it i am beginning to gather a great deal of clarity within the greater scope of my work. Thus I have decided that my next major efforts would be best cultivated in a graduate program and I am finally prepared to do the work necessary to make this happen. 

I made the lecture yesterday and it was worth every minute. Reading articles, catching quotes, these things are all second hand. They may be interesting but are worth little when you can finally put a personality to the text. Mark keeps a good smile and is a thoughtful, buoyant individual. The work, the videos that expose the workings of his pieces in time, are well done and I found them to be fully worth sitting in the chilled air of the lecture room to experience. 

As luck would have it I got moment today to speak with Mark. I have to thank Jack Wax for affording me the opportunity as well as Akiko Jackson for passing up hers. From this I was able to have a great discussion; my past work, chaos, order, scale shifts, perception, play, dreams. Overall it was a fluid discussion punctuated with a few mutual laughs and some great feedback. Mark has an unbelievable energy and his dedication to hard work is a motivation to anyone with like interests. I look forward to traveling to Seattle and visiting the University of Washington and I certainly hope to catch up with Mark again in the future, not to mention see his work in first person. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, great article- I'm so jealous you got the chance to meet Mark Zirpel :) I was wondering if you could tell me the name of the piece with the smoking lung (/heart)? I can't find it anywhere.
thanks :)