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Autodidact Chat: Andrew Reach Interviews Max Eternity

In Art, Feature, Interview on December 21, 2009 at 12:23 pm

“Butterfly Kiss #6”

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My name is Andrew Reach, and I’m an architect-artist.  For the following interview, I invite you to join me in exploring the origins of AD Mag, as Art Digital Magazine reaches its YEAR ONE Anniversary.

I’ve been given in depth access to the maestro’s mind, where I’ll be delving into the inner workings of one of the world’s most complex, art figures practicing in the field to date. Which is to say that, for the occasion I’ve come aboard to conduct an exclusive interview with the founder of this publication–autodidact polymath, Max Eternity.

Eternity is a painter, sculptor, inventor, architectural illustrator, industrial designer, dancer, graphic designer, musician, singer, poet, published writer and art theorist, whose many contributions in art, advocacy and education serves as a visionary model of entrepreneurship.

Earlier this year he and I met when he interviewed me and featured my art on AD Mag.  So first I’d like to say thank you to Max for that, not only for the wonderful article about me but also for helping to educate me and others about a variety of topics relating to cultural heritage, electronic innovation and fine art, including the digital arts.  I’d also like to take a moment to express thanks, in that by creating AD Mag, Eternity has established an international forum for a wide range of artists and ideas.  So please join me now for what is sure to be a one-of-a-kind, memorable experience.

“When I Get to Heaven #10”

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Autodidact Chat:

Artist-Architect Andrew Reach Interviews

Polymath Max Eternity (pt 1)

by Andrew Reach

____________________________________________________________

AR:    Hello Max.

ME: Hi Andrew.

AR: You are a polymath in an age of specialization. Could you first tell us a little about your background that set the stage for your wide array of multidisciplinary talents?

ME:  As a child it was my dream to be a race car driver.  But an early childhood trauma left me legally blind in my right eye.  That trauma combined with other psychic wounds resulting from internalized negative messages originating from institutionalized racism and heterosexist social constructs at school, church, home and other places thrust me deep into inner contemplation before I had even entered the 1st grade.  From there the story splinters and becomes even more bizarre—mainly because while all this was happening on the inside, I was otherwise living a very “Leave it to Beaver” kind of life…albeit in a concrete housing project.

“Halcyon Atlantis #1”

AR:  Your writings: Collecting Digital PrintsTADAE, Negro-Electro’s Artistic Hypothesis and Visual Markers, and Bauhaus Evolution, are all like manifestos. I say this because, as you know, artists and thinkers in the 20th century organized in allied groups—Blue Rider, the Surrealists, the Bauhaus–for the purpose of promoting their paradigm shifting ideas.

In September you also wrote an article for ArtWorks magazine entitled “The Digital Dilemma.”  Yet, I don’t know of many thinkers there are like you who are hypothesizing about the digital age in regards to visual fine art.  That said, do you see your writings as a catalyst to promote a new paradigm for the 21st century where the rules are once again being totally rewritten because of technological changes?

ME:  Is it deliberate on my behalf to personally imprint my belief on others, no…absolutely not.  And yet, when one injects his or her thoughts in the public sphere, inevitably those ideas will either be ignored, embraced, rejected or stared at weirdly.

Though I do hear what you’re saying about manifestos, and certainly your point is well taken.  Nevertheless, I think more than a manifesto is a rhetoric that’s sweet to the ears, it is the underlying substance that functions to support the written or stated manifesto–which ultimately will suffice the longevity of such realizations via natural selection and intellectual meritocracy.

AR: I was trained as an architect, practiced architecture for over almost 20 years.  And because of disability, I became a self taught digital artist. You on the other hand have been an artist for many years and you’re now creating architectural compositions. How did you first become interested in the Bauhaus and Modern Architecture?

ME:  Before I had even heard the words Bauhaus, I had other artists and collector friends referring to my work as Bauhaus, specifically saying that my drawings and paintings were Vasily Kandinsky inspired–like the painted wall sculpture from 1993 “SVR ” and the mixed-media drawing I did around 1995 entitled “Invasion of the Spiders.”

All told however, I knew nothing of this,–the Bauhaus and Modernism–having only a high school education. I was just doing what came natural.


“Invasion of the Spiders”


Then I suppose shortly after creating “Invasion of the Spiders”, I finally gave in and decided to educate myself a bit about what all the Modernist hullabaloo was about, in part because I had been for some years frequenting a building that had captured my imagination, The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library by Marcel Breuer.


Eternity stands near the entrance of the Downtown Atlanta Library.  Image Credit: Velisa Caldwell

***

The Atlanta-Fulton Central Public Library.  Image Credit: Brian Boyer


AR: Your Hypothesis Bauhaus Evolution is very simple and elegant. It’s like you are trying to bring art full circle in a way by distilling in form-making, how earliest humans did it; from the psyche and connecting it with the next phase of human evolution–the digital age.

How important a role do you see digital art playing in the future of art?

“Circle and Line (black)”

ME: Well, once one understands that the entirety of computer code consists of zeros (circles) and ones (lines) it becomes abundantly clear that a primitive connection is inherently built in.  To this, the fact that the human body, the earth and the cosmos are all humming with electricity—as are computers and digital programs—et voila, the connection becomes undeniable.

All this points to an inescapable truth that deserves billions in research dollars, for whatever organizations or individuals willing to further cultivate this road.

“Circular Dreams #1”

AR: Now if we could, I’d like to talk specifically about some of your digital art. Your digital works are very beautiful.

You did a series of portraits that are conceived and sourced with an orchestrated economy employing a variety of shapes all derived from arcs–curves, circles, ovals. In these works, you clearly are following the tenants of B.E.

Bauhaus Evolution logo and font by Max Eternity

ME:  Sure, that’s a fair statement.  Though I’m not sure what particular series you speak of.

AR: You use the circle in works like Target #10. And since the circle is one of the most fundamental archetypal forms in human history and culture, could you give us a little more insight into how you use archetypal forms in your work?

“Target #10”

ME:  Walking, meditating, praying…these actions function on multiple levels so as to bring one into the circle of life, as it were…resonating and harmonizing things seemingly incompatible.

Decades later, I continue to grieve the loss of my vision.  And one must remember, what represents the eye?  It’s the circle, of course.

Right?

That’s one fundamental level, naturally there are other levels.

I also practice Falun Gong, which by the way in China right now the government there is persecuting people for.  Falun Gong or Falun Dafa literally translates as law wheel.  And this is to bring to bear a comprehension of what it means for laws to govern the orbit, rotation and dynamics of the wheel, whether that be the wheel of a car or the infinite galaxies rotating in concert…governed by laws we do not yet fully understand.AR: Your shards are a wonderful example of the reductive minimalism you talk about in B.E. The simplest of forms are folded and interact with each other as if they were in a dance or dialog. With monochromatic colors the shards read as smaller broken forms, but dually read as folded origami wedges. Could you give me a little insight into how you conceived these works and how it relates to B.E.?

ME:  I think you just described Minimalism.  How can one, using the least amount of material, create something interesting and useful?

This also ties into Bauhaus Evolution…interlacing primitive symbolism, minimalistic modernism and digital design.

AR: Digital technologies have transformed Engineering and Architectural design with new ways of visualization and computation. Architects and engineers have embraced the digital age.  Even scientists have embraced it so much that a movement of scientist/artists is emerging. Yet the visual, fine art world is lagging way behind.  Do you see The Traditional and Digital Artist Engineer as a way of bridging this disconnect?

ME:  Well, let me say this.  Long before I articulated my TADAE statement, there have been people who knew of the synthesis of art and technology.  Which is why Walter Gropius said nearly 100 years ago “Art and Technology: A New Unity.”

Earlier this year, one of the first artists I interviewed for AD Mag became quite put out when I suggested the notion of an artist-engineer.  He would have none of that.  Though, since that time we have become friends, yet to revisit that topic again.

That said, I would concur that a terrible lag exists in the visual, fine art world-at-large.  Perhaps this is because in the age of unmitigated capitalism, too many commercial gallery owners are neglecting an aspect of business that gallery owners–from the Harlem Renaissance era through the Leo Castelli age—once included as part and parcel to their overall mission…OUTREACH and EDUCATION.  Examining these phenomena further, as with corporate media outlets, it seems that a tremendous loss of independence has taken place, and this has resulted in the default creation of a less than acceptable/desirable homogeneous soup of falsehoods and self-absorption.

An awful lot of commercial galleries are choosing to become carbon copies of one another.  Along with this, too many artistic gate keepers have settled for blowing smoke up each others ass, instead of reinventing themselves—casting aside outdated modalities.

I mean, look no further than to the insurance, banking and automotive industries and it’s quite apparent that a hermetically-sealed socio-economic aristocracy has engulfed nearly the whole of civil society.

Some heavy pruning is long overdue.

AR: I would have to agree.

I’ve been looking at your architectural compositions, and that’s where we’ll pick up next time, as we move toward the second phase of this interview.  But for now, this concludes Part 1.

“Mec de Mystery: Tribe”

AR:  Thanks for your time Max.

ME:  My pleasure.

AR: And for AD Mag readers, return next week for the second half of my talk with AD Mag publisher, Max Eternity, in an interview I’m calling “Autodidact Chat.”

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About Andrew Reach:

Andrew Reach, architect-artist (b.1961), spent his formative years in Miami. From an early age he had an appreciation of art, graphic design and architecture and enjoyed drawing and sketching as well.  Decades later, Andrew’s work has been exhibited in solo and international juried exhibitions in Miami, New York, San Francisco and Chicago.

On his way to becoming an architect, Reach studied at New York’s Pratt School of Art & Design.  And at various points in his architectural career, he worked with such notables as Yann Weymouth and Harold Zellman.

Reach was the Project Manager, who oversaw the building of the Frost Museum in Miami, also having been deeply involved in the restoration of a couple of houses by Lloyd Wright; son to Frank Lloyd Wright.  Reach was also directly responsible for the preservation of Wright’s Warwick Evans House and  the  Jascha Heitz studio, both located in Los Angeles.

Andrew and life companion, Bruce, now reside in Cleveland Ohio.

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