Critical i: Greg Pond
by Joe Nolan
I’d leave the Whole World Round pairs Greg Pond’s newest sculptures with familiar favorites, to explore both emerging and disappearing landscapes. The Last Remnant Left Behind in Ahab’s Empty Bed is a man-sized shard of white aluminum recalling a rib bone of a whale. It’s mounted on a triangular, black-steel lattice suggesting the sail of a boay. The American whaling industry that Herman Melville documented conquered whole horizons for the U.S., and the landscape expanded. But, for the whales, the green ocean vistas condensed and collapsed.
Remnant is from 2011 as is Stump Erupts a Mountain. Here, Pond assembles blocks of wood to form a tree stump topped off with a mountain made of steel segments. Even in these earlier works, Pond’s attention to materials along with his eloquent inquiries into space and landscape are already fully formed.
Phonotactic Plate is a sheet of shiny stainless steel sitting on its long edge in two wooden stands. Speakers attached behind it play a composition that causes the steel to resonate and make noises of its own. This piece is all about spatial presence—that of the delicately balanced steel and the sounds that it makes felt and not just heard.
Questions about space are also questions about time and, again, it’s Pond’s use of materials that speaks to the temporal. With Ghost in the Canyon (on the right) Pond employs primitive building techniques to lash a form together out of sticks. Instead of securing the structure with natural fibers, Pond uses nylon. The piece is rather vehicle shaped, and an industrially produced lattice of acrylic is draped across it like some cybernetic saddle. Ghost is space age, manufactured, and artificial, but it’s haunted by the forest, by ancient builders, and even by cowboy culture.
Ultimately, like the steel balanced near the far wall of the gallery, Whole World doesn’t choose between competing landscapes. The use of printing in the show—both 2D and 3D—speaks to the relentless reproducibility of man-made landscapes, but the bronze branches of Family Tree (on the left) speak to the endurance of the natural world.
For more information about Greg Pond visit www.gregpond.net.