Daniel A Bruce

Cannon's Walk

Red sky at night, 

Sailors delight.

Red sky at morning, 

Sailors take warning.

 

Cannon’s Walk 

South Street Seaport

206 Front Street

New York City

 

September 5th - September 26th, 2014.


This body of work is a rumination on the idiosyncrasies of folk beliefs and superstitions. Underlying the investigation is a fundamental questioning of how and perhaps why these beliefs are accepted as truth.

Whether it’s reading daily fortunes or carrying an image of a patron saint, people maintain their cultural, ideological or spiritual biases every day. These beliefs are often identified with symbols lending certain other significance to objects as lucky charms. In slight contrast, this new work also reflects on particular commonplace collectibles; simple, often mundane objects kept for the sake of personal interest, sentimentality or novelty. By a simple act of possession, it is very common to instill objects with additional layers of meaning even if merely a stone, an old empty bottle, or a penny.

The title of this exhibit comes from the old saying and is meant to cast a curious light over the show. Once a commonly held belief by sailors, this work is matched to a public space, which marks the site of John Cannon’s early 18th century Wharf.

This show is an investigation of culture – a culture that expresses belief through the mysteries of object-hood and its ability to possess them. It’s also a celebration of humanity’s tendency to construct meaning, often in the face of the unknown. As an installation there should exist a feeling that these works are from another place and time, yet they should also seem native to contemporary sensibilities. This assembly of found and fabricated objects seeks to connect belief and/or memory with the viewer. What one believes or recognizes tends to dictate something’s value, not dissimilar to aesthetics of taste or biases in the art world.

At the center of this exhibit is “Fortune Telling Boulder”, which associates art with the mysteries of the universe and with monetary exchange. The work employs a coin-operated interface, where, for a quarter, a participant will have their fortune given in the form of an audio message. There is a convenient loop between the viewer and the artwork, namely the expectation of a return from the work, informing the basic drive to explore and interact. This viewer-participatory nature of the piece anchors the installation, which is designed to motivate curiosity and entertain with an honest and sincere solicitousness.