(RESUME below bio)
Dayton Castleman wants you to be right here, and he really likes disclaimers:
If you have to put up a sign to warn people, then you're doing something right.
Sometimes disclaimers are part of the work and sometimes they just point you in the right direction; sometimes they come after the fact. Discussing his practice with a small gathering of the Co-Prosperity Sphere Artists-Class, Dayton Castleman cited Guy Debord, Rosalind Krauss and Slavoj iek. It was still summer and I had to wrestle with some theory.
"Since the spectacle's job is to use various specialized mediations in order to show us a world that can no longer be directly grasped, it naturally elevates the sense of sight to the special preeminence once occupied by touch: the most abstract and easily deceived sense is the most readily adaptable to generalized abstraction of everyday society." (Guy Debord Society of the Spectacle #18)
Castleman does not work against the spectacle (as Debord and the Situationists wanted), but admittedly for it. Works such as Negative Matter (2011), shown most recently at the 2011 MDW Fair, deliberately fiddle with the registration between the viewer's visual and tactile perceptions. Castleman visually stopped an industrial fan in motion, unleashing, in a confined space, a violent wind with an unidentifiable source. His intentions included faith, perceptual limitation and the controlled environments of artists such as James Turrell and Olafur Eliasson. And Disneyland rides.
The result is a Debordian spectacle: the use of technology to show the confused viewer the limitations of sense in our technological world. Only through technology (an industrial stroboscopic tachometer) can we view a moment of the impossibly fast-moving fan's revolution. Like being loaded into the boat through Storybook Land, Castleman places the viewer with his perspective of choice: a barely visible string across the small space indicates both place and danger, the latter being underscored by a sense of sensory deprivation or delusion.
A multi-modal artist whose works are driven by concept rather than medium, aesthetic or visualization of the end product, Castleman is working through Krauss' post-medium condition. For him this means the end of the medium-specific history of art, in which a painting must be judged against other paintings and in its relation to both history of the medium and the medium itself.
Now, in the post-post-modern, when the aesthetic is obsolete and the medium is chosen by the messenger, Castleman works first with the sensation that he desires to evoke. Progressing through increasingly temporal and ephemeral works, Castleman is now using dance performances to combine text, music and movement. He describes the human body as ...a machine and kinetic object with limitless potential, a medium capable of relating to the viewer in a unique and viscerally evocative way. With his current interest in dance as a medium, Castleman is finding that the innate lack of directorial control during a performance has reminded him that ...pre-programmed ambiguity always makes a stronger work.
Is it the responsibility of the artist to continuously unpack and reveal each new medium or is it viewer's choice? Curating Objet Petit A in 2009, Castleman used the medium of the piñata to address questions of content, and ultimately the destructive choice of the viewer. After purchasing an art object, would the audience choose the inside or outside? And, as iek pointed out, will they be satisfied with their choice? A huge success, the post-show destruction demonstrated the power of curiosity and group-spectacular mentality: it was a show both of art and of the viewers.
Castleman's focus on the positioning of the viewer becomes one of his major themes. Each work, with diverse concept and medium, pulses with an underlying current of interest in the viewer and in their physical, mental or spiritual interaction. Sigh (2011) looked very much like a man napping under a drop cloth and incited concern with several passers-by. Recent dance piece Valediction (2011) created a shared ephemeral experience that Castleman relates to the sense of religious connection felt by members of a congregation.
So, what of the hidden disclaimer? As I pored over my notes, attempting once again to tease a single meaning from the tangle of Krauss, things were pretty messy. But there, in the middle, in response to the anti-Debordian challenge of one participant, Castleman disclaims. And it is the disclaimer that made all the difference: I'm not attempting a conversation with Debord. I'm ripping off sentences. Castleman isn't trying to prove Krauss or underscore iek; he's interested in the directions that these theorists provoke in his practice.
And he's interested in where that makes you stand.
2008 MFA The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
1998 BA Belhaven University, Jackson, MS
*Bare Diary, College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, MO
*Negative Matter, Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, IL
BLESS, Ben Russell Gallery, Chicago, IL
Resonant Vision, The 930, Louisville, KY
*Sigh, Happy Collaborationists, Chicago, IL
The New, New Chicagoans, Co-Prosperity Sphere, Chicago, IL
Negative Matter, MDW Art Fair Sculpture Garden, Chicago, IL
Peregrine Papers, Peregrine Program, Chicago, IL
Valediction, Dance Chance Choreographers Showcase, Ruth Page Center for Dance, Chicago, IL
*Rabbit Trails, The 930, Louisville, KY
Out of Chicago: Jeremy Tubbs and Dayton Castleman, Jennifer Norback, Chicago, IL
Re:Form, Dordt College, Sioux Center, IA
Trendbeheer Meets Proximity, Singer Sweatshop, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Ethosphere, Ethos, Chicago, IL
Inside Out, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Chicago, IL
Nomadic Studio, DePaul University Art Museum, Chicago, IL
Faculty Group Show, Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, IL
*Starcrossd, Judson University, West Elgin, IL
Infoporn II, Co-Prosperity Sphere, Chicago, IL
Salad, Church, Exercise, Co-Prosperity Sphere, Chicago, IL
Super Badass, Co-Prosperity Sphere, Chicago, IL
*Temporary Allegiance, Gallery 400, University of Illinois Chicago
Continental Fairytales, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Limbo, Gallery 2 and Project Space, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
The Strange Place, Alogon Gallery, Chicago, IL
This is All Really Happening Right Now, Alogon Gallery, Chicago, IL
Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards, International Sculpture Center, Hamilton, NJ
Something About Coming and Going, Northpark University, Chicago, IL
The Fortuitous Sequel to Martin Kippenbergers Installation, Experimental Station, Chicago, IL
*Tilting at Giants, Permanent Site-Specific Installation at Broad Street Ministry, Philadelphia, PA
The End of the Tunnel, Site-Specific Installation at Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Philadelphia, PA
The Muster, Governors Island, New York, NY
Mississippi Invitational Exhibition, Bitsy Irby Gallery, Belhaven University, Jackson, MS
*Lamentations, Visions Gallery, Albany, NY
Introducing Palestine, ACSD Pasadena, Pasadena, CA
*Passion/Confession, Lemly Gallery, Belhaven University, Jackson, MS
On the Edge, Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA
E Pluribus Artis, Eastern University, St. Davids, PA
Notes From Underground, Church of the Good Samaritan, Paoli, PA
Mississippi Collegiate Art Competition, Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, Meridian, MS
Mississippi Collegiate Art Competition, Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS
Territories, Version Festival 10, Chicago, IL 2010
Objet Petit A, Spoke, Chicago, IL, 2009
The Strange Place, Alogon Gallery, Chicago, IL, 2008
The Word Made Flesh: Paintings of Edward Knippers, Hilton Pittburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, 2006
Drawing Matthew Clark, Hilton Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, 2005
Notes from Underground, Church of the Good Samaritan, Paoli, PA, 2004
E Pluribus Artis, Eastern University, St. Davids, PA, 2004
Redemption, Hilton Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, 2004
2008 MFA Fellowship, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
2006 2008 Harvey Fellowship
2007 International Sculpture Center Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award
2005 Project Grant, Broad Street Ministry
2004 Project Grant, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
Project Finishing Grant, Angels Net Inc., NYC
1998 Mississippi Collegiate Art Competition, Jurors Award
1997 Mississippi Collegiate Art Competition, Award of Excellence, Jurors Award
Bert Stabler, Review: Dayton Castleman/Seerveld Gallery, Newcity (Chicago), Feb 21, 2011
Melanie Radzicki Mcmanus, Philly: Beyond the Bell, Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 13, 2009
James Elkins, Slide Lecture On the Strange Place of Religion in Contemporary Art
Wayne Adams, On Being in Strange Places, Curator Online magazine, August 2008
Jessica Prudhomme, Turning Points, Prism, May/June 2008, 33
5 Shows to See Now, Newcity (Chicago), April 10, 2008, 17
James Romaine, Best Foot Forward, Comment, March 2008, 44
Janet Purcell, Threes a Crowd, The Trenton Times, October 5, 2007, G17
The International Sculpture Center 2007 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Awards, Sculpture Magazine, Vol. 26, October 2007, 57
Exhibition Catalogue, Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ, Fall/Winter 2007/08 Exhibitions
Ned Bustard, It Was Good: Making Art to the Glory of God, Square Halo Books Inc., 2007, Making Art that Shouts, images: spine, 196, 333, 339, 340, 342, 347, 348
Annual Report, Mustard Seed Foundation, images: front cover, back cover, 2006
Libby Rosof, Tilting at Frustration, Philadelphia ArtBlog, March 23, 2006
Roberta Fallon, Blowing in the Wind, Philadelphia Weekly, March 22, 2006
Cameron J. Anderson and Sandra Bowden, Faith and Vision: 25 years of Christians in the Visual Arts, Square Halo Books Inc., 2005, 7, 60, 189.
Edward J. Sozanski, Artists provide good reasons to go to prison, Philadelphia Inquirer, June 12, 2005.
Kristen E. Holmes, Taking in artists as a way to the heart of youth, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 4, 2005.
Lauren McGowan, A-spire-ing to higher ground, together, The Spirit of Fairmount March 30, 2005, 1.
Emily Brown, Olivet Covenant creates a Church, artists find a home, Philadelphia Art Writers, vol. 2 no. 5, 2005, 1.
Thom Nichols, Artists find a home in church sanctuary, Art Museum Area Home News, Oct. 28, 2004, 1.
1998 Mississippi Collegiate Art Competition Winners, Museum Matters, Mississippi Museum of Art Newsletter, May/June 1998, 5.
Criticism Endorphins, Comment Magazine Online, February 4, 2011
Response to God in the Gallery, Church and Post-Modern Culture blog, online symposium, August 12, 2009
Art: Right There in Public, Comment Magazine, March 1, 2009
Can Cy Twombly Be Trusted, Comment Magazine Online, May 8, 2009
A Universe of Influences, Seen, Vol. 8, no. 1, 2008.
A Place in Gods House, CatapultMagazine.com, Vol. 4, no. 16, 2005.
The End of the Tunnel, CatapultMagazine.com, Vol. 4, no. 14, 2005.
Repentence, Reconciliation and Redemption in the Arts, Creative Spirit: A Journal of Faith and Art, Vol. 6, no. 3, 2005, 15.
Columbia College, Chicago, IL
The 930 Gallery, Louisville, KY
Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, IL
Chicago Semester, Chicago, IL
Q Conference, Lyric Opera House, Chicago, IL
Chicago Semester, Chicago, IL
Christians in the Visual Arts Biennial Conference, Minneapolis, MN
Jubilee Conference, Pittsburgh, PA
The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA
Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, IL
Chicago Semester, Chicago, IL
Following Christ Conference, Chicago, IL
New York Center for Arts and Media Studies, New York, NY
John Brown University, Siloam Springs, AR
International Arts Movement, New York, NY
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
New York Center for Art and Media Studies, New York, NY
Christians in the Visual Arts Biennial Conference, Messiah College
Northpark University, Chicago, IL
Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL
Messiah College, Philadelphia, PA
Belhaven University, Jackson, MS
Conrad Bakker, Champaign, IL
Eastern State Penitentiary National Historic Landmark, Philadelphia, PA
Henry S. McNeil Jr., Philadelphia, PA
Rob and Tracy Matthews, Philadelphia, PA
Broad Street Ministry, Philadelphia, PA
Wayne Presbyterian Church, Wayne, PA