Paper Constructions

story © Michael Betancourt, September 23, 1996 all rights reserved.


My paper constructions are not simple formalism using the human body as a source; they are the idea of transformation given a concrete form. As each composite of elemnets is considered an array of potential images emerge. This reflects back to us how we see the world centered around ourselves, and it is this vision which we use to construct a reality around us: we see ourselves in our world because we invent that world as much by looking as physically with our hands. Ours is a human world because we are human. The simultaneous appearance of depth against a ‘flat reality’ is simply an expression of our perceptions. Without us, our world is flat.

There are two additional ideas that play an important role in understanding my work. The first is specific to the hanging constructions alone. Balinese art provides an alternative to the ‘mobile,’ that of the ‘lang-lang’ or hanging sculpture. These are sculptures that are conceived as objects to hang in the air, much the same as other sculptures rooted in the ground. My hanging constructions are of this sort, rather than kinetic in nature.

Japanese rock gardens are built using a concept of space/time called ‘ma’ which is an idea of general significance to all my constructions. This idea refers to the changes in relationships produced by the movement of the observer. Such work is not frontalized, as with most sculpture, but rather organized into a multidimensional space that shifts as you move around it. This experience is a much more intense version of what we experience normally, and relates directly to how we construct our world. Memory of what cannot be seen is as much a physical presence as what we do see. It is for this reason that my free standing and hanging constructions should be seen in groups, much as with Brancusi’s sculptures.

Copyright © Michael Betancourt  September 23, 1996  all rights reserved.

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