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We often think of the concept of space-time as relegated to science and science fiction driven conversations, disconnected from our everyday experiences and existing as only a theoretical construct. We understand it as a tool for discussing the gravity of planetary bodies or the mysteries of black holes. If Einstein's theories are correct, then the existence of our physical bodies and all of their movements also exist in space-time. Time-space compression is an inescapable fact of contemporary life. In our era of instantaneous imaging and accelerated electronic transmissions, distant locations and times are brought closer together. Our present is the propagation of information flows and near-total information awareness. We exist, immersed in an abundance of self-contained linear narratives and non-linear streams of information: journalism, parodies, fictions, social anecdotes, stories of power, historical accounts, religious allegories, long-form television series, films, videos, and podcasts. At all times, our attention divides in the face of multiple time-flows, impossibly challenging us to be present in each of them. Our text message threads, social media threads, and emails beckon as we sink into the sofa and attempt to lose ourselves in the latest binge-worthy productions. Our current experience of space-time is fragmented and pluralized.
In 2013 I became obsessed with embedding these ideas into my practice and leaving all else behind. I made a pronounced shift, distilling my work to its core concepts: Space-time, Mark, Obsession, and Repetition. I sought then, and continue to pursue now, a practice that dissolves the distinction between process and product, that renders these two notions indivisible from one another. By embracing time as both material and site, a new duration-based practice emerged. I began employing processes that are equal parts obsessive and meditative, repeating small actions, gestures, or marks until they coalesce into independent fields, flows, structures, or spaces. As the work has evolved the durations and the scale has increased monumentally. My most recent works exist on the scale of architecture over durations that are the aggregate of days. These large-scale works are phenomenological blackholes, maelstroms in time. Their fixed durations manifest and contain space-time, ruptures in the surface of the present. The drawing act has become a purposeful disconnection from the continuum of time and method for descending into the singularity of a given moment. The effect is one of being immersed in space-time where its whirling vortex allows a production uninfluenced by the limits, and structures of external time's rate of flow.
For centuries artists turned to the studio to separate from the world to create in isolation. The resulting art object they produced was typically offered and celebrated as the manifestation of that time of disconnection. However, in our current moment, we carry our connection to the world in our pockets, making disconnection an increasingly impossible accomplishment. Our smartphone screens link us across space and time, influence our perceptions, and even mediate our experiences via their wide lenses and shallow depths. The majority of my current works are produced publicly, with the labor of their production under the primary gaze of the viewer and secondarily encapsulated in digital video. For each performative, durational work, several artifacts and countless memories are created. Some memories organically accumulated within the minds of the viewers and others encoded on the sensors and memory cards of their cameras. Under the scrutiny of these gathering of gazes, each gesture is an event. Each mark a record of a moment transitioning from the perceptual present to the past; their public amalgamation gives form to the invisible compression, accretion, duplication and fragmentation of space-time. The surface of the work, the binary code of the cameras and the minds and bodies of the observer, are vessels capable of encapsulating and carrying the work across space and time; as the primary marks become lost from view.
Kevin Townsend is an internationally recognized artist and educator currently living and working in the suburbs of Kansas City. Townsend has taught academic and studio-based practices at accredited colleges of art and design for the last 13 years working at Maine College of Art, MassArt, SMFA at Tufts, KCAI, and K-State. In addition to teaching Townsend is known for his dynamic curriculum development, developing courses for East Brunswick High School (NJ), MassArt Pre-college program, Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, SMFA Drawing and Painting and most recently for KCAI's new Foundations Year Experience. Kevin also currently serves as CO-DIRECTOR / CO-CURATOR for long-running KC artist-run gallery, plug.
Kevin's expanded drawing practice centers around mark-making, obsession, and the phenomenology of time. His current practice brings together elements of drawing, sound, video, installation, and performance where the resulting works are temporary, durational, and often public. Kevin Earned a BFA from the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University and an MFA in Art Practice from School of Visual Arts.
curriculum vitae [link]