“Kardex”, 2006
Robin Hill
with Sam Nichols
June 9 - July 7, 2006

another year in LA
2121 N. San Fernando Rd., #13, Los Angeles 90065
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Kardex, 2006
an interactive installation by Robin Hill with Samuel Nichols
visible storage cabinet, ink jet prints, recorded sound, house paint
dimensions variable


The artist Robin Hill has retrofitted this steel one-piece cabinet, safely stacked two high. Its sturdy, welded construction houses Hill’s photographic images of 29 ears organized in bar lug pockets, with 1/4" visible margins, which index important visual and audible information for immediate reference. The viewer is invited to browse the files. By opening the drawers, sounds associated with the subjects whose ears appear are triggered and layered upon a sonic backdrop, created by composer Sam Nichols. The visible margins are permanently protected by a non-glare vinyl tip. Bar lug pockets may be removed or rearranged more easily than in any other system. Steel dividers create a separate compartment for each slide. Key lock is standard on all units. Available in Pearl Gray, Heather Beige, Gray-Rite and Black.
Robin Hill is a sculptor and Associate Professor of Art at the University of California, Davis. Her work has been exhibited extensively both nationally and abroad. Her work is in numerous private and corporate collections, as well as in the collections of the Richard L. Nelson Gallery & The Fine Arts Collection and the Fogg Art Museum. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts, Individual Artist Fellowship in Sculpture, two Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowships, and two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships. She is represented by Lennon-Weinberg, Inc. in New York City. Her most recent exhibition there was entitled “Multiplying the Variations” and was the subject of an essay in Sculpture Magazine in September 2005: Between the Physical and the Invisible by Denise Carvalho. For more information: http://robinhill.ucdavis.edu
Sam Nichols teaches music theory at the University of California, Davis. He studied guitar with Terry Champlin at Vassar College, and recently received his Ph.D. in composition and theory at Brandeis University. He has studied composition with Ross Bauer, Eric Chasalow, Annea Lockwood, David Rakowski, Richard Wilson and Yehudi Wyner. His recent projects include a clarinet quintet commissioned by the Wellesley Composers Conference and the composition for the sound component in a 2006 collaborative work by Robin Hill and Steve Kaltenbach, “Say It Back”. For “Kardex” Nichols filtered Hill’s chosen recordings using a variety of digital signal processors, and then linked the Kardex cabinet’s physical files to the manipulated sound files using Max/MSP, a powerful and flexible software application.


Special thanks to:
Tom Bills, sculptor
Tim Feldman, Electric Algorithms, Inc.
Bill Beck, digital sound engineer
Tatiana Diakoff, UC Davis student assistant
Raven Keller, UC Davis student assistant
Allison Taylor, Brandeis Post-Bac program studio assistant

Artist Statement:

In “Kardex” I am continuing to examine the potential of discarded, rejected objects/materials. My choice of the Kardex cabinet, whose design is based on “visible storage”, was the result of a fortunate “prepared” encounter. (Louis Pasteur: “Chance favors the prepared mind.”) It cried out for new content, in the form of a collection or inventory, and resonated with all the qualities and questions that have been the subject of my work for years, whereby a seemingly arbitrary process of image-making leads to meaning through repetition and organization, and whereby images and forms acquire a sense of purpose, not in their singularity, but in their relationship to the whole, (whether that whole is a space or a collection of works in a space) or as a sequence in a process over a course of time, and whereby, as the artist, I play a role of facilitator, bringing to light something that was already there.
The proportions and seeming “livingness” of the Kardex cabinet invited the insertion of some aspect of the human form. I decided to collect images of ears, of the people in my everyday life having, oddly, already begun the process of taking pictures of ears a year earlier.
My pieces rest in a state of suspended animation, speaking of possibility and potential rather than articulating a finite resolution. The subject of the work is work itself, in this case good office work. Loosely construed accumulations of utilitarian materials or images figure as inventories or collections. Presumed hierarchies between disciplines are dissolved through their interchangeability and service to each other. The vantage point of these pieces is from inside form, describing the hidden order that underlies all living things.
Refuse, brought to a transfer station or dump, is churned into smaller pieces that will fill huge containers more efficiently. Cast off re-usables land in second-hand stores or on the curbside. A desire for reduction and efficiency, or an attempt at making more space, are usually the cause of these things being discarded. In my studio practice another kind of efficiency is at work. I try to cultivate an openness to working with what I have, or what comes my way. Expansion, rather than reduction, is the outcome, physically and perceptually. Physically, I am trying to transform little things into bigger things, shape nuance, and relocate familiar things in an unfamiliar order. I hope to awaken in the viewer a feeling of familiarity and distance, resourcefulness and impracticality, and maybe even inspire a willingness to see a molehill as a mountain, to shift ones perception to embrace small as big, simple as complex, ordinary as elegant, low-end as high-end, easy as difficult, accidental as purposeful, incidental as noteworthy.
This is my second collaboration with composer Sam Nichols, the first being a three-way collaboration with Steve Kaltenbach entitled, “Say It Back”. I approach collaboration in a similar way to how I approach materials. Collaboration has come about as another “prepared” encounter, this time with another artist working in another discipline. “Whatever you are looking for is looking for you too.” (Saul Williams)