Artist: Jason Benson
Exhibition title: ROUNDS
Venue: Wreath, Decatur, Georgia, US
Date: September 30 – October 21, 2017
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Wreath
Euclid, the ancient Greek “Father of Geometry,” has very few living records that describe his personal life—his ideas survive without the complications of biography. Euclid’s mathematical writing and theories are foundational to how mathematics and geometry has been studied for the last two thousand years later. But I most appreciate Euclid for Optica, his writings on vision. Optica presented some of the earliest known theories on perspective, which Renaissance artists like Alberti and Dürer used in their own work with linear perspective. Euclid also used Optica to describe “emission theory” which outlines the pervasive understanding of sight at the time: humans project rays of light from their eyes that enable us to visually register the world around us. As Euclid was also responsible for theories on mirrors and reflections related to geometry and light, he understood that if our eyes could illuminate that which was around us, the light rays would bounce back from the objects into our brain. There was one problem, he posed: If emission theory was true, how could we open our eyes in the black of night and immediately see stars?
“Rounds” is an exhibition of artworks that capitalizes on similarly narrative and endearing possibilities of geometry and its cosmic implications. Circles make openings, make bottles, make eyes. Rounds exist in distinct contrast to vectors, the infinitely directional path. Humans are asked to live our lives according to vectors, pushing ever outward and forward, like the rays of light once believed to emanate from our eyes. We are expected to accumulate as we go, like in the early computer game, “snake” where you die when you are unable to keep moving forward along various vertical and horizontal paths, eating dark squares as they appear in your world. Before neoliberalism and capitalism demanded vectors, lives were mostly lived in the round: adherent to cycles of seasons, of lifespans, of family relations, you slowly looped around for a bit, ending up as out of control of your destiny as the day you were born. The artworks in “Rounds” might be thought of as calendars for a life lived in circular, not rectilinear motion, a time-keeping tool for a life that always returns to itself, self-contained and tenuously balanced with the looping of nature.
-Erin Jane Nelson
Jason Benson (born 1987, Baltimore) received a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009, and has recently exhibited works at Atlanta Contemporary (Atlanta), Regards (Chicago), Exo Exo (Paris, France), On Stellar Rays (New York), Balice Hertling (Paris, France), Ellis King (Dublin, Ireland), Bodega (New York), fused space (San Francisco), and Bureau (New York). He lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia, and is the co-director of Species (Atlanta).