Jason Rogenes «Project 9.03g» 2002.
Philip Martin: Let's talk about imagery. The pieces look like spacecraft. Why is that?
Jason Rogenes: It's hard not to see them as spacecraft. In the last piece I tried to include more gesture. It's a little looser than what I had done before. I also got more involved with cardboard and making the Styrofoam piece simultaneously. Though the imagery is pretty loose, I knew there would be this long thing hanging above a stairwell and bending back into the space. The imagery is fed by the material and how it is placed in the space. Obviously the Styrofoam would look different alone.
Philip: The viewer sees the image of the spacecraft first, then becomes conscious of the material. What do you think about that?
Jason: I feel as though there is a certain aspect of me trying to elude the surface. In project 9.08 I eluded the surface by lighting it up. If you were to inspect the material, there would be fingerprints on it, but it looks pristine when it starts to glow with the addition of light. The cardboard is similarly affected by the light and also by the folds. The cardboard-ness of it is eluded. There is an aspect that I'm working towards: a cinematic image, a photographic image, When I'm making it, I'm thinking about a "shot." I take that assessment as I work through it. I love its three-dimensionality because you can't get it all in one shot. When I make drawings I fight against this. You can't really capture it on film. You have to experience it.
Philip: The science fiction aspect of your work looms in a lot of viewers' minds.
Jason: The science fiction is there. It's a driving, initiating force in the work. I love popular imagery. What science fiction does a lot of times is latch onto something popular or tantalizing, but with a greater idea. That's the fascination for me with science fiction. To try to make something that has that same quality, not just that looks like a fantastical spacecraft, but has that sense of the unknown. Something that you can't easily explain.
Jason Rogenes installations conjure a phantom architecture. Constructed from mundane materials, Styrofoam, polystyrene, cardboard, as neon-lit conglomerations they exist in an atmosphere far above and beyond Earth. His works appear as fantastical interplanetary vehicles, space stations, and peculiar contraptions that seem less like sculpture than something designed by NASA.
What is most engaging about Rogenes' objects and environments, however, is not just the artist's strange vision of what lies ahead in terms of technology and navigation, but his work's manifold references to history. For these sculptures not only predict the future, but, perhaps more poignantly, critique the future of the past.
Our collective fascination with outer space, although now waning as quickly as the national budget spreads thin, was at an all-time fever pitch from the 1960s through the 1980s. Think of grammar school field trips to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Museum of Science and Industry, and the seemingly countless launches at Cape Canaveral. The message for any late baby boomer was this: We would be traveling freely into the outer atmosphere in our lifetime. Rogenes' work, a product of postmodernism and the post-Challenger generation, convincingly suggests that, in the end, the future has become more engaging through visions of the past than from those of the present. ~ from Julie Joyce essay, Pomona Collega Museum of Art.