Those who say Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass is nothing more than a big rock are not wrong if they are focusing on the object nature of the work. As an experiential encounter, however, the monumental monolith does perform. Emily Davis Adams skillfully recreates this relational engagement in Painting of Levitated Mass currently on view at CB1 Gallery.
Though produced in her Brooklyn studio, Adams’ painting is quintessentially Angeleno, moving beyond its iconic motif. Captured from the ground level facing northwest, the afternoon sun washes out the sky and mingles with a glaring haze. It’s most prudent to look through a pair of Ray Ban; SPF30 is a must. A soundless heat grilling the unpaved parkway can almost be felt, complete with occasional interruptions by blaring honks and piercing construction drilling noises.
By removing the boulder out of its intended context, Adams injects a dose of uniquely Californian experience back into viewers’ veins. In doing so, the size of the boulder becomes irrelevant; the object no longer matters. Instead, the totality of the experience lingers in its place.
James Hamblin for the Atlantic, citing Cornell psychology professor Thomas Gilovich’s study, reports of enduring happiness when money is spent on experiences rather than objects. So, for those with the means, reasons to own Adam’s painting should go beyond material enrichment. Do consider its power to temporarily transport the viewer back to the moment — of meeting the rock and remembering all the peripheral sensory details, which together complete the whole. Think meditation, not levitation.
Emily Davis Adams’ Painting of Levitated Mass is on view at CB1 Gallery through September 5, 2015. It’s an EXPERIENCE-WORTH-YOUR-AFTERNOON.
All images courtesy of gallery.