“Lately I’ve been getting interested in creation. There’s the magic of the thing, sure, that’s all of a sudden there, shimmering and strange, so newfangled, undreamed of, seemingly and in fact actually until this very moment impossible. And there’s the paradox of that magic, too, spinning your head from the thing created, which never existed, round to the materials it was created from, which always did, and back to the thing, once separate from the world, back round to the materials, once the world itself, and so on…”
– Dorian Rolston, FROM NOTHING
When I asked Dorian if we could use some of his words here, I wasn’t thinking much more than that epigraphic thing above, just a little something on creation. I would’ve been perfectly happy with that, really, the opening to his unfinished FROM NOTHING as the opening to the press release for the opening of the exhibition-to-be PASS / FAIL. There was a nice symmetry to it, all these works in progress working in progress together, and so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect—a sudden discord in the harmony, an off note, I feared—when he began writing what follows as well. I had absolutely no idea he’d try to pass himself off as me, going on about how pleased Ortega y Gasset Projects is to announce PASS / FAIL, a group exhibition featuring the works of Adam Ekberg, Leif Low-Beer, Erin O’Keefe, Robert Otto Epstein, Gabrielle Roth, Megan Stroech and Denise Treizman that…or something.
To be sure, these impersonations weren’t always perfect, and I found myself bristling when I—or he—didn’t sound like me, not so much because he—or I—was breaking character but simply because there existed in someone’s—his—head the thought that that—this—was how I actually sounded, kind of like when you hear yourself on your own answering machine greeting. Hi, you’ve reached Will Hutnick, you might hear, and what a barefaced lie, when you think about it, because if you’re Will Hutnick you can’t possibly have reached Will Hutnick, Will Hutnick being the one doing the reaching and this, this thing he’s reached, is a recording. Which is kind of the point: the countless times you tried to record your greeting never get recorded, never heard. So, this is the recording of the recording, the outtakes as takeaway.
Maybe you sounded too eager, borderline overzealous, at first, and to compensate you brought your tone way down to something more subdued. Only a little too far subdued, maybe. Isn’t that kind of depressing? You’re happier than that! You ought to be, nothing to really complain about, and besides, important to sound professional. But not so unctuous, don’t oversell, so keep that messy swish of traffic on the wet streets outside, nice atmospherics hopefully you’re not really scrutinizing because, seriously, whose window is open on a rainy day, that’s just silly. As if I had to open it so badly I’d risk catching chill, that I need some air desperately. Did someone let one rip? It’s just me on this recording…and so on and so on, rehearsing your sound in a particular place, making and unmaking, creating and failing, passing and failing and everything—that is, the oblique slanting line known as the solidus, or more colloquially as the slash, which in poetry signifies a line break, all the open space—in between.
“…and so on. But what’s really sustaining my interest, I think, is not the thing, the feverish novelty, but the simple, humble, mysterious act—the prime movement that moves without itself being moved, the creation that creates the creation, the moment when from nothing comes something. Comes what, exactly, isn’t my place to say. A quick look at the press materials tells me something Rube Goldbergian, lost in the space of its own disorientation, so slapstick it hurts. Suppose I could just go to PASS / FAIL to find out.”
– Dorian Rolston, FROM NOTHING