Maria Park and Branden Hookway: Training Setting

a view of airplane controls with a cockpit cut out superimposed

Training Setting by Maria Park and Branden Hookway.

For Training Setting, Maria Park and Branden Hookway present collaborative work that investigates social and control protocols using a diagrammatic language of table settings and flight cockpits. To train within a technologized environment is to mediate formal and informal instruction — where a formal understanding of information and procedure coexists with a tacit knowledge of embodied action. In this sense, training is inherently an orientation toward both the actual and the virtual, as performance draws upon informal knowledge according to formalized protocols. The exhibition explores this hybrid state of training through a series of paintings, sculptures, and drawings.

Central to this collaboration is an installation of 26 shaped paintings, reverse painted on Plexiglas, in the arrangement of a B-29 windscreen. The work depicts an airfield from the vantage of a grounded plane, neutralizing the strategic bomber's view of the world as a target, as the curvature of the horizon line across a peripheral field frames an oculus with an inactive Norden bombsight at its center. Another piece is a wall-mounted sculpture based on an exterior view of the Enola Gay's windscreen. Layered with interlocking pieces of Plexiglas and wood, its opaque black surface refers to the difficulty of separating out the place of this historical artifact in the lineage of contemporary techniques of picturing the world through satellite imagery and global communication. Park's reverse paintings of table settings behind transparent polycarbonate sheets are attempts to dehierarchize social codes that organize the formal and the informal. While the vernacular of diagrams found in manuals and instructional guides delimit a set of conditions and actions, their reconfiguration here addresses how the systems of control that underlie formal diagrams are propagated through everyday life. The exhibition seeks to bring a heightened awareness of controlled environments and to mediate the tension between structured information and intuitive decisions.

Maria Park, an associate professor in the Department of Art, has exhibited internationally with solo exhibitions at venues including the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri; and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santa Rosa, California; and group exhibitions including the Seoul National Museum of Art and the Genia Schreiber University Art Gallery in Tel Aviv. Recent public commissions include the San Francisco Arts Commission (2016) and the Johns Hopkins Hospital (2012). She is represented by Margaret Thatcher Projects in New York City and Nancy Toomey Fine Art in San Francisco. Branden Hookway, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Architecture and the Department of Information Science, is author of Interface (MIT Press, 2014) and Pandemonium: The Rise of Predatory Locales in the Postwar World (Princeton Architectural Press, 1999).