Gregory Michael Hernandez

I was raised in the Mojave Desert, and have made Los Angeles my home as an adult. To some degree, my artistic explorations are a back and forth between past and present, here and there, and the spectrum that is both / neither.

Using photography as a cartographic tool for mapping perspective is the dominant axis in my landscape-based work. I incorporate painting, drawing, sculpture, architectural intervention, and site-specific installation in my attempts to comprehend and represent. City and desert infrastructure provide raw material, and become stage and context for action and image. Conceptual issues explored include memory, history, place and space, land use and borders, confinement, exile, the politics of scale, and the authority of monumentality. One result is a conversation regarding essential natures of art, including: art as residue, art as generative mechanism, art as a series of compound representations, art as immortalizing the ephemeral, and art as relic.

The Captive Universe Method is my primary cartographic tool. It is a method for mapping perspective using photography. I use a customized tripod to point the camera in 26 precise directions surrounding a single point in space. The resulting photographs are measured, cut and assembled according to the shape and form of a 26-sided ‘truncated cuboctahedron’.

In 2009 I revisited an abandoned homestead outside of Twentynine Palms, CA that I previously documented with my photo process in 2007. I found the homestead partially knocked down, presumably by vandals, and the words “kill the dead” spray painted over the door. My first instinct was to rebuild it in a way that would capture the previous dynamism of form and perspective without becoming a literal translation of its former self. To that end, I turned my previous photo-documentation into architectural blueprints, gathered non-essential beams of wood from the remaining homestead, and built my first sculpture. “Rebuilt Homestead” became my first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, at LAXART in Culver City in 2010.

My next architectural intervention was to build a scale model of a gallery (Emma Gray Headquarters) in the desert, so that it intersected an abandoned homestead. My photographic method allowed me to visually transport the collision of both structures back into the gallery, resulting in the show “Flatland”. 

“The Opto-Isolator” was my third work in a three-year series that I consider a conceptual triptych. “Rebuilt Homestead” systematically transported a desert structure into the urban gallery. “Flatland” reversed that process and transported the gallery into the desert. “The Opto-Isolator” bypassed the gallery system, and declared the wilderness a gallery. It was built in situ high on a desert hill in the middle of nowhere. It existed as intended for only a week before being destroyed by a powerful Southern California windstorm in late 2011. The Opto-Isolator was only experienced in person by a friend and myself. It lives through the mediated experience of memory, imagination, photographic image, and replica.