Boarding a sinking ship
To step into Josh Beckman’s installation at Machine Project is to enter a world in which anything is possible.
Made of wood, cloth and rope, “The Sea Nymph” is an approximately life-size model of a sailing ship. Its stern tips steeply skyward. This suggests that the rest of the hull has disappeared through the floor and that the boat is about to sink.
Several masts, yards and spars protrude from the floor at odd angles, along with lots of elaborately knotted rigging. A makeshift jungle gym, this part of Beckman’s installation invites kids to climb on it. The ship’s stern functions like a fancy treehouse.
Beckman is also acutely aware of the pictorial issues that traditionally occupy painters, including perspective, composition and illusionism. The masts, spars and rigging of his ship are not the same scale as its hull and cabin. This warps space and messes with one’s sense of equilibrium. And a hatch in the cabin’s floor does double-duty as a picture frame that opens onto a crystal cave jam-packed with fake amethyst.
Beckman’s topsy-turvy installation disorients to enhance perceptual acuity, to activate a visitor’s eyes, body and imagination.
Machine Project, 1200-D N. Alvarado St., (213) 483-8761, through Oct. 8. Open Fridays through Sundays and usually throughout the week, call first. www.machineproject.com