Random Access 

Syracuse University

117 Smith Hall

Syracuse, NY 13244



February 12th – February 26th



Brody Albert

Lisa Rybovich Cralle

Bryan Dooley

Bailey Hikawa

Spencer Holden

Ian James

Linnea Kniaz

Laura Schawelka

TJ Tambellini

Trina Turturici


Soft Remove is a curatorial project by Chris Adler and Ali Edmark, the co-directors and curators of VACANCY.

What are your feelings about having your art made into literature? What are your feelings about post-studio artists? Slightly mushy fruit? American white bread? I’d eat that.

Stage directions: make a film where each decision is contained within a discreet object (the frame, already). These are matters of practices and doings. Object activities, or, activated objects or activities which may or may not lead to objects. Collaboration herein engages a dialectical field of encounter between artist and curator. Fabrication, implementation, possible false insemination. Optical distinction between objects is a muddled mess on the atomic level; bad outlines at best.

This is the first time many of these works have been executed, and massive variation in approach has been ensured among the lot. For each work, instructions were asked of each artist. Simple instructions (by length, material, word/image count, cost) have been given a great deal of thought. Complex instructions may have been given somewhat less. Overall it sounded like sliding into home plate, or, somebody else dying of lust.

As of yet, all machines need operators, programmers, controllers, janitors with dust wands, overseas parts assembly.  This process is part of the live experience of matter. I touch the same surface as the thing that built it, though sensual history is less at stake than the porous and foam-like lilts of future touch. We have taken several swings at cultural indeterminacy, and have come out swinging. Agency is the ongoing rearticulation of the world.

The curators laboriously fabricated every work for this show during a residency at SculptureSpace in nearby Utica, NY. It was taken as a chance to engage in transnational material teleportation; a chance to grapple with serious inexpertise in various modes of production; a chance to test for ourselves if a work's significance can lie solely in either ideation or material presence. It is also a chance to realize difference in repetition; a chance to take part in the process of mattering, of drawing distinctions that are also chance based, as in two smart controllers made dumb through a curtain of time and space. This is a chance to extend our roles as curators into the commercial realm of geo-labor, where art objects are readily shipped, cast, printed, poured, sliced, welded, polished, painted, and framed without any direct control of the artist; to claim agency in this task of distinction via obstacle.

We are fully allowed to aspire to only produce and problematize. In fact, this flaneur-variety feeling-through-the-feet is the surest way to comb the spirits of the earth. The encounter between material, designer, fabricator, user, has not been streamlined enough and has not disappeared. These are routes, not distances, and they settle as inert gasses, just as much a form of matter as their cast positives (by volume, weight, density or none?) 11 activities formed and misaligned; an unstable labor ripened in estrangement; a body in soft remove from its creator.


Karen Barad, Meeting The Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (2007)

Lucy R. Lippard, Essay for Recorded Activities, by Vito Acconci ... [et al.] (1970)

Mel Bochner, Excerpts From Speculation, (1967-1970)

Robert Barry, Ideas Come Out Of Objects: In Conversation With Mathieu Copeland (2009)


Special thanks to Courtney Asztalos and Jacob Riddle. Made with support from Syracuse University Art Department, Sculpture Space Artist in Residence, funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, Colgate University Art Department.