Jordan Tull is an artist here in Portland who explores spacial relationships with site specific installations. His work is generally full of repetitive, sharp geometric patterns. He currently has a really cool installation called Ecto-Paraprism at the Portland chapter of the Architects Institute of America’s Center For Architecture at 403 NW 11th. It’s made of thin transparent plastic and a whole bunch of small magnets attached to the existing steel structure in their showroom. It’s a part of the Portland Architecture & Design Festival, and it’s on display from October 4th thru the 31st. Jordan and I recently got a chance to catch up at the opening night reception where we drank some wine and talked about repetitive patterns. I sent him an email with some questions.
Ben Klebba — What’s your background? Where’d you go to school?
Jordan Tull — I’m from Derby, Kansas – which is where I spent most of my life. I studied sculpture and design at the Kansas City Art Institute in KCMO.
BK — Did you have any mentors that nurtured your vision?
JT — A professor at KCAI, Steven Whitacre, taught me architectural drafting during my freshman year – and it completely and forever altered my aesthetic language. He hosted a summer internship for me once I graduated and he essentially gave me the reigns to be a interior architect. That summer I tricked-out his clinically-modern work studio downtown with a family of steel and glass dividing systems that I designed, engineered and fabricated. Steven introduced me to a machinist in Kansas City, Dick Jobe. Dick taught me how to be a machinist.
BK — I met you way two years ago when I needed some steel brackets fabricated for some floating shelves and you went above and beyond what was necessary. Now, you’re not doing steel as much these days in your art — why? Do you miss it?
JT — I do not need material permanence in my work right now. I find it refreshing to be able to trash (or recycle) an installation or idea easily as opposed to caressing and caring for heavy metal objects. I’m coming from 8 years of high-output welding and fabrication. Doing this for a living and making art about welding — I’m just over being a metal fabricator. Ultimately, I think working with metal restricts my potential to explore this whole new frontier of conceptual possibility, so I’ve abandoned metal for the time being. But anyone that knows my work will recognize the fabricator at hand, even if the work is plastic. I will always rely on my fabrication skill-set. Knowing how to actually build is invaluable.
BK — What’s the obsession with repeating geometric patterns? I love them. I think it’s really beautiful.
JT — I have an obsessive compulsive personality and I love to sacrifice my body for my art – therefore working in repetition suites my fetishtic need for creating systemic order through geometric abstraction. You could say that I’m an ordealist – but without the performative aspect of the work being made apparent. For instance, for Ecto-Paraprism behind the scenes I cut out all of the parts by hand and then folded them, and then taped and glued each one before meticulously installing them each within a reflexive geo-pattern utilizing yet another pattern of magnet connectors. The work is layered with repeating geometric cycles in the same way techno operates musically. I set up certain variables for this installation that are purely logic based, like time and money, (life cycle patterns we all know) the intuitive-artistic aspect of the work manifests in the fact that I simply trusted my gut about how everything would appear installed without physically mocking anything up before committing to buying materials. The installation is completely reckless. Being reckless is also a pattern of mine but I can usually accurately predict the rational consequences of my irrational behavior.
BK — What’s next?
JT — I’m giving an artist’s lecture in April at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington.