we're either destroying ourselves or discovering the words for color

text forthcoming


On the Mode of Existence of Narrative and Structure

In “On the Mode of Existence of Narrative and Structure”, Mark von Rosenstiel presents three new sculptures and one video work. The works all examine the identity created in narrative’s structure when it is faced with holding a seemingly complete story.

Three perspectives are shown within the sculptural elements: the continued reintegration of the parts of narrative, bifurcation in the scale of narrative, and the limiting of data inherit in narrative.

The video acts as a prologue. It is meant to exhibit the way that well formed narrative (internal or external) exhibits properties like a wheel hub allowing it to exist in a state where it contains its purpose entirely. This idea of contained purpose is important in the construction of all the pieces.

Full Exhibition Text

many ways of blue | oil pastel, wood, custom code
the space above and below us | cedar trees, hammers, steel spikes, custom code
stories I try to tell the same never are | fir timber, custom gears, motor, yarn
little pointless actions can be the hub of a wheel | video


generalities, repetition and that self-defining thing I keep forgetting to tell you

Exhibition in Organhaus, Chongqing, featuring three new works.

When I was a kid I would shoot free-throws in my backyard. I would make bets with myself that if I hit a certain percentage of them something good would come true, and if I missed too many of them, something awful would happen to me. Inevitably I would miss more and more, and I would end up staying outside in the fading light, doubling or tripling my bets, hoping for guaranteed happiness in the future.

Catch the ball. Dribble. Shoot.
Catch the ball. Dribble. Shoot.

And there was a moment when I forgot the menace that awaited with each miss, as well as the joy that came with each basket. A moment where the rhythm and grip of the ball on my hand would be the fading sky meeting trees, which were glued to concrete.

I was almost, in that moment, stitched perfectly into the world.

space-time, with a little bit more space, a little bit less time (or Thank You, Mr. Whitehead, for returning all of my phone calls)

prototype for meditative practices (or a portable Michael Sailstorfer)

mantras for machines (or the moment I finally may meet myself)


home sounds a lot like rain

Text forthcoming.


if only there were a place just quiet and bright, that also smelled good

It is impossible to divorce an idea from our internal state. If you imagine the most simple idea or experience, and try to distill it to something even more basic, this final construction will still be at the whim of personal experience.

"if only there were a place just quiet and bright, that also smelled good" speaks to not only our ability to share an idea perfectly, but also to our ability to hold an idea within ourselves in some absolute fashion; you could say it represents both an externalized and internalized viewpoint on what it means to be absolute.

The title speaks to the externalized representation. The piece on a whole captures what should be something very simple: a space constructed to perfectly hold light, silence, and smell. But these simple building blocks are immediately tied into personal and cultural experiences. The smell of beeswax, or the heat of the room, or the sensation of ones eyes dilating to pinpoints, will draw up connections and emotions, that eventually cause the physicality of the room to expand outside of its rigid construction; the rigidly that is visible is actually a mask for what is inevitably fluid. This is hinted at with the slow progression of wax melting through the lights.

The motif of cubes within the sculpture play to the cubic nature of the room they are inside of. This is meant to nudge the viewer into considering that they themselves are also taking on a role of content/container within this relationship. Just as we can not expect the most simple of environmental constructions to promote the same emotion within a set of viewers, our internal constructions of what we perceive as simple and absolute are also shifting with time. We are less aware of these shifts, since the entirety of our concept of Self is changing, transforming the ideas within with each new state. Our absolutes that seem so structured and exact, are in fact built on a framework of Self that is evolving just as much as the ideas that that framework allows us to perceive. It's a not a statement suggesting that all is relative, but more that the rigidity and dimensionality of Self is something that only exists when we ignore the passage of time.

There is a short, informal interview that you can listen to regarding this work here.

Photo Credit: Tomáš Princ.


baby, I miss you, let's pretend I'm there

I like to think of packing myself up in some sort of gift box and sending it to someone in the mail. (Try to read that last sentence not in a Seven sort of way, but more in let’s-share-ourselves-emotionally sort of way.) I think about how I could make the gift not generic, but something unique to the person I was sending it to; something that would make that person in particular know it was a piece of me that was for them alone.

And when I think of what I could give to someone, I think of the content that makes me up, and the container which holds that content. I have certain facades that are created from some structure defined by the content underneath; these facades I think of as honest and complete. Then there are also facades that are paper mache constructions based on who I hope I will be; I either try to create the content that will strengthen this facade, or I silently hope that someone won't touch this facade that barely has the strength to stand on its own.

I think to show someone a combination of container and content that also speaks to my failings, to the weaknesses of what appear to be a solid container, is to be honest and present. “baby, I miss you, let’s pretend I’m there” is to most people a superficial display of how I could playfully and artificially be present. To the right person, who knows a thing or two about my "prostitute face", it could actually be something quite heartfelt.

I think, then, that this ends up being a bit of my own reflection on how a perception of what the content and container of a person means, is dependent on how it is translated and taken into another individuals internal space.

Photo Credit: Barbora Hrdá


our home was never built, it was maybe found

Text forthcoming.


everything we hold dear, in low resolution.

A lot of our social experience is brought to us through brief interactions; text messages, quick conversations over morning cups of coffee, or a feed of images from Instagram. The narrative we construct from these interactions usually involves us placing a large amount of our own beliefs and our perceived understanding of other individual's intent onto these interactions. In a sense, we construct a structured framework that fits the available data: a curve gracefully placed between events in space and time.

Another way to think about this is resolution. How much resolution do we have of our lives, and the lives of others, from these interactions which we pay most attention to? These are the interactions that define our day and maintain our sense of self and the character of others. We strive to create the most high resolution lives we can. To find density in the experiences of our life; to be able to see someone in all of their inconsistency and depth; to see an event occur and realize the impossibility of perfectly passing on what happened.

"everything we hold dear, in low resolution" captures a live feed of images from Twitter, and uses the 15 x 10 grid of lights to display compressed versions of these images. The 15 x 10 grid is split into 6, 5 x 5 sections with each section displaying one image. Through the viewers interaction with this piece they can begin to think about the meaning these images hold on their own versus the meaning these images are given through the structures we place these images into; they can become aware of the finite resolution that all experience have by default.


meet meat

Side projects from my time at Meet Factory.


I Want All of This. All of This I Want.

Truth should always be thought of with a lowercase "t". Our knowledge bases -- spiritual, scientific, or other -- are foundations that require from us a continual process. No knowledge base is ever a method for definitively attaining truth, but a vehicle that uses practice or method to continually touch Truth, for a discrete moment of time. It is not in the starting point or the end that Truth is found, but in the process: in the beautiful and agonizingly complex middle.

The statement "I want to be a better person" is empty without reflection on the process to reach the goal. Unless I look at the steps I can take to reach this point, the statement has zero weight or possibility of being realized. The larger and more demanding statement, "I Want All of This. All of This I Want.", speaks to wanting a truth and understanding of the entirety of ones environment. It, like the previous statement, requires a reflection on process to become something other than an ambiguous, empty statement. The machine which writes this continually on the floor is a mirror to us as we get stuck in a place of only focusing on the goals of our lives and not the process: checking items from a list and removing ourselves from the process involved; removing ourselves from the ability to find truth through our actions.

We walk into a room to find this machine continually writing this phrase; this large machine striking awe in us, as its scale dwarfs us and we feel as if we are entering a temple of some other entity. What we are seeing, though, is a mirror of ourselves. And as our feet scuff the chalk writing on the floor, and the machine's process suddenly becomes the point of focus because of our interaction with it, we come to find truth in this place. We see that the shadow that this machine casts, which engulfs us, is a shadow of ourselves. That we maintain this ability to find truth through our attention to process and a desire to fill the space in which we stand. This room with this machine becomes a shrine for the process of finding Truth and a testament to our ability to create Truth from within.

This project is in collaboration with Olson Kundig Architects. All renderings, photos, and mockups were completed by Olson Kundig Architects. Visit them here: http://www.olsonkundigarchitects.com/. There are some very nice, talented people there.

Photo Credit: Joe Iano. You can visit more of his work at www.ianophotography.com. I encourage you to do so.


things I was meant to have said yesterday

We divide the time given to us in our lives through a series of personal, group, and voyeuristic practices. These practices are both conscious and unconscious, with their perceived individual outcomes not necessarily expressing who we believe ourselves to be. “things I was meant to have said yesterday” is a collection of work that explores and dissects a few of these practices through video and sculptural pieces.

conversations with celebrities (@JustinBieber, @MileyCyrus, @KhloeKardashian, @ParisHilton, @NickiMinaj, @ArianaGrande, @TaylorSwift13) - Wood, Metal, Screws, Twitter, 2014

ritual objects of binary states - Horse skulls, Florescent bulbs, 2014

the time in between is what mattered - video, 2010

in this afternoon light, I have jumped between feeling incredibly calm and feeling incredibly anxious - video, 2012

the ineffective ways we choose to measure time - video, 2013

details of a perfect story - video, 2014


Considerations of This Future. This Future. This Future.

It is easy to look back into the past and imagine a single moment, that if only changed slightly, would result in a present that is drastically different in some way. This is a thought process in line with the Butterfly Effect, where a tiny change results in drastically new outcomes.

While I believe that it is possible for small changes to echo and bang off of the boundaries of time -- sprinting forward to become ubiquitous in all that there is to observe -- I think that we, as people, do not change with small influences of our environment. I think we try to pawn off who we hope to be onto actions that could or could not have taken place.

"If only I had given that woman my number..."

"If only I had decided to visit the ocean last weekend..."

"If only..."

In these single actions we create a narrative of a turning point that could have caused us to become someone different. But these moments are not turning points. They are small deviations that lead us back to the exact same present (with possibly some better stories sprinkled in). We crash and bounce in a wave towards the future, with opportunity after opportunity presented to define who we are, and it is through The Self that makes the decisions, not the individual decisions themselves, that bring us to the present. It is not mastery to look back and consider who we could have been, but mastery to look forward with an understanding of the past deciding who we will be.

All posted photos of this project are credited to Joe Iano. You can visit more of his work at www.ianophotography.com. I encourage you to do so.


Remember This (version 2013)

Our memories constantly fade. Our synapses create proteins that cause neural networks in our brains to light up and recall a childhood dog or our trip home from work a few weeks ago. Each time we call on a memory, a protein is created again, sometimes different, sometimes maybe not at all, and the memory shifts. It begins to take on a softer hue or maybe attach parts of the current context to what was. Parts that were once important become less so -- the past blends with our current context and setting, taking cues from the us that is in the present.

Remember This is about experiencing this process in an external way. It's a project about realizing the parts of this process that are human alone; the forgetting and damping effects of context. When the machine is turned on it takes an image of the space in front of it, compresses the image to a set of points that best represent that image's composition, and then draws this representation. After finishing this set of points, it takes another image, compresses it, combines that with what it thinks it previously drew, and then draws this new set of points. This process of combing the previous and current point sets is done using a function that has a learning curve to it: over time the function weights variations in the scene (new people or objects) as being less significant if the variations do not alter the scene in a statistically dramatic way. Impact of the machine's memory is dependent on the time since it captured the initial memory (when it was turned on) and how dramatic the variation is of what it is currently looking at compared to what it believes it first looked at.

As the viewer watches, he and the machine are both linked by the process of memory. As the machine draws, the viewer by default will think of previous experiences of watching the drawing take place (whether long ago or just moments before), while his brain feeds him experiences that relate to his current context. As the machine externalizes and tries to mimic in a clinical and objective way the memory of the space between it and viewer, the drawing that is created belongs not to the machine (as it has no way to look at the piece as a whole) or the viewer. It is a memory set aside: external and detached. Maybe this is what we hope our process of memory could achieve, to expel and allow others to fully see and understand our view and experience. But maybe memory that isn't bounded and confined, fading and picking up false facets through new experience and context, isn't memory at all.


Talk to me.

Drop me a line if you want to talk about anything: mark@markvonrosenstiel.com. You can also find me on Skype (mvonrose) if you're a voice sort of person.

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