I still remember as a very young artist being shocked to find out that many of the pieces that were a big influence on me–Sampson, All the Submarines, 5 Day Locker Piece–were all by the same guy. I must not have been a very close reader. (And I had the same experience years later with Matthew Barney, so things obviously hadn’t improved.)
And then later to find that his obsessions seemed to have navigated to some of the same places mine did: long distance cycling, kayaking, distorted little model ships. It was like someone listening to the same music. He just heard it all so much more clearly.
This guy tore into stuff. When I read about him making a simple working television from stuff he had in the garage (a dryer, mostly) I saw all the qualities I wanted to cultivate in myself as a programmer.
We think we understand things–understand how technology works–this guy wanted to know what understanding felt like. And I think that’s where I hook up with his body art– my wife Kristi is right that it’s probably impossible to see it the way his contemporaries did–and yes, I do wish I could travel back in time just to see things get seen for the first time.
My own misunderstanding of the body pieces is that they were someone trying to feel what knowing a few fringy things really felt like.
He knows a lot more now.