Last time I saw Scott, we were playing ping pong at The Marcy Project in Brooklyn. Sadly for me, he beat me in a best of 7. It still stings a bit. I mention it here as a form of therapy I think. Anyway, I’m catching up with him now as his two person show with Mary Iverson called ‘Correspondence’ has just opened at Andenken in Amsterdam on November 11th.
Hyland Mather: Talk to me about the topography in your wood pieces. There is both visual depth created by the geometric patterning and physical depth from the actual layering of wood for each shape. How did this style develop?
Scott Albrecht: A lot of the motivations in this style of work stem from working with type over the years and wanting to evolve the interaction a viewer may have from simply reading the words of a piece to really viewing and spending more time with a work. I think there is an inherent difference between reading and looking at something. This ultimately pushed me towards creating typographic systems where the legibility became secondary to the forms themselves. Each character tends to be made up of a collection of shapes, all individually cut and color-blocked, which puts more emphasis on those individual elements and how they relate to one another, than the letterforms themselves. In the end the works are made up of hundreds of individual pieces, often at varying depths, that form these abstracted messages.
HM: Moving from topography to typography, how did you start to formulate your fonts? When you first started creating the wooden pieces were you expecting to create typography or was it more of a ‘eureka’ moment when the shapes you were working with started to create alphabetical letters in your eyes?
SA: Yeah it was definitely intentional create them as letterforms. I think using typography as a base for my abstraction is good for me. It gives me boundary to work within for now, and allows me to make sense of the forms and decisions within each piece while building up a shared language between all of the works.
HM: I see a clear new movement in your color choices these days. Tell me about some of your new favorite color combinations and what external things have been influencing the current palette in your work.
SA: The color palettes for each work are something I spend a lot of time with and am continually trying to evolve. Since the works are abstract the color does a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of setting the mood for the piece on initial view. I’ve been trying to get more into the subtleties of that and identify those tones that can help communicate or translate a feeling when paired together even more.
I think this year I’ve been influenced by a lot of situations that lean on one another, and I’m more and more trying to understanding my relationships and take stock in what is important. The four smaller works in the show are speaking to these ideas of encountering difficulties (e.g. Hidden Mountains and Forgotten Paths) and also the desire to remedy (e.g. A Shared Language, A Familiar Space).
HM: If I’m reading these new pieces right, your new fonts are a bit ‘off grid’. In pieces prior to this set, you’ve been sticking to same height and width for each alphabetical character, that seems to have changed in this set, for example in an ‘Eye Can Only See’, the letters here have a ziggy zaggy pattern and are different heights.
SA: Yeah, a lot of the newer work like the ‘An Eye Can Only See’ or ‘A Familiar Space’ use a staggered grid and also varied sizes to the characters. I think using the grid in this way is just another lever to abstracting the typography.
There’s also a work like “Thinking / Feeling” where the grid is more uniform but the two words are overlaid on top of one another to illustrate the idea of a conflict—the concept being that there are two ideas that are at odds with each other, and the end result is made up of elements from both words, creating something where no one idea can clearly come through.
HM: Your pieces are still keeping it super positive in terms of phrase selection. Are you ever tempted to write some really biting or bitter phrases? What’s the darkest one you’ve yet come up with?
SA: Haha yeah all the time. I think if you look at my sketchbook after the 2016 election you’ll find a noticeable shift in what I might have been feeling.
Even though I try to maintain a level of optimism in my work, I try not to let that be too guiding or overpowering. I think a lot of the work can have quieter conflict within them or the backstories. A bigger theme emotionally for me this past year that has been coming into the work has been acceptance and the idea of not getting too bogged down with what you can’t control and embracing how you can make a change.
HM: What’s on your event horizon?
SA: Well, the Correspondence show with Mary is up at your place right now. I just wrapped up a mural in Philadelphia at my friends print shop (Awesome Dudes Printing), and have a few more before the year’s over. Beyond that I’ll be sharing a collection of new work with Paradigm Gallery at Scope Miami in December, and getting ready for a solo show at First Amendment Gallery in San Francisco in late June 2018.
Thanks Scott, good to talk to you Bro.
You too Hyland.