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Monday, April 24, 2017

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'David Dobkin: Amateur Artist'

This video features a unique exhibition of sculptures, photo collages, and site-specific installations by Princeton University Dean of the Faculty David Dobkin, a self-identified amateur artist who collects and creatively repurposes a vast array of things from daily life. The exhibition, presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts and titled "Myself, I Think We Should Keep Collecting Titles," is on display through Oct. 4, 2013, at the Lucas Gallery at 185 Nassau St. Read more.

Video Closed Captions


DAVID DOBKIN: I'm David Dobkin,
and I'm Dean of the

Faculty and a professor
of computer science.

is Joe Scanlan.

I'm director of the visual arts

program here at Princeton.

DAVID DOBKIN: The exhibit is
really focused on a lot of

different kinds of things that
I've collected over time.

JOE SCANLAN: I curated the show
and I thought a show by

David in conjunction with a
class that would be about the

role or the idea of the amateur
in art would be a

perfect combination.

DAVID DOBKIN: I think the first
of the collections in my

life that's represented here
is snow globe paperweights.

I have a lot of them.

This is a snow globe
from Graceland.

This is a birthday

There are thousands of objects
here, and it would be fair to

say that I remember 99% of
where they came from.

JOE SCANLAN: So the class that
the exhibition is in

conjunction with is Contemporary
Art and the

Amateur, and it's offered by the
interdisciplinary doctoral

program in the humanities.

DAVID DOBKIN: There are parts
of it that have a lot of

computer science--I mean

the keyboards, the CDs,
the floppy disks.

I've taken quite a few pictures
in my day, lots of

pictures of waiters and
waitresses and menus and signs

that I saw along the way, for
example, signs that say

employees must wash hands,
signs that say

please curb your dog.

I think if it's a sign and I've
seen it, I've taken a

picture of it.

I've written software to
maintain libraries of digital

pictures, and I did this
before hashtags became

popular, but I created my own
version of hashtagging.

So they're all identified in a
way that you couldn't hope to

do without a computer.

kind of category.

It's known as task-based art,
and it's where the artist has

discovered that kind of state
that you go into when you're

doing something that's very
routine or repetitive, and

it's a kind of bliss.

DAVID DOBKIN: So when I get new
pennies, I have to figure

out the date.

So this is 1992.

And then I work my way around
and I say, 1995, four, three,

two, and up goes the penny.

JOE SCANLAN: I was very happy
that David agreed to do the

show in its own right as a show
by someone who's been

making work for 20 years,
if not his whole life.

And then I was also very touched
by his willingness to

be a Guinea pig, really, for the
idea of this class, and to

be an example, a shining
example, of what it wanted to

talk about.

DAVID DOBKIN: A lot the pictures
you see, a lot of

things you see constructed,
are in and of themselves

boring but if you step back and
say, well, life is really

about the details and it's the
details that make life work,

this is filled with life and
it's filled with the details

that make life work.


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