Dr. Crump's Mobile Field Lab [aka Inductive Geo-Imaging Field Laboratory], 2004-2014
mixed media installation with four films, featuring "Politbureau," "Science Institute Presents," "Wasteland" and "The End"
Finger Tension Tower 1, 1980
wood, metal, desert detritus
29 1/4 x 11 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches
Ocean Park, 1985
painted wood & metal construction
38 x 60 x 7 inches
reengineered chair, painted wood and metal, 19th century clock mechanism
52 x 19 x 28 inches
mixed media constructions; reengineered chair, vintage military electronics
painted wood, metal construction, motor, electronic beacon
60 1/2 x 17 x 22 inches
Della Sala (Interior with stairs), 1985
16 x 12 x 15 inches
Theater of LA. facade and prop. Passage of time. Like the moving image. Text. Image. Cut. Fast forward. Meanwhile... Cold War aesthetic, the specter of nuclear war against the promise of a better life. TV dinner! cf. Richard Hawkins pagodas in terms of a shabby surface that references rural Texas lifestyle and domesticity, for example. The west... Kenholz installation. Waves go in. Waves go out. As the world turns. A beacon of change to come. Staircase descent.
The more I think about this show, the more it's difficult to avoid the obvious Duchamp references. Not just the gratuitous use of readymades but also specific gestures such as a chair (which is not so different from a stool), simple rotating object in Transmitter, and especially Della Sala which seems like an odd hybrid of Nude Descending a Staircase and Etant Donnes. So, then what? Readymade of a readymade? Perhaps clues lie in the very next show running currently at LA Louver, Ed Kienholz Televisions.
The first time I encountered McMillen's work was at LACMA some twenty-five years ago. Stepping into The Central Meridian (aka The Garage), 1981, was not only like time-traveling in general, it was something much more familiar, more familial. My assumption was that we all know a garage like this, one full of things to tinker, projects laid out in midstream, perhaps the 20th century studio of suburbia middle America. Garage bands spawn from similar locales. So, encountering Dr. Crump's Lab was a bit like the Garage but with so much time having passed in between, for me. When I look at the works of McMillen in this show, contemporary or slightly dated ones, the aesthetic seems to have stood still somewhere between Hollywood backlot, prop house, and neighboring garages everywhere, elsewhere. Yet, the world still turns, still.