IMAGING THE APPLE

John R. Neeson

Forty-eight artists from Alice Springs, Auckland, Beijing, Hollywood, Melbourne, New York, Pittsburgh, Plymouth, Southsea, Stockholm, Sydney and Toledo, working in diverse media, were invited to respond to 'apple'. And their works are brought together for this gig.

In the jargon of US jazz musicians in the 1930.s a gig was an .apple., and a gig in New York City 'the big apple.. A jazz interpretation of a popular standard tune often moves from a straight rendition of the melody into passages of improvisation and back to the conventional or routine reading.

In a similar way the collection of responses in this exhibition show the common word .apple. capable of interpretations that diverge from the mundane to the iconic and the ironic. The works demonstrate that 'apple' can be taken at face value or evoke a multitude of associations.

The Apple is believed to have originated around the Caucuses as a species of Crab Apple. Apple trees were cultivated in the Nile Valley by ancient Egyptians and were spread throughout Europe by the expansion of the Roman Empire.

The Romans had a goddess of fruit trees and orchards, Pomona (.pomme. the French word for Apple a derivative). A statue of Pomona is at the centre of the Pulitzer Fountain, Grand Army Plaza, in front of the Plaza Hotel, New York City.

In Greek legends, three golden Apples were used by Hippomenes to distract Atalanta and force her hand in marriage. And in the 'Judgement of Paris', a golden Apple is thrown by Eris, the goddess of discord, to provoke friction amongst deities and mortals. It is then used by Paris to determine the most beautiful of three goddesses.

In Sue Ford's work 'Possible Golden Apple', Buddha, who discourages argument or dissent, holds out a Golden Apple as an offering, giving it another reading.

Eris may well have been responsible for the discord in Andrew Erdos.s life when a robber, tempted by an Apple Mac in the Big Apple, stole his Macbook and used it to post utube messages. .A video of the Person who Robbed me at Gun Point for my Apple Laptop' is the outcome of the incident.

In Norse mythology, the goddess Iö, provides Apples to the gods that give them eternal youth. And in another story the consumption of an Apple sent by the goddess Frig, to King Rerir's wife, results in a six-year pregnancy and birth of a son, Vöng.

Never actually identified as the guilty .fruit of temptation. growing in the Garden of Eden, the Apple has been misrepresented as the culprit for centuries. And in turn, came to signify dangerous temptation, disobedience and clandestine pleasures of the flesh.

Michelangelo.s representation of the Eden incident in the Sistine Chapel is an orthodox illustration of the biblical story. The fruit is rendered unspecific, and obscured in the hands of the protagonists. Jan Van Eyck, in the 'Ghent Altar Piece', reveals the fruit in Eve.s hand as a spherical liturgical object fashioned in gold.

In a 1504 engraving, Albrecht Düas circumspect in the identification of the fruit proffered to Adam, which is partially within the serpent's mouth. But in a second work, Eve holds an Apple in her left hand, hidden from Adam's view. Three years later Düaints Adam, carrying the branch of an Apple tree, complete with a succulent fruit and strategically arranged foliage.

The term 'Adam's Apple', used to describe the laryngeal prominence in a man's neck, sprung from the conception that a piece of forbidden fruit lodged in Adam's throat. Surprisingly the term continues to be in common use.

Kate Just, Jayne Holsinger and Anne Zahalka have represented the Apple as a symbol of temptation. In Kate Just.s 'Tempted' the coils of the serpent and foliage echo the knitting and binding used to fabricate the work.

'The Apple Story', painted by Jayne Holsinger, presents a detail of the incident, as if edited from a larger canvas. And in 'Allure from the series Lexicon', Anne Zahalka presents a woman's hand reaching out to clasp a red apple, with 'A for Allure' referencing a language-learning flip card.

The word .apple. appears eight times in the Bible, four of these in the phrase .the apple of my eye.. This is now a colloquialism in the English-speaking world, along with .one bad apple spoils the whole barrel., 'the apple doesn't fall far from the tree', 'don't upset the apple cart', and the uniquely Australian, 'She'll be Apples' (translation, it will be fine).

Two Artists have responded to 'apple' as a printed word and use it in text-based works. In 'APPLE from the series OUROBOROS', Richard Kostelanetz wraps the upper case letters around the inside of a glass jar dislocating their sequence.

Nico Vassilakis scrambles the upper and lower case letters of the word 'apple', using an ipod touch phone in his work 'Elapp'.

The expansion of the British Empire was responsible for spreading the Apple from a .green and pleasant land. (where Isaac Newton pondered under an Apple tree) to North America and the east coast of Australia.

The first Apple seeds were brought to New York (New Amsterdam) in the 1600s. Later the legendary wanderer Johnny Appleseed disseminated Apple trees westward across North America.

In 1788, the .First Fleet. from England arrived (at what was to become New South Wales) carrying Apple seeds as well as enforced refugees from British society.

Apples moved westward from the temperate east coast as the remainder of the continent was colonized. Billy Tjampijinpa Kenda's .Apple Trees on the way to Jays Creek. records this introduced species, in the less hospitable climate of Central Australia.

In 1868 Mrs Maria Ann Ramsey Sherwood Smith, from New South Wales, cultivated a hybrid variety of Apple, now known as the .Granny Smith..

Yoko Ono used a green 'Granny Smith' (rare in Japan) in 'Apple' in the exhibition .Unfinished Objects., at Indica Gallery London1 in 1966. The word .apple. was also written on a card. The work included in IMAGING THE APPLE has .apple. engraved on a brass plate attached to a transparent acrylic plinth that supports a single green apple, as it might a precious artefact. This, initially fresh Apple, simply and poignantly signifies the passage of time, mortality and regeneration, through the duration of it's exposure.2

In 1968 a 'Granny Smith' became the emblem for the Beatles business enterprise, 'Apple Corps', a pun, in the tradition of Dada and absurdist humour (John Lennon and George Martin both fans of the .Goons' radio show). The printed label on the 'A' side of an Apple 12inch or 7inch vinyl disc is a frontal image of a green apple. The label on the 'B' side is an apple, cut exactly in half with the core, coinciding exactly with the hole for the turntable spindle, at it.s centre.

An 'Apple', 45 rpm, 7inch vinyl disc featuring Billy Preston, with 'All that I've Got' on the .A. side, and 'As I get Older' on the .B. side, revolving side by side, are recorded simultaneously by Kim Donaldson.

'A is for Analog' is Dan Waber.s take on the Apple sliced in two, the flat cut side used as a simple print stamp.

Jon Campbell has painted an emblematic and simplified image of a 'Granny Smith' utilizing the shinny surface of synthetic enamel paint and flat colour. In contrast, Denise Green in a series of reductive works 'After Ju Chao. uses the matt surface of silk-screened paper to form and draw a silhouetted Apple.

In 1964 the Beatles had made their first visit to the United States and New York, staying at the Plaza Hotel. The same year Billy Apple®, was also in Manhattan exhibiting at 'The American Supermarket'.

A New Zealander, Billy Apple®, changed his name in1962 and had his first solo show .Apple Sees Red: Live Stills. in London in 1963.

.The American Supermarket. was in effect a replica of a small supermarket installed in the upper west side gallery of French dealer Paul Bianchini. The .store. included works by Apple, Artschwager, Inman, Johns, Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, Rosenquist, Watts, Warhol, and Wesselman. Simulated and real supermarket produce and goods3 were displayed. For example Warhol stacked replicated cans of Campbell.s soup.

Billy Apple®'s, contribution included .Apples 2 for 25c., one red and one green offset image, surmounted with a typical mini mart text placard. And .A for Apple., a red Apple image with a green neon .A. above it. The gallery was at ground level and it's conversion so convincing it attracted customers, disorientating their regular shopping procedure.

In 1969 Billy Apple®, established .Apple. one of the first alternative spaces in New York City, at 161 West 23rd Street. The venue was an exhibition space and a forum for arts discourse, a precursor to the non-commercial spaces and Artist Run Initiatives that now make substantial contributions to the contemporary arts world.

'Apple' operated for four years. 'Floor Plan 1:100, 161 West 23rd St, New York' is included in IMAGING THE APPLE to initiate a comparison between actual and representational space. The floor plan is paired with a digital image of the 'Billy Apple®', trade mark printed in his signature Red PMS 185.

In 1971 a California based computer manufacturing company adopted an image of Sir Isaac Newton under an Apple tree, as it's logo. By 1976 the company was marketing the 'Apple1' personal computer kit and in 1984 launched the 'Apple Macintosh' (the 'Macintosh' being a popular variety of Apple in the United States and Canada but less well known elsewhere).

Later, the iconic 'Apple' logo appeared with a piece removed (a bite taken out of it). The capacity of a computer system to store data is measured in multiples of the unit .bit., eight of which constitute a .byte..

Martin Gantman, in 'Big Apple / Fallen Apple' references the infiltration of the Mac icon into contemporary culture. Robert McKenzie & Kain Picken in 'Integrated World Capitalism' use the Mac icon, as socio-economic commentary.

Holly Crawford in 'Half an Early Apple' references Steve Wozniak, co- founder of 'Apple' computers with a play on language and meaning that advises the observer to 'Think Different, Free Apple'.

Branding a computer 'Apple' appears to have no relation to the function of the product. There is, however, a relationship to the Genesis story and the bite taken from the fruit of the 'Tree of Knowledge'. The implication is, the computer as the contemporary source of knowledge.

Outside of the Genesis story numerous myths and legends involve the Apple. Protagonists include a Caliph from the Arabian Nights, Snow White and the poisoned Apple. And William Tell, who was challenged by the King, to demonstrate prowess with a bow and arrow, by shooting an Apple off his son's head.

In 1829 Rossini wrote the Overture for his opera .William Tell. with its finale .March of the Swiss Soldiers.. From 1938, recognized by a couple of generations of radio listeners in the US and around the world, as the theme of .The Lone Ranger..

In the video 'Tell(ing)' Timothy Gaewsky puts an Apple on his head in a fairground game inspired by the William Tell legend. And in the site specific 'Cast,' Michael Georgetti.s arrows impale another Granny Smith Apple to a column in the gallery itself.

In 1951, an inebriated William Burroughs endeavored to emulate William Tell, using a gun rather than a bow and arrow. His intention was to shoot an Apple off his wife's head. She was killed.

This incident is referenced in 'Apple Aiming' a video of the Artists, Hao Guo and Thea Rechner, shooting at an Apple suspended in front of the video monitor.

The production of alcoholic beverages from fermented Apples pre dates the Roman conquest of Britain. The locals were already drinking a type of cider when the legions arrived. The French, in lower Normandy, make a brandy, Calvados, by distilling cider. Traditionally in the US the alcohol content of cider is increased by freezing it and removing the ice, which results in the more potent liquor, Applejack.

A bottle of Calvados is on the table in 'Video Haiku #5, Lunch' by Charles Tashiro. Ben Matthews introduces 'Alco-Apples' as a 'healthy' alcohol alternative.

Images of Apples are to be expected in Still Life painting since Roman depicted them and other fruit in a transparent bowl, directly onto the wall of a villa in Pompeii.

Between the 16th and 18th Centuries, wealthy burghers of northern Europe paid handsomely for the representation of exotic imported fruits in Still Life paintings. These works documented the abundance of their larders and tables, the raw ingredients for both simple meals and culinary spectaculars.

In the more opulent of these arrangements the Apple, while adding magnificent colour, appears demure against transparent skinned Egyptian violet plums, ripe and burst pomegranates, figs exposing crimson interiors and Rubenesque peaches. Occasionally, in a more pious moment, the human scull, a protestant warning of the transitory nature of worldly pleasure, overshadows the dangers signified by the Apple.

Sardi Klein acknowledges the 'vanitas' tradition by placing a succulent red Apple on the timeworn forehead of an elderly woman, in 'Jenny with Apple'.

Penelope Davis represents a desiccated and withered Apple preserved as ametal cast in .Wrinkle..

Paul Ross in 'Scnapple' scrutinises the seductive, rich red skin of a glowing Apple, as does Natasha Johns-Messenger, who pierces it, revealing its delicate interior, in 'Apple Strut'

The doyen of European Still Life, Paul Cénne, had the ambition to astound Paris with the painting of a single Apple. For him the painted image was, in essence, an analysis of perception. The humble Apple would be the subject that revealed the complexity of human visual understanding translated onto canvas. Although a devout man, the Apples in his Still Life are essentially 'dumb', devoid of evangelist content.

The humble Apple remains a viable subject for contemporary visual Artists who are continuing the tradition in various media.

Andreas Söberg films a single 'Ecological Apple' that appears to breathe. Ross Coulter captures another, in a real time Still Life,

'This is Mine'.

Cara Wood Ginder in .Three of a kind., Max Yawney in .02-12-10. and Clark V. Fox in 'Modern Apple', extend and adapt the conventions of Still Life painting.

Cénne also wrote of painting portraits of fruit, which, through their perfume, disclose a life prior to their immobilization within the studio.

Two perfumes, 'Nina' marketed in a red Apple shaped bottle and DKNY 'Be Delicious - Apple a Day', are identified on cards as Kate Daw.s 'Love Objects (perfume cards apples)

Renéagritte painted a single Apple, over scale, to fill a room and in 'Les fils de l.homme' (the son of man) a large green Apple that obscures a man's head. This painting, with biblical sources for both its title and iconography, is also an image that has been transformed into a contemporary icon through the ubiquitous tourist poster. The painting is a convoluted metaphor and social comment that raises the observer's speculation on it's meaning. Perhaps it.s a self-portrait, a substitute mirror, reflecting the conformity and anonymity of both painter and audience.

My work 'Apple Mirror Apple' relates to the self-portrait through the use of the mirror, a virtual reality and painting, an illusion of reality. Larry Kagan explores illusion and reality as well in .This is not an Apple.. An abstract metal armature lit from a calculated angle, casts a shadow drawing of an Apple.

In 'The Apple and the Worm' Mary Lou Pavlovic presents a self-portrait in which she is transformed into a victim, behind a rain of Apples. In the works of Mydogsighs the Apples themselves become the victim through scarring before abandoned on the street where they shrivel and decay.

In contrast Brie Trenerry, regenerates a wooden Tasmanian Apple in 'Marquette for a Drawing', transforming its solid mass with spout-like tentacles growing from within.

Apples are an international fruit and if not grown in a country are imported. China, Chile, Italy and France are the largest exporters followed by the US, Poland and New Zealand.4 Since 2004 protest against the importation of foreign Apples into Germany has been the mission of 'Front Deutscher Apfel'. The Front satirizes extreme right wing political parties with the content, emblem and language of its campaign rallies. On its red flag with central white circle, a black silhouette of an Apple with single leaf, replaces the swastika.

The top five Apple producing states in the US are Washington, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania and California.5 The Apple blossom is the state flower of Arkansas and Michigan.6 The Apple is the official state fruit of New York (as well as Washington, and West Virginia).

Australia has an island state, Tasmania, in the past referred to (by people who didn.t live there) as .The Apple Isle. because of the tonnage of fruit it produced. By coincidence, on a map, its tapering shape resembles the silhouette of an Apple. In another, distinctly local, humorous word association, a 1930.s football hero of the state, was Len .Apples. Pye.

'Apple .' is a play on words by Elizabeth Gower. A circle of identical, overlapping images, resembles an open Apple pie and references . r2, the formula for calculating the circumference of a circle.

America has claimed the Apple Pie as a definitive symbol of home, hearth and security with the colloquialism 'as American as Apple pie'. In 1971, when Don McLean sang 'Bye Bye Miss American Pie'7 he was bemoaning the loss of innocence of American society and popular culture. The 'American Pie' series of teen movies looks at this in a more humorous way, including an adolescent male's encounter with an Apple Pie.

Music is a significant aspect of contemporary culture and in the US the Apple has featured in many popular songs. For example in the early twentieth century .Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider., .Apple Blossom Time., .Don.t sit under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else but Me'.

More recent examples include 'Apple, Peaches Pumpkin Pie' by Jay and the Techniques, 'Apples and Oranges' by Pink Floyd, 'Apple of Sodom' by Marilyn Manson, 'Adam's Apple' by Seikima ll and 'Apple Store Love Song' by Fatty Spins.

Spoonbill, contemporary Australian musician Jim Moynihan, has collaborated with Jonathan Chong for IMAGING THE APPLE to produce an audiovisual response 'Once Bitten Twice Shy'.

The editors and food stylists of culinary magazines and books continually present variations of Apple dishes, some adapted from other cultures and times. In Melbourne the 'Taranto Ice Cream Company' produced the .Mela Proibita. (Forbidden Apple) for years a standard favourite with patrons of Italian restaurants in the city.

Kevin Laverty fragments the image of an Apple behind a screen of acrylic rods and titles his work in Italian, 'La Mela'.

Juan Ford derived the image for 'Baconesque' from a French cookery book, perhaps the main course in a meal concluded with Amy Pivak.s dessert-like Apple as Model' or a 'Candy Apple' by Steve Ellis. Janenne Eaton's 'Red Delicious Red' a confection in itself, the words sit on the surface like drips of red toffee or jelly.

The Big Banana, the Big Pineapple and the Big Prawn are tourist attractions on the east cost of Australia. Peter Burke imagines a rather tattered 'Big Apple' as another one in this series.

New York of course has .Big Apple Corner., at the West 54th Street and Broadway intersection. From 1934 to 19638 it was the address of John Fitz Gerald, the horse racing sports writer credited with spreading New York.s 'Big Apple' nickname to a wide audience.

In this first decade of the 21st Century, the Apple remains the mascot for New York City. It is also increasingly used as a symbol for a healthy environment and healthy living. Research has proved that the Apple does have many beneficial properties when regularly included in the diet. Proving the old adage, 'an Apple a day keeps the doctor away'.