As a former athlete, R. Eric McMaster sees more to sports than rivalries and championships. There are rules, uniforms and fields of play, all defined by someone else.
In A State of Resistance, a Sculpture Center exhibit on display from Jan. 15 to March 12, McMaster uses photography, video and sculpture to explore how such limits interplay with athletic freedoms.
For A Colored Image of the Scrum, McMaster outfitted rugby players with uniforms he created using a mathematical gradient that blended in a rainbow of colors when the athletes were lined up during a scrum.
"I was an athlete so I have good kinesthetic awareness," says McMaster, who played field hockey. "I always see things I wasn't expecting."
But even in the well-defined huddle, the athletes' tendency to reposition leads to flaws in the gradient.
"It's really important to me to use people who actually play the sports," he says. "This is a result of them doing what they know, not me dictating their action."
These curiosities inspire new pieces. Consider The Obstruction of Action by the Existence of Form series, which includes an aerial shot of two regulation hockey teams in a shrunken 18-by-12-foot rink that exaggerates the game's constraints, making the players seem out of place.
"A lot of things, good and bad, result from societal structures," he says. "I wanted to explore how we curb our authentic responses because of it."
Similar to how the hockey players' movements are restricted by the tiny rink, societal norms coerce us to conform.
"Hopefully seeing something familiar will give people a stepping stone to think about pressure and resistance," McMaster says.