Much like Tehching Hsieh’s practice of rigid structure, Charlie Schneider faces a seemingly impossible self-imposed directive: sail a perfect square on the dynamic ocean surface. His recurring attempts and recurring failures share our own sense of futility in any goal-oriented action. How do we arbitrarily set goals and the structures to achieve them? What gives one goal value over another?
The impossibility of creating a mark on such a dynamic surface also seems to represent the fleeting nature of memory and our actions. His actions aren’t capable of being recorded except through a GPS unit that creates a rough line on a two dimensional aerial map. To Schneider, alone on the open water, he can only sail the concept of a square, using landmarks and his GPS as reference points. But, the square doesn’t exist anywhere on this churning surface and his desire to “draw” it on the water becomes more about his effort to attain perfection than a desire to leave a mark in space or history. Do we remember the attempt or the result? Schneider is acting out the impossibility of retaining memory and time. As this piece was an act to honor the memory of his mother, the act of remembering, letting go and no longer having a material reference point for one’s memory suggests that we will always be limited by our mind’s ability to hold on to moments of the past.