(published in InVisible Culture: An Electronic Journal for Visual Culture, Issue 22, April 18, 2015
“Vision begins with a fault in this world’s smooth facade.” -Howard Nemerov
I’m staring at a blank wall. There is a window in between. I am inside looking out.
I’m staring at a television set. There is a screen in between. I am outside looking in.
I’m moving my eyes from the keyboard to computer screen and back. Peripheral vision shows surroundings. I am simultaneously inside and out.
My eyes are closed and I’m painting. I’m neither inside or out.
The painter is always making decisions about how much to cover and leave uncovered.
Each mark has some level of transparency. Form or nothingness, gestures given and withheld.
There are shades of every color except black and white. All pictures share the foundations of foreground, background, above, below, seen, unseen.
Painting is always about layering. Figurative or abstract, there is only the illusion created by strokes of color.
“Why are black and white not part of the color chart?” asked Wittgenstein. Why are they considered color at all? The absence of color is darkness. The fullness of color is pure light.
Opaque hidden worlds fragment and burn when light is focused by fire. The Kabbalists say that if God didn’t dim the true light of existence, everyone would be blinded.
Standing in a desert valley, camera telescopes eye to distant details. Looking nearby, lens magnifies weight. In the wide open space, broad vistas.
Painting exposes limits of artists’ memory. Later, light streaks across the broad sky tearing the fabric of heaven, become wounds, escape routes. Rendering- Too much time for thinking thoughts without meaning, meaning without thoughts.
Colors cover the odd geometries of nature. We are always seeing through and around things. Earthbound, there is always a horizon.
Paintings are wall coverings. Pigments on pigments, leaving room for empty space, mass forming geometric interpretations of visual experience.
Pictures are more or less real. There is no difference between painting, filmmaking, video art. The names only refer to the structure of the medium. Whether narrative or abstract, conscious or spontaneous, meaningful or not, there is always a play of light, color, form, and energy on a screen that would otherwise be blank.
In an essay about his poetry, John Ashbery writes about how something “that started out clear suddenly become opaque…. What I am probably trying to do is to illustrate opacity and how it can suddenly descend over us, rather than trying to be willfully obscure.”
I’m staring at water seeing the wide view and close up at the same time. Flashes of light in the distance interrupt the blue serenity, foam topped splashes lick my feet. From here the water is green, turquoise, brown, and deep blue. The sea reflects the colors of the sky and shore. The wind ripples an alternative fluid universe. Voltage control breathes waves through layered mountain veils. Water and electricity can metaphorically mix. Water is usually the painters friend, but can also be a liquid grave. Mirrors and ponds are seductive to active eyes.
Light is always subtly changing in the desert. The reds and purples of the mornings and evenings bleed into the yellow brightness of the afternoon. Clouds, cool winds, solar gain. Darkness is punctuated with celestial glow. The observer condenses, amplifies, and saturates the continuously changing events. Still life with changing light.
Thick colors, textured layers, gobs of paint. We are warned in art school: do not eat the paint. We learn to feel colors in our palms, to see with eyes closed, and to use all of the senses while making art. We learn to write bullshit aphorisms that never reveal anything about the futile, idealistic, and essentially purposelessness nature of work, what Elizabeth Bishop calls “a self-forgetful, perfectly useless concentration.”
I’m staring at an imaginary wall full of expensive art. Everything is original or with a small limited edition. This most likely won’t be my experience in “real life” where I can only see some examples of the work for sale in galleries. Museums provide glimpses, most art is locked away.
Is nature still part of visual culture? Are landscapes relevant? Is painting with pixels part of the problem? Have the formal aspects of visual art become invisible through hyper-saturation? Has Art freed itself from the tyranny of the visual? What is the value of pure observation and subjective interpretation?
Brief Bio: I am kicking the chair down the road. Each dent and break makes it harder to kick and less functional. There is a soup can in the middle of the street. Children are skipping pebbles across the pavement. Someone is pushing a piano on the sidewalk strings clanging over broken asphalt. I want to video the wave form lines painted on Route 17, feed them into an EEG reader, and analyze the road as if it were alive.
Submitted Video: The Color of Silence is silent. Ambient sounds become part of the experience. Recorded near San Andreas fault in the deserts of southern California. In studio, layered shifting, always changing fields of color in fluent blends and warm textures. Playing with tensions between the real and composited; 2d and 3d; foreground, horizon, and background.
It can be seen as a painterly contemplation of darkness and light with questions about the substance of black and white, opaque and transparent. There is no intention for narrative or meaning beyond sparking active personal imagination and optical experience.