As a first grader, riding in Dad’s ’67 Chevy shortbed pickup in the center of the bench seat (between them, no seatbelt) I was fascinated by the repetitive, rhythmic movement of telephone poles. We were driving through the Mojave Desert, going on a back road from Lancaster to Rosamond (then on to Tehachapi), where there are endless lines of ruddy, creosote telephone poles with tension wires at various levels of slack. The poles whipped past, punctuating the sky, defining our speed. It was mesmerizing (it always fascinated me, but on this one particular day, I got this overwhelming sense of them being planted in the Earth). It was like I pulled a camera back and realized these poles were here, stuck in the ground, on the surface of a planet. And here we were, rushing along the highway, in a wide open space, on the surface of a planet. And the planet was spinning, and it was out in space, surrounded by other spinning planets. These man-made objects, we as humans, the truck, the beer can in the paper bag (watch for cops!)—it was all planted, moving on a surface, moving and infinitesimal. Of course, I didn’t know the word “infinitesimal” then, but I did have a love affair with Jupiter, whose colors still infect my artwork.
Here are a few shots of the pieces for Desert (Loss) at various stages of layering, on their way to completion in September and October.
My intent was a combination of flatness and density, like strata of information, memory or sensations that converge and entangle as a kind of information overload. Only certain shapes escape the mosaic chaos. The geographical, imagined and supposed become concurrent events.
Landscape itself is neither completely geographical nor entirely theoretical. Historian Simon Schama suggests “landscape is a work of the mind. Its scenery is built up as much from strata of memory as from layers of rock” (7). This is vital to Desert (Loss), as well as the larger body of work Desert… spawns from (The Cascade…), as ambiguous, digitally-informed landscape ruptures and re-contextualizes the nature of location, by way of a strange elasticity. Time, perspective and distance are contingencies in my manipulated topography.
In this case, I sampled my videos, media and screen caps and flattened them into graphic strata. Layered like transparent sediment, they suggest the way pinpointed moments and memories freeze with a fictionalized quality, yet remain transient and insubstantial (yet hardened as iconic distillations). until built up with other layers of memory and experience (additional strata), forming a relational network that allows the viewer to understand.
An earlier phase:
And later phases:
Desert (Loss), 2015 – Project/Artist Statement
Desert (Loss) investigates the suspension between loss and distance, through the language of a fractured desert. These remixed landscapes imply the weirdness of the West; vastness and density become memories of memory, mutations of a white-hot encounter. Historian Simon Schama says “landscape is a work of the mind. Its scenery is built up as much from strata of memory as from layers of rock,” just as our own stories and memories are constructed of layered moments.
My strata are flattened, graphic layers, which suggest the way recollection develops a fictional sheen, with pinpoints of lucid detail; certain moments burn and remain. The play between flatness and depth asks what it means to inhabit the space between memory and experience, where fleeting exchanges flare and dissolve. My compressed imagery is remixed, just as we shuffle memories like tracks on a playlist—moments fade and recur. Some details get replayed.
In processing a personal sense of dislocation and loss, I am drawn to the landscape of media and television—complex spaces I’ve inhabited in life and through the ambiguity of fact-fiction. Like memory, TV offers a dual sense of place, a spark of the ‘here’ and ‘elsewhere.’ Imagery in Desert (Loss) remixes my own media-infused artwork, drawing on television, personal photographs and even Google Street View to form a composite desert; a California-New Mexico-Hollywood of past and present.
Solo Exhibition Opening:
New Grounds Gallery
3812 Central Ave SE
Albuquerque, NM 87108
Exhibition runs through November 30, 2015.
Artist / opening reception: Friday, Nov. 6, 6-8 pm.
Printmaking Demo (of my serigraphy techniques), Friday, Nov. 6 (6:30 pm).
Sneak Preview: Tuesday, Nov. 3 – Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015.
The curator’s favorite:
Rather than install the Cascade paintings, digital images or videos straightaway, I’ve remixed my own ‘episodes’ to produce an offshoot series, incorporating new research and experiences.
The November installation is entitled Desert (Loss).
I’ve been mining my stills, videos and paintings for images and symbols that can be remixed into a visual discussion (or even dissection) of the eroded, fleeting memory and its tie to the tenuous nature of ‘depthiness,’ truth(iness) and media. Such that the creative speculation we use when recalling television–or when violently, even romantically, pursuing or attempting to possess fleeting memory, becomes all-consuming.
This pursuit, this grab for thin, fading and re-combining elements becomes the basis of our understanding of self and place; the backdrop of gain and loss.
There are similarities between the recollection of events (real or fictional) and the abstract construction of place, moment and self built in our brains, to house our weird collection of experiences, our filtered understanding of things. It’s rather like the memory palace of Simonides, with a twist of media theory and personal loss. In this case, the desert backdrop of Adams.
Many of the elements sifted from my televisual desert have been stripped own and abbreviated. This is a graphic mode of erosion, such that only certain highlights remain, not unlike the white-hot pinpoints we latch onto when recalling an encounter, real or fictional, remembered or repressed:
Of course, these extracts, are black and white because they will become transparencies for exposing serigraphy screens.
This allows me to duplicate and further erode each moment, using a variety of ink transparencies and tones, letting some fill in and others become partially obliterated by additional layers and text. So, they won’t be straight black and white and they won’t be single-layer.
In addition to mining my existing episode base, I am also gathering new Google Street Views, stripping, twisting and mutating them, or matching them to television sources. They become part of the remix of reality and fantasy–each carefully chosen vignette speaking on multiple levels (I’ll address some of these in a future blog post). I’m also researching other artists (like Doug Rickard) that use Google, both perceptually and conceptually.
I’ll share progress shots and images of the finished series in the future. I am still working on audio, new videos and more paintings for the Cascade, but the paintings and videos won’t be part of Desert (Loss) as there is not enough space in the gallery and I adapted the show to suit the location. Audio could play a role, however.
Also, expect a better / deeper explanation of Desert (Loss) and the ideas behind it in coming weeks.
Here are a few shots of some of the work I’ve been developing at my mentor’s studio the last few weeks. Working across various print mediums, I’m generating layers of information–some transparent, allowing viewer excavation. Other areas are opaque, or nearly opaque, preventing or diverting access, weighing the picture plane as heavy states of matter.
The ethereal rock shapes in these works are done using combinations of serigraphy, shaped monotype plates with thin, transparent ink, and some relief printing, including woodcut.
A few mixed media works that have changed dramatically since I took this photo. I’ll need to share the newer versions.
Woodcut layer generated using a “dodge and burn” style stencil technique, with thin, ghostly void information developed as trace monotype. The print in the foreground, flat, is a collagraph with some relief and intaglio on top. The flat piece has a long way to go.
My work surface, using an uncarved wood block to generate luscious textures.
Experimenting with a flecked paper. I don’t normally use paper with embeds, but find it challenging to see if the embedded bits can work effectively with composed layers. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. These are early stage mixed print pieces, composed mostly of serigraphy, but with woodcut, linocut and image transfer elements.
Remember those pale pink collagraphs I printed some time ago? The ones I was not initially pleased with? They became functional underlayers for several pieces that are developing nicely. The image below features one of the weakest of the collagraphs, mutated effectively through layering. Glad I kept them!