Sept 30 - Nov 1, 2015
Friday, Oct 2
"The Sky Is Falling"
What happens when the sky falls? Space flips in and out; stars and constellations find themselves on land; animals tumble out of the land and twist and turn in ambiguous space. Our sense of security is shaken to the core.
These new prints incorporate my photographs of animals killed by a big game hunter, who prized them as trophies: the largest horns, the most beautiful specimen, or the last of their kind (now extinct) from around the world. I came upon them in Montana when their taxidermied bodies were undergoing restoration before being shipped to a California museum from the hunter’s estate.
I want to give these specimens a new world in which to exist, one that I have artificially manufactured and twisted for them—in order to soften the blow that their sky has fallen.
Technically my new prints fall somewhere between the printmaking realm of etching and monotype and the photographic realm of alternative processes. The prints are made by printing layer on top of layer: metal etching plates printed over colored monotype plates printed over two layers of altered photographic polymer plates.
All these layers blend to create an unreal space constructed more in the mind than taken from the world around us—what is up or down, dead or alive, space or matter is deliberately unclear.
The prints create an alternate space that the viewer can enter and in an almost baroque shift of place, encounter the subject with fresh eyes.
This is work begun in the California desert, specifically the high Mojave. It is mostly dry, although when it rains, the ground opens up and what it can’t absorb (when saturated) can turn into a small river or a flash flood. The light is liquid, the land is grand, the nights are full of stars, and the silence is stunning. It is a powerful place.
I can’t get enough of it.
With the exception of the boxed drawings, these pieces are mixed media that in one form or another include linen, plaster, wax, graphite, ink, flashe, house paint, rust, oil, acrylic, and pencils on panel or paper.
"Layers of Abstraction"
Data. What is a datum? In a sea of undifferentiated grey, nothing sparks an interest. Add a speck, a dot, a mark--and something emerges from the gloom. Something draws the attention and the eye. Something engages the mind.
Information is my coin. I have played with scientific, literary, photographic and linguistic data all my life, usually without realizing. It came as a shock to me that people could not tell me how far it was around the world. This was as much a part of living in the world as walking or seeing! How could someone keep a sense of scale without knowing how large the world was? But there it was: people did not see the world as a giant pulsing mass to be magnified or shrunk as necessary to observe it properly.
Thus, much of my work deals with scale, the world, and its presentation. The mark in the sea of noninformation is still there: it becomes a river, a canal, a city, pulled from the noise of representation to become a black shape against white. What does this mark mean? It depends on the scale, the location, the locale. But I do not supply this: you, the viewer, must use your own store of data to process this information. And, in doing so, you catch a glimpse of the sea of noninformation, and how all human data floats inside that little three-pound world inside your head.
The world is, and we are designed to analyze it in ways that baffle the most advanced digital computational systems we can devise. Blur it, average it, dice it, compress it, and the mind still gleans some sort of information from the inputs it is provided. This talent goes beyond the simple drives of eat, sleep, sex; it allows us to devise our own worlds, our own scales and our own representations.
I want the viewer to engage that process, revel in that process: this simple animal can take its primate hands and draw an alphabet, a map, or a blueprint. It can create a pot, a house, or a hydroelectric dam. Is data cold, hard, concrete? Of course it is, as are all raw materials. No one looks at the Pieta and complains of the inhumanity of the stone. No one gazes at a Rembrandt and shudders at the slickness of the glazing. But where did these things come from? From the data within, and the human desire to engage it.