In contemporary advertising (for products such as: perfume, footwear, cola, jeans, automobiles, etc.) often we see or hear words that appear to be communicating a message. But when you stop to think about what the words mean, you realize they’re saying nothing. While the advertisement still has the purpose of selling you a product, it’s done through style, not substance. Likewise, in architecture and product design, ornamental shapes and patterns are used to fashionably decorate, entertain, and engage the eye, but ultimately convey nothing.
So much busyness, distraction, and trivia fills our experience. Its only purpose seems to be to trigger our attention, feed our curiosity, and empower us by providing factoids we can repeat. With the new ease of processing, storing, and retrieving information through computers and the internet, can we master our lives and our universe by recording all experience with words and pictures, or is it just another foolish attempt to gain a kind of immortality and the reassurance it provides?
Many believe the purpose of each human is procreation and providing the tools needed for their offspring’s survival. Immortality of the individual resides in recorded images, stories, and the offspring’s memories (often triggered by a collection of items created or purchased by the individual during their life and passed along as souvenirs of experiences). Spiritual immortality is gained as a reward for a life spent following a rule book. Immortality provides purpose.
As we experience the world through our eyes, symbols are constantly washing over our psyche from both a supersaturated information environment and natural sources. Memory also provides symbols that we use to interpret new input. While each separate symbol has a meaning, the total environment does not form a narrative. Yet in an artwork containing many chosen symbols, the implication is there must be a reason for the choices, i.e.: the whole must contain a meaning.
This new body of work is a response to my fascination with how the mind processes experience, the question of human purpose, and how as humans we need to believe that with enough correct information the meaning of anything can be understood.
Information in the paintings is arranged as one might place notes and pictures on a bulletin board: assumed relationships are formed by proximity or similar colors of the symbols. Interest is focused on images in the foreground, while in the background are residuals of past experience. An analogy to modern music construction is apropos, with sampled sound bytes being added to layer upon layer of repeating patterns of sound through multi-tracking equipment to form complex orchestrations.
I’ve created paintings that ultimately have no purpose beyond decoration. Camouflaged in an aesthetic of hieroglyphics, the works communicate nothing more than the previously mentioned supersaturated information environment does. Like advertising, the illusion of communication exists to draw the viewer in, but the complex eye-engaging style is the payback. Viewers often create meanings from their own associations with specific symbols within the works, satisfying their need for existence with purpose.
Many different mechanical processes are used to render imagery on my works. Traditional styles of applying paint with a brush are augmented with more industrial methods of color surfacing. The use of wood instead of canvas as a surface provides me with the ability to directly cut adhesive stencils applied to painted surfaces.
The procedure of creating custom stencils to apply paint is as closely aligned to drawing as to painting. The process begins by positioning a drawing (on transparent tracing paper) on the painting. Next, after taping hinges from the tracing paper to the painting, I mask the surface of the painting under the tracing paper image. I then use carbon paper to transfer the image to the mask, and remove the original drawing. Now, it’s a matter of cutting and peeling away any lines or shapes desired. When applying paint to the revealed areas, solid or modulated color is used.
The paint I use is sign enamel, the same commercial product used in the fabrication of hand painted signs. It dries smooth and glossy, showing no brushwork texture, and can be diluted with varnish to create transparent glazes which give the paintings a ceramic-like appearance. Between layers I lightly sand the surface to aid in the next layer’s paint adhesion or bonding. The finished work does not visually reveal the months of meticulous construction involved in the process. Many viewers ask if a computer was involved in the work’s production, due to its mechanically manufactured or graphic characteristic.
- Artist’s Statement 1/29/97