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This summer I’ve been working on a new book that I’ll be showing at Forest Giant’s WILD ECHOES show this weekend!

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The book, about two kids in the woods, is kind of hard to describe and about as difficult to photograph. It’s a double sided, three hinge accordion/pamphlet book that follows an abstract narrative in an interactive, nonlinear series of unfoldings and uncoveries.

That’s not a bad description, actually, except that neither ‘unfoldings’ or ‘uncoveries’ are actually words. Sigh. You really just have to see it, so you should come to this show.

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Look at their pretty poster for date and location info!

Castles made of sand

August 10, 2013

 

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The ancient city faced the open and endless sea, a ruin from a previous age and nearing the end of its erosion into memory. A small but dedicated Brotherhood of scholar-monks live within these ruins, and a smaller-still group of soldiers tasked with their keep.

 

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Within the mysterious and fragile libraries of the old city, the monks explore and scour, hoping to understand forgotten knowledge and uncover lost secrets.

This remote city was a port once, when men traveled the sea, before the danger and the immensity and the years and the skill was forgotten.

For generations the monks have dedicated themselves to deciphering the mysteries of the library in hopes of learning of the greater world of their ancestors. It is a quiet life. So too for the soldiers, who rarely encounter more than local animals and hermits out here at the edge of things.

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Until the day when our story begins, when a visitor arrives at the front gate, the sea gate, for the first time in living memory…

Pomegranate Painting!

July 9, 2013

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I recently took a for-real painting class where I had to actually LOOK at stuff while I tried to reproduce it using smushy, colored goo on prepared surfaces. It has been years since I was forced to do that, and I really enjoyed it. I’ll post more examples of the class work here later.

The New Materials

July 8, 2013

Another post cribbed from a class assignment! If you liked  The New Problems, you’ll love: The New Materials!

From a technology class response assignment. There are a few good ideas in all the ramble. I am pleased with the separation between The Machines and The Information that courses through them.

My Thoughts on Computers- The New Materials

We are in the middle of an Informational Revolution on par with the Industrial Revolution of the early 19th century. As that era brought massive change in what it meant to be a human being on this planet, and more problems alongside every miracle of technology and transportation, so too with this era change the world and humanity itself. We’re gaining, for better or worse, and informational ‘sixth sense’, and a technological super presence that is active even when we are not. Despite the fact that they run on batteries, these new habits and identities cannot be turned off. So as educators and as human beings we need to address this flood even as the rains continue. Also- going outside, having a conversation in person, and ‘doing something with your hands just became ‘lifestyle values’ instead of default behavior for the first time in human history.
I love computers. As an artist, I appreciate the flexibility technology gives me as an imaging and reproduction tool. I use Photoshop regularly with my comics and while editing other artwork. Having grown up toting a backpack full of cassette tapes, I am still amazed and thrilled at the thousands of hours of music that fit on a device about the size of one of those tapes, that comes with shuffle software that acts as a better, more subtle DJ than most of the kids I went to college with. I’m online all the time. I’ve had an Ipad for 6 months, and it grafted itself into my nervous system in the first week. Maybe the first two days. It is beautiful and insidious. It may be ruining my life.
See, I do love all this gear, and information, but I wonder about it’s value. ( I wonder this but it’s akin to wondering about the crown molding on the foredeck while the Titanic slowly sinks- a good way to pass time, but not that useful) When I wired my first apartment for an internet connection ( somewhere around 2001) I believed I was on the precipice of an informational dark continent, and I was set to explore. I thought I’d track down arcane information, make connections to new ideas, communicate with far-flung people, and ‘dig in ‘ to art and research. Now, some 12 years later, I use it like I used to use T.V. I have channels I go to -regular sites- and rarely dig any deeper. Sometimes, having access to more information than anyone in the history of the universe, I look up the number for a pizza. I ‘kill time’, and indulge nostalgia. I run peevish surveillance on friends and acquaintances with the help of social media. I compare. I get flushed with the fleeting fads and scandals like everyone else, and like everyone else, ultimately it doesn’t matter much to me. There’s so much of it!
So that’s what we’re doing with all this power. Clearly I’m not thrilled, but I intend to teach, and being savvy with information is one of the first lessons.The New Materials can be divided into The Machines and The Information. The Machines are gear, that do new things and change forms as innovations consume themselves. The Information rides the Machines, expands at a rate roughly on par with the universe and may live forever. I want my students to use The Information as a research tool- to be anywhere in the room and find an image, a reference, and a connection to their ideas. I want them to use The Machines as artists have used technology forever- in the advancement of image creation and dissemination. A pencil is a paintbrush is a printing press is a camera is a laptop. These things are tools for making something, and the why and the what should always trump the how.

I also have already been burned by the failure of technology due to physical, digital, or user-based reasons. I want to have a plan for when the power cable doesn’t reach, or the tech guy is on vacation. I want my students to understand the limitations and magic of the new materials, to use them wisely in the service of exploration, creation, connection, and play. I also want them to know what to do when the power goes out.

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A little humble bragging from this Nat Hansen guy showed up in a recent LEO magazine- what a goober this guy is, bragging about not being on Facebook.

He does kinda look like me, though.

Drawn on my Ipad/tablet/future box. ( I also used to brag about not owning a T.V., which people were nice to listen to.)

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This image ran on page 71 of the July issue of Louisville Magazine! They called me up and asked for a piece. I was definitely trying to capture some of the same feel as my ‘Diver’ piece from a few years ago.

Colored pencil, Ink, Watercolor/gouache

I’m enrolled in a painting class for the first time in over a decade, and I’m really enjoying it. Much better to know that oils require both a solvent AND a medium, which no one ever told me at KCAI. I blame myself, I could have looked it up, but instead I haven’t touched oil paint for a third of my life.

With class, comes readings, and with readings, come response essays. This one is ostensibly a response to a chapter by David Deutsch, but I very quickly go off on a tangent about the nature of art and how my son perceives things. I was told this would be a better blog post than essay by my Professor ( Hi Gabrielle!) and she’s probably right. So without further ado:

The New Problems

Response to “Why Are Flowers Beautiful?”, from The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch.

David Deutsch wants to make a case for an objective basis for beauty in aesthetics and art.

This is an excellent chapter to have read this morning as in between seeking botanicals to approximate a natural color wheel.  I appreciated the search for color varieties among the rich consistent greens, and felt as though I was on a quest to find a mythic creature: a rare blue out in the wild. I wonder if that isn’t the basis for our appreciation of beauty as much as anything else- rarity. Value is created by the perception of uniqueness. If the natural landscape where comprised of mostly flowers, we might re-examine the inherent loveliness of an oak leaf, but on this planet, brightly colored, delicate petals with unique patterns are harder to come by, so we look a bit harder at them.

People are discrimination machines, in the pure sense of simply distinguishing one thing from another. We begin classification in the crib, and learn to spot differences, similarities and patterns as a necessary cognitive tool, one that allows us efficiency and depth in thinking. Generalizations occur as we replace an objective ongoing investigation of the real world with the simulacra we create inside our heads. This allows us to walk down the street without stopping every 2 feet to examine each new dandelion we encounter.

My son is one and stops to examine everything. We never get anywhere, which is my point. Eventually he will create a map of the world in his head and will see a generalized tree, or dandelion, or bug, and he will zoom right past them on his way to enact a plan- climb a tree, play ball, etc. I enjoy sharing walks with him, because it slows me down too. Our short-but-long walks remind me of artist thinking.

Artists push our perceptions back to that examination of minutia, framing an object or a moment in such a way to allow us to see it again, past our separations, categories, assumptions, short cuts and calluses. Just like disrupting a visual or musical pattern creates focus and contrast, placing a ‘frame’ around a moment of reality allows us to focus on the poetry that was always present.

Specialization in any field is an inevitable progression: as new information is discovered, new language is required to condense and communicate ideas. Bundled in this information are field-specific axiomatic truths- the sum of years of accumulated discovery. Any advanced study, whether of arts or sciences, requires practitioners to understand this dense bundle of information and be able to communicate and make use of it. There are, in effect, ‘initiates’ in any given field who must first master this shared language to proceed.

In art this means understanding the principles of design, composition and color. We understand these formal concepts- balance, symmetry, harmony, as an inherent function of what is attractive visually.  But what do we use the tools for? Not just recording what is pretty in the world. We have tools for that. So what do we use art for?

For me, modern art- or ‘art’ with a capital ‘A’- is born somewhere between the invention and widespread commercial use of the camera. The burden of art had been split between fairly utilitarian purposes for most of history- either to resemble the physical world (representation) or to illuminate a higher truth- (bible stories, divine right of kings-style illustration).

Partly this is due to the patron-system that placed artists in the service of Royalty and Religion, which used art as a tool for address and control, and as a status symbol. The rise of the middle class brought with it new opportunities for different use of art.

But these jobs for art speak to an innate need to understand and imitate our universe.

Photography takes away the mimetic burden, and asks artists to consider other criteria for art making. Artists responded by examining the formal aspects of art making- color, form, space, and within less than a hundred years from the debut of the camera, artists reject ‘subject’ as the primary motivation for art making, instead focusing on how an artwork is situated in a larger ongoing narrative. The camera records reality perfectly well, which makes room for modern art and the modern artist, for whom representation is only one decision among many to consider when producing art.

This engagement in an ongoing meta-narrative provides artists with new problems to address in their work. Artists are in the business of inventing new problems and then solving/ investigating them with their work. The historical ‘problem’ of how to represent reality objectively (which for centuries was a basis for accomplishment) has given way to what is new, novel, or almost metaphysical that an artist can express.

The question for an artist is not just ‘what’ to make but ‘how’ and ‘why’.

Starbound 19

June 25, 2013

Starbound 19

Let’s get real for a sec.

Starbound 18! jeez.

June 25, 2013

Starbound 18! jeez.

Meet Deke Lumenski!

Starbound#17

June 25, 2013

Starbound#17

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