The Vulnerable Body, The Illusion of Self, And Why I Can’t Stick To A Medium.
At times I struggle to describe my work, to assert its thematics. I have things that interest me, and subjects I keep returning to; but I am not entirely confident I understand these things, they tend to sit at the edge of my comprehension, a collection of images and gathered information jostling for my attention. Perhaps this is not entirely a bad thing, as though it is frustrating, it also provides me with motivation to continue reading and exploring these topics.
I work in two dimensional mediums, including traditional painting and drawing; as well as digitally generated works. I am particularly prone to working in series, which may relate to my past work with time-based media such as animation. I seem to have the need to repeat different iterations of an idea, as though this is the only way I can fully explore a subject or image. And I have found that my interest in the computer as a tool to create work has been extended to an interest in how computer technology influences me and others generally. There has been a fair argument made that just as the written alphabet has influenced our way of thinking, allowing us to follow more linear trains of thought, and to contemplate abstractions such as ourselves as disembodied entities and the idea of an all-powerful being that is invisible to us, or alternatively, mathematical proofs and theorems, thinking about things we cannot smell, taste or hear. So, digital mediums have started to rewire us to be able to parallel process information, and to encourage a re-embracing of gesture due to being able to record it visually and also to communicate through gesture with our machines through motion-capture technology, possibly bringing to us a new appreciation of our embodiment.
Brian Rotman, an author whose work I am currently trying to understand the thoughts of, says “If, more than any other single topic or theme, that of the body has come to dominate discourses in the humanities, in the arts, and in technoscience where the relation between humans and machines is of overriding interest, it is because the body we knew and had, or thought we knew and had, is gone.”
Most of my work employs the human figure as a means to communication. I am fascinated by human physicality and vulnerability. By the idea that we encode our bodies as a kind of language, a language that I am attempting to become fluent in. Bodies are both familiar and strange. There is a mystery to them, what holds them together, how do these myriad physical processes collaborate to produce what appears to be an individual of speech, of free will and thought? We understand them to certain degree, anatomically, the way they are produced from a series of code, directions written in our genetics, we speculate about how much free will we actually possess, we attempt to enter into one another via language, whether it be through gesture, touch, vocalized speech or written text. A continual reaching out with symbols. We are all a little disabled by our fear of difference, in spite of our fascination with it.
I am between two series of work at the moment. Many of the images in my recent body of work show the body invaded, by physical cuts, tubes, or growths. Text is a part of these images, an idea of the fragments of communication we send to one another via chat and social networking, or maybe just the things we wish we could say.They are quiet images, clinical almost, but with visceral interruptions to the smooth surface. While I did not have all the resources I would wish available to me, you can see here the images presented as a sort of maze, in the sense that in order to view them effectively, it was necessary to walk around the images, treating them as a series of passages. I thus attempted to create a world that begins in pixels and ends on paper, or some other physical medium, populated by the beings depicted. The double sided presentation is a compromise between being able to depict something in its ‘entirety’, and the confines of the two dimensional medium. They were drawn with the aid of a graphics tablet, I like the idea of drawing in light and pixels, storing it as code, invisible to me unless something goes horribly wrong and the file is corrupted, and then taking the resulting image and printing it on paper with ink. Making it solid. I intend to continue in this vein of work, and would like to play with the idea of full length portraits, with four sides instead of two. But I also find I miss the smell and texture of oil paint, so I am starting a series of paintings with a slightly different feel.
This is rudimentary start of a work, a sort of pointer, very unfinished. The figure remains, and the nudity, the sometime awkward poses and mise en scène are there to continue the sense of vulnerability, the edge of the abyss upon which we teeter. Wires and connections are still of interest to me, I am currently working on the idea of multiple screens, multiple channels of information, and the idea of passivity in the light of all this information. I am starting to think about the content of media, and how certain formulas in entertainment tend to evoke certain reactions within us. How we use technology to tap into our primal desires and fears. Right now the horror genre interests me, both its mechanisms (for example timing and sound to create suspense, as well as an increase of adrenaline in the viewer). Perhaps I will explore this further, as I also find that I miss working with moving images.
I guess in summation the idea of how we consciously and unconsciously shape ourselves interests me. I am fascinated by the vulnerability of the carnal body. I like computers and I want to understand how this illusion of 'the self' works. I am intrigued by the juxtaposition of rationality and skeptical thought, with the ragged mysticism many of us seem to inhabit. I like bones and blood, guts and neurons, and I love what they produce. The twitching pulsing glutinous biomass of the world but more specifically myself and other humans. And emotions, they fascinate me too. The full gamut of them, from facile to epic. I can at least say that this is why I enjoy working with the human form so much. It feels like a possible entry point to understanding these things. And the human body is one subject I cannot seem to move on from, the need to make marks with and through it.