I write algorithms that translate non-visual information into paintings and drawings. This non-visual information has two sources: one is ordinary (common or random) and the other is extraordinary (sacred or poignant). I begin with, for example, poignant texts exemplifying personal experiences of grief or the translation of a sacred Buddhist prayer ceremony on cultivating compassion. I then disrupt these meaningful origin texts with meaningless, unbiased systems of chance such as dice rolling, card playing, etc. The outcome is a visual system that is both tangible and abstract, removing the specifics of the circumstance but giving a precise shape to something that is otherwise invisible.
This Cannibal Series includes paintings imposed on top of old paintings, sometimes eliminating, sometimes reacting to what is underneath, digesting the image as a whole. Each individual abstract element that is reacting/eliminating is dictated by a logic system that is based on this marrying of deliberate text and randomness. The result is an expression of the meaningful and the meaningless, deliberate decisions and random chance, and ordinary and extraordinary conditions.
In this piece the grid is broken apart into physically separate elements. They are an extension of the Cannibal Series--digesting an underlying image that is also systematically determined. The origin texts refer to elements of childhood.
These images arise from the process of executing the algorithm. They are all on 8.5 x 11 inch computer paper and not intended to be finished products. These images are not the algorithm itself, but merely a necessary middle step in translating the algorithm into the paintings.
Unique Individuals and Anonymous Things:
In the Buddhist tradition there is a practice called a Counting Retreat where a practitioner recites 100,000 of the same mantra for the purpose of attaining profound closeness with its meaning. In this project I am engaging in a Counting Retreat with the compassion mantra and recording the act of reciting it with a red mark. While conjuring these compassionate words I am making similar but inevitably unique marks. This ongoing drawing practice is an antidotal response to times in the world when living beings are stripped of their inherent value by being turned into anonymous things.
The Circle Project:
Primo Levy said that Nazis got their power from reducing unique individuals into anonymous things. This psychology is behind most tragedies, stripping distinct living beings of their inherent value. As a response, I use my drawing practice to find humanity by highlighting the individual. In The Circle Project, I asked people from around the country to draw a circle on a piece of paper. This demographic ranged from preschool age to senior citizen, upper middle class to homeless, and stranger to family. Without any further instruction and through the difficulty of drawing a circle, the individual hand and decision making of the person is pronounced.
In this series, the structure of the origin texts drive the algorithm to produce coordinates that are then applied to a grid. Once the coordinates are laid out like a constellation on the grid, additional rules determine how the points get connected. The origin texts arise from writing I associate with experiences of grief.
First Law Drawings
Emerging from a similar system to Grief Structures, this series has origin texts that are derived from sources concerned with the idea of cause and effect. One source represents the physical manifestation of cause and effect (explained by Newton's first and third laws of motion), and the other source represents the internal experience of cause and effect (known as Karma).