Home >> Essays Catalogue essay for Transmutations, solo show at Ingrid Mueller ~ Art + Concepts 2009
Catalogue essay for Transmutations, solo show at Ingrid Mueller ~ Art + Concepts 2009

cat_essay09_img_0In looking over the range of work that I’ve included in this show, I’m pondering some common themes in the selection. The book images, and some of the sculpture, involve either unreadable text, glyphs, or what looks like writing. Cryptic calligraphy. I started using this “calligraphy” in response to stella, tablets and other ancient artifacts bearing indecipherable symbols. For a long time, I have been engaged by the humanness of them, and their sense of meaning without the burden of specific content.

My use of cryptic glyphs is an attempt to engender a sense of inherent meaning, meaning that is visually contextual but perhaps beyond the capacity of text (words) to convey. It is also an exploration of the power of lost languages as represented by obscure human artifacts unearthed from a time beyond cultural memory. It might also represent the murky evanescent text of dreams, that kind of dream reading in which the text is visible but the words and meaning dissolve and distort when examined; and yet still have power.

I attempt to create a sense of being at the threshold of meaning, a place where you have to accept the experience as the meaning, and relinquish the need to explain. The direct experience of the object is sufficient, more than sufficient. The experience is the point. Explanation and analysis diminish or confuse the reality of the moment and become something else, their own reality, not the reality of the experience. The on-going experience of the physical presence of things deepens our awareness of seeing, just seeing, without the filters and intellectual garnish that analysis encumbers us with.

Analysis and historical contextualization have their place, but to my mind, not as a substitute for a direct engagement with art. There’s a big difference between watching a bird in flight ... just watching… as opposed to analyzing as you watch – thinking about “bird flying”, where it’s going, flight mechanics, its species, what it eats, etc. Those are different experiences. Direct, unmediated experience is what interests me most. A flood of associations and other thoughts soon enough invade the experience; alter it, and inform it. Associations are made, and the whole web of analysis of one kind or another takes over. I aim for objects that are curious enough to evade immediate classification, not as puzzles, but mysterious, with a presence of their own that engage the viewer directly.

cat_essay09_img_1This is what it seems like I’m up to. The process of making art isn’t this clear to me as it’s happening. It happens in a state of “attentive inattention,” as the poet Gary Snyder put it. There’s a kernel of an idea as a starting point; the rest of the process develops its own logic. The glyphs or unreadable script are only one aspect of each piece. The form of the objects is yet another realm to consider.

I’m also grappling with transmutation in my work – the act or state of being changed from one form into another, for example, the book from a familiar common object, to something other. The transformation of objects or fragments of objects into different materials: wood to bronze, bronze to acrylic, glass to bronze. Fragments of objects that are reconstructed in the original form but altered in the process. This process is rich ground for metaphorical exploration. While this is a personal journey for me as an artist, my hope is that this work provides others with the chance for a journey of their own.