Monday, March 31, 2014

Urban Maps

I found these urban maps in the back of an empty planner at work.  Each map represents a different international city.  I'm really intrigued by the structural differences in each map - some are nebulously interwoven and organic, while others are centralized, rigid and concentric.  I wonder what mixes of sociology and environmental ecology lead to the development of these geometric structures... do these concepts lay hidden deep in the networked pathways of our brains, or do they emerge from the ebb and flow of human relations?  Perhaps a little both... nonetheless, I find the complex connections to be very stimulating.      

Sunday, March 30, 2014

New Woodblock Gestures!

Carved, glued, ready to go!  Just have to make sure some edges are nice and flush with the surface, then I'll be ready to paint this guy!  I'm excited about sanding back into the grid and finding some other organic forms within the woodgrain.

So, the plan is to sand down the big wooden block so that it becomes an organic form.  I will be spilling paint on this little guy once I get the block carved into the right shape.  Then I will try to map the resulting entropy - oh my!  These are just some compositional warm ups to get my imagimanation going.  (Wow, it feels good to use a router and all my big power saws again!)

The little golden rectangles kind of look like little amoeba-guys, don't they?

*Meep* :3
















Updated Artist Statement

My work employs painting, drawing, printmaking, live art and performance to explore subjectivity within an ever-changing world.  This work ranges from deconstructed landscapes, to multiples, to time-based abstraction.  I am interested in drawing attention to and confusing a viewer’s awareness of their own body’s movements within different spaces.  To achieve these aesthetics, I combine unconventional materials and techniques to activate unique surface qualities that emphasize the viewer’s physical relation to the work and enhance its overall illusion of movement.  By building, carving and sanding on wood panel, applying high gloss resin, gel medium, quartz powder and living material (such as grass) I create materiality and contrast within a painting’s surface. 

Using geometric forms, ranging from simple concentric squares to complex fractals, I compose formal painting elements into ordered and chaotic measures of time and rhythm.  By contrasting layers of illusion, flatness, dimension and physicality, I create optical tensions within the viewer’s perspective that enhance these rhythms.  As a result, the viewer may experience recognition, confusion, order and a chance to decipher space, yet be overwhelmed by flatness.

The Cyberspaces are a series of wood panel paintings that map the metaphysical spaces described by cyberculture theory.  My intention was to construct a multi-dimensional space that could be accessed through bodily subjectivity to simultaneously bend, disassemble and reconnect linkages within an ever-changing network.  To achieve this, each panel employs linear and fractal geometry to weave a complex coil of contradicting illusionistic, sculptural and architectonic spaces.  By presenting the panels face up and activating the surrounding architectonic space, I increased the dimensionality of the surface and created a topological movement within each composition.  As a result, the rigid Cartesian grid becomes an aerial landscape in which the fractal’s emergent complexity bends various levels of relief into shape-shifting territories.

The geometry behind my work was inspired by painters Frank Stella, Richard Diebenkorn and Sean Scully, academics like René Descartes, Michel Foucault, Benoît Mandelbrot, Elizabeth Grosz, Michel Serres, Jacques Derrida and Donna Haraway, and a diverse array of subjects, such as: linear perspective, maps, dialectics, panoptic vision, order and chaos, Fibonacci sequences, surface roughness and fractal dimensions, architectural spaces, territory, nonlinear spatiotemporal paradigms, contextual framing, deconstruction, cyberculture theory, feminism, Zen solids and voids, mazes, church interiors, cave painting and gestalt and color theory.  Some of my underlying themes include looking at complexity via self-similarity (the concept that the whole has the same shape as one or more of the parts), subject/object relationships, relativism, dimensional multiplicity, contradiction, impermanence, blurring the line of authority and presenting painting outside the context of the wall.

In the future, I plan to continue my investigation into the relationship between illusion, flatness, dimension and physicality within different spatiotemporal paradigms.  My next projects will continue to integrate geometric structures further into my process.  I see great potential to challenge my ideological preconceptions by attempting to map the entropy of organic forms within nature.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Notes of an Artist, Pt. I

My deepest respects to honoring the life and art of Hilma af Klint.

"The Question"

My fundamental question is: Since everything is relative and constantly shifting within a flow of inevitable subjective difference, where are the boundaries between subjects? Do such demarcations exist? What could they look like? Are they geometric?          

* * *

"Moral Relativism and an Ethical Democracy"   

In my view, individual morality is different from how society applies ethics on a macro scale.  I don't think the application of ethics in a larger societal context makes morality universal, because there will always be territorial differences of morality determined by changing environmental and cultural factors.  Even law becomes relative to contextual circumstances.  Look at murder, for example - it's legal with regard to self defense and capital punishment.   

I'd hypothesize that humanity's impetus for deciphering good/bad comes from a need to survive and a desire to enjoy life.  While this impetus may be perceived as universal, the moral, ethical and legal codes that result are subjective and dependent upon ever-changing environmental/cultural factors.  In a relative world, everyone will disagree in some form or another, but I think there is an emergent gray area that forms an overarching system of ethics and becomes agreed upon as law.  

The societal application of ethical and legal codes depends on the power hierarchy and how chaos is resolved into order through discipline.  In an oppressive power structure, a dictator might legally enact his own moral conclusions that are not informed by any societal consensus of ethics.  In my view, this is a poor application of moral relativism that results in the anti-logic of domination and arbitrary dogma.  A society's power structure (whether democratic or totalitarian) manifests individual morality into a greater system of ethics and law.  

In my opinion, an ideal society would democratically synthesize its moral similarities and differences into a useful, relevant and living doctrine of ethics and law that serves the greatest majority possible.  I think it's similar to how our American judicial system works: there are two sides of a case and justice lies somewhere in between them - although the position and proximity of justice is largely dependent upon how society manifests its morality and ethics into law...  regardless, justice is never entirely one-sided.   

I see anthropology as an empathetic bridge to understanding other systems of morality, ethics and law.  As I relativist, I think we have to be humble and accept the variety of subjective truths that exist in our world.  And paradoxically, this is also why I struggle with religious morality.  It is true that not all religion is the same, however, much religious dogma freezes morality into a stagnant, universal truth that often becomes the foundation for conservatism and discrimination.  In my view, it is completely ignorant and regressive to use religious morality to deny the changes of environment and culture in an effort to remain consistent and homogenous.  This is the ultimate denial of difference and adaptation - and surely the quickest route to human destruction.   

* * *


Although Turing's computer has memory, it still isn't an AI and lacks cognizance of lived experience that it can use to formulate identity.  It has a memory bank, but doesn't have the faculties to organize that information into anything meaningful in relation to itself.  And I suppose that's the big question: at what point do memory and information create intelligence?  We really don't know yet - and there are still many contradictions to be resolved.  For example, it's amazing how much young children can have a sense of identity, despite also having limited memory!  In reviewing some of Hume's moral tenets, I was really intrigued by the aspect of "love of fame" (how our morals are informed by how others see us - esp. in the early stages of child development)... perhaps our self-awareness and intelligence are also dependent upon our relation to others as sentient beings.  

* * *

"The Tenets of Complexity" 

I will begin with Euclid, the great geometer of Ancient Greece.  By defining the basic elements of geometry (point, line, plane...etc.),  Euclid devised a set of axioms that could be used to construct a system of theoretical absolutes.  As the early buds of modern science emerged, these geometric elements became used in methods of standardization and measurement.  The linear concepts of rulers, maps (Cartesian grid), scales, binaries/dichotomies...etc. were employed to quantify, understand and predict nature.  However, these simple and linear structures are mere projections and only create the illusion of absolutes.  The reality is literally much more complex.   

The big environmental problem began emerging when modern science projected and pragmatically employed geometry to make nature conveniently fit into our civil structures, economy, agricultural systems...etc.  Along with harmful Victorian dichotomies of man v.s. nature and the toxic motivations of capitalist greed, modern science began to simultaneously dominate, marginalize and commodify nature.  As a result, this threefold ideology eliminated any ability for the modern world to respectfully harmonize and find equilibrium with nature.  On this unstable foundation, our civilizations have become unsustainable against the raging complexity of nature.  

In 1975, when mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot began making breakthroughs in the field of fractal geometry, it became apparent that linear systems of measure couldn't fully quantify, understand and predict nature.  In one of his pivotal essays, Mandelbrot discusses the dilemma of never being able to measure a coastline.  He explained the problem was that a coastline has "surface roughness" (dimensional detail) that can be infinitely divided, expanded and, ultimately, considered as length.  In essence, it is our fixed bodily relationship to the world that limits our perspective and creates the illusion of a finiteness.    

Many of nature's structures are fractals.  Within a fractal's structure, the delicate interplay of order and chaos creates a complex expansion of recursive, self-similar forms throughout micro and macro.  Take a fern leaf, for example: its smallest leaves mirror the form of the whole plant structure!  This is called self-similarity (essentially that the whole has the same shape as one or more of the parts).  A major component of complexity is the intersection of order and chaos.  What specifically makes the fractal complex is that the order of self-similar forms is made infinite by the chaos of varied proportions.  This is made possible by the Fibonacci sequence (among other sequences, such as the Lucas numbers), which contains ratios that increase by adding the first two quantities in the sequence to the third, resulting in an infinitely exponential succession of proportion.  The result is a "growth" of consistent form.  In sharp contrast to the brittle unchanging rigidity of linear geometry, fractals are organic - they change!

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21...etc.
(1 + 1 = 2, 1 + 2 = 3, 2 + 3 = 5, 3 + 5 = 8, 8 + 13 = 21...etc.)  

Another aspect of nature that can be learned from studying fractals is Aristotle's gestalt theory: the concept that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  Contrary to what the addition of values within the Fibonacci sequence might suggest upon first glance, fractals are very interdependent and emergent structures.  Unlike a Cartesian grid, where the whole form is created by a repetitious addition of the same shape and proportion of units, a fractal grows, and as a result, the whole is emergent from between the relationships of its parts.

For example, take a school of fish: each fish follows a set of the same rules - swim straight, don't crowd the fishy next to you and dodge any imminent predator.  If the fish didn't move and nothing happened to them, they would function like a Cartesian grid - completely static and unrelated.  However, fish being fish, they swim around and shit happens.  As the school of fish moves and each individual fish follows the set of the same rules, an emergent whole forms!  Thus, the fractal's growth and emergence makes it impossible to isolate change in the structure... changes that occur in the parts will inevitably change the whole.  In essence, gestalt is a very integral part of complexity, because it illustrates how the relationship between parts can affect a greater whole.  The fractal's sensitivity to change mirrors the interdependence, growth, gestalt and complexity of nature.

While fractals are inevitably geometric concepts, they still come from observations of complexity within nature.  Fractals are an acknowledgement of the unquantifiable, mysterious and unpredictable aspects of nature.  In contrast to linear geometry, fractal geometry listens and responds to nature.  The complexity of fractals also alludes to the inability of humans to fully perceive the infinite.  The chaotic interweaving of changes that occur throughout micro and macro can't always be seen from our limited perspectives.  The fractal reminds us that we are uniquely positioned within nature, and that via gestalt, our local decisions have global consequences (and vice versa).

In this inevitable coil of space, we as individuals are empowered to enact positive change, but we also revere and resent our responsibility to control large consequences.  Sustainable agriculture (I prefer the term 'sustainable' to 'perma(nent)culture', because it recognizes the ongoing need to adapt to change) is a great example of enacting positive change and taking responsibility for our decisions within a complex environment.  Everything in nature has a rate of change and it is imperative that we respond to these changes with long term solutions if we are to maintain good health and survive.  Unfortunately, the false dichotomies of modern science and the domination of capitalist and patriarchal values have enacted short term local solutions that have long term, global consequences.

The ideological dislocation of man and nature has given us free rein to project ideals onto nature without regard for how they will effect our environment and quality of life.  Further, the temptation of capitalist greed (a form of linear thought in which morality and ethics are based on monetary incentives) reinforces selfish priorities by narrowing our focus to immediate short term gain.  These economic side blinders allow for mega corporations to isolate themselves from the environment by operating within an ideological grid and using reductionist tactics to disassemble the parts without regard for how they relate as a whole.  

see GMOs as a symptom of reductionist ideology: that the relations of the environmental whole can be disregarded by abruptly disconnecting parts and reordering them to fit into an agenda of short-term convenience.  By transplanting maladapted plants into an artificially fixed agricultural environment, we are stressing the soil, killing its nutrients, spraying our weakened crops with toxic pesticides and waging a culture war against farmers.  The hands that grow our precious food can no longer nurture what is of their land.  Farmers are being beaten down by Monsanto and told they can't make the best agricultural decisions within the context of their own land.  They are forced to plant poison seeds for the benefit of short-term capitalistic gain.   

Good health is directly linked to a balanced relationship with our environment.  As a woman with a non-genetic hormonal imbalance likely caused by pollution, I feel extremely passionate about having a greater awareness of all the manmade toxins we ingest everyday.  Plastic is an interesting subject, because it's a very durable material that is completely unsustainable.  It's a good example of how long-term needs to be thought of in relation to environmental sustainability as a whole, not resources themselves.  A sensitive awareness of time and space is essential to balancing all the overlapping variables and rates of change within our environment.  The long-term overexposure to phthalates and Bisphenol-A (endocrine disrupters that mimic estrogen) from plastics has undoubtedly contributed - if not caused - my health problem.  10% of women have hormonal imbalances, and the percentage is only going up with the increasing combinations of toxic, untested chemicals being introduced into our environment everyday.  All of these exponentially chaotic variables will have dire consequences that will be impossible to predict within the span of our lifetimes.  Again, this is all part of understanding complexity (esp. through the lens of geometry) - the relationship of parts that create an emergent whole within the paradigm of nature.      

Nature is far too complex to fully predict, and ultimately, these acts of transplanting will only manifest into a chaotic cancer of time and space - with outcomes that we won't even begin to be able to predict or control.  The best way to understand nature is through trial, error and adaptation, while listening to the subtle consequences of our actions within the arena of life and death.  That takes a spiritual ear and a heart of patience.  But we are impatient, living in an overpopulated, technologically militarized, fearful, patriarchal world in which speed and might are the impulsive, shallow solutions to problems.  We don't wait for nature to tell us what is right.  She is manhandled, raped, and, ultimately, objectified into a commodified resource.  (I see a huge correlation between women's inequity under patriarchy and environmental degradation - I need to read some ecofeminism asap!)

As an artist, I put images to things the naked eye cannot see.  In light of the world's blindness, I feel that it is becoming more imperative to be able to conceptualize and visually communicate these grave concepts through the creation of art.  In no other practice could I fully exercise my powers as a creative, curious, philosophical, political and spiritual being...  I love bending and destroying Cartesian grids with fractals.  By creating juxtapositions of illusionistic, sculptural and architectonic spaces, I illustrate the limits of our bodily subjectivity and our futile attempts to understand the infinite, overlapping, complex, emergent, ever-changing whole that is our world.  In a way, I am mapping this phenomenon by representing and sharing this experience through art.  I make contestable, labyrinthine maps - maps that have a mind of their own, that do not tell you where you are or where to go... they move as the viewer moves, reflecting inquiries in the process of being investigated.          

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Self Portrait!

Might still make a few tweaks to the composition - but, nonetheless, a new self portrait! 

8.5" X 11"