Statments & Essays

Mind is Meat is Machine

(circa 2007)

The Mind is Meat is Machine print is an endeavor that took over two and a half years to complete. From June 2004 to January 2007 I worked on one piece. After years of resistance, I had finally began to show and sell my work. I was finally beginning to get some small amount of recognition. So I decided that I needed a challenge. At the time, I conceived of a massive montage that would contain 10,000 layers of photos. When I finished, I estimated this 8′ x 12′ to contain close to 28,000 layers. Ironically, because I misunderstood the resolution requirements of most printers, I inadvertently designed this to be 16′ x 24.’ But there are no printers currently in existence that could print something this detailed, this large. Unfortunately taking this long to complete one print has effectively destroyed my fledgling career and I find myself all but starting over.

I look back on the progression from my earliest artistic endeavors to the Mind is Meat is Machine Project and it’s not surprising that I ended up at this juncture. I’ve always been fascinated by minutia and detail. I recall an assignment in my high school art class where I had to draw a sunflower. The other kids made their sketches and wrapped up. I pulled out the largest sheet of paper, then began shading and detailing with a fine point sharpie, every single line of every single seed in the sun flower. A week later the teacher lost patience and I handed in a huge, 1/3 finished drawing. When I went to college I began taking photography classes and became fascinated with the technique of sandwiching negatives to create photo montage. The limitations of the dark room soon became apparent to me once I had begun creating images containing five or six layers. I moved over to printing and loved the slick mixture of photo imagery and rich colors of the inks, but, technically I was lazy and still found the process limiting. I began creating straight collages. Mixtures of photos and magazine clippings collaged and then painted on. I got my first computer and began scanning them in and tinkering with photoshop.

Suddenly I began to feel that I was on to something. I had found a medium where I could be as complex and detailed as I wanted using photographic imagery. I was completely convinced that I had something on my hands that could be put to real use. A brand new medium that had no ground broken. I was ecstatic. And ran straight into a closed door. Then another. Then another. I quickly found myself looking up the nose of everyone looking down on me.

All fine art mediums have a very clear linear time line that can be tracked though art history. Painting, sculpture and photography all have early applications that lead to new techniques, trends and breakthroughs. Take painting, for example, there is a history leading from cave paintings to the sistine chapel to the canvas’s of Picasso. These fine art mediums have their own legacy, and the artists who have created that legacy have that firm past to ground them as they choose to explore their medium. But the computer as a medium has not truly been recognized yet. It is a medium that does not have a clear beginning because so many true artists either dismiss it or fear it.

Most view photoshop as a touch up tool for photography or a layout tool for print making. It seems that the few legitimate artists who dabble in digital medium seem to feel the need to apply the technology to works and projects that are picking up from time lines of other mediums. While I have stated in the past that I see the computer as a photo tool, I believe it to be far more than a “quick fix it” device for sloppy photography. I believe this is a new medium. The first true new medium in nearly a hundred years, and it deserves it’s own recognition and it’s own historical time line.

I set out to create the Mind is Meat is Machine with one true purpose; to silence critics. With photoshop one can make a mediocre photo look good. With Photoshop one can create a print that looks just like a painting. Since that is exactly what most artists do with it, critics and academia’s can easily dismiss or under value any work done digitally. I wanted to create a work that was undeniably unique to the medium. I wanted to create something bold and intense that could ONLY be made with this way.

I decided to make a triptych to reference renaissance painting. During this period, the grandure, detail and skill of the artists using brushes was unrivaled. They created great creative monuments that were designed to instill awe, and no one could debate the question, “is it art?” But I want a religious triptych that represents OUR age. I tried to create scenes in the side panels that depict events that are far more complex, convoluted and open to interpretation than the church triptychs of the past. Our day and age is after all, far more complex then it was 500 years ago. My Center models are distinctly modern. There tattoos, piercing and jewelry make it clear that this was produced NOW, just as the medieval virgin marys all wore the hair styles, clothing and jewelry of their time.

Inside that religious/spiritual framework, I wanted to embed a modern sense of awe. We live in the information age, a period where short attention spans are a defense mechanism for constant media barrages. All of our minds suck the magazine ads, infomercials, phone conversations, email, traffic noises, myspace comments, movies, CD’s, popup windows, jack hammer vibrations, photo album scrap books -not to mention one’s own real life experiences and memories, compiling in our heads in an ever complex way. There are hundreds of thousands of images imbedded into our brain. Inside the classical frame work of the triptych, I wanted to flick and dribble that information back out like Jackson Pollack’s pigments. Spit back out reality in a way that was both premeditated and subconscious at the same time.

Much like a computer generated fractal, I manually designed this with the notion that any given square inch should operate as a stand alone piece of art. I want the viewer take a magnifying glass to this or stand 20 feet away and have the same level of impact. I hope to completely short circuit the viewers brain and create both a sense of awe in the viewer while he/she is having an anxiety attack from a 2D non-moving image. Whether or not I am successful… only time will tell.

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