Pondering Dimensionality

Musings

Reading about Jasper Johns and making a little book with thick pages has me thinking about the difference between the two dimensional and the three. Nothing we can touch is actually two dimensional. The flattest, thinnest substrate still has meat; adding graphite, chalk or paint increases heft. We can see light and theorize about things that have only two dimensions, but we cannot hold those things in our hand.

Jasper Johns An Allegory Of Painting, 1955 - 1965,  Jeffrey Weiss

Jasper Johns An Allegory Of Painting, 1955 – 1965, Jeffrey Weiss

Not sure where I am going with this, but I am intrigued that the two dimensional is less knowable than the three. If a lung to take a breath cannot exist in two dimensions then how claustrophobic is one? Logarithmically increased in profundity, that’s what. The human brain spins (at any rate, mine does) and becomes disoriented trying to conceive of the complete flatness of it all. These words on the screen seem chunky by comparison.

But they are not. They are composed of light. I can touch the screen they live in; I cannot touch them. Entirely insubstantial and conditional upon external energy applied. No wonder I  put my words in paintings and make them aggressively 3D.

It’s another stab at control, power and eternal life. I’m like an ancient Greek warrior. I want my name to live on. But I want mine attached to something more solid than word of mouth.

Let me get back to this light thing. Scientifically speaking, is there a dimensionality ascribed to light? Time, I guess. I can apply paint to a surface, give it even the slightest thickness and it will both reflect light and cast shadow. The perception of even the smallest deposit of stuff will now change as the planet on which it rests, turns. Cool.

I don’t know what I’m doing with this until I get back down to my studio, but that’s enough talking for now.

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A Morbid Little Project

Artwork

I think we need an updated Book Of The Dead. The Egyptians got a lot of use out of The Book Of Going Forth By Day but the charms, spells and hymns needed to get the modern dead safely to the other side are now quite different.

For starters, I don’t believe we expect to take very much with us in the way of material goods. In fact, I suspect most of us are buried without the ferry fare. (Canadians you’d better grab some pennies now before they are gone.) The little book I’m working on may be all the psychopomp you’ll need.

Here’s my table with the first 9-page edition in the works. The pages are drying right now after which I will decorate them, as is fitting.

"Any Last Words" a book in progress

“Any Last Words” a book in progress

And, post title aside, I don’t actually think of this project as morbid. Taking care of yourself is a good idea, here and now as well as then and there.

A Spur With No Horse

Artwork
Hansel And Gretel Were Here

Hansel And Gretel Were Here (a painting in process)

I’m joining a million other blogs out there on inspiration, I know. However, I am participating in an event at the end of the month during which five artists from different creative fields will talk about inspiration: what’s it made of, where it comes from and what you do with it when you’ve got it. I need a place to get some ideas down.

[ Event info : Culture Cafe, Alton Mill Arts Centre, Alton Ontario, Friday January 30th 7-9PM ]

Here’s my take: Problem + Search for Solution = Inspiration. It’s not “where do you get your ideas?” The correct question is “where do you get your problems?” Or the more difficult “how do you keep believing your problems have solutions while you are fruitlessly hashing away at them?”

If it’s all about problem solving, it’s all about having problems. Wait, there’s more. It’s about having problems in the presence of the belief that you have solutions. So inspiration requires belief lest it be just a spur with no horse. You must have hope and you need to be optimistic in order to take your inspiration on its journey. But artists are often bleak, moody – even suicidal. Do the dark-natured fit into this definition?

My nose is chapped, my lips are dry, my hands are covered with little scrapes and cuts. This frigid, dry weather is a problem and I’ve just decided that problems are at the root of creation. So bad weather is inspiring?

I have no solution for bad weather. I just keep applying the spur until a horse magically appears under me. The weather doesn’t improve, but sometimes I get a painting anyway. This underpainting for Hansel And Gretel’s forest is very chilly, a direct result of riding the horse I conjured.