"WALL COMPLEX / FLOW CHART / PATTERN SEEKERS" Series, B&W images, pencil, acrylic paint. 1978-82, 18"x18"
"Wall Complex” was the first of these three series of constructivist photographs. A dynamic was created by arranging on the studio wall minimal materials including pushpins, string, nails, and other objects. Due to the inherent ability of the photograph to flatten space, these materials are always one with the wall they are assembled on - its geography becoming part of the formal construction. Nails, shadows, drywall seams, etc., are embellished with scratches made on the surface of the negative, and drawn marks, words, and acrylic paint occur on the surface of the print. The photograph becomes both image and surface - simultaneously a picture and an object to be marked upon. The work is painterly, and investigates the borders between the syntax of photography and that of hand marks. These pieces are as much forms of painting and drawing (at times even sculpture) as they are photographs, and indeed seek to break down the borders between media.
Random bits of found information are assembled and layered; fragments of images and words, patterns, forms, markings, texts, mappings, schematics, drawings, early sprocket-driven computer readouts, string stretched over nails, pushpins, charts, graphs, prayers, advertisements, messages, ferns, and more. Dumpsters found behind commercial buildings provide the most common source of new material. A mixing of signs is explored in these images-an intertwining of‘language games’. A cross-fertilization of symbols and meanings display a formal resolution as they unify, yet at the same time appear to go on endlessly as they flow off the edge of the frame.
Intuition and stream of consciousness control the decision making process of assemblage - free flowing narratives arise as I work on the pieces. An aura of officiousness is maintained throughout the images, a cross-section of institutional use value that parody’s the ubiquitous technical rationality that inhabits our daily world. The images are visual fields of information that need to be read and considered as a text wherein contradiction is allowed between the painterly and photographic, politics and whimsy, between notions of meaning and its opposite. The work is reconstructive in nature, re-assembling broken pieces of text, image and material into new relations of reference and meaning. The sprocket –driven computer readout serves as a model for the work, in that information therein is clear and readable but incomprehensible (in code) and so it is left up to the reader to apprehend this language in any way he/she can. Meaning is dispersed and fluid in this model - understanding gives way to a ‘Tower of Babel’.
Though still important, the carefully held formal tensions between mark and image become somewhat secondary to autobiographical and politically motivated narrative, in this series. Images like ‘Sports Page’, and ‘Emotional Travel’ reach an apex of visual complexity. Television weather reports, Iowa daily hog reports, sewing patterns, and of course language itself, become the material for the process of mapping. The work is playful, but at times has a somewhat troubling undertone, as in the juxtaposition of sports and the military: a cynical response to a leisure culture with a vast and commanding war machine.
“STUDIO A and C SERIES” Type C Color Prints, Pencil, 20x24” 1984-85
I was interested in still life paintings, their formality and of course…. their stillness. I used classical still life objects (vases, real and plastic flowers, figurines, etc.), with the intention of activating these objects with signs of life and movement, creating a tension between the still life genre and the dynamics of figurative characters and writing (text). I was interested in resurrecting these objects/images obtained from dumpsters in the streets of New York, and re-working them into classical still life motifs, which are then activated with marks, symbols, writing, in order to balance the stillness with expression. As typical of most of my constructivist practice, the mixing of symbols looms large within this work, literally and figuratively. Marking and writing on the images after printing allowed for a further point of alteration, combining or contrasting with the photographic image.
"CHART OF BRIEF FORMS", B&W images, hand marks-pencil, oils, 1987-90, 16x20"
This work utilizes both three dimensional objects as well as xerox's of images, which together are composed for the camera. The images vary but most refer to historical practices in medicine. Inspired by a serious illness, a sense of altar or reliquary permeates much of the work, as if combining contemporary and historical medical practices with alchemy or magic. I am interested in the cross cultivation of symbols in the work, the fish as an early religious symbol, scientific glass slides, writing, vein-like plant forms, swimmers (as blood cells in transmission), and music. At times, frosted mylar was used between objects or layers of image and text which created a translucent quality to the images. Delicate pencil work on surface of the print was very important to the reading and interpretation of images.
"ARTISTS MODEL" Series, B&W images, type 55 film, hand marks, toning, 1989-93 16x20”
This series arose from an interest in clay figurative forms which were being shaped by students in drawing and modeling courses in the Fine Arts Department at the University of Oregon where I taught. The partially formed figures were interesting to me as objects of representation, symbol, and metaphor. In using these objects to photograph, I would build a still life set around them, adding to the power that the objects already possessed. I was interested in the process of transformation that occurs between the found object and the consequent photograph containing that object. The "object" is dressed and transformed into "image". When point of view is fixed and the object is isolated within a solitary visual space, the surreal nature of these figures is enhanced. They exist as photographs differently and separately from their existence as objects.
"THE KEEPING OF RECORD / IN A STATE OF CULTURE", B&W images, toning, diptychs & triptychs, 1998-2002
In these series, I photograph remnants of antiquities from Greece, Turkey, and Italy and pair them with images of events from other times and places. Each pairing (collision) embodies a different conversation; sometimes narrative, sometimes formal, always relating to the photograph’s unique ability to still the moment and mark a passing.
These classical figures represent a vast archive, a collection that leads to a Western origin story. This archive has a veiled and mythical relationship within the time that I live. It is my point of creation to choreograph new relationships with these objects, to create new contexts with other cultural and temporal signs.