Monday, February 05, 2007

unit structures...



looking through a pile of old photos at the flea market sunday morning, i was instantly smitten with this image. its visual appeal is probably clear to most airforms visitors and my plan was to leave it at that... but by the time i got home and scanned it, it got me thinking.

almost all of my work is somehow composed of building blocks - small units that can move from one language to another - and the forms of these small trains in crooked lines on a table feel uncomfortably familiar (somewhere i've already made this painting).

i actually counted the trains in each line, hoping the lines would reveal a secret, perhaps each one signifying a letter based on the number of units, and the whole becoming a visual translation of a word or phrase (unfortunately the long rows spelled: ggkhgghjj, and the short cluster at the top: dababb).

so i stepped away from myself, from the limitations of my own inability to 'translate' the forms into something else, and to simply fall back into the arrangement of units and the beauty of misunderstandings (i was slightly disappointed when i discovered these were trains, as i had hoped originally that they were blocks of wood or some such secret aesthetic activity - which they still, of course, could be... for who hasn't absentmidedly arranged books by color or counted steps out loud while climbing...).

it led me to one of my favorite painters, and one of the masters of large structures built from single boxlike units; and also towards objects that revel in their stubbornness not to let their secrets be known. you have to take them on their own terms, and allow their beauty to simply envelop you.

i was talking to someone on the phone a few days ago about how alfred jensen's paintings come down to this kind of powerful vibrational moment, where logic and understanding is consumed by emotion and experience. in the end, there is no need to seek answers from the mass of specifically arranged units, as much as to accept their potential for some seriously revelatory wandering (perhaps that's what he meant by painting 'remote sensing' across the top of this painting - as their 'force' can seep deeply inside of a sensitive viewer from across the room).

i think most visual objects have the potential to affect us in this way; deeper and quieter than the logic of words and understanding; and i hold a kind of secret hope that jensen wouldn't mind me loving his work for all the wrong reasons.

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