Monday, May 14, 2012

Well, I should be posting on a more regular basis, now that I have finally finished grad school! 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cool stuff: Mad Art Lab

The folks over at launched a sister site a while back called Mad Art Lab, which purports to explore the intersection of art, science, and skepticism (hmm. . . those themes sound awfully familiar . . .).  Go check it out, if you haven't already.  They're good people.

On Iconography of the Religious Variety

I have a confession:  I don't respect religion that much.  But I really like the pictures.

"Pulling the Heartstrings", 2004

Religious iconography is appealing for a lot of reasons:  it's dense with symbolism, highly recognizable, and it taps into a lot of abstract things that are otherwise hard to express.  I'm not an anthropologist or anything, but from what I understand, the very earliest examples of art (such as at Lascaux) were associated with the kind of magic and mysticism that eventually became religion as we understand it.  So there is a long history of using art as a spiritual tool.  And I can dig that, while being bothered by, too.

Art taps into our capacity for experiencing that which we don't really understand; and while it can be used as a device for exploration and discovery, it has far more often been one for propaganda.  Over the years, artists have created a rich visual language to reference many important social and philosophical concepts.  Much of that language is religious.  And I have typically had no problem co-opting that language in my work when I wanted to reference concepts such as guilt, transcendence, or sacrifice.  As a result, I actually have a lot of works with religious references in them, such that it's kind of a big theme in my work.  I didn't plan that, and was actually quite unsettled about it when I realized it for the first time.

"Good News From the Swamp", 2007

I mentioned that religious imagery is dense.  One side effect of using it is that it has a lot of baggage.  I was using it in nonreligious contexts, but not overtly critical ones.  I realized that, looking back on my work as a body, it would be possible to interpret the religious elements as much more, er, earnest, than I ever intended them to be.  I've been guilty of postmodern-style appropriation, which I always assumed would be seen as lightly ironic, but I'm not sure if that's how it really comes off.  So now I am conflicted.  I will have to deal with the issue head-on in my future work.

I'm interested in what other people think about this topic.  How do you feel about using religious symbols in nonreligous contexts?  Is it a form of reclaiming?  Is it a short cut?  Should I, as an atheist, worry about the way this comes up in my own work?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A very cool art/science crossover

Check out this project: La EvoluciĆ³n Silenciosa, by artist Jason deCaires Taylor.  These are concrete sculptures installed underwater as a base for coral reef restoration.  What a fantastic idea, and he realizes it well.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

An offering to the productivity gods

This is a drawing I did in 2007, when I was in India.  My goal when I was there was to learn something about the mythological nature of rivers, and so one thing that attracted me were the stories from the Bhagavata Purana that involved the Yamuna River.  In one of them, Krishna defeated the five headed serpent-demon Kaliya, who was living in the Yamuna and causing it to be poisoned.

Happy Beginnings

I'm sitting here like a tachycardic heart on the first day of the brand new year, quivering with the motivation to do about 17 different things, but unable to really get started on
any of them.  One thing that I'm supposed to be doing right now is blogging.  I promised myself that 2012 would be the year I began to develop a web presence and all that jazz.
Of course, I thought that I would be done with school by now when I promised that, and I am still trying to wrap up the ol' thesis.  I also have a lot of stuff I still need to
catch up on at work before I can really devote the time I need to thesis writing.   And good lord do I ever need to start painting again.

All of that stuff is important, but it is a holiday.  It's perfectly OK to stop and breathe. 

And it's also OK to write something that is not earth-shattering.  So here's a post to begin the year -- nothing special, but a fond hello to the rest of the world.  Hello out
there!  I hope you are having a nice year so far! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Resources: you are here

you are here is a journal published by the University of Arizona Department of Geography.  The theme is 'the concept of place', which lends itself nicely to mutual art/science exploration.  In practice, there is not a lot of direct scientific content in this journal, although the many of the creative works reference the scientific understanding of geography.

I will point out that I have two poems published in the current issue: Browsing the International Tree-Ring Data Bank, and Getting Laundry Done in Rampur.  Both poems are geographical in nature, but only the first could be called scientific.