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Improvisation without Blue, Green or Red
Chalk and Charcoal: Dust-Producing Drawing Instruments for Replacing a Disappeared Mill
You Know You Want to Draw On These Traffic Cones
Tiny Illuminated Traffic Cones

Improvisation without Blue, Green or Red
Original software and video projection onto egg tempera painting on wood panel, sound
27" x 40"

Exhibited in the group exhibition Art and the Viewser curated by Darren Miller & George Roland
The Penelec Gallery at Allegheny College
Meadville, PA
November 5-26, 2013

This improvisation is an investigation into the essence of art-viewing and art-making. Scientists once imagined that sight was an active system functioning as a result of rays emanating from our eyes. Seeing can be active or passive depending on the attention of the viewer. Art only exists if there is a maker and a viewer, collaborating as a team to create a unique experience. I am interested in exploring what makes the maker make (the first art ingredient, making) and the viewer view (the second art ingredient, viewing). If we are all passive there is no art to see and nothing to think about.

As a viewer, I used to delight in weird, mysterious or unfathomable abstract paintings at art museums, basking in pure aesthetic appreciation of color and form, marveling that a human mind and hand could imagine and create something so artificial. In the case of an abstract expressionist such as de Kooning, I would step back to see the whole composition, and also lean as close as permitted to examine the marks he made and see the visceral layering of the paint. ďWhat was he thinking while he was doing that?Ē I would wonder to myself.

Where do ideas come from? When you have a thought, did you create the thought, or did you get it from somewhere else? Does your brain generate thoughts or are there thoughts embedded in the nature of the universe which your brain is able to access? Thinking seems to be one of the most fundamental aspects of existence. Food, shelter, sleep, and reproduction we share with perhaps all life. Thought, language and culture are considered to be more human components (even though we know animals think). However, just because you and I know we are both thinking doesnít mean we are going to agree on anything or think about the same things Even if we do have similar interests and beliefs, we might not think about them the same way.

So, people are mysteries. We are mysteries to each other (what was de Kooning thinking?) and we are mysteries to ourselves (why do I care?). We develop weird habits and we donít know where they came from Ė or we do know but we canít stop anyway. And when we confront art made by another, we wonder, sometimes, about the artist.

That is the focus of this piece. Iím either talking while Iím painting, or one of my collaborators is conversing with me. You can hear what is going through my head and see how little impact it has on the abstract painting being painted. No questions are answered. I paint by instinct, by intuition. I donít know why I still love to paint even though I feel it is an obsolete medium. Here is my attempt to answer some of the musings I have had (and which you may have) as an art-viewer first and art-maker second. I have turned an opaque sometimes meditative process which is very difficult to describe (the process of facing a blank canvas and turning it into a painting) into an equally opaque stroke-by-stroke illumination of that process.

You can see this painting being painted and you can hear what I am thinking about. But where are those ideas coming from?

About the exhibition Art & the Viewser:

Curated by George Roland and Darren Lee Miller
Exhibition Dates: Tuesday, November 5 – Tuesday November 26, 2013

Panel Discussion: Tuesday, November 5, 7:00 – 8:00PM, Doane Hall A104
Opening Reception: Tuesday, November 5, 8:00 – 9:00PM, Art Galleries

This exhibition showcases works that use interactive digital tools prominently as part of their inception, process, and display. All the artworks in the show deploy various technologies to prompt simultaneous interactions that create a participatory experience. In many cases, there is an instantaneity to the pieces that affords the gallery viewer an interaction in which s/he can immediately observe the effects of his or her presence in real time. In other words, the very presence of the viewer may affect a change in the piece. While the technology itself is important, the central themes are sharing the creative process with the viewer, and creating structures where viewers are changing the form or function of the piece (and therefore essential to its creation). Artists include Pippin Barr, Jeremy Boyle, Molleindustria (Paolo Pedercini), Jessica Thompson, George Roland, and Erik Sanner.

This exhibition is supported in part by Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts (PPA), the regional arts funding partnership of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency.