After numerous tests and false starts I’ve decided to use coloured ink to draw the text for my upcoming Memory Festival installation at the Roundhouse. As usual, I muddy the ink to create tertiary colours; I’m more comfortable with indeterminacy.
The text fragments, taken for the other Memory Festival projects, will be torn out of the larger sheets of rice paper, and pasted to the walls of the exhibition space at the Roundhouse. I don’t intend the text to produce specific meanings––they are almost meaningful, almost meaningless.
I’ve learned, the hard way, to be cautious when I share stories that relate to my work. When an artwork is based on a story, or relates to a story in some way, it’s easy for it to overwhelm all the other aspects of the work. The formal decisions that go into the development of a work become insignificant compared to the seduction of the narrative. The story takes on a life of its own, independent of the artwork. The work’s capacity to produce a range of possible meanings is foregone.
When I use walls as a drawing surface I’m interested in working with and against the conventions of representational drawing. There are a number of ways to suggest the illusion of depth on a flat surface: linear perspective, overlapping shapes, spatial zones, diminishing scale and atmospheric perspective.
The last two of these are of particular interest to me. With related images (such as faces) whatever is larger is usually considered closer (and more significant). As objects recede into the distance they appear to grow smaller, they lose contrast and their edges soften.
These powdered graphite drawings are all low contrast, with soft edges, but the sizes range, in this case from approximately 5″ to 2′. How do we make sense of these drawings? Does the wall suggest a continuous picture plane? Do the images advance and recede?
In his essay, “On the Unrepresentable in Pictures,” art historian James Elkins discusses our contemporary interest in representations that fail. These inadequate images signal the inadequacy of representation.
I have an abiding interest in the inadequacy of of representation. My inability to produce an accurate,”real” and lasting image encourages me to continue making images. What Elkins describes as the “irresolvable ambiguities” of representation provide a vast, emancipatory territory for the image maker to explore.