Normally I prefer to let the picture do the talking.
However a lot of people really do not like "Untitled" Nos 1-16. I think that once you have titled an artwork, especially an abstract work, you have immediately hugely limited how viewers interact with that work. In my ideal world, you can stand in front of art and have no thoughts in your mind, just a visual, non verbal, non intellectual connection. The Zen of seeing if you will, but those who meditate will know how very difficult it is to still the mind.
I tend to think that verbose, over theorised, jargonised, wankobabble does not resurrect banal visual art and suddenly transform it into a silk purse. A visual artwork must stand on its own as a purely visual experience that is rich, stimulating and compelling merely by being looked at without any additional written or spoken material. I do not deny that additional intellectual information can add layers of meaning and appreciation to a visual artwork that enhances the overall perception of the work, but I maintain that visual artworks have to have intrinsic visual quality, whatever that may be for different viewers.
Normally I prefer to create self contained abstract artworks, but this "Concept Exhibition" (remember the old days when "groups" made "Concept" Albums) demanded to emerge from my psyche so I followed its path. It became evident to me that these works did actually need some explanation as they are intended to be an ordered progression of a chaotic breakdown. So below are some explanatory words that may or may not help your perception of these works.
"We can't negotiate the truth" (Original quote by Al Gore)
This was an exhibition of digital prints on the human perception of the problem of climate change.
It was at the Hazelhurst Community Gallery in Gymea in southern Sydney, Australia from 29 May to 8 June 2010.
16 digital prints, 60x120cm mounted on Dibond Aluminum panel and 1 digital canvas and acrylic paint diptych.
The sequence of images in this series. started with a standard NASA planetary map of Earth. Using digital techniques and planetary maps of other solar system bodies, the earth map was progressively degraded by stages to an unrecognisable mindscape. Many of the image titles were taken from quotes in the media on the subject of Climate Change. The title of the first image in the series - "The American Way of Life is Not Negotiable" - by George Bush Senior, epitomises the arrogance and blinkered world view (especially of American exceptionalism) that prevails among multinational capitalism.
While the images portray the degradation of the planet visually, the titles are juxtaposed to indicate the concomitant mental breakdown through denial and delusion to madness. The aim is not to show any scientifically accurate prediction of the effects of climate change, but rather to highlight how the effects of delusory thinking, small minded selfish perception and media manipulation, distort realistic self awareness on how the behaviour of the human race affects this planet.
Science and Perceptual Relativity
In genuine scientific circles there is no debate about the veracity of human induced climate change. All the published work by reputable peer reviewed scientists in the last decade is pretty much unequivocal. The debate is not whether climate change is due to human activity, rather how quickly it is accelerating and what the effects will be.
As a trained scientist and partner of a scientist whose work includes climate change research in Antarctica, I have watched the progress of both the science itself and the perception of the issue with increasing exasperation.
It is still the case that scientists do not communicate their findings to the lay public with sufficient force and clarity and that a complacent society does not wish to embrace the devastating consequences that are looming. A common misconception or delusion is that because the sun still shines, the buses are still running, the supermarkets still have food and the 4WD can still be filled with petrol that “things” must still be OK. The reality is that when those examples are not the case, and it is “obvious” that something is wrong, it will be far too late to prevent the change from continuing and accelerating for another 50 years at least.
This exhibition is unfortunately, in one sense, about people’s apathy, delusion and wilful ignorance. The message is clear though – that we must acknowledge that we have a problem, before we can really start changing our thought processes, which is the necessary precursor to actually changing our collective behaviour to battle a supposedly unseen and incomprehensible foe, which is actually ourselves. If we as a species do not change our actions, our planet will resemble an abstract wasteland in a surprisingly short amount of time.
Hopefully some of the images and titles will prick some unconsidered or undecided consciences to internal reflection and action.
A Couple of Resources
Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming (Dorling Kindersly Book)
Well illustrated basic book – excellent primer for all open minded people.
ABC Radio National Science Show Podcast (24/11/2012) – Attitudes to Climate Change
Quote from Professor Ken Caldeira: " I think the fundamentals of climate science are rock solid and have been understood for well over a century. I do think there's a lot of uncertainty regarding how climate impacts will affect people, but the fundamentals that our carbon dioxide emissions are causing the Earth to warm is beyond question." (My italics)
The printed images in this exhibition are generated on computers by a variety of software programs. The originals are electronic files.
The prints in this exhibition were printed on Canson Infinity Rag Photographique 210gsm paper using Epson Professional Large Format Inkjet printers using K3 pigment inks. The prints are mounted on archival aluminium composite panels. For the exhibition a temporary hanging system was used.
The canvas work are digitally printed canvases overlayed with acrylic paint.