Wednesday, November 25, 2009


OK, I apologize for the light posting. Holiday season. I'm cooking up a piece about edges, and I still have more to say about optical black...

In the meantime, thank you Pengo for your thoughtful description of the art that moved you. It immediately struck a chord with me - in the performance arts, the two pieces that most changed my life were a production of Equus I saw my freshman year in college, and Andrey Tarkovsky's Solaris, which I saw the same year. Oddly, what I found shocking about each of them was their sharp evocation of the limits of information that can be obtained from rational analysis of available sense data. Or, more simply, they both pointed out the mystery of things, which I had forgotten at that time.

Here's the progress on the Leah painting:

The cloth is in an underpainting state - it will be red in the final version. I spent a long time noodling around with it after Leah left, trying to get it to be more voluminous and floaty - or, as Steve Wright phrased it when he saw it, more undulating. That was the exact word I had been looking for. The painting was inspired by my visits to the art museums in Venice earlier in the year, and the cloth is modeled on the standard undulating cloth in Assumption of the Virgin paintings, particularly by Giovanni Batista Tiepolo:

Tiepolo sets a pretty high standard for undulating cloth. Happy Thanksgiving to you all...


  1. Solaris the novel had the exact same effect on me. It also made me think how lonely it is when your reliance upon reason and science begins chasing its own tail. A terrifying concept that fortunately doesn't happen on Earth.

    You'll have to do another post some time to explain exactly how a canvas can undulate. I remember something in Rodin on Art about evoking motion with the motionless art. But I think that was either physical or psychological motion. Not the monotonous swaying something does when left to the mercies of tender elements, which is what I think of when one says "undulate".

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Chris -

    I think that the point of Solaris, and of Lem in general, is that if you look closely enough, even at terrestrial phenomena, the same problem obtains. This is what is horrifying about Lem. He is not necessarily correct, but I think that his contention is as I describe it: that there are seams in the fabric of reason, and if you pull hard enough, they rip, and cannot be fixed from within the principles of reason itself. A fancy way of raising the Godel problem, I suppose. I will treat your second question in the next post...