Thursday, August 22, 2013

I Saw Death

Melissa Carroll's Recurrence at Andrea Rosen Gallery 2

I have only met Melissa Carroll once. It was a few years ago. We were in a group show at Gitana Rosa Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The theme of the show was male nudes. This was her piece:

Melissa Carroll, Mad Max, oil on canvas, 60"x48", 2010

At the time, Melissa was in her late twenties, slim, dark-haired and pretty. She was distinguishable from a thousand Brooklyn hipsters only in that she was talented. She was working on portraits of her friends:

Melissa Carroll, Ben, oil on canvas, 48"x60", 2010

This work looked really promising to me -- I liked how she was breaking up the surface, and I liked her lines, and I liked that her own developing style was not eclipsed by the overwhelming artistic personality of her employer, Francesco Clemente. You could see where he was influencing her, and where his influence stopped. That takes some strength of will. I didn't think this was great work, but I thought it was very good work and headed in the right direction. So I kept track of Carroll. I wanted to see how her art developed.

Here's a self-portrait she painted earlier this year:

Melissa Carroll, watercolor, 15"x11", 2013

I imagine if you have the right experience with the topic, you'll immediately understand those disturbing tear-like arcs on her cheeks. For the rest of us, it takes a second to recognize that they are eyelashes. The piece is called Every Time an Eyelash Falls Out, I Make a Wish. Carroll is in chemotherapy here and she's losing her hair. Not long after I met her, a rare form of cancer was discovered in one of her feet. The cancer escaped her foot, and she has been in nearly continuous treatment for the past couple of years. She painted this watercolor during a renewed course of treatment for freshly-discovered tumors. Her hair had had time to grow back in, and then it fell out again. She's about thirty by now.

Restricted frequently to bed, and always to the most non-toxic and non-volatile of painting media, Carroll has been painting watercolor self-portraits throughout her illness. This body of work reminds me of one of the most terrifying sentences I have ever read, in Philip K. Dick's 1977 novel A Scanner Darkly:

I saw death rising from the earth, from the ground itself, in one blue field, in stubbled color. 

Carroll's recent watercolors are fields of stubbled color, and when she looks in the mirror, she sees death emerging from the living ground of herself.

Melissa Carroll, Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired, watercolor, 15"x11", 2013

Consider an artist who is confronted abruptly with mortality. There are three possible paths the artist can take. She can turn away from art altogether. Or she can make sentimentally therapeutic pictures, which make her feel better for a little while, but contain little in the way of truth. Or she can demand real art from herself: the scouring away of illusion in favor of insight and recognition. That last is the most awful and difficult of the paths. It is awful because it involves direct confrontation with one's own extinction. And it is difficult because every synthesis it demands, of ideas, forms and images, must be won in the face of pain, fear, fatigue, discomfort and embarrassment. All of these forces oppose synthesis, because synthesis accomplishes unities, and these forces are forces of fragmentation and dispersal.

Carroll, lying in bed with few resources, has charted one of the core conflicts of the human experience: that we are born inside of living organisms, that death is inborn with us, that we are at war with it, and that it will win. Every one of our victories is temporary. 

Melissa Carroll, Relapse, watercolor, 15"x11", 2013

Confronting what to do with the very real possibility of abbreviated time, she made the leap from immature art to late-period art with hardly any intermediate work. Here she depicts herself apparently stunned with pain, eyes vacant and turned inward:

Melissa Carroll, Another Friday Night, watercolor, 15"x11", 2013

And here she portrays herself during a period of remission, when she was able to fulfill one of her concrete ambitions and visit India.

Melissa Carroll, India, watercolor, 15"x11", 2013

The swimming redness of the composition reads to me as if she -- not she as a person, perhaps, but she as a detached artistic intelligence -- has concluded that living is a matter of blood. The flowing lines of her robe are the circulation of the living blood. The refined lines of red mehndi on her hand represent what humanity brings to the basic phenomenon of life: order and beauty, but always built on the raw fact of blood. Contrast this with her subsequent departure from this brief window of health:

Melissa Carroll, Limbo, watercolor, 15"x11", 2013

Sick again, she has returned to the blue field. The flow of blood is ebbing. I think you could argue she has overdone it in this piece, but if she has, then so have Klimt and Munch.

These are the things I think about when I look at the work itself. But there are two questions we ought to think about here: what is the meaning in the work? And what is the meaning of the work? That is, apart from its content, what does the fact of its existence teach us?

Let me tell you what it teaches me, and you can play that against your own experience with it and reach conclusions for yourself.

When I was 22, I had a heart attack. Sadly, this had nothing to do with cocaine or anything fun like that. No, it was some kind of random weirdness. I was kept in the hospital for several days while a team of doctors tried to figure out what was the matter with me. During this time, I had a second heart attack.

Before any authoritative conclusions could be drawn, I had a sensation of death prowling in territory very close to me. I might die anytime; the worst might not be past. I thought, "I had assumed I would live as long as other people live. But if I am a thing so constituted as to live only to now, would that be enough?" I reflected on what I had seen and done, and concluded that it would be enough. I hadn't wasted the time. It wasn't enough time, but I had done a little good with it. I was grateful for the period of reflection I was granted in those last days.

A quirk about me: I cannot believe in a god, quite. And yet I do not believe in nothing. One thing I do believe is that we answer for our lives, and must justify our brief passage between the vast before and the unknowable after. You could say that I do not believe in the judge, but am a firm believer in the verdict.

Many artists intuitively apply this doctrine. We joke that the B Minor Mass alone was enough to justify Bach's existence, or that Da Vinci could have quit after the Lady with an Ermine and considered his life worthwhile. 

In light of this pitiless way of looking at things, Melissa Carroll has earned something few of us have: peace. She has been given little -- or rather, has had much taken from her -- and instead of despairing, she has made everything out of nothing. Consider again her Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired:

Here she joins the long line of artists, Picasso and Henry Moore most recently, who have linked baldness with death through the imminence of the clean skull. Opposing that finality, she traces the delicate mechanisms of thought, consciousness and emotion, playing out on the face as they transpire in the living mind. The picture is difficult to look at. The person in it is so clearly sunk in pain and illness. The wreckage of prettiness and health are naked, replaced by the austere beauty of the self-willed and the absolute. The hand which paints is brutally disciplined: economical, transparent, unflinching.

In depicting her condition, she has escaped it. Art has always been a nearly hidden little door in the side of the tunnel of suffering, and Carroll has opened it and gone out through it. With this single artifact she demonstrates soul triumphant over paint, over blood, over disease -- over matter. Whatever happens to her, she has redeemed her suffering in this piece, which she offers to a future in which her personal place is uncertain. She saves herself, and she shows us how it's done, if we care to do it too. Thus she justifies her passage here.

I would rather not be writing this today. Of course I wouldn't; I'm sure you would rather not be reading it. We all would much rather that Carroll were still noodling her way toward work of real significance through the thickets of first dates and rooftop parties and all the ephemera of youth in Brooklyn. I would trade Carroll's work today for work from her two thirds as good in fifty years. And I hope indeed that she will still be making work in fifty years -- imagine the work she will be making then! But what she has done so far is beyond time and quantity. Its wisdom and insight are among the real blessings human beings can give to one another.


All images courtesy of the artist.

Melissa Carroll

Andrea Rosen Gallery
544 West 24th Street, NY, NY

August 22nd, 6-9 p.m. (the show is only one evening - don't miss it)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Me in the Real World

And now, a word from Theo. We've been very Vincent lately, but things do happen in the real world, and sometimes I remember that I'm supposed to toot my horn about them. So begging your indulgence, I'll cover a few items.

This is a shelf at an Indigo Books I just visited in Toronto, Canada. Indigo is kind of like the Barnes & Noble of Canada:

Like Barnes & Noble, Indigo carries International Artist magazine:

I notice these things because International Artist was the first magazine to publish me. I am always going to be grateful for that vote of confidence. International Artist is a very tech-oriented practical publication, and whenever I have an idea even remotely plausible as a drawing or painting "how to" article, I send them a pitch. I've got three articles set to run in the magazine this year. The first ran a couple months ago, the second is in the current issue, and the third will be in the next issue.

my painting is, ahem, the one on the right

This article was especially pleasing for me because it gave me a chance to show off the work of Rory Coyne. I like to be able to turn what spotlights I can grasp on artists I think deserve the notice.

Rory Coyne's A Better Companion on the left

Apart from the magazine, my bewilderingly lateral-thinking gallery, Dacia, has a European tour going this summer, as I mentioned previously. They've got 22 of my drawings and 2 of my paintings in tow, and pictures have been coming in from their various showings. Here's my gallerist, Lee Vasu, in front of the exhibition space in rustic Mazières-de-Touraine, France:

July 28

And inside, some people and their enormous Francophone dog consider my work:

From there, Dacia went on to Erfurt, Germany, where they hung my work in a bitchin' Hall of Art:

August 8

Let's admire this strange building from another angle, shall we?

Lee and his partner in crime Damian Salo have moved on to Romania now.

Meanwhile in the online universe, a couple of items made me very happy. The first is an article by art professor, writer, and thinker John Seed in which, in the course of calling on MOCA (Los Angeles) to show more representational work, he lists 40 suggestions. Here's an excerpt from his list:

The piece is on Huffington, here. Let me tell you something. If you're following my career, you'll have seen a fair amount of progress in the past couple years. Most of it resulted directly from efforts I made. And yet, an artist doesn't want every advance to result from targeted effort. You want some progress to happen because you're on people's minds - when they think of something to do with art, they think of you. For instance, if I say to you "post-war German artists," you say to me "Anselm Kiefer" within a few tries. Kiefer is on your mind in this regard. An artist wants to be on the mind that way. So when Professor Seed thinks "worthwhile contemporary representational painters," and comes up with *me*, that's profoundly rewarding. He's got a sharp mind, vast experience, and broad knowledge. I love being on his mind. I'm proud and honored to be on his list.

The last piece is something I found very touching. It's by David Hansen, a playwright from Cleveland whom I met through Leah. But it would be almost as accurate to say that I met Leah through David. He recounts his history with her in this blog post, in which I am pleased to play my own small part.

David was here this past week with a play at the Fringe Festival, Double Heart - a thoroughly delightful Batman Begins-type of origin story for Benedick and Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing. Hansen has them snarking at each other from the start, as when, on first meeting, they cheerfully unsex one another:

You are a pretty boy, sir Benedick.
T’would appear you’re hurting for a beard.

What this?
These bristles have I cultivatéd nigh
These eighteen years.

How old are you?


So young?

And yet so old, a soldier now
For three.

An’ have you taken many lives?

It’s not a tale to tell to gentle maids,
With constitutions weak and quick to blanch.

And I?

O you, I’ll gladly tell. I saw the show and hung out with David, and we went to get Indian food at a fairly imaginatively lit place which you might know if you live in New York:

And that's the news.

There are other temporal developments as well, but they're not quite done cooking yet, so I'll catch up with you from the strange land of "reality" again soon.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Visit to the AGO

I don't know if I've changed, or the AGO has. When I was growing up, the Art Gallery of Ontario seemed like a tedious affair, housing a sparse collection distinguished mainly in its Rodin Adam, a sculpture which broader experience reveals is handed out, along with a Maillol nude, to every fledgling art museum by the French Sculptors' Benevolent Society and Lawn Ornament Guild.

find me an art museum that *doesn't* have one of these in the lobby

That, however, was then. The last few times I've visited the AGO, it has appeared transformed - a cosmopolitan museum which, if impoverished in its old masters, is shaped by a sharp eye for exciting work in its academic, modern, and Canadian collections. And some cool model ships.

I have overwhelmingly many impressions and thoughts during any visit to an art museum, and ordinarily despair of writing up a proper account. However, I was at the AGO on Wednesday, and formed four particularly strong impressions, and I am writing this on an eight-hour train ride from Buffalo to New York; so let me see if I can't break my losing streak.

1. First let's consider the 1625, oil-on-wood Evisceration of a Roebuck with a Portrait of a Married Couple (why not?), by Frans Snyders and Cornelis de Vos.

oh my, they really are eviscerating that roebuck, aren't they?

What I was thinking about was the wife's right cheek - painted by Vos, most likely; Snyders was the still-life specialist.

This looks to me like a mistake, recognizable mainly because I've made it myself. As usual, take my claims with a grain of salt.

The mistake is in the far cheek (painting left). What happens is, you paint a face in three-quarters view like this, and you naturally want to make the outlines of the cheeks symmetrical. At the cognitive template level, your brain wants symmetry for faces close to the frontal perspective, even though at the empirical level, your brain understands that the outline is asymmetrical.

So you unconsciously broaden the far cheek, and only recognize that it is way too wide when you step away from the painting a while later. Now you've got this weird lopsided face that needs to be trimmed down on the far side. So you start painting the background inward, shaving away slivers of the cheek. You can see Vos doing it here - the radial white fins of her ruff collar give way to concentric swipes of white paint where he is painting into her overwide cheek.

But, whoopsy daisy, he goes too far. Now he is well and truly screwed. He can pass off white added to white on the collar without anyone noticing, but he can't draw that cheek back out again because her can't match the colors closely enough. I have done this. Next he tries to salvage the situation with one of the only moves still available to him - tweaking the left cheek (picture right) to try to make the sides of the face match.

You see that? He's hiding the original outline under a few strokes representing white bounce light from the collar. I know this trick! It never works. Or at least it doesn't work with people in the aptitude range of me and poor Cornelis de Vos.

How does such a story end? You step away for a few days, and look at the painting with fresh eyes.

And now it seems you were perhaps a little overhasty in your condemnation. It's not so bad. It just about works. It would take a really finicky asshole to be troubled by the error; most viewers will never notice it.

And that's the story of Evisceration of a Roebuck with a Portrait of a Married Couple.

2. Now we turn our attention to Luca Giordano's unfortunate 1663 painting The Toilet of Bathsheba.

Bathsheba's the one whom King David noticed à la toilette, an incident which led to a sticky end for Mr. Bathsheba. In Giordano's painting, Bathsheba makes the classic error of putting on her shoes before her pants, while King David, balcony rear left, has a look-see. But the interesting thing is the faces.

Bathsheba's face is misdrawn in a naive way characteristic of children and pre-revolutionary American painters: her eyes are located far too high, making the top of her cranium look truncated. People like children and colonial Americans make this mistake because, once again, of the brain that knows overriding the eye that sees. These primitive artists know that the eyes are at the "top" of the face, and so they misplace them in their true relation to the head, which is quite a ways down.

This error is only mildly interesting. What's really interesting is that Giordano doesn't make the same mistake with Bathsheba's black attendant. The attendant is much more convincing; her features are placed properly on her head.

Does Giordano know black people way better than white people? Of course not. The very opposite explains the difference. Giordano knows white people so well that he doesn't look at them anymore. He paints what he knows. What he knows happens to be wrong, but his figure is coming as much from mentation as observation, and probably more.

Not so the attendant. Giordano recognizes that he doesn't understand the architecture of her face in its distinctness from white structure, so when he gets his model in the studio, he really looks at her. He doesn't impose what he knows on his drawing. He draws what he sees.

3. Now we spare a thought for Pablo Picasso's impassive but authoritative Nude with Clasped Hands (gum tempera on canvas, 1905-6).

This, the placard informs us, is a rose period painting of Fernande Olivier. That seems fair enough. I've seen this painting a million times, and I probably wouldn't have given it much thought, except this time something about the hands caught my eye.

I had just gotten done discussing this configuration of the hands - a somewhat stilted and unusual configuration - with my dad, in the context of an entirely different kind of artwork.

These are the hands of a standing female figure found at Nippur, carved in Mesopotamia between 2600 and 2340 B.C.

My dad and I were visiting a Mesopotamia exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum and, you know, this is his field, and he's given a lot of thought to this weird hand clasp, which appears in votive statues from Mesopotamia up and down the centuries.

Sumerian votive statues, 2700-2600 B.C.

The degree of similarity to Fernande's pose, and especially to her hands, is significant enough to gnaw at me. I think it's more than nothing. It makes me want to make up a theory of it. So I made up three:

A. Picasso knew this genre of Mesopotamian votive statue and adapted its template for his own purposes. Note that his Fernande, with her relaxed shoulders and elbows, is not praying, as the statues pray, with their tensed shoulders and bent elbows.

B. This pose is a fundamental station of the human figure. This strange clasping of the hands (really, try it; you'd never just think to do it) is some pre-existing archetypical understanding of the hands. The same inspiration which struck the Mesopotamians struck Picasso.

C. It's a coincidental overlap of poses. Picasso didn't know the Mesopotamian version of the pose, and he and Fernande came up with it on their own, and it doesn't mean a damn thing.

Only theory A can really be tested, and I, for one, am volunteering not to test it.

4. One resemblance which is definitely not accidental is between this painting, also at the AGO...

Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, The Bathers, 1890, oil on canvas

...and the Apple Newton MessagePad 110:

Or better still, its charging station:

As an interested party, I would like to clarify here that the two lines which outline a woman in contrapposto, arms raised, form the most beautiful shape in the world. Whatever you're thinking of, my proposal beats it. Don't be coming around here with your golden rectangles and your Mandelbrot sets.

This feminine shape is best appreciated in silhouette or from behind. There is too much *stuff* involved in the front view. One of the great evangelists of this fundamental truth of the world is Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. The Musée d'Orsay has another of his little hymns to the shape:

Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Jeunes filles au bord de la mer, 1879, oil on canvas

If you look through his work, you'll see it popping up again and again. He is at his best when he paints it. I am always meaning to do it more, but I rarely get around to it. I'm in love with faces. It's tough to do this pose and a face. So I guess I'm not the purest follower of beauty, because I'll almost always opt for faces over the One Shape. One of my rare confrontations with the subject is as follows:

Daniel Maidman, Tree of Knowledge, 2009, oil on canvas, 48"x24"


And those were the main thoughts I wanted to share with you. One last thing. There is at the AGO a sequence of rooms devoted to Henry Moore. I have not given Henry Moore one single thought these many happy years. And yet, I am ashamed to say that on a fresh viewing, I can no longer dismiss him as an overbearing hack. There's something there. I swear to god, I'm losing my fucking edge.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Looking at Donald Judd

An elaborate comparison in order to get to our main topic. When you are learning ancient Greek, you are given reading passages from the classics as early as possible in your course of study. This is exciting - reading this or that famous thing in the original.

As a rule, they don't start you out with Aeschylus. Aeschylus wrote in a very difficult Greek. How difficult? Here's a passage from The Frogs, by Aristophanes, where the ghosts of Euripides and Aeschylus shit-talk each other's writing in front of Dionysus:

...then he uses a dozen huge words, as big as an ox, complete with crests and awesome eyebrows, horrible, dreadful things! Intimidating words which the audience has never seen before!

Oh my God!


But not one single word was clear.

Dionysus (to Aeschylus):
Would you stop grinding your teeth?

Scamanders, or trenches, or shield-adorning bronze-beaten griffon-eagles and horse-cliffed phrases, that nobody could understand!

Yes, by Zeus! And I stayed up all night once, wondering what sort of bird the yellow hipporooster was.

You stupid dolt! It was an emblem, carved on the ships! A figurehead!

This play took first prize at the Lenaia in 405 B.C. One thing we learn from The Frogs is that even the ancient Greeks couldn't understand the ancient Greek of Aeschylus. So when you're learning ancient Greek, they steer you well clear of him. Instead, they give you the New Testament and Plato. The New Testament is written in Koiné, a kind of streamlined, simplified Greek spoken throughout the various Greek empires - Greek for non-Greeks - and Plato seems merely to have liked plain speaking.


Donald Judd, in many ways, strikes me as the Plato of a kind of art which I would call instantiated formalism. More on that in a minute. But on Judd as, stylistically, more a Plato than an Aeschylus: he doesn't use words for parts of ships you never heard of. You don't need a dictionary to figure out what he's saying. You can understand him just by looking at his work.

Until fairly recently, I knew Judd by name only. A friend asked me what I thought of him, and I had to beg a little time, since I couldn't picture a single work. By sheer good luck, I shortly afterward ran into a piece of his work at the Art Institute in Chicago:

I did not have long to stop and look at this piece, but a kernel of understanding became clear immediately. I had already googled Judd, coming across pieces like this:

I assumed that Judd was a conceptual artist, because my main point of reference for conceptual art is Sol LeWitt, and Sol LeWitt is also concerned with intense scrutiny of the rectilinear form:

Sol LeWitt, Geometric Structure 2-2, Painted Wood

Coming upon the Judd in person, what became clear immediately was that despite the superficial resemblance between his work and LeWitt's, they are not in the same genus at all. Judd's work is beautifully executed. By my lights, this beauty is an insult to the conceptualist program. Conceptualism asserts the primacy of the idea - the art concept. The actual physical embodiment of the art concept is either deprioritized, or entirely irrelevant. This hierarchy of values results in a problem in the execution of conceptual art. If it is too badly executed, the matter which represents the concept will distract from the concept. But if it is too well executed, the same distraction arises. The execution of conceptual art must be neither beautiful nor hideous. I have always thought LeWitt somehow got it exactly right: the execution of his work is merely adequate. A little dingy, a little dull. Smudged perhaps, or indifferent; but for all that, the straight lines are straight, and the angles are precise:

Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #681 C

I believe that humdrum execution is the very thing for conceptualism. Who notices a doorknob, or a banister, or a file cabinet? Humdrum execution makes of the material a suitably transparent vessel for the idea.

If this material aesthetics of conceptual art is valid, then from top to bottom, Judd transgresses it. He is so intent on beauty of execution that one doubts he is working with reference to conceptualist doctrine at all.

Some of you, who are acquainted with modern art history and criticism, are no doubt laughing, because you already know the punchline. But this is an account of what one can figure out with hardly any training at all; and I hope that in light of this, the path and outcome of the investigation will be interesting for you as well.

If, then, you reject Judd as a conceptualist, then what is he? We start with what is obvious - that his materials are carefully selected and lovingly assembled into the works:

There is a spare simplicity of execution here, a unified integrity of approach to material, form, and environment, which makes these objects striking and beautiful.

And yet they do have this in common with LeWitt-style conceptualism: unlike almost any painting, from a Rembrandt to a Pollock, they can be completely described with an economical set of words and numbers. In the case above, for instance, one object could be described using its x, y, and z dimensions, thickness of wall, and type of concrete - 5 data points.

So we have objects which partake of two key properties: beauty of execution specific to the particular object+installation at hand, and rigor of formal definition of the object to be constructed.

When I got around to actually researching Judd a bit, it turned out these were indeed explicit issues for him.

On the one hand, he was a noisy evangelist of the fundamental importance of materials and setting to the work. In this sense, his thoughts have a lot in common with Frank Lloyd Wright's theology of matter and landscape, and Buckminster Fuller's obsession with industrial materials: aluminum, glass, concrete, steel.

And on the other hand, he ruminated at length on the design of his work, tending to frame it in terms of simple integer ratios (e.g., allowing the ratio 3:2 to determine that if this edge is 3 units long, then that edge will be 2 units long). In this sense too he was not so far from Wright and Fuller. Except, of course, being an artist, his work turns inward in its function, generally serving no obvious end beyond induction in the viewer of celebration of the work's existence (and various related meditative states).

These poles of the work are why I would call Judd's work instantiated formalism. He eliminates enough detail to foreground elemental formal properties like length, color, and shape. It is formalist work. And yet it is anti-conceptual: the particular body in which the idea is found is essential to the work. The work represents an instantiated set of properties. It is refined until it is itself and no other.*

His work is often described as minimalist. While it is minimalist, I would argue that this property is an accidental byproduct of his abiding concerns, and not his starting point or goal.

Apart from having something to say to my friend who asked me about Judd, what was the point of this exercise?

For me it reflected a few principles:

1. I believe that for most artwork, you should not have to be a specialist in order to figure out important things about it - that you should be able to throw your humanity and intelligence at the problem, and get results. But to verify this principle, you actually have to do it, once in a while. So this sort of inquiry is a kind of continuing exercise for me.

2. For me, some of the most interesting artwork is enigmatic riddlework. No less in Judd than in Giorgione, we sense that our first glance at the work does not tell us all there is. The more we look, the more the work unfolds itself to us. And yet no matter how much we look, and how much it unfolds, we do not get to the end of it. One of the great strengths of art is that it can engineer our encounter with the mystery of things. But we have to show up and participate to receive this boon.

3. Judd is very largely outside of my native territory. I am glad to spend much of my time at home, but I also feel a need to go out to distant countries and see what people are doing there. It reminds me there are lots of ways to do things, and expands what I can imagine doing in my own work.

*Any philosophers reading this will recognize that I am being a little wiggly with the definition of instantiation here.