This is a photograph taken with an iPhone looking out an airplane window. It shows the Atlantic ocean from about 2000 feet –comprising an area less than a square mile. The shutter speed is approximately 1/125th of a second. In that incredibly short amount of time, in this extremely small piece of a vast ocean we can see the potential for hundreds of watery, sea-foam paintings. Within this one instant I've highlighted five possible frames in red. What we see here ( ironically through the conduit of photography) is inferred evidence that when gazing at a foamy, watery painting you are looking, through an apparatus of paint-on-surface, --not so much a representation of the past but a window onto the now.
Donald Judd, Richard Serra and the rest of them presented a community of artists with a dilemma that many saw as a dead end - a modernist endgame to be either sidestepped or endlessly restated. It was as if Minimalism either never happened or was in need of revision. Many artist's bold rejection explored formalistaesthetics and revisited earlier tropes --we saw reinterpretations of well-established artistic practices while others attempted to reconfigure and elaborate on the essence of the Minimalist agenda. For me the dilemma was about how both a rejection or embrace is fraught with irony. Judd's boxes cast a long shadow and to hide behind that shadow or pretend its not there only reinforces its imposing presence –embracing the endgame it implies. 1975:While I was in art school a new and exciting response was happening –documentary art. The evidence of earthworks, performance art and installations became more important than the activities they recorded. The artifacts of what was ephemeral or inaccessible foregrounded document-making as a worthy endeavor -on its own. The Robert Smithson film about the Spiral Jetty (1970) became a touchstone because the film itself was forced to act as the artwork's phenomenological conduit. The act of representation (shunned by proponents of Minimalism) turned in on itself as the documentary emerged questioning the relationship of artist, audience and object to the creative practice. A reconfigured function of the document became an art in and of itself --a logical extension of the art-making practice became the formal records. During the mid-70s the John Gibson Gallery in particular championed many new artists who embraced an anti-aesthetic approach to photography. This was powerful stuff to me as I was attempting to subvert the photography making endeavor away from its conventional application --this form embraced photography's most facile application This to me was of interest but one simple fact gave me suspicions. Photography --a document-- is always about the past.
Artists to consider: Will Insley, Barry Le Va, William Anastasi, Richard Artschwager, Hanna Wilke, Dan Christensen, Elizabeth Murray, Dennis Openheim, Alice Aycock, Bill Beckley , Roger Welch, Les Levine, Mac Adams, Robert Mangold
A painting can be many things --including as subordinate to a photograph. This is not my intent. I hope that these paintings stand apart from representational documentation (a photograph) and transcend the constraints of an imprint of a moment from the past.
Somewhere (on a body of water) the confluence of light, water, wind and mist form up in the exact way they appear in the paintings at the moment they are being viewed. The paintings I make are a window onto "the now" while photography, and the opening and closing of a shutter, is always about the what happened before.
It appears as if the wheel rolled down the ramp as the camera made its exposure –capturing the instant it starts to pick up speed. Or, has the wheel remained stationary and the camera was positioned at an angle? Either way –photography is about the past.