“In the illusory babel of language, an artist might advance specifically to get lost, and to intoxicate himself in dizzying syntaxes, seeking odd intersections of meaning, strange corridors of history, unexpected echoes, unknown humors, or voids of knowledge..but this quest is risky, full of bottomless fictions and endless architectures and counter-architectures…and at the end, if there is an end, are perhaps only meaningless reverberations…
Here language ‘covers’ rather than ‘discovers’ its sites and situations. Here, language ‘closes’ rather than ‘discloses’ doors to utilitarian interpretations and explanations. The language of the artists and critics become paradigmatic reflections in a looking-glass babel that is fabricated according to Pascal’s remark, ‘Nature is an infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.’ Language becomes an infinite museum, whose center is everywhere and whose limits are nowhere.
Language is built not written… Words for mental processes are all derived from physical things.”
-Robert Smithson from “A Museum of Language in the Vicinity of Art”
“The eye is the first circle; the horizon which it forms is the second; and throughout nature this primary picture is repeated without end. It is the highest emblem in the cipher of the world.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, from his essay “Circles”
Circuit. Ink, acrylic, flashe, and mylar on watercolor paper. 24″x18″ © Jacob Rowan
Sumi ink and salt on watercolor paper
Art exists adjacent to the artist’s performed persona.
I want to make art that functions at three levels:
- As an interesting object that invites consideration. Because an artwork is a thing and a sign rather than a language or code it can invoke a variety of images and feelings in a viewer that become closely connected to their personal experiences. At that level I’m not communicating through art so much as sending interesting (and hopefully beautiful) objects out into the world for others to enjoy.
- As a semantic gesture. Rather than seeing art in terms of form and content I like to think of art as a gesture of communication that has its own internal logic and structure. My hope is that a patient viewer who saw several of my pieces and perhaps read my artist’s statement could construct their perceptions into something resembling the sense I had while creating the work. Of course it’s not an exact translation (that’s half the fun of art), but perhaps they can see a gesture of my idea.
- As a speculative fiction. Every aspect of my process from the theorizing I do here to the practical decisions made in the studio construct a speculative fiction–a metaphorical microcosm within the fullness of reality and lived experience. To make art is to isolate and imaginatively engage with a facet of life. Just as a work of fiction like Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 presents a picture for how the world might be, I hope the entire scope of my practice presents a model for how the world might be seen or engaged with.
WIP-Cathedral [working title]
Working on a 4’x2′ drawing constructed from layers of cut out paper, mylar, and plastic. At the moment nothing is glued down and everything is subject to change.
I was looking through Cirlot’s Dictionary of Symbols and found this description of Alchemy:
Alchemy is a symbolic technique which seeks to materialize spiritual truths. It is a poetic, religious, and scientific endeavor. The goal is to experience material phenomena as symbols which point to a complete theory of the universe and the destiny of the soul (the secret of discovering gold would be a mark of divine favor and thus success). [paraphrased from my notes and memory rather than quoted word for word]
While it’s not a perfect metaphor, the notion of Alchemy is a helpful model for my own artistic process.