Above and beyond the fulfillment of essential human needs, I choose to absorb information, ask questions and frequently not find answers, cook a lot and sleep perhaps too much. I derive visual enjoyment through all these movements and rituals and I process these pleasures through paint. These paintings are viewed most frequently as digital images, pixelated reincarnations. I find this to be ironic, but it makes sense on a fundamental level. As sheltering-in-place has illustrated, our lives resemble a game of Ping-Pong. Our attention switches from on-screen to off-screen, ad infinitum. Why not embrace that? Thus, I developed the following routine:
1) I paint and then photograph my paintings in order to share them via social media and various other online platforms. Already in their short lifetimes my paintings have traveled from canvas to eye, to camera, to computer, to a multitude of other digital devices.
2) I feed photos of two of my paintings into DeepDream, a neural network that processes the photos and creates a third image, my paintings’ artificial progeny.
3) I download this new image onto my computer and rebirth the progeny in the materiality of paint. After I have finished this conversion, I photograph the painting and upload an image of it to my website.
Once I have completed this process with each one of the first generation of my Mutations, perhaps I will repeat it all over again. With each generation I move the forms a step further from the birthplace of my mind, but in doing so I bring them with me forward through time. This process constitutes a kind of game where I have taken on new tools carefully in honor of irony and interest. But I continue to stubbornly choose the sticky materiality of paint because I have a fetish for it. Put simply and loosely, this is what I do.
This project began to take form during the early stages of the shelter-in-place measures, although the concepts behind it are rooted in a longer fascination with machine learning and its possibilities in the context of contemporary painting. Prior to the pandemic, I dedicated a relatively substantial amount time to my painting and research. However, the increased restrictions on social interactions and activity drove me to pursue the implementation of these ideas more thoroughly and I have embraced this cycle of production as a staple in my daily routine.
In looking to the future and the potentials that it holds, I have regularly struggled with the concept of “professional practice,” mainly because I long for independence and stability. For some reason, my mind has settled on the concept of “professional practice” as being a state of self-sustainability, where my art pays for itself and for me. This feels like a distant and perhaps unachievable ambition and, I believe, is rooted in my unshakeable desire to hold value in the eyes of our capitalistic society. In some ways, I have come to rebel against the word “professional” because I have used it too many times as an easy answer to the question of what I do. “I am a professional artist,” but the disturbing truth is that I often am too self-conscious to explain what I really am. I have leveraged the title like a golden sticker on a product that denotes imaginary quality and made up value.
I truly hope to find answers to this conundrum and perhaps to develop an authentic relationship with the term professional. If this proves to be impossible, however, and I continue to use this word as a method of self-defense, maybe it is time for me to find a more precise and complex term that communicates the dedication and loyalty that I have for what I do. This burden is a privilege with a price.
The photo I have included in this post is an image of my work and me as we are now. I have paint on my arm because I am a clumsy person, dropped my paintbrush, and flailed around trying to catch it before it fell on the ground.