26 September 2011

"When I make a drawing, I labor."

"I can touch a letter. When I get it, I know immediately from whom it is and there is a presence of the person who did it. When something is removed from touch it has no reality for me. Email has no reality whatsoever. When you write with a typewriter… Acconci said once in a very beautiful little lecture that when you touch a letter (on the typewriter) the mechanics of the finger imprinting the letter on a white piece of paper—the white piece of paper is fragile—it might be and will be violated with the first letter you put on. In order to erase this letter you either have to destroy the paper or use the white out. But in a computer text you only have to push one button and the text is gone. Simply gone. I am fearful when I draw, when I write, because I have too much respect for the medium. When I make a drawing, I labor. It’s not easy."
-Raimund Abraham

Lebbeus Woods has been doing an ongoing series of posts about his trip with Raimund to La Tourette to have a discourse regarding architecture. The transcription is lengthy, and I have not read the whole yet. This particular quote is of interest to me. I like seeing the hand in drawings. It immediately communicates the imperfection and personality of the draft-person. There is something personal and mortal about the artifact. I recall a wall I once had in a bedroom long ago. It was exposed brick. One morning I noticed indentations in the brick. They were the marks of fingers imprinted into the wet clay made sometime in the 1860s. There is a kind of homeopathic quality to what Raimund describes - an aura left by the person even though the actual physical presence has been diluted 10,000 times.

Of course I can flip this argument around. Computer drawings are becoming more and more personal. Individual approaches are becoming more... individual. In my teaching I frequently say that drawing is not about the hand, it is about the mind. A drawing is a construction first in the mind. 

Still, I like to see the hand. A slight waver of line weight, a splatter of paint, construction lines, a change of mind. These are all traces of the life and history of a work, thus an extension of the individual.

07 September 2011


Fire represents energy. My fire pictures are everything from actual fire, to electrical transmission lines, to gas stations. Our culture is utterly dependent upon abstracted fire (I just made that up!). By "abstracted fire," I mean the energy of fire removed from its source - a distillation.

I have a love/hate relationship with this abstracted fire. It is a marvel to be able to flick a switch and have light. We have devised many magical contrivances to modulate that light. On the other hand, this abstraction has turned into complacency. This abstracted fire typically has its origins in fossilized sunlight, in the form of oil, coal and gas. This material has been a gift to mankind as great as Prometheus'. But it is turning to a curse - climate change as a result of anthropogenic carbon dioxide.

06 September 2011


Earth is a big territory, but harder to photograph than air or water. It includes things like rocks, but mostly it is the medium of growth for plants, thus these photos largely examine plants as an extension of the earth. A favorite theme is the plant in relation to human structures. They seek out impossible places to grow, where there is a tiny bit of earth, and then somehow prosper.

04 September 2011


I am an amateur photographer. I lack the editing and printing technique that could make me a professional. I do have, however, an eye and a point of view. Perhaps that makes me more than an amateur. There are many out there with technique and really great equipment who don't have any eye. Generally I have been posting these photos to Facebook, which is a venue much more informal. Also, Facebook allows me to create and add to albums, so that it is an ongoing project. A blog post is finite.

This album is Air. I have long loved the simplicity of the Aristotelian elements: air, earth, fire, water. They are, of course, technically antique, but they are still conceptually vibrant. These photos look at the elements from a number of points of view. Sometimes just reveling in how beautiful they are. Others look at the interaction with the human. The elements are a way of exploring our relationship with nature.

03 September 2011

Blogging is tough

I find it much easier and more fluid to post to Facebook. It is less formal, and I feel I don't have to be as on-message. Which is odd - most of the visual material I post to facebook I feel is of a high visual quality. Thus the blog posts I feel have to be well considered. I should probably do what Lebbeus Woods does, and do a post once a week.

Form Poems 110102-110218

the "48" was a birthday card for Annie

02 September 2011

The Mirror of the Sea

"We remain in everlasting bondage to the productions of our brain and to the work of our hands. A man is bound to serve his time on this earth, and there is something fine in the service being given on other grounds than that of utility. The bondage of art is very exacting."
-Joseph Conrad, The Mirror of the Sea

At times, as artists, we look to the words of our colleagues for inspiration, justification, fortification (making art is tough business).

01 September 2011

The Mirror of the Sea

"The attainment of proficiency, the pushing of your skill with attention to the most delicate shades of excellence, is a matter of vital concern. Efficiency of a practiacally flawless kind may be reached naturally in the struggle for bread. But there is something beyond - a higher point, a subtle and unmistakeable touch of love and pride beyond mere skill, almost an inspiration which gives to all work that finish which is almost art -- which IS art."
-Joseph Conrad-The Mirror of the Sea

30 August 2011

Form Poems100902-101215

finally completed posts for 2010

15 June 2011

Man in the Street

My teacher Stephan Wolpe was a Marxist and he felt my music was too esoteric at the time. And he had his studio on a proletarian street, on 14th Street and 6th Avenue… He was on the second floor and we were looking out the window and he said “what about the man on the street?” At that moment, Jackson Pollack was crossing the street.
-Morton Feldman, composer

31 May 2011

Alexey Titarenko

Alexey Titarenko
Some of his works are really haunting. The time lapse is just fast enough to register moving people, but slow enough that they appear as ghosts, captured in perhaps a momentary hang in their movement through spaces. Meanwhile, the surrounding buildings are fixed monuments, indifferent to our presence.