Thursday, July 14, 2011

visual disturbance

My husband is a musician and composer. He is sonically circuited. We travelled recently and audio problems developed with the in-flight film. It almost sent him over the edge. Static and poor reception on the car radio elicit a similar response. I sympathize with his reaction, although my sensitivity lies in the visual realm. It has from an early age. I hated when friends would decorate their doors with stickers. It ruined the visual plane of the door. I also hate adhesive price tags placed on package labels.

This sensitivity doesn’t have anything to do with style, ornament, sparseness or excess. It has nothing to do with age or newness, beauty, ugliness, mess or cleanliness. Rather, it is activated when a particular element, combination of elements, or placements of elements are so discordant, one’s visual experience of a thing or place is subverted. I can’t get around it.

Disparate elements are often successfully employed when humor, satire, irony and parody are intended. I’m not referencing those occasions. I’m concerned with the visual disregard for place, time, context and participant. It’s carelessness that occurs in everyday life and in art making. Consider white-flocked Christmas trees in Florida, a photorealist painting executed in Day-Glo colors, a nude wearing spectacles. I could go on and on.

Of course this is strictly a personal problem, but a problem that has served me well when determining the “doneness” of my own work. Often, my first idea for a painting was not my best and this is the place where fault in the overall conception shows up. If my eyes consistently travel to one place in a painting, there is something wrong. In fact, right now I’m thinking of cutting a particular painting into two pieces.

While it can be personally heartbreaking, it raises the bar on work that still needs to be done. If I want to grow, I have to maintain a certain level of dissatisfaction.  Right now I am good, but I want to be better.

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