The journey from here to there. My memory of the future.
For Joseph Campbell each person’s life can be seen as a mythical journey into the unknown, to discover the true self. It is about leaving behind the familiar, the comfortable and the safe to embark on a process involving danger, confusion and loss. Each of us must take this journey alone and if the quest is truly our own the ‘doors’ will open; the ‘portals’ will appear for us to go through.
At the beginning of Stanley Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, we are taken on a mental journey from the dawn of man to a time in the future of space colonies within the blink of an eye. When an ape smashes a skull to bits with a piece of bone found on the ground, technology is born and we are thrust in the collective trajectory to a high tech age of the Internet, particle accelerators and spacecraft. All of time as we know it is condensed into a few seconds as we travel from the past, to the present and to the future.
Portals: a portal in fiction is a magical or technological doorway that connects two distant locations, whether separated by time or, most commonly, space. A portal will commonly appear in the form of a vortex of energy. Places that a portal will link to include: a different spot in the same universe (in which case it might be an alternative for teleportation); a parallel world (inter-dimensional portal); the past or the future (time portal); and other planes of existence, like heaven, hell or other afterworlds.
A piece of art acts as a portal, into some other place or time or idea. For me the process of making something is a journey from the known to the unknown. If I know what is on the other side of the doorway, why would I go on the journey in the first place? I use low tech means to travel to a high tech destination. The viewer takes the journey in their mind. What is on the other side? What is deep inside the darkness of space? Structures simulate and fuse with the body. This body is not always represented but elements of its framework resonate in the images. Function is removed from the architectures depicted and they are often reduced to orificial devices. Often my initial excitement when beginning a body of work, whether referencing the experience of Penthouse as a child and more recently my childhood fascination with space colonization becomes the investigated subject that is rooted in the comfort of the nostalgic. My recent work explores the slippage between imagined progress in the 70’s versus the reality of our present experience of the predicted and not yet realized future.
In my mind I can travel in a split second from my earliest memory of childhood to the day the twin towers fell and back again. You would never know I'd been anywhere. Most recently I have been studying and analyzing the structure of humor. The work of Eddie Izzard or Wanda Sykes has an inherent rhythm. They have the ability to identify and transform the listener into their world. You can identify with what ever scenario they are presenting; it is highly political, cross-cultural and speaks to all genders. In part mimicking this structure of highly developed humor, my work is an invitation to embark, to voyage, to travel. It is the relic of my mental journey.
My work has always contained the residue of my time with Act-Up. During the 80s in New York our collective believed in the power of art to change peoples minds and politics. As part of this group I believed that shock, controversy, and the extreme was the way to challenge views open possibilities.
I have always been captivated by the giant structures of power. Their immensity, complexity and beauty at odds somehow with their overwhelming presence. They have transformed in my work from representing symbols of male power in opposition to the female body to being the metaphor of the body itself. Now transforming the architecture into a technological vehicle capable of carrying a spectrum of readings.
Buckminster Fuller’s work opened possibilities of social transformation through art and he emphasized the powerful relationship between the individual and the collective.
Fuller is famous for describing our planet as ‘spaceship earth’ . Its easy to forget we are living in a giant ball spinning through vast space. Re-watching Close Encounters of the third Kind, 2001: A Space Odyssey and the Alien Trilogy call us to expand our minds about human potential and connection on universal level. What is space travel and what does it mean for human beings? And what is the purpose of technology. Does it free us or limit us? To what end are we using it? I am reminded of what Albert Einstein said, that once the atom had been split, everything changed at that moment, except our modes of thinking.