.::..Nicholas Sagan..::. …:.::..artworks and experiments…::.:…nicholassagan@gmail.com

Object and Surface Observations

Once again this summer I have enrolled in the media workshop, taught by David Jude Greene.  This is an opportunity to experiment with some ideas that have been milling about and hopefully generate some new work.  One thing that I really wanted to get back to this summer was painting, which was a sentiment partly prompted by an artist talk I gave earlier this year.  In that talk I only showed work from 2004 to 2008, so it happened to all be painting and photography.  Some questions were asked about what would happen if I went back to painting.  So this series of experiments are to see what happens.

I wanted to continue to explore the notion of fictional astronomy through the use of paintings, much in the same way I have been doing with video documentation of these objects.  To begin the process I started doing these small sketches of types of objects and looked to the astronomy drawings of old.  Before photography astronomers had to rely on a quick eye and a steady hand in order to accurately record their observations.  As invaluable as that step in the process and history of astronomy was, it was still quite inaccurate.  What is interesting is that those inaccuracies weren’t necessarily the fault of the methodology.  I’m thinking in particular about the whole canals on Mars wildfire…In this case we have someone who thought there were structures on Mars that could only be attributed so some organized global society.  So much for empirical objectivity.

Again this whole series of works and experiments is to highlight the paradox of empiricism in astronomy.  Even though there are some amazing tools and bits of knowledge gained with those tools, they have the potential to be inaccurate and misleading.  Of course, much of this depends on the people interpreting this data.  Who knows that maybe Nebulae are actually giant three-dimensional sculptures but we interpret them as something else…

Those smaller paintings evolved into more of an exploration of surface qualities, which is more similar to the early Lunar surface observations and drawings.  In this instance, I was trying to create a visual polarization of surface against empirical/mathematic deconstruction.  The visual language used for the graphic overlays is borrowed from satellite imagery, particularly that of the observations of Ganymede and other natural satellites found in our Solar System.  One method of combining both elements was to laser engrave the graphics onto the surface of the painting, and thus burning small trenches into the physical surface.  It turns out there needs to be a black ground for the painting for the lines to show up.  However, a happy accident occurred with the lighter ground.  If the painting is back lit, the lines become luminous and don’t need to be projected…I also tried painting on different surfaces, such as canvas paper and wood.  If the graphics are laser cut into the wood I hope that the burn marks will show through boldly enough.  More testing on that later…

Another thing I was experimenting with was the idea of the eclipse, at least the visual idea of it.  The metaphorical qualities of the eclipse might be addressed at another point…but not now…One of the issues that I continue to grapple with is that of emotional content.  Generating that connection between a viewer and a piece is always a challenge.  That is another thing I need to keep exploring this summer…

 

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