Projects > The Floor and the Cliff 2009 - 2013

In a display case, across from a chart illustrating geological time, I came across a shard of rock that was pocked with fossilized raindrops. Standing on the sea floor when the forty-foot tide has ebbed, plants with bulbous flotation devices can be seen draped over barnacle-studded boulders, slick with salt water and mineral iridescence. Certain kinds of encounters can't be adequately paraphrased, but might, instead, be pointed to or mapped from a distance.
This body of work was made through a process of tracing the contours of a photographic image while avoiding any closed shapes. The sources were close-up images of natural objects; sections of the ocean floor, ferns, seaweed, rotting logs or rock cliffs. The method deliberately leaves out information, paring down the drawing to a minimal level and resulting in an abstracted image. This simple premise produces a field of marks that hold together with a kind of magnetic tension that verges on representation, but also retains the identity of the marks as such. I aim for this open form to evoke a phenomenological experience akin to a landscape space, without directly presenting a conventional landscape.
This work is motivated by critical reflection on human relationships to the natural world and a consideration of the function of our representations of “nature”. The method and appearance of the paintings echo that of mapping or charting, and thereby refer to an ongoing concern in my work with the ways that we know the world through the application of instrumental and rationalizing systems. This in turn poses certain questions: How do our categories of knowledge and representation construe the natural environment as an exploitable resource for industry, commerce, and leisure? How does the landscape weather this mania for quantification? What sorts of gaps are produced in this rationality when systematized, linear measurement conflicts with cyclical and geological time?