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The Question Remains

The other day someone described my last blog post as being “mental masturbation”. At first this irked me, but just a bit. Soon I smiled, then realizing the aptness of its title, “A Touchy Subject“!

The post touches on what seems to be a paradox, which is that the universe, being infinite, must be shapeless in its entirety.

But then the other night, something else occurred to me . . . something about what seems to be the one truly universal symbol (the perfect circle). It is a symbol that can be interpreted as “an idea”, and therefore ideas exists in their own dimension, and universally. Countless imaginary circles can be gracefully layered on top of each other. Each one can be minute beyond measure. But then there is the enormity too, and there in lies the eternal paradox?

An imaginary circle can be infinitely large, so one may argue that it “encompasses” an infinite universe. Yet this completely contradicts the theory of shapeless universe . . . both claims appear to be logical.

And so perhaps the imaginary aspect of the universe perpetually tries to encircle the entire universe, even if it knows it is pursuing the impossible dream? Eternal persistence . . . and in the process, life happens here, there and everywhere? It would seem so.

Anyways, as for me, I now feel like I’ve gotten a better appreciation for the concept of infinite looping, but I prefer the term “eternal braid”. I like the latter term because it reminds me of my faith in eternal love, and yet I loathe the #pray that pops up with the day’s rotten news . . . it just seems wrong . . . kind of empty?

I’ve been very fortunate to experience so much magic and plenty of love in my life. I’ve also seen and been a part of so much that is just plain rotten. In the process of creating art, (regardless of what you may think of how it looks), I’ve found this solitude of both magic and love. While I’ve been well trained in various aspects of the scientific method, I can’t help but sense that the universe is well beyond any of that . . . the unquantifiable . . . and it seems to be more of an art form than anything else, and a loving one at that.

As for “coming down to Earth”, what does all this mean? I wonder that myself, and that question has been around for a very long time now. It’s a disturbing question when you really think about it:

A Touchy Subject

Since my last post I’ve been thinking more about this issue of whether the universe can see itself in the moment . . . kind of like a snapshot. Ever since first entertaining the notion I’ve had this doubt about it, which has led to some rather nice drifting of the imagination. And as a bonus, if I think about it when I go to bed, inevitably I’ll soon drift into the most peaceful sleep.

One of my first thoughts about this “picture” was that an infinite universe – in its totality – has no shape. Perhaps another paradox? Perhaps not. After all, when we think of pictures we think of seeing with the eyes . . . one of our five “standard” methods of perceiving the world. But to “see” in the moment is to sense in a way that is different than the physical movement of light into the eye . . . is it not seeing beyond the light?

So what we see is not the present moment, but the very recent past. This doesn’t mean the universe can’t sense itself, it only means it must see itself in a different way . . . “all-knowing, with a different way of knowing”.

As usual, this is another one of those “Pandora’s Box” kind of posts, so I’m going to leave it at that. The only thing I’ll say is that now when I look at a photograph, and the photographer claims that it is capturing the moment, I can’t help but think that this is not quite true. What is in that picture is not a moment, but rather countless pieces of a very brief time . . . after all, no picture comes from “one blob of light”!

Finally, I hope this is my last post on this subject, at least for awhile. In case you are wondering, I do spend a lot more time on losing myself in art than on writing about these issues, or even thinking about them. Lately much of it isn’t what I’d call my best work, but still okay and always enjoyable to create.

This piece below seems to fit this post, and I consider it to be one of my recent best. I call it “Apple of My Eyes”.

New abstract art by Lawrence Grodecki

“Apple of My Eyes” by Lawrence Grodecki

PS – In terms of the movie clip up top, “Contact” is one of my favorite movies, especially this scene. But when it comes to timeless travels, I have to say, “Who needs the machine?”

New abstract art by Lawrence Grodecki

The Energizer

In my second last post, Reflections on Light, I made a few comments on the question, “Can an infinite universe see itself?”

The comments were brief, though abstract and intriguing, at least to anyone fascinated by the subject. I mentioned the issue of time – the past, present and future. While writing those words, something in the back of my mind was telling me there’s more to this . . . more of a “Hmm” moment than an “Aha!” one.

I have to admit though, there is certainly a “Wow” factor to imagining the entire universe “seeing itself” in the moment. For me it’s simply something fun thing to think/ meditate about. On the thinking side, I begin with the assumption that the universe can perceive every moment everywhere . . . that seems to go hand-in-hand with the belief that truth exists.

Anyway, there I was, dwelling on the aspect of a view of the universe in the moment . . . as a still picture. Since then it’s occurred to me that in this universal present moment, one can “go no further”, time wise and else wise. How very odd, and wonderful!

Added to that, I got to thinking about the physical universe and the claim that it is all in motion. Any perception of that motion happens in the past – knowing or sensing that something happens only occurs after it happens.

Put those last two paragraphs together and it seems like in a way there is only the past, but this “occurring past” also blends with the present . . . in other words, in the biggest picture there really is “no future”.

Let There Be Energy!

Recently I’ve been pleasantly surprised to come across a few art experts who happen to be quite taken with the relationship between art and physics, or perhaps it is metaphysics. One of them was talking about energy and how the term originated with Socrates, who used it to describe something about work, but in the context of creativity.

But back to that absence of future, and the present watching the past – the all-seeing eye as an audience – it does make one re-think Shakespeare’s famous line, “All the world’s a stage”. The big question remains about the degree of audience participation . . . at times it certainly does seem to be there, and even in some of those still pictures? I’ll definitely be taking another look at Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory” again. I may also have to go back and re-discover what Einstein meant when he wrote about something “spooky” out there.

In the meantime, I’m tentatively calling this picture, “Who’s Your Partner?” The top picture has been resting for quite awhile – it’s called, “Dipping”!

Abstract art by Lawrence Grodecki

Who’s Your Partner?

 

ScanLight_b1

Waving in the Mirror

In my last post, “Reflections on Light”, I mentioned that soon I’d be doing a sort of experiment with light boxes . . . trying different things with a raised mirror in a black box that I can fit over my scanner, and then try different scanning effects. I’m most intrigued by what happens when the light from the scanner goes up to the mirror and then reflects back to the scanner.

I didn’t think it would happen so soon, but I began my trial and error adventure yesterday. As luck or fate would have it, two days ago I found just the right beginner box! In what has become a monthly tradition, a couple of days ago I visited one of my favorite thrift shops. I do that when I drop my mother off for her haircut. While the shop is on the other side of the city, it’s only a few minutes from her hairdresser’s place. That gives me a solid, just-right half hour to browse. I often pick a little surprise, a treat, such as an art book or a movie. Yesterday I found a black wooden box, about 10 inches square (25 cm) on the open end, and just under 5 inches deep (12 cm). The bottom has a mirror in it, so when I rest the open end on my scanner . . . voila, my own little light box!

So $5 and a day later I began to play. I had to add a little duct tape to two ends to get a snug fit, enough to block out outside light during the scanning. Then I scanned a few objects, such as three twigs from my twig-loaded excuse of a yard. After trying a couple of other things, I felt a little disappointed . . . frankly the results have been mixed at best, but I’ve learned long ago what can become of an “ugly duckling” when it comes to this aspect of what I do. So basically right now I’m very optimistic!

Next I went back to my original curiosity, “What if I just scan the light from the scanner . . . the saved image would simply be of the scanning light, reflected back from the mirror.”

The results are intriguing. Here is that original scan, slightly cleaned up because of a few unavoidable specks of dust . . . by the way, I use a very basic 3-in-1 printer for my scanning . . . 300 dots per inch. It’s about as basic as one can get.

I’m much more used to extremely high quality scans, ones taken with a $500,000 Scitex system. That was back in my days of working with a wonderful graphic arts studio . . . my gardening catalog days. There’s no way Marvin and his crew would ever let me try this kind of stuff on that equipment . . . I have no idea whether the mirror will screw up the printer, but it’s not a big issue given the upside, creatively.

Anyways, here is a look at that image – the scanned light – it’s been enhanced to 500 dpi, though you only see it on here at 72 dpi.

Art project by Lawrence Grodecki

The first thing that struck me is the amount of color in there, in soft pastel shades. More on that in a bit . . . the other thing I’ve noticed is that the banding (vertical lines) are not exactly straight. I haven’t thought through the reason for this banding, but that can wait.

Instead, I just had to play with these colors, bring them out more, try a few effects. It started off well, though I had in mind that this would be only the start of a project that would months in the making. Most of my art takes anywhere from 30 to well over 100 hours, often spread over a period of 5 to 10 years. The difference is really in the amount of down-by-hand drawing and painting. In this project there is very little of that . . . these images below were created by using various reshaping and coloring tools . . . all really very basic, and time-intensive.

Now I”m going to show you a small series of intermediate renditions – for now I have 23 overall, but I’ve picked 6 for this post – here they are chronologically:

Art Project by Lawrence Grodecki

Art Project by Lawrence Grodecki

Art Project by Lawrence Grodecki

Art Project by Lawrence Grodecki

Art Project by Lawrence Grodecki

Art Project by Lawrence Grodecki

Now this next image is what I consider a finished work or art, and a prized one at that, at least for me. I don’t say that out of arrogance, but out of a real belief that if one doesn’t see one’s own work as special or even precious, than how can that person expect others to see it that way? For me it’s a nice motto to live by.

So here it is, untitled for now. It’s odd how it came out in such relevance to that other post, Reflections on Light. There is what appears to be a window, but also a frame, which is very much like the part of the photograph at the bottom of that previous post. And the story in this picture below is very much a visual display of my musings in that other post. Keep in mind, all I intended to do is see how light reflects from a mirror to a scanner . . . and then doing some art without intent:

Art Project by Lawrence Grodecki

Finally, it’s been a real pleasure doing a presentation-like post. Most of my art doesn’t lend itself to this kind of story-telling. As I mentioned before, most of my art is spread over several years and so many more hours, so documenting all of it like this is more than a little too much.

And I almost forgot, the feature image at the top, the bright abstract piece . . . that too is from this same first image of a scan of light.

 

Surreal art by Lawrence Grodecki

Reflections on Light

It’s been a good week. Lots of new art done and in progress, and some unusual ideas to boot, and those began by thinking once again about light.

I attribute that goodness to a wonderful three hours spent in a father-daughter conversation with both of my girls over the weekend . . . they inspire me more than they know, and in this case they really helped me get through a nasty bout of the blues, one I tried to hide yet I’m sure they sensed anyway.

Far from just doing some art, there has been some reminiscing, about many things over the years. That includes a vague recollection of the first time a teacher tried to explain imaginary points. He drew little circles on the blackboard. These represented the points – though they are imaginary, it was good to know that they are circles! Then he explained what a line is – the shortest distance between points that don’t really exist.

That part was super-easy to understand, but to this day I remember being more interested in those points. Then again, it seems I’ve always had a thing for details . . . and for playful curiosity, which brings me back to this matter of light.

A few nights ago I had one of those thinking dreams. It was about playing with my scanner. When I began my art immersion 11 years ago, scanning had much to do with that. It was lots of fun, especially break the rule of flatness and trying different things in 3D by leaving the lid up. Looking back, I’m guessing it was much like earlier artists experimenting with light boxes, though in my case I use the term experimenting very loosely.

I have a yearning to try something new now. It involves mirrors and a box at the very least. This will allow me to see what happens when I attempt to reflect the light from the scanner back on to itself. That’s the simple version of it.

While dreaming about this project I thought about the flow of light and how this would all play out, kind of putting my mind in the box for a change. However, in no time at all my thoughts went out of the box, drifting towards light in the more universal sense.

Then last night I had a different dream, again about light, but this time in the context of pictures. One of those weird questions came up, “Can an infinite universe see itself?”

Intuitively it would seem that a much higher form of intelligence must have such a capability, though I’m not at all sure of it. In no small part, my apprehension comes from a very abstract paradox, and that has to do with time. It’s also based on the premise that such a high intelligence would have to be able to have such a view in the moment – completely unobstructed by the constraints of time – the past and the future. In other words, this view would have to be a “still picture”.

What complicates matters is that everything is in motion. Therefore that in-the-moment look of the universe is always changing, so how can there be a “still picture”? Then it occurred to me that such a vision might very well be completely hallucinatory . . . a magic ride in the most supreme state . . . euphoria coexisting with sublime calmness . . . a higher intelligence indeed!

I love this kind of paradox. It gives me comfort, knowing that there is so much we can never figure out – much like love I suppose? And I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the universe loves the mystery too, and perhaps it likes to playfully send goofs like me on the occasional wild goose chase?

But one can only play the game in short spurts, at least this one. Thankfully I still prefer to do little part by putting bits of the big picture into my tiny ones, each one its own mysterious adventure!

Finally, now and then I’ve mentioned being witness to a little magic. The picture below is perhaps the only “physical” thing I can share with you in that regard . . . the rest are simply memories that get diluted in the attempt to describe them. I took this picture about eleven years ago, using a very basic digital camera. As part of my art-play, I wanted to use a picture of the woody siding from the townhouse I was renting at the time. It was to be used a background layer of sorts. The upper window in this picture was my bedroom. The picture is taken outside my front door, near the parking lot; There is no streetlight or light source anywhere near this entrance.

The picture was taken at night, as you can see. I had no sense of this light when I took the picture. It was only discovered a day or two later, when I uploaded the image into my computer. When I first saw it all I could think was “Wow”. Not longer after I began thinking that cameras do not capture light . . . instead, perhaps it is placed? And sometimes wonderfully so!

our Home (Victoria Woods)

 

 

Wonder Together - new art by Lawrence Grodecki - available on SaatchiArt

A Belly Full of It

Art blogging isn’t coming easily these days. It’s not a matter of writer’s block, if anything it’s the opposite. However, the things I ponder upon are far from what most people care to think about . . . esoteric things like pure mathematics, a conundrum in the measurement of equilateral triangles, and how that relates to circles . . . concepts like that.

You may find it odd, but for me these topics are ultimately inseparable from the issue of a whole other dimension to life. The invisible . . . the imaginary, yet so very real . . . capable of magic? In my experience – and not just with art –  I have to answer “Yes.” And I know I’m not alone.

Carl Jung described an artist as being one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic life of mankind. His views on the subconscious and how that can relate to art is eerily familiar. He makes it sound so bleak though. Perhaps that is because he seemed so serious about it all . . . his collective thoughts on the human psyche. While it does involve a lot of solitude, for me it has been an amazing journey, full of surprises, too many to describe. And at times it does feel timeless, another pet subject of mine . . . so much to think about . . . and maybe it’s due to my recent signing on with SaatchiArt.com. The folks there – the curators – strongly encourage providing lots of information upfront. That includes education, a list of exhibitions, an artist statement, as well as a thorough description of each creation on one’s portfolio.

Given that I’m what is termed “self-taught” and with no exhibitions under my belt, that part was quite easy to do. However, the rest is not so easy. Upon looking over my portfolio, what I see that is common in my art ties into the issues above. I can and do tie it together with one simple statement, though that is probably too abstract for most people’s tastes . . . it’s like holding that key to Pandora’s Box, and wanting to know more, and so it goes. That statement is, “There are no lines in nature.”

If there is anything special in any of my art, I truly believe it has something to do with that deceptively simple observation.

It’s funny how that ties in to something that happened over thirty years ago. I was getting my first degree (in psychology) and took a course in religion as one of my electives. I had just finished a paper on Inuit culture, especially the spiritual aspects. Somehow, within this paper I had drawn a pair of parallel lines . . . even used a ruler! While photocopying this paper I must have accidentally enlarged it. When I looked at these lines they were no longer “straight”; they had all kinds of bumps or waves – little curves – and that’s when it first occurred to me that perhaps parallel lines don’t really exist. Can that be true? If so, then some day I would have to prove it.

About fifteen years ago I began thinking about this once more, and a few years later the proof came, while examining circles and playing with Pi. I use the term “proof” loosely, as ultimately there are no numbers involved . . . only logic, pictures and perhaps a little imagination? More self-teaching? That’s such a fuzzy term!

Rather than writing about, I much prefer discussing my art, with those who sense something special about it, whether that is with a collector, a fan, or a curator. I’ve found those discussions so much more enriching than simply writing about my art, be it a blog post or the description of a painting. It really is a joy and a treat of sorts, the person-to-person dialogue.

As for all that math, I wonder where we’d all be now if we had evolved with seven fingers instead of 10! And would the art be the same? Would the elephant still be so picky about her belly in doing a self-portrait?

art by Lawrence Grodecki

In-Title Mints

Storytelling. I miss that, sometimes. I do a lot of thinking, and often I’ll catch myself in the middle of a story I’m telling, in my mind. Ever since writing a novel,  there has been this urge to make my next writing project a series of short stories.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of writing the novel came at the end. That’s when I actually named the chapters. It came as a total surprise how much fun that can be, adding a little dimension of mystery, with clues hidden in the titles. However, the title of the book was a different matter. I actually published it under two different titles and anguished over dozens of others . . . I’m still not totally happy with the current one.

I mention all this because it is very much like the process of titles with my artwork. It occurred to me just this morning that when a title feels really good, it’s often because there is an element of storytelling to it.

If you take one of my current projects as an example – the feature image on this post –  you can see that it is pretty abstract, yet there are also some pretty dominant figurative elements in it. If so inclined, it’s the kind of painting that can lead you down the path of a daydream, in search of stories about the characters in the picture.

And that brings me to the matter of the title; this picture is tentatively called, “Studying the Voyeur”.

In a way, perhaps that set of three words is really a story in itself? It does tie in nicely with the several ghosted images throughout the painting. Some seem intrigued. I hope so, even though they were not invited!