The Mock Box (Image Essay Week 3)

So I have had a rocky start getting back into the mach 5 pace of things.  My year started out with the Lockn Festival in Arrington Virginia followed by illness.  I have committed a lot of time towards editing down 1215 photos to 223 over four solid days of shows (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4).  Along with that I have been writing reviews when I can for each day of the festival.  My photos and reviews are being posted on Out of the Blue Magazine.  I have also photographed and written a review for the Umphrey’s McGee and The Werks show at Express live  (formerly LC Pavilion and Promowest) last week which is being posted as well.  Click the links and check it out.

Juggling that with school, teaching, and working in Battelle, has made time management a key to getting anything done towards thesis in less than 21 academic weeks. The trouble has been focus.  When I can’t get moving I just get my hands busy.  This time I built stretchers and stretched 7 canvases.

The canvases turned out great, I just don’t know what I really want to do with them. I started an experiment that is pretty interesting but over the head of researching more about phenomenon I’m not sure a canvas is the right direction.  Anyways, I started to revisit my “shopping carts” and decided that I needed to make a shadow painting.

There are some interesting things happening with this work but this year I am trying to focus my attention on space as object rather than objects in space.  Two way glass is way cool and I think it has amazing potential for my goals of creating a giant box that one can enter and walk around.  This box will interact with changing light to create multiple experiences.  This little mock up is way cool.

Below are a few process shots.

The magic happens when you change the light.

When you add light to the inside a mirrored universe is revealed.

There are so many things to refine with the design of this box.  Right now it is really crude. I have to develope a better way of cutting the plexiglass or at least finishing the rough table saw cut to something smooth and polished.  The reason for the refinement is so I can achieve a fiber optic effect inside the glass with a string of led under the edge of the glass as well as outside and inside the box.  There will be three groups of lights in total, inside , outside, and inside the glass.  In the end I will create a choreography with the lights that will display different visual effects.  These effects will slowly and quickly transition through variations of light that range from total darkness to total brightness and many variations in between with instances of light that with jolt the viewer with a flash of kaleidoscopic universe.  I’ll have to code all that.  I’ll also have to build a model of a space that can be manipulated to house my environment much like Turell, Irwin, , Wheeler, and Bell manipulated museum and gallery spaces throughout their careers.  I see the end of the tunnel but it is ambitiously long.  I have to focus on creating art that is orchestrated with space and light.  Right now I feel incredibly comfortably tucked in with conversation of the 1970’s California phenomenon artists mentioned among others.  These people are brilliant and it is intimidating.

I also combine some older work in a new installation that utilizes shadows created with Zed panels and shopping carts.  The converse nicely with one another.

And Carmen and I went to Picasso and the CMoA.  I love that the show had a focus on his use of the harlequin.  I thought a lot about Jordan Kantor's lecture last year.  He talked about how Picasso used the harlequin as an “excuse” to manipulate modernism and to insert a little humor.  The use of the harlequin allowed him to be progressive and outlandish in the eyes of others because it was ok for the harlequin to crack a joke.  I stood in front of the “Harlequin Musician” for a long time and laughed.

Carmen also dressed up.

September 19th:

But wait there’s more, just not that many pictures.  I would show pictures of my most recent work but that would only ruin my critique.  I am aiming to here genuine uninfluenced responses to my work.  I will tell you this though.  The installation that I am presenting for critique is an attempt to affect the visual perceptions of the viewer.  It is also an attempt to strip down my work and trim the fat.  If I showed the parts and pieces people would start to connect the dots and the experience of the viewer would be lost upon entering the space.  It’s like watching a preview for next week’s episode of “The Walking Dead” on AMC.  They say way too much.

I’m going to post a follow up later on with a more serious selection of installation views and process images.

Oh and I started working on code for the “Mock Box”.  Right now I have it set up to pulse a blue white light slowely.



Creative Family (Week 2)

These are my fathers and my mothers, grandparents, cousins, and aunts and uncles, and more.


Arshile Gorky

Wassily Kandinski

Willem De Kooning

Sue Williams

Joan Mitchell

Julie Mehretu

Frank Stella

Joan Miro

Andras Marcos



James Turrell

Robert Irwin

Ricci Albenda

Trisha Baga Whitney

Larry Bell

Colby Parson

Josiah McElheny

Sarah Sze

Judy Pfaff

Matthew Ritchie


Lighting Technicians (Rock Shows):

Chris Kuroda

Jeff Waful



This statement is false.

I wrote this a couple weeks ago.  Reference photos below.

There is a theme in my work that I have overlooked that needs explored.  It revolves around my second semester of work in the MFA program at Columbus College of Art & Design and it is paradox.  You might say that I have overlooked this effect of the “cause to the effect”.  For most of the semester I was convinced that the content I was creating with my work revolved around the details of displacement and the characteristics that individually exist within the phenomenon of displacement.  In particular, I was interested in shadows and what happens when this visual information is left behind from the previous location of an object transposed.  I believed that the content of my work was place and displacement but this is, for the most part, not correct.  In a subject / content argument that arises in most critical discussions of art work the subject, in my case, is displacement but the content that actually arises is that of paradox (Fig. 1).  Where displacement is the cause, paradox is the effect.  To solidify this relationship between paradox and my body of work I will explore Laurence Goldstein and his analysis of paradox in M.C. Escher’s work, John R. Searle and the paradox of “Las Meninas”, along with artists Rene Magritte and James Turrell.  This exploration of paradox will also ground the use of its mechanism as a regular occurrence in visual creation and visual discourse.

In Reflexivity, Contradiction, Paradox and M.C. Escher, Goldstein defends that some of the later work of M. C. Escher provide useful analogy for exploring the complications that arise when exploring some logico-semantic paradoxes.  First, what is a paradox?  Goldstein defines a paradox as, “a stretch of reasoning that leads from apparently impeccable premises by apparently straightforward steps of reading to an unacceptable conclusion” (Goldstein 299).  This unacceptable conclusion that arises from paradox is that of contradiction.  His first example of a logico-semantic paradox  discusses the oldest paradox of the “Liar” through the following self-referential sentence, “this statement is false.”  In this case, logic guides us to the conclusion that the statement is both true and false but not one or the other.  We find ourselves reaching this conclusion logically but wrestle with the acceptance of this solution.

When discussing how to find solutions to paradox Goldstein goes on to state that, “Paradoxes of all kinds are deep, and solutions to them have profound effects on our thinking” (Goldstein 300).  In the statement “this statement is false” the answer is a challenge to understand.  He quotes logician and philosopher W. V. Quine who said, “more than once in history the discovery of paradox has been the occasion for major reconstruction at the foundation of thought” (Goldstein 300).  Paradox have challenged thinking in art, the sciences, mathematics, philosophy and dozens of other arenas for thought.  A fun example of a challenge of thought is the Barber's Paradox where a barber (who is a man) shaves all and only those men who do not shave themselves. Does he shave himself?  Reaching a solution to a paradox means that there must be something wrong with our fundamental principles of reasoning because we are accepting a contradiction.

In the case of much of Escher’s work we find that the use of theories of perspective provide the grounds for the various paradoxes he creates.  Escher’s lithograph Ascending and Descending (1960) presents a staircase on a building where humans climbs stairs that do not take them higher (Fig. 2).  In a sense he is saying that “these stairs should take you higher because they are stairs” but the visual information says otherwise.  He creates a loop in his illustration that ascends and descends until one point in the loop where a vertical line of a tower column allows the perspective of the images to become a liar and negates any change in altitude by the stair stepping humans (Goldstein 303).  This visual contradiction challenges our thought process similarly to the above logico-semantic example and the solution exists as a paradoxical answer.

This reading allowed me to discover paradox as the content of my work.  The paradox in my work presents itself when the viewer realizes that the shadows painted on the wall can’t possibly be those generated by the transposed object.  The relationship between the shadows and object are clear but the paradox arises when viewers try the ground the object correctly in the space.  I think theoretical physicist Richard Faynman states the behaviour of my paradox simply by saying, “A paradox is not a conflict within reality. It is a conflict between reality and your feeling of what reality should be like” (Gaskins). Through my installation I state that If the shadows on the wall are of the object then the object should exist in another place.  What I am also finding through this research is that paradox is a commonplace occurrence in the universe of art.

Las Meninas (1656) has revealed itself to me as an interesting painting with regard to my work in paradox (Fig.3). Through analysis of theories of perspective it has proved to be a valuable predecessor to surrealist and cubist art which are paradoxical from the standpoint of classical pictorial representation and are foundations for modernist approaches in contemporary art practices.  John R. Searle, in his discussion of Las Meninas intends and succeeds in revealing the explicit nature of Las Meninas’ paradoxes.  His fascination is derived from explorations Picasso dedicated towards exploring Las Meninas via forty-five studies modeled after the work.  Also, the fact that Foucault begins, Les Mots et les choses, an analysis of classical seventeenth-century system of thought, with a discussion of the painting.  Furthermore, he states his interest in analysing the painting through his compulsion of pondering the painting through the lens of theoretical paradoxes or “the anatomy of the liar” (Searle 477).

Searle discusses Las Meninas “radically paradoxical and nonsensical forms of pictorial representation” with respect to the canons of classical pictorial representation (Searle 477).  A pictorial representation is defined as a representation that stands as an equivalent.  For Searle, here is where that paradox arises in Velasquez’ painting.  There are multiple paradoxical contradictions challenging this painting’s representation as a nonfiction. I will present two of these contradictions elaborated on in Searle’s discussion.  First, Velasquez depicts himself in the scope of the painting.  If he is the author of the painting he would not be present among the cast of characters and instead would be located outside of the painted scene, oriented near where a viewer of the painting might stand.  Second the mirror on the far wall of the painting should display a mirror image of Velasquez but instead shows Phillip IV and his wife Maria Ana.  The viewer's gaze becomes that of the King and Queen, and while presenting this perspective to the viewer might be an analogical solution to the paradox, the painting fails to exist as a “representation” presented in the classical canon of painting.

I believe that Las Meninas behaves in a similar way to the mechanism of my installations.  While its intention is to present a representation, a logical analysis challenges its possibility of actual existence as a moment of time in history.  Much like Las Meninas, I believe that the viewers of my work would initially read the shadows as representing a characteristic of the object but would eventually arrive and the logical conflict of paradox.  Searle’s analysis has historically grounded the existence of my work by using similar paradoxical mechanisms for composing a fictional classical representation.

While Las Meninas is an early example of artists using paradox as a tool there are numerous examples of modern artists have explored paradox and challenged representation through this theme.  Rene Margritte’s Treachery of the Image (“Cici n’est pas une pipe”: This is not a pipe) (1926) creates a paradox that “challenges the way in which we attribute significance to images as well as complicating the relationship between the verbal and the visual” (Fig. 4) (Blakesley, Brooke 3).  The image depicts a representation of a pipe with “This is not a pipe” written below it.  The combination of the written text and the image creates a dialectic relationship that viewers cannot ignore.  Isolated these statements can be viewed or read as true but the combination of the two statements challenge what we believe we are seeing.  If the image of a pipe is not a pipe then what is it?  This painting points out our “compulsion to call the image a pipe and reveals our predisposition to confuse the image with the thing it represents” (Blakesley, Brooke 3) While this may not be a true paradox, as there is a logical solution, this “pipe” is a simply a painting and is an example of how artist challenge thinking through presenting images with paradox like behaviour.

I also relate to the work of James Turrell in the way he uses light to create dimensional forms which are physically void of dimension.  An example of this type of exploration is Juke Green (1968) (Fig. 5).  This work is a projection of green light cast onto the corner of a wall. The projection is masked in a way that plays with the geometry of the architecture and allows the light to embody a presumed geometric dimensionality.  The phenomenon experienced when viewing this piece presents a paradox of light and challenges us to analyze what our eyes are actually seeing (how we see) and how we interpret light. Again, Richard Faynman’s description of a paradox satisfies an understanding of how this James Turrell piece operates.

The behavior of each of these pieces of art present uses of paradox in similar ways that challenge the viewers thought process upon experiencing art.  This use of the “Liar” as a mechanism for visual expression challenges and expands the canon of the modernist art movement that I believe to be alive and well.  I strive to use the paradoxical “Liar” as a tool in my body of work to expand the language and behavior that modern art set in motion one hundred and fifty years ago and to challenge the viewer's experience with art.


Fig. 1 : Zane Miller, Reference to a Shopping Cart, 2016, Steel and Acrylic


Full Image

Fig. 2:  M. C. Escher, Ascending and Descending, 1960, Lithograph, 28.5cm x 35.5cm.

Fig. 3: Diego Velasquez, Las Meninas, 1665, Oil, 279cm x 318cm

Las Meninas or The Family of Philip IV 1656-57 - Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez -

Fig. 4: Rene Magritte, The Treachery of Images, 1929, Oil,  63.5 cm × 93.98 cm

The Treachery of Images, 1929 by Rene Magritte

Fig. 5: James Turrell, Juke Green, 1968, Light Projection

Works Cited

Ascending and Descending (1960). Digital image. N.p., 2016. Web.

Blakesley, David, and Collin Brooke. "Introduction: Notes on Visual Rhetoric." Enculturation. N.p., Fall 2001. Web. 3 May 2016.

Gaskins, Nattrice. "The Paradoxical Art of “Inception” | ART21 Magazine." ART21 Magazine. N.p., 3 Aug. 2010. Web. 03 May 2016.

Goldstein, Laurence. "Reflexivity, Contradiction, Paradox and M. C. Escher." Leonardo 29.4 (1996): 299. Web.

Magritte, Rene. The Treachery of Images (1926). Digital image. N.p., 2009. Web.

Miller, Zane. Transpose #1 (2016). Digital image. N.p., 16 Feb. 2016. Web.

Searle, John R. ""Las Meninas" and the Paradoxes of Pictorial Representation." Critical Inquiry 6.3 (1980): 477-88. Web.

Turrell, James. Juke Green (1968). Digital image. N.p., 2016. Web.

Velasquez, Diego. Las Meninas (1656). Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web.



More Box and LEDs

I have been writing a paper exploring paradox.  It has been informing a lot towards how I think about my semester of displaced object exploration and will help quite a bit when my final critique happens.  More on that in another post.  For now I have been adding headers to LEDs and working on the box.

Above are a few photos showing the assembly of some of my LEDs.  They all work after soldering and look like little insect robots.  Breadboards are really great for holding headers straight for soldering onto LEDs.

Below are some shots of the box being prepaired for staining, application of stain, and polyurethane.  Once this paper is out of the way I can assemble the guts.  I have to engineer some feet for the box yet.  I think I am going to mimic speaker stand spikes by threading steel rods.  They should turn out to be pretty minimal as well as adjustable for the wavy floor in Accock Gallery. 



I have been building a box to house everything.  Here are some photos of how that is going.  This is made out of quarter inch poplar.  It's a bit pricier than I would have expected.  I have sanded it down so the edges are all smooth and the overflow from wood glue is gone.  The seems are looking really clean.  Tomorrow I will drill holes and stain it black.  I am hoping that a bit of the grain shows through.  My LEDs come tomorrow.