March 8, 2008

Permeable Boundaries in a Post Modern World

This most recently completed mosaic, which is still untitled, is one of the subjects for my upcoming conference paper on my figurative mosaics. The paper illustrates the process of creating a body of mosaic works visualizing an overlay of geological and human time, one dispassionate, the other intensely self-conscious. The “Archaeology” series is an observation on the limits of memory, preservation, and on the vagaries of human conquest - both physical and ideological.
Stylistically evocative of dioramas, excavation sites, and crypts, the series was influenced by my visits to Pompeii, Herculaneum, Ostia Antica, and Xian, China. The aerial orientation in the mosaics reflects that of peering into pits and the resultant flattening out of perspective, both functionally and metaphorically - although this last work is more of a side view. The small scale of the figures and artifacts represented in the work is influenced by an observation of reconstructions and models. How much easier it is to comprehend the enormity of history and civilization through compression into toy-like accessibility!
The thread of continuity in “Archaeology” is, paradoxically, the collapsing walls and disrupted lines of demarcation, representing the real-life collapse of physical and cultural walls in the postmodern era of globalization and the internet. The once-defining lines of culture now become permeable membranes with ancient Chinese script co- mingling Greco-Roman ruins. The balloons with ancient writing on them in this particular mosaic say "The breath of life" and "Life from the swamp." the latter inscription is easy to explain. I originally hail from New Jersey and while I was studying in China I discovered that the Chinese word for New Jersey can be roughly translated as "New Swamp Land." So I made a little stamp with those words to affix to paintings. I made hundreds of such stamps actually for the purpose of printing them on papers. In recent years I found that they made interesting designs when impressed into clay as well.

My paper on this and other mosaics will be presented at the American Comparative Literature Association conference in Los Angeles this April. I've completed all except one of the mosaics and booked my plane ticket. Now all that's left to do is actually write the paper and learn how to do a power point lecture. Yikes!

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