Neatly organized frozen moments are not real. Experience is messy: overlapping reflections, memories clouding the present muddled by competing background noises. The urban environment is a vast sea of fluctuating boundaries arguing claim to the demarcation of space as “wild”, “inhabited”, “private”, “public”, “forbidden”, and “open”. I make sprawling wall-sized paintings on Tyvek as a direct response to this environment.
Cities encompass a heightened range of progress and collapse within the landscape. Time seems to move in extremes as well : abandoned properties may sit forever, while other tracts of land are dug up and transformed seemingly overnight. The speed of change – positive and negative – is exciting, chaotic, and disturbing at the same time.
My imagery is derived from actual and virtual meandering throughout fringe neighborhoods within Philadelphia. Google maps’ street views counter my real experiences of place by allowing me to jump through time and space. My fleeting impressions of spaces correlate with the inherent distortions of Google’s low resolution snapshots of fluctuating, blurred spaces. Similar to the experience of locating one’s orientation by coming to the surface when snorkeling, I often find myself lost and need to zoom out of a street view to an aerial view for navigation. No matter how closely I zoom in on a space, the truest details are inaccessible…similar to the gap between public and private space in actual experience.
When I am driving, I am focused on the road ahead and only have a vague vision of the peripheral world that whizzes by on the side. When I am walking with my young twin daughters, my attention is directed at the minutiae that they find so wondrous (often a bit of trash), while also darting ahead half a block to check on the faster, more energetic child, and periodically looking behind for the more attentive, slower paced child. In many ways, I am perpetually looking for more information but have the dilemma of never being able to fully comprehend or know the place in which I live.
I have chosen to live in a city precisely because it means that I access (and bypass) a rich variety of neighborhoods and environments each day, via the different levels of attention of my role as driver, passenger in car or on train, or pedestrian. I am acutely aware of the fact that by pursuing one path to get from one point to another, I am traversing a forest with multiple perspectives and paths.
Cities have attracted me for their density, activity, variety, their layered contradictions…there is never enough to give me a definite understanding of my immediate environment.
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