This new work is an extension of an earlier piece, Abstraction, from the series THE ARTIFICIAL EYE: Studies in Perspective, Optics and the Legibility of Nature.
In that series, the emphasis was on tools of the period (the 18th century) being used by scientists and artists, as well as their by-products… artworks, which also inadvertently functioned as documentary evidence testaments to the possibility that the use of a tool or device could make us see or understand the world in new ways.
Abstraction pushed the use of the perspectival grid beyond its primary function (to allow the rendering of objects in perspective without distortion) and inadvertently made “compositions” from the individual squares within the grid (their simplicity of form bearing a family resemblance to the abstract photography of the 20th century).
With this new work, I wanted to move the ideas treatment beyond a single simple pencil sketch into a series of finished artworks based on the materials and techniques of Northern Europe circa 1700. The subject matter, the painting materials and the obvious employment of the camera obscura all point to the time and place the work is referencing (let us say Delft), and as such, they are completely conventional for painting of this period. What is unconventional, or even radical for the period is the composition and the way it fractures the realism of the image, at the same time that it references the tool which allows for that realism.
By privileging the tool (the perspectival grid) and the new way of seeing the world which it engendered, of necessity, through its use… over compositional convention… a poetic intervention which opens up a range of possibilities… the work brings to the forefront a view of the world which was clearly part of the artist’s experience in the studio, but which was denied to the work’s audience, and completely eradicated from the final product.
As with other works in the ARTIFICIAL EYE series, these Broken Grid paintings embody a somewhat structuralist approach to understanding the working practices of another period, both through their use of the same tools for their investigations, and ultimately, through the production of artworks as their final investigative form.