Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was a pioneer aviator and is best known as the author if 'The Little Prince'.  The life of a pilot was dangerous and Saint-Exupéry had several close calls. Engines were temperamental; navigation instruments and radios were primitive and unreliable. 

It was Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's experience of surviving a crash in the Sahara desert that was the inspiration for the encounter with the Little Prince. The text in this image is an excerpt from the story wherein the prince recounts a visit with the sole inhabitant of a small planet: a geographer who makes maps but considers himself too important to actually visit the places he records.  

In this image the clouds are sharp and clear within a small horizon around the plane. Further afield, the image breaks down into map like patterns and abstractions. Saint-Exupéry disappeared over the Mediterranean while on a reconnaissance flight to occupied France. Shown here is a Lockheed P-38, the plane he flew on this final mission. In the sea below, I've put a small life raft to help him out after the crash.  

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Lost Horizon Spray

Joshua Slocum was an experienced sea captain when he took on the challenge of attempting to sail around the world on his own. He restored and re-purposed an old fishing boat into a sturdy ship that was small enough to be managed by one man but tough enough to withstand everything the oceans could throw at it. 

His boat, 'Spray' was so well balanced and Slocum was so good at setting her sails that the little vessel could stay on course for hours on end with the wheel lashed. He described his adventures in his famous book "Sailing Alone Around the World"

The ghostly text that appears in this picture describes an episode during which, suffering from food poisoning, Slocum hallucinates a member of Christopher Columbus crew steering the Spray safely through a storm.

Monday, December 3, 2018

En Route to Howland Island

Sky and water overlap.  Waves and clouds look like islands as they mirage into each other at the horizon. A small plane flies over a vast ocean in search of a tiny speck of land. Amelia Earhart and her navigator search for Howland Island - an essential refueling stop in the Pacific Ocean.  Earhart's own words appear in the sky. The text is from her book 'For the Fun of It' wherein she describes and shares her love of flying.  

Earhart's attempt to fly around the world lay at the very edge of her era's technology. The Pacific leg was the longest and most dangerous and one that she ultimately did not survive.  

This image is both tragic, in that it depicts a doomed flight, and optimistic, in that it depicts the heroic striving of someone pushing the envelope of the possible in the pursuit of something they love. 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Theseus' Paradox

The sky and sea are churning into each other.  Building facades appear as ghostly apparitions in billowing clouds.  In this chaotic ocean a small vessel is faintly visible.  This little boat is symbolic of the little bit of order that we keep close to ourselves, that allows us to survive the tumult of a chaotic world.

Theseus' paradox is based on the story of Theseus' ship. The Greek hero's ship was kept for a hundred years and continually repaired so that eventually all the original planks and timbers were replaced. The question is: is this ship, with no original parts, the same ship?  is it still Theseus' ship?

Like Theseus' ship, our little boat of life needs to be constantly maintained, adapted and updated. That which will keep us afloat tomorrow is not what kept us afloat yesterday.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


A ground swell is a broad, deep undulation of the ocean caused by a distant storm.  Powerful waves travel for great distances long after the originating tempest has been exhausted. Ships and shores are pulled and pushed by the effects of unseen storms. 

The ground swell is a metaphor for the impermanence of the world. Forces both seen and unseen ensure that nothing in this world lasts forever. What feels solid and permanent is inevitable exposed to be ephemeral and temporary. 

"Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind."
- Ecclesiastes 

Standing on solid ground is an illusion.  We've always been floating on an ocean. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018


When you close your eyes, you continue to see. It could be the afterimage of a bright scene. It could be the red light that makes it through your eyelids. You never see 'nothing'. In total darkness, more mysterious things appear: strange lights, patterns and images.  These are Phosphenes - images that are created within your eyes - or  tricks played from within your brain.  Vision and perception do not cease in the absence of light.

When the light are bright, we trust our eyes. We believe what we see. Or do we see what we believe.  How much of what we observe really is from the outside world?  Do we see only what we expect to see?

Our vision is not passive. To see is to interpret; to project our ideas and memories; our fears and hopes onto whatever may be out there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Ocean of Air

We live at the bottom of an ocean of air. It's 100 km deep. Although we can't feel it, this ocean is pressing down with 1 kg of weight on every square cm of the earth.  This invisible ocean surrounds us.  It protects and sustains us. The clouds in this image may be between 5 and 10 km above the surface of the earth - far above us, but still deep down in the ocean.

The cloud outlines look like coast-lines and archipelagos. The act of mapping and diagramming is analogous to how we navigate and make sense of the world.. In this image, there is a small 'lens' through which we see the clouds in full detail. The remaining peripheral area is filled with partial abstractions. These areas represent how we fill in our limited perception with ideas and constructs.   To 'make sense' of the world, one inevitably must resort to over-simplifying it.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Mirror / Window

We're looking out a window. The sun has recently set and illuminates the sky from beyond the horizon.  Glass that has been invisibly transparent starts to reflect the interior. At first, shadows and outlines are visible, then as the sky darkens, the outside disappears and the window shows only a dark mirror world of the interior.

'Mirror / Window' is a piece that plays with the idea of perception and reflection. The ghostly images of buildings that appear in the sky partly reflect that same sky and within the shadows, reveal their interior.

An old text describes our perception of the world as a limited view through a dark mirror.  In the brightness of day we might think our knowledge is firm; our apprehension is complete.  In the twilight you start to doubt what is truly outside and what is a reflection of the inside.

Thursday, August 9, 2018


At the horizon over a distant field heavy rain is falling.  The white clouds of half an hour ago have risen into a dark tower churning up into the sky.  A sudden flash and the delayed low rumble - the power of the thunderstorm is awe inspiring! 

Some facts about thunderstorms:
  • Thunderstorms form when warm moist air rises into cooler layers above. 
  • The clouds are over twelve kilometers tall.  
  • On average, they are over 20km in diameter.
  • They lift 500 million kilograms of water vapor into the high atmosphere.
  • Lightning bolts can contain up to a billion volts of electricity. 

And yet, for all their power they are made only of mist. Each storm exists only for a few hours. Each one disappears leaving only a trace of damp in the ground and the fleeting glitter of raindrops on leaves.   Being large and powerful provides no protection.  Nothing lasts for long. 

Monday, July 9, 2018


At first glance the picture depicts a seascape with an empty horizon. The image is composed within the subtle colour palette of a summer storm: blues, greens and yellows.  There's a deep sense of perspective as the eye is drawn in under storm clouds and over the water. On closer inspection, an overlay of detail appears: shapes and abstractions that look like technical drawings and maps.  A fragmentary view of a building facade appears in the clouds.  Are these memories? Mirages? Plans for the future?

Cities and buildings are among of the most salient impressions that humans have put upon the world.  They are a manifestation of ideas. What starts out as lines on a map: measurements and calculations take on solid form.

Underneath and through our delicate systems of grids and structure the wild forces still move. Like the erosion from underground streams or the sudden shock of tectonic movements, cosmic chaos ensure that the only true constant is change.

Tracings the outlines of water patterns evokes the patterns of sea charts and weather maps.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

How Little We Know

We make sense of the world by forming ideas and theories. In our minds, we carry models of how things work and what things mean. But, the nature of model-making requires that we reduce some of the detail; that we simplify the complicated parts.

The danger is that we forget that we've built a model and that we act as though the world actually is our over-simplified, model version.


These water and cloud pieces are a meditation on the limitation of our understanding of even  rudimentary things. The surface of water: how simple!  In our mind's eye, we know exactly what that looks like. But the geometry is actually very complicated. There are undulating patterns that never actually repeat. Smaller and larger scales are superimposed over each other. Wave geometry is extremely intricate, even in a still image. Moving water waves in the real world are, to our minds, incomprehensible. We can look at waves, but we cannot fully 'see' them!

These artworks draw you in with the colour and 'natural beauty' of traditional landscapes.  As you look closer you discover the graphic elements of outlines, tracings and other geometry. Reminiscent of contour maps and weather charts, these diagrams are attempts to document, regulate and explain the natural world - the process of model-making.  Rather than clarify the natural patterns however, the analytic diagrams only emphasis their complexity.

Sounding Line

In this age of glib thought and fast opinion; of simple answers to complex questions, it is important to question our tacit assumptions. In a gentle way, I think these pieces can inspire us to notice that the models that we necessarily use to make sense of the world are incomplete and contingent.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A Brief History


The early people came up with systems:

  • Sounds could refer to ideas.
  • Shapes could refer to sounds. 
  • Things could be counted. 
  • Lines could be used to measure and divide the earth. 

When more people came to think in this systematic way, things had to change. Maps were drawn to reflect the earth and then the earth was changed to match up with the lines that were drawn on the maps.

Piano Music

Friday, June 15, 2018


This ocean has no end. It is bottomless. It stretches to infinite depth, pressure and darkness.


And yet, here we are. Floating on the surface.

Negative Time

My watch measures time in a positive way: the minutes and hours are always increasing.  But I am counting backwards: how long until I have to do this? how long until that will happen?

Negative Time

How long will it last?  How long do I have?

Negative Time - detail

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Right Angle

If you come across rectangles, you've found signs of human activity. 


The fundamental essence of farming, cities and buildings throughout time has been the right angle.  A rectangle is the simplest abstraction of human impact on the world.

Malta - detail