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.

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