Interface Painting Article: “About the Interface”

Posted: April 23, 2011 in Page 1: The Interface Paintings

About the Interface

by T.L. MANN

“…if we are to believe…”

The whole idea of the Interface Paintings is about transcendence.

So, a word on the relevance of transcendence in our lives: all scholars in the human science fields speak of the fundamental need of all humans for philosophy and religion—and the arts, which bring the aforementioned themes to mind for us.

If we are to believe the common discourse of psychologists, it appears that the human condition, or more precisely, our mind in respect to it, can not be left unattended: First we are cast out of nature when we are born, when we leave the mother’s womb, then we are unto ourselves to reflect on life and to make something of it—less we lose it (to use a common turn of phrase). And this making something of it, of life, can ironically be construed as a quest to re-assume the form of a perfectly integrated being in respect to our environment—that original state of ours in the womb as it were, perfectly integrated with nature. Our ‘normal’ state of mind, and behavior, is one of continually seeking appropriate orientation in life and to keep our footing. And more than being a need, this seeking of appropriate orientation leads us to our very reason to be—to transcend the isolated, alienated nature of our lives as individuals and to find a meaningful role to play in this life.

And we are all in the same boat.

Whether we are artists, businessmen, or nondescript members of the masses tweeting viral invectives to bring media personalities down to our level, we strive to transcend our lonely, lowly, positions as individuals in society and on this Earth. The ever so practical-minded businessman may deny the value of art, and make fun of all the unnecessary art history majors in school today (and rightly so I suppose) but his anti statement to this effect is a conscious recognition of the subject at hand, that being one’s need to transcend, and is even a manifest form of such behavior on his part towards this end.

Waiting Room Chair

“…going towards the solid…”

Concerning the subject of transcendence in respect to the Interface paintings: As amply said in the general presentation for these paintings, the interface, in the form of a ‘doubled’ frame with ‘field’ in between, represents a bridge between our physical and spiritual worlds. But more than that, I would like to add the following: that from the interior of the work, the creative work of the mind, outwards to the interface, or frame, you are going towards the solid, like a search for something that Is—something that is without having to ask yourself any questions about it—something simplemindedly simple, down to earth…or perhaps even primitive—a fetish—on which, one may focus all his tension and alleviate himself of all those questions that won’t go away.

A closer examination of the more technical aspects helps understand the relationship mentioned above: The fact that the interface (frame) is squared, or rectangular in shape, is imperative and perfectly in line with this solid, simple, physical thing that is sought after, for right angular forms express stability, something you can lean on without it rolling away as it were. The pure colors of the interface are associated with the simplicity that one may hope for in the physical world, the world that the interface is making a link with, and when these colors are bold on top of it, this is to give extra emphasis to the interface in respect to the more ephemeral or cognitively subtle side to our nature seen at the interior of the work. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, they change (their color being but one notable example), like any other artist changes the subject or scene that he paints. Remember, the interface is the most important and this interface is anything but a frame whose only purpose is to present the work that it frames.

The general visual concept is the following: the interface carries the primary visual message. The remaining imagery can be quite diverse—representational or abstract, as long as this imagery respects the geometric/thematic nature of the interface. One could say that it is this secondary role to the interface that allows the remaining imagery to be so diverse. The reason behind this is, firstly, because the interface, the primary feature, bears, as stated above, the essential part of the responsibility in this matter, and secondly, because it all too simply does not disallow it. Finally, I ask myself: is it only a coincidence that this tendency to exploit, let’s say, whatever is at my disposal rather than to limit myself in the name of some mystical quest for a ‘singularity’, fits so well with the core part of my outlook on life, namely, that when asked a question of human import, one must realize, and reply: “It’s a combination of things.”

The inspiration behind the Interface Paintings is not about that which brings so many artists to paint that which is nothing more in the end than just another interminable image that has come to mind, but rather, I hope, an inspiration that has resulted in a certain philosophical-physical construct and style that makes a real contribution to its art form and to artistic expression more generally. In one respect, this contribution even touches upon the nature of the frame itself, the most fundamental of accessories in respect to paintings. The nature of the frame, its inherent purpose, is to integrate a painting with its environment*, and this, represents a definite parallel to what is taking place in an Interface Painting. However, I must emphasize, the integration on the part of the interface is not merely an add-on or aesthetic aside as the frame is in respect to its environment. The quality of the interface in respect to integration is intrinsic—when we consider its very material quality in respect to the physical world that it means to link. Also, just as importantly (as opposed to the frame) the interface is the starting point, or foundation to the overall work of an Interface Painting, from which, the creative center and its inspiration comes.

And this integration with an environment that we are speaking of—in the case of the Interface Paintings—the quality and effect this entails may just represent a complete—even more than complete—transcendence, one that has come full circle as they say. For, not only can the artistic endeavor be transcendent in a liberating sense, for the artist and for the viewer who is particularly taken by the product of his endeavor, it can come full circle to the point of someone who « wants to be a machine, » (the opposite of liberation), as expressed so well by Andy Warhol in respect to himself. The inanimate, tranquil quality of the machine that is hoped for by certain people may be appreciated in this context: in the solid, physical, inanimate quality of the interface, or frame.

To conclude: Art may provide a sort of transcendence, allowing a communication link between ourselves as otherwise isolated individuals and giving expression to the spiritual concerns that we commonly share. This is a general, even figurative interpretation that is commonly related on this subject. But with the Interface Paintings, the subject of transcendence becomes literal, by the physical link that the interface literally makes with the outside physical world. It is as if the paintings weren’t just bringing about the effect that art may have on us but actually materializing the effect. And this, only the Interface Paintings do, or at least, as I implied above, seem to do.

*By environment, we mean the interior architecture, decor, and furnishings surrounding it.

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