Archive for the ‘Page 1: The Interface Paintings’ Category

by T. L. Mann

Forethought:

At a certain point in man’s evolution, his brain went from unconscious, as say, that of a dog’s, to conscious in the sense that we humans commonly ascribe to ourselves: we reflect on our existence. Only man does this. No other animal, chimpanze, dolphin, etc., does. If they did, they would express this to us in whatever language they have at their disposal: a monkey would endeavor to draw, however painstakingly, evocative figures for us in the dirt—a dolphin, advancing on the tip of its tail, redolent of purpose, would trace deliberately intriguing signs—something, anything, to try to communicate the same existential predicament that we as human beings find ourselves in, that is to say: « do you have any friggin’ clue as to what is going on? ».

Due to this transitional point that was bridged in our evolutionary past, it is not surprising that we see so much neuro-biological complexity in ourselves today, the most noteworthy being our oscillatory consciousness-subconsciousness trait—the most fundamental of traits, and responsible as much as anything else for that which makes us human: irreducible—as far as we can be aware—by either ourselves or by anyone else to any final identification or understanding. This complexity of course, extends to the extreme manifestations of our psychological nature as well but we need not go there for this exposé, which is meant only to offer an idea behind the « interface » paintings.

The interface paintings:

The idea behind these paintings stems from that part of our nature, alluded to above, that is forever elusive in any absolute sense, incarnated we might say, in an unseizable, unseeable bridge, or interface. The paintings represent this bridge and the psychological and physical sides to ourselves that this bridge links together. These sides, this duality: mind-body, body-spirit, however you want to refer to it, is of course, an ages-old subject and is foundational for all the world’s great religions and philosophies, consequently, the idea behind the interface paintings was hard to miss. Trying to come to grips with the interface itself—what the hell it is that you’re feeling from such an experience and representing it in the form of art—is another story however. In effect, the experience here takes on the added complication of the mind’s dichotomous nature in and of itself—its difficulty in claiming an ultimate sense of the real, as opposed to the imagined or misunderstood.

Nonetheless, however complicated the enterprise might seem, coming up with a physical representation for it proved to be quite simple, given that it was an accident, and quite a surprise, in view of the fact that a form of it has existed right in front of our nose ever since we domesticated art so to speak—ever since the idea came to people to display art with the aid of a frame, this fundamental, ubiquitous, accoutrement that, it turns out, has a metaphysical yet definite relationship to the “interface” (see accompanying article “About the Interface” for details).

Which brings us to the physical, or technical, aspect and explanation. In a nutshell: the part within the painting’s ‘frame’ (the humanly created part) represents the mind or spirit. That which is exterior to the frame is the physical world, our bodies as well. The frame itself, is the necessary bridge linking the two.

The fact that the frame is doubled so to speak, with an inner field, is my attempt at putting a finger on this bridge, or interface. And, though the whole is what is of ultimate importance, the bridge, however difficult it is to put your finger on, makes it all possible. In fact, it is responsible for that infinitely elusive quality that makes us human.

Examples are given immediately below.
IMPORTANT: The complementary analysis—mandatory for a complete understanding of the interface—follows these examples in the article: “About the Interface”

Examples of Interface Paintings Shown Below

Taken Aback

2011
Dimensions: 75 by 60 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood blocks on wood structure.

To note: A link to the interface is directly made by wiring physical elements to it. To accentuate the relationship, these physical elements also bear the exact same colors of the interface, or bridge. The bold colors of the interface are used in order to give extra emphasis to it, the interface being the most important part of the work. This bold color can also be interpreted as a counterpoint to the more ephemeral or cognitively subtle aspect of the idea behind the interface. This aspect is normally depicted at the interior of the work. See the two articles explaining the interface concept, one at the beginning and the other at the end of this page.

Attention: When I did this painting it was as if you did it. For you to say it is my problem…

2012
Dimensions: 90 by 76 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel. Graphite traces.

Lines carved in wood and highlighted with painted pinstripes play into a symmetry along with the graphite pencil lines. The geometric forms, of multiple sorts and colors, add other facettes to the symmetry, resulting in a complex yet perfectly successful harmony.

Comment: According to infinity theory, anything that is possible in the universe exists. Why not add to this anything that is imaginable?

Close up:

2011
Dimensions: 92 by 92 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood blocks on wood structure.

To note: A black and red block are used in this work. Certain linear forms are scraped into the wood, leaving the raw wood color; others unveil red paint. An olive green, used with the grey, provides a working opposite to the red, offering a more full palette, and thus, “completing” a work based on opposites, which is fundamental to the idea behind the interface paintings. For complete explanations, scroll to the two articles, the first one at the beginning of, and the second at the end of this page.

Poorly Informed2012
Dimensions: 90 by 76 cm, framed.
Media: Paint, cut-out wood, and painted cardboard on wood panel.

The colors of the painting are navy blue, black, silver, white, and orange. The harmony is being made on four fronts: colors, forms, style and size of forms, and their disposition on the support. Getting them to all come together with the necessary symmetry and balance is the key. A good example of this complexity is the ‘upended’ mirroring between the central element (an i for information, seen on the white plane) and the element at the bottom left in the field. Along with the ‘upended’ mirroring (one is rotated 180° in respect to the other), note that one is formally shaped, the other rough, all of which is necessary for the overall effect—and the rough version of this inversed symmetry just happens to form an exclamation point.

To note: The theme is information, how it ‘stacks up’, with all the reverence or reservations one might have in respect to it. We have come a long way since the categorical certitude of René Descartes, passing by way of the categorical incertitude of Heisenberg and Gödel. The latest approach taken by leading physicists (both theoretical and experimental physicists), in the understanding of who we are, is to give up on the desire to know what we and our world are made up of. In effect, rather than knowing ourselves in terms of matter, the actual material substance that makes us up—something real that you can get your hands on as it were—we must settle for certain information concerning the material’s behavior. But more than just having to settle for certain information due to the natural limits of knowing matter, sub-atomic matter, due to the nature-altering impact on the material that the very act of trying to know it has (which is the typical way of thinking on this subject—since Heisenberg) we must now actually see our world, come to accept our very selves, as nothing more than ‘material information’, whatever this means, and/or however unsubstantial this, or rather we, may seem.

Hospital Colors

2011
Dimensions: 90 by 98 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel.

Artist Comment: Four is an unlucky number for the Chinese and the Chinese are big into red, but what does this have to do with the price of rice—right?—there or anywhere else for that matter? Imagine rather, a chair in a hospital registration office whose leg slips into a floor-level bed of plants (because there is no protective border around it) and that the person sitting in the chair is your sister and she dies bumping her head from the fall. Now transform the situation in such a way that you can live with it. In this case, I chose not to color in the unpainted puddle-like parts.

“The strong compositional structure that I strive for in my work is due to my desire to discover something more fundamental (‘natural’ elements, forms and/or processes) rather than to pursue images, abstract or representational, where one has a seemingly incalculable number of visual components, brush strokes, in the image in such a way that no single component or even number of them is critical to the final composition or—and this is regrettable whether it be committed in abstract or representational work—pursue images in which one moves the paint around, for all intents and purposes, aimlessly until there is a satisfiable harmony whereby one can self approvingly declare a work well done and complete. In these situations, no fundamental scheme or pattern is discovered. For more on the study of  compositional structure, refer to the article: “Removing the veil of Mother Nature” on the X-tra Articles and Notes page or the work of a scientist on this theme referred to in the article: “Whose the Idiot?”

Close UP:

Highlighting, contrast, and inversed symmetry like the fine-tuned effect of the cosmological constant, if not like the rug in “The Big Lebowski”.

Born2011
Dimensions: 76 by 90 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel.

Stars are born of universal debris and then, once formed, generate the chemical elements necessary to build life as well as the energy necessary to sustain it. Despite the obvious fascination that we have always had for—and the obvious importance that we have always placed on—the stars, it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that Hans Bethe, physicist and nobel laureate, came to understand this: what a star really is. However important this knowledge was though, the first person Bethe related his discovery to was his child, during their afternoon walk.

As for the birth of the universe, this all-encompassing phenomena for whoever, whatever, and wherever we are, I was told: “With today’s latest knowledge we’re going back to mere fractions of seconds before”—“But before the big bang?,” I cut him off. We seem to be forever left in the dark about our origin, or more precisely and importantly, who we are. This is where, as was in the case of Hans Bethe I suppose, one is wont to look into the eyes of a child.

Waiting Room Chair“Waiting Room Chair / Transcendence—Get Out of Here” is a piece consisting of the painting along with its subject as a “real” exterior object. The subject as you can see is a chair. See painting, alone, below.

2011
Dimensions: 87 by 83 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

The lone and isolated post of observation, the chair, sits staring in the face of the interface, if I may say that. A definite attempt at communication is being made by way of the interface: to wit, the chair and the interface are of the same exact visual aspect: varnished wood. This communication is also apparent between the interface and a sort of painting that hangs on the wall, both having the exact same visual elements.

Pencil lines run to the lower right and those seen in the signature L complement them.

Close Ups: The signature L and the square of the back of the chair are of an off shade of paint in relation to that of the background. Small shards of wood are strategically placed at the upper right of the back of the chair and at the left of the painting’s painting that is partially in view on the background wall.

2011
Dimensions: 90 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel. Wood structure with wire.

The relationship to the bridge/interface is done with the wire, seen at the left. Entitled, “The Groundwork, for Thee Megaliths”, the ‘painting’ is a surface of wood panelling where various tones/forms have been brought out by sanding the surface with sand paper. A discrete amount of paint has been applied in symmetric fashion to complement the brown shades of wood. Pencil lines have been added to the “megaliths”, and can be viewed as extensions to the aforementioned wire that is in the interface. These pencilled lines are sealed with a transparent art fixative. The signature L at the bottom right is done with the same wood as that of the panel used for the painting support.

Close up:

2011
Dimensions: 89 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with laminated paper.

To note: The center elements are finely cut and harshly torn heavily painted cardboard-paper that has been varnished over. As is typical of the interface paintings, a wood block can be seen in the field of the interface. I have nothing left to say.

2011
Dimensions: 90 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

The visual concept of a transparent square integrated into a face came to the artist when realizing his philosopher works (see Comte, Kierkegaard, and Descartes below). In this particular work it is not at all transparent, being that it is supposed to represent concrete. The nose, unscathed in the confrontation, offers a certain relief in an otherwise brutal portrait. The artist claims always to respect, and depict, a balanced portrayal of life.

Important: The relationship with the interface-frame, is literally accomplished through the legend. The legend not only plays the conventional role of explaining the visual subject at hand (which one would normally take to be the center portion of the work), it attracts us to the fact that the interface itself is part of the main subject.

Close-up

The lines, typical in these works, are executed by pencil, dug into the wood, and fixed with a transparent lacquer.

2011
Dimensions: 90 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

This painting addresses the classic dilemma: Should I follow my heart or should I follow my mind. The black square represents the mind and the orderly black lines represent a possible path of the ‘logical’ mind. The red rectangle represents the heart and the dynamic red lines represent a possible path for the ’emotional’ heart.

Technical remark: The overall visual aspect that you see is executed by sanding the white paint off of the wood.

Close Up: All the lines are carved into the wood panel and then lined with paint.

WhichOneToFollowWithDrop2011
Dimensions: 89 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

This is the first painting of the “Which One to Follow” series, addressing the classic dilemma: Should I follow my heart or should I follow my mind. The black square represents the mind and the orderly black lines represent a possible path of the ‘logical’ mind. The red rectangle represents the heart and the dynamic red lines represent a possible path for the ‘emotional’ heart. The red trace at the center was found by accident–its outline in slight relief noticed in a layer of paint under the white surface. Its natural dynamic form was a revelation for the artist, so indicative it was of the non logical half of the classic dilemma he was addressing and so perfect it was for the graphic image overall. In this first version, there is a drop below the heart.

To Note: All the lines are carved into the wood panel, the center ones are lined with black paint.

2011
Dimensions: 89 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

This square in the face and these cubes on the head… This “T” signature tie. These square blocks in the interface. This whole balancing act. An unshakeable faith in science he had—Auguste Comte, “father of positivism.”

2011
Dimensions: 89 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

Soren Kierkegaard disdained the long line of enlightenment philosophers–all of them–who could go on and on and in the most elaborate, unimaginably logical way (read maze) on the question of “existence”. He said that the only people who can even begin to speak about existence are those who have faced life in its gravest light, where one is faced with the ultimate choice, between life and death itself. Such an anxiety riddled event is often referred to by psychologists as a “traumatic experience,” after which, a person is never again his full self, or rather, according to Kierkegaard, his past self—his past, limited, too-sure-of-himself self.  It may be that Kierkegaard was a little cracked himself.

2011
Dimensions: 89 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

René Descartes:  “I think therefore I am.” The self evidence of gray matter follows.

P.S. Though this ‘immortal’ stab at ontological logic would seem true enough, it only took the next philosopher down the block to debunk it.

2011
Dimensions: 90 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

The dried piece of squarish grey paint at the upper left, carries the same mass as the green wooden block at the bottom right. Other pieces of dried grey paint are also present in the squarish agglomeration of grey paint. Black right-angled lines tie the diverse imagery together and establish a certain communication with the interface.
To note: According to psychologists/sociologists, the types of interpersonal situations you were typically in on the playground during your childhood, and/or the positions you took up (aggressive, defensive, cowardly, courageous), greatly determines the type of person you become in your adulthood, and by this they are referring to one’s most basic determinant: that being, nothing less, than the primordial matter of whether one falls to the proverbial “left” or “right”. The information you gather from your school books at any point along the way has little if anything to do with it.

2011
Dimensions: 90 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood and cloth fabric.

The flower petals have been dug out of the wood frame (the “interface”) leaving the raw wood in view. The geometric forms around the flower have been dug out of the wood panel and match in color and texture the raw wood in the frame that was exposed. A ragged piece of green carpeting fabric adds a necessary touch of color at the bottom right.

The flower represents a person greatly impacting the life of the artist. Artist comment: “Whatever you—or I—may see in this piece, or in any of my work for that matter, this flower is the key.”

2011
Dimensions: 89 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

A child psychologist typically asks a child to draw a house to determine his state of mind, the house, with its windows and door, having a close resemblance to a face and thereby inducing the traits wanting to be studied.
Technical aspects: Both the raw wood and paint is clearly visible in these lines. A direct link to the interface is made with a yellow block as well as the lines.

Close up: All the lines are carved into the wood panel and then lined with paint.

2011
Dimensions: 90 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

Symmetry, synthesis, synergy, and the artist’s signature.

Upended elements, fallen into place. This incident and its aesthetic result is achieved through a rather complicated harmony and symmetry based on the colors, forms, the size of the forms, and of course the positioning of the forms. A complicated harmony indeed, which explains the title of the painting.

The angular forms have been dug out of the wood-panel in the ‘field’ part of the painting and used in the center. The blue and black forms are painted.

2011
Dimensions: 89 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

The main elements in this bright white space are radically different: a bright blue square block at the bottom right and a large square form that is anything but pure at the left. Despite the unsettling juxtaposition, a natural complicity, and communication, seems to exist between them.

2011
Dimensions: 90 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

The square forms at the upper left and lower right are pieces of the wood surface panel that have been dug out—with the dug-out pieces being dumped next to their ‘holes’. The orderly squares, lined up vertically, at the bottom left establish a direct link with the “interface.” They have been inspired by the type of legend that is commonly used in helping one to understand a graph. That the legend doesn’t help much in explaining that which can not be understood is to be expected. Refer to title.

Important: The relationship with the interface-frame, is literally accomplished through the legend. The legend not only plays the conventional role of explaining the visual subject at hand (which one would normally take to be the center, ‘framed’ part of the work), it attracts us to the fact that the interface itself is part of the main subject.

2011
Dimensions: 90 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

A “sallowed” white element lies in the area of the “hallowed” ground. The elements outside are pure white. The hallowed ground is depicted with a rectangular portion of the wood panel that has not been sanded down to a smooth surface. It is equally depicted as such in the legend part of the painting, which is the vertically aligned squares at the bottom left. Note that the signature L also has the same treatment.

The orderly squares, lined up vertically, at the bottom left establish a direct link with the “interface.” They have been inspired by the type of legend that is commonly used in helping one to understand a graph. That the legend doesn’t help much in explaining that which can not be understood is to be expected. Refer to title.

Important: The relationship with the interface-frame, is literally accomplished through the legend. The legend not only plays the conventional role of explaining the visual subject at hand (which one would normally take to be the center, the ‘framed’ part of the work), it attracts us to the fact that the interface itself is part of the main subject.

Close Up: The following detail images show how the “hallowed ground” was done/depicted. It is a rectangular portion of the wood panel that has not been sanded down. The same is true in the legend:



2011
Dimensions: 90 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint and painted cardboard on wood panel, with wood structure.

The subject is the “interface.” The interface, the exact middle or point between the two sides to our being, should be dead center. If the interface is off center, a certain adjustment is to be made. The complexity of this task is in correlation with the complexity of the subject, if you know what I mean.

Note: As is typical of these interface paintings, the lines are grooves, gouged out of the wood panel, and “highlighted” with paint.

Boxed Out

Posted: April 29, 2011 in Page 1: The Interface Paintings

2011
Dimensions: 89 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

The box at the center is in raw wood. Certain panels of this wood box are sanded, giving a second color tone. An indistinct geometric form above the box is guided by lines carved in the wood panel. One such line at the top is rooted in the ‘field’ of the interface, another, a ‘reminder’, at the bottom right, attests to the antipodal disposition in respect to it: that of being rejected entry.

The box is meant to be a symbol of safe keeping or containment, and manifesting itself in raw wood as it does, displays a certain down-to-earth reality. What should be of importance however, its contents, is anything but concrete or clear. This interplay between that which is solid, or clear, and that which is ephemeral, represents the essence of the “interface” paintings. And touching upon the interface itself, this elusive phenomena defining our consciousness, would seem improbable if not impossible, hence, the title of the work: “Boxed Out”.

2011
Dimensions: 91 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

To note: the apple is carved out of the wood panel. The linear forms, typical in these works, are executed by pencil, dug into the wood, and fixed with a transparent lacquer. Certain portions of the graphism lean toward chaos. A solid lime green and orange wood block are used to ‘inanimate’ the scene, to render a ‘still’ life–if not arrest a jittery mind.

Close-up:

2011
Dimensions: 90 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

Squares equate with stability, circles with instability. In this painting, an attempt at stability is being carried out.

2011
Dimensions: 90 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel.

Penciled lines are carved into the wood creating links black on white. A fine tone of wood appears through the white paint in the form of a rectangle. Blue paint that found a certain attraction to this apparition has come off a paint brush in relatively good shape. Penciled lines are truncated in the process, making the apparition that much more sketchy. The relationship with the interface is stable in number, as well as form.

Close Up:

2011
Dimensions: 90 by 90 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel.

A conscious effort won’t work for the task at hand. “What task are you talking about?” “Curiously enough, the most difficult ones, the ones that just won’t give way, get out of the way—like the digit one before the zero, or this square at the service of a wheel.” In effect, only a welling up of some thing, some insight, from the realm of the unconscious is susceptible to break through and do the trick.

The strong compositional structure that I strive for in my work is due to my desire to discover something fundamental (elements, forms and/or processes) rather than to pursue images, abstract or representational, where one has an “incalculable” number of visual components in the image in such a way that no single component or even number of them is critical to the final composition or—and this is regrettable whether it be committed in abstract or representational work—pursue images in which one moves the paint around—for all intents and purposes—aimlessly until there is a satisfiable harmony whereby one self approvingly declares a work well done and complete. In these situations, no fundamental scheme or pattern is discovered.

2011
Dimensions: 90 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel.

“Two is the magic number”, according to the polymath Jacob Bronowski–as expressed in his book “The Ascent of Man”. This painting tries to present in the purist of forms the purist representation of what Dr. Bronowski had in mind: the human couple, man and woman.

Important: at the corners of the interface we can interpret a certain fusion between the couple. A sculpture on this theme can be seen in the “Sculpture” section.

Note: the lines are carved into the wood panel and highlighted with black paint.

Bhuda2011
Dimensions: 89 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel, with wood structure.

I have no idea.

To note: The relationship to the bridge (interface) is brought out primarily by the square shaped blank space that is formed in the black splatch of paint and by the square green block in the interface’s black field. The grey wood strips also create a relationship with the bridge. Certain forms, center left and lower right, are carved discretely into the wood with a trace of pencil highlighting. See title.

2012
Dimensions: 90 by 76 cm, framed.
Media: Paint on wood panel.

Highly graphical work with right angles juxtaposed with a ‘dynamically unpainted’ portion, however calculated. Cuts from a saw can be seen in the inner frame of the interface to link it to the forms that make up the central portion of the work. A small painted circle at the upper left with an outlined trace slightly carved into the wood around it can be seen at the upper left. A gash into the wood panel can be seen towards the exterior, lower right. Carved out lines, as is typical in the artist’s work, define the contours of the blue graphic portion of the work.

Comment: Enlightenment? What can be seen on its path? Where does it lead? Given the rough definition of the path seen in this painting—or one may even view it as a dead end—that seems to be the size of it: a rough path at best, at least from what we can surmise in our restricted life form and in our limited life time. Insisting on going down this path? Obsessing over some absolute truth? Sometimes you just have to know when to just let go.

Epicentral Representative2012
Dimensions: 90 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint, cut-out wood, and painted cardboard on wood panel.

The forms compete with each other in size and texture/thickness. To attain the complex harmony that was sought, different thicknesses of paint and material had to be used. For example, there are white streaks of paint in rectangular form beginning at the upper left, coming across on the large grey-black form, and then coming down at the bottom right. To preserve harmony with the rest of the painting’s geometry, the weight of this paint (its visual effect) had to be calculated to the necessary degree. With the same concern in mind, the form (with the white streak) at the bottom right is painted cardboard, whose extra mass makes it stand out sufficiently in respect to its grey background. Its corresponding piece, the small black square, is of like treatment, being of cardboard as well. The thin rectangular line that moves in and out in respect to the inner interface frame is carved into the wood panel, the painting’s overall surface, and is highlighted with black paint.

Comment: Man’s normal existential condition is one of discontent. And only those who are spoiled or those who are worn out from war would claim to want peace. The theme here is social upheaval, the individual’s posturing in respect to his immediate group, society in general, his rapport with a leadership figure—worldly or extraworldly. It’s not enough to say that we are poorly organized.

Close Up:

White streaks of paint cascading down and across the painting had to be calculated with just the right amount of weight so as not to interfere with the overall geometry of the work.

2012
Dimensions: 90 by 75 cm, framed.
Media: Paint, cut-out wood, and painted cardboard on wood panel.

The organic form is carved out of the wood and reinstated. The signature L is done likewise at the upper left. The two yellow elements, painted cardboard, provide a counter balanced symmetry (two elements against two and with similar textual weight) in respect to the two previously mentioned elements.

To note: In this particular painting, there is absolutely nothing in touch with the “interface” part to make it work, if not for the color of the sun… That thing we see then—as improbable as it might seem—could it be the manifestation of some super organism, or rather perhaps, the birth of one?

2012
Dimensions: 90 by 76 cm, framed.
Media: Paint and painted cardboard on wood panel.

In studying all the space-time, quantum physics, and neurophysiological concepts at our disposal we may come away with the idea that our consciousness/being is limited to dry physical laws at an infinitesimally insignificant point in time and pertaining to an infinitesimally insignificant amount of matter compared to the universe that overwhelmingly envelops and overruns us, thus effectively dehumanizing us in all respects such as free will, spirit, etc. But—and though this may not make hope for us or our hope for understanding any less unreasonable—we must understand that this picture of the universe, and of our being, is in turn rendered ridiculously insignificant next to the fact that our death renders anything and everything we may claim to know, notably spiritual claims—atheistic as well as theistic—just as meaningless.

Indeed, only some existence/awareness after death (external reference point), could lend some final light on what we consciously claim to know about existence (any or no existence), before or after death. But with this new consciousness, or perspective, one must interrogate ‘himself’ about its origins, its end, and about a valid observational reference point for it in turn, ad infinitum. And if this infinitum stuff weren’t enough, consider this: all these thoughts, any thought at all, comes only from the physio-psychological reasoning and awareness capacity of our biological makeup. Who knows if this is anything more than a terribly limited standard to go by, or any standard at all? Perhaps we are, as many would suggest, just living in some little dream world unto ourselves.

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.