I’ve been listening to a lot of John Cage. I think it’s cause my art has become so centered on the tension between intention and accident.
You think of Cage, you think accident, random patterns–but it’s never just that. There is always the constraint within which the random is allowed to happen, and in much of his work, where there are performers, you hear in the performance, exactly that kind of tension emerging again and again… in little snatches of melody, in coy references to known melodic lines: it’s delicious!
I’ve been doing this since I started making art again–I mean, exploring that tension between control and accident… but never so aware of it as I’ve been since I started playing with silverpoint, where even the reference to the medium calls up associations with great Renaissance draftsmen, da Vinci, Durer… at least, if you are familiar with European art history.
There’s something so satisfying in turning their obsession with control inside out, in the one medium most demanding of that control… you can’t erase a mark in metalpoint. You can’t even cover it over… as it will eventually show through as the metal oxidizes.
… which makes covering over one of the techniques I’m working on… layering. Accident… but also… intention. Structure. I hold those great artists in extraordinary reverence…(too much so… in that this accounts in a major way to my 40 years abandonment of visual art) and admire those contemporary artists who emulate them, mastering their technical facility. But technical facility, without invention?
The artists of Renaissance were in love with science; they explored their understanding of the physical world through their art. Cage releases my imagination to explore my fascination with the layering of perceptions… how we comprehend the world through layers of the received, the given, and the accidental: revelations into what we might never otherwise have imagined.