Ambient:October 11, 2014 Between 10:55 AM and 3:42 PM; Watershed 1, Lookout Creek & Watershed 3
October 11, 2014 Between 10:55 AM and 3:42 PM; Watershed 1, Lookout Creek & Watershed 3
Oil on 6 Wood Panels, 25 1/2 in. x 112 in.
The landscape is constantly changing around us, which mostly sneaks past our notice. A few points in the year hold dramatic transformation, as when blossoms suddenly cover entire trees like puffs of soft, warm snow, or wetland fields explode with the purple of camas. I desire to sit with eyes wide open to witness the exact moments that bare branches transform from brown and grey to green. This is impossible, of course. Although it seems sudden, even dramatic changes happen incrementally, as when one morning, what was absent when you went to sleep is full and bursting when you wake up. My paintings isolate changes that are missed by human perception, even when staring directly at the landscape with eyes wide open. Using a simple, consistent system designed to make the paintings’ compositional choices as objective as possible, Ambient compares color changes found in Lookout Creek, Watershed 1 and Watershed 3 throughout one specific day. It seemed like a fairly straightforward plan until I began photographing the creeks; everything changes constantly. Nature’s complexity soon overwhelmed my simple system’s parameters. Subjective choices in the field and post production were necessary to fill in the gaps opened by the limitations of my system, and by the translation of perceptual experiences to digital information usable as references for the paintings.
I placed a rock painted white in a small pool in Watershed 1 at the gauging station. It serves as a constant point of reference to compare the colors of the creek surrounding the rock. I captured images of the rock and surrounding creek bed every minute for 9 minutes. Next, I placed the white rock in the middle of a clear, deep pool in Lookout Creek, also at a gauging station, and again captured an image each minute. The same procedure was done at Watershed 3, another small tributary upstream of Watershed 1. The location I placed the white rock in Watershed 3, unlike the other two locations, is not natural creek bed. Rather, it is a constructed, rectangular concrete pool built to collect and measure sediment traveling through the watershed: a human construction juxtaposed with the natural creek bed structures of Lookout Creek and Watershed 1.
Once I completed my first round of three locations, I returned to Watershed 1 to repeat the same procedure. Three rounds at each location were completed on October 11, 2014 between 10:55 AM and 3:42 PM.
Finally, the digital translations of the colors were rendered in oil paint, a process that takes the image from a technological interpretation back to a perceptual human experience. Ambient’s top panels consist of the colors of the white rock affected by the water and ambient colors of the forest and sky. The bottom panels are the colors collected from images of the creek bed at specific gridded points on the photograph. The colors in both panels are arranged by correlating time and rounds in squares of 16 distinct colors taken from each captured moment.
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