“Landscapes of the Human Mind” has developed over many years. As a teenager I had visions of how people’s thoughts looked and in my mind I began mapping a visual trace of thought processes, and sometimes of people’s personalities. But, despite the fact that years later, my graduate thesis touched on some of these issues, and further tantalized my interest in the mechanisms of the human brain, I did not feel ready to create the paintings.
In late 2007 Philippe Rochard of the École Polytechnique (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland contacted me to ask permission to use one of my paintings in context with a project he was working on. “The Blue Brain project is the first comprehensive attempt to reverse-engineer the mammalian brain, in order to understand brain function and dysfunction through detailed simulations.” When I reviewed their material and image gallery, I was stunned. In front of me, I saw my teenage vision and a wealth of relevant information relating to my core interests.
Rather than re-creating the real-time biotechnology visualizations on a canvas, my aim is to express a less tangible aspect of the human mind. Although we may one day achieve insights into the basic nature of intelligence and consciousness, my focus was purely visual. Steering clear of the realm of religion and philosophy, I choose to use artistic instinct and inspiration in combination with the fact driven information and insights described by neuro-scientists and -researchers.
Obviously, no single work can hope to distill the complexity of the human mind, nor the infinitely sophisticated environment that forms it. So, in order to capture this richness, I work on a large number of paintings concurrently.
The early paintings represent the bridge between my previous project, the ‘Grass’ series, and ‘Landscapes of the Human Mind’. These first pieces focus on types of thoughts or thought-spheres. The cerebral cortex, the convoluted “grey matter” that makes up 80% of the human brain, is responsible for our ability to remember, think, reflect, empathize, communicate, adapt to new situations and plan for the future. The next pieces will be using a new technique that incorporates digital processing and hand made solar etchings – in other words, they are prints / etchings. These prints are focusing on the more intricate details of thought processing. With the technically rich and cutting edge technique drawing a parallel to the technical discoveries of the blue brain project. These digital mono prints or DMPs are developed at CorkStop Studios, which now houses a state of the art printing facility.
The use of raw pigment, wax, scrapers, and other manual and tactile instruments and materials, create texture, forming the template from which the landscape is abstracted, and as a result, validated in the context of the late 20th/early 21st century culture. The integration of colour and tone sometimes delicate and sometimes bold in nature, further supports the aggressive, spontaneous mark making. Although I have often integrated a variety of textile materials and processes into my paintings, my primary fidelity has been to painting itself as a medium, in all its bewildering variety.
For the base photographs I use a Canon 5D Mark II Camera. The images are taken as RAW data and then edited in the computer and printed on the Epson Stylus Pro 7800. Once printed they are merged with a solar etching plate. Finally a layer of encaustics is painted over the paper, making these ‘prints’ as unique and durable as a painting on canvas.