Friday, July 15, 2011


In the late 80’s I was watching a news report on the television.  There was a breakaway for the weather report.   The weatherman was standing on the stage.  Behind him was projected the northern hemisphere.  He was pointing out different weather systems coming in.  What a magnificent picture it was; this man in the heavens above the earth telling us what’s going to happen tomorrow.  I thought it was audacious, over-confident, and incredibly arrogant, but fascinating too. 
I started thinking about that image of the weatherman, and a scientific theory called the “Observer Effect,” closely related to the Heisenberg Principle, which states that you can’t have an innocent observation—you can’t observe nature without affecting it.  For example, when European explorers first observed Native American villages, their presence affected the observations they made, because the Native villagers were affected by the presence of outside observers.  Maybe that applies to our weatherman.  As humankind is predicting the weather, we are also changing the weather.   
This was just about the time when we started talking about the theory of “global warming.”  I thought of the “weatherman” as an iconic figure in our struggle to understand that nature is not something else, it is us. We can predict the weather because we cause it.  This line of thinking and visualizing led me to make a series of pieces entitled “Weatherman.”   The first was made on an 8 foot plywood panel.  The image was cut into plywood with a router.  I filled the grooves with resin to make a strong, powerful line.  There were also versions of this piece done on paper.  
My favorite “Weatherman” is a sculpture on wheels.  It depicts a man standing on a platform with the northern hemisphere.  As you push the platform the northern hemisphere rotates and the figure gestures at it, as if he’s telling you what the weather is going to be like.  His gesture is ambiguous because of the way he’s pointing.  It could be a gesture of aggression, as if he has a pistol in his hand.  These pieces from the 80’s have become more important to me as time has gone on.  Especially now, in 2011, the “Weatherman” is even more relevant, where the notion of global warming is a panic.  Nonetheless, we can’t seem to change our behavior.  What we put into motion, we can’t seem to stop.  It’s a dilemma for mankind.  This is why these pieces have a special significance for me now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Bean—this is a new drawing I just made.  I guess my work is kind of surrealistic, especially my drawings.  It depicts a landscape of geometric structures like a high rise with beans in them or maybe it’s producing beans or holding beans.  It’s sort of like a pod with beans.  The bean has been a favorite image of mine for many years and there are several sculptures of beans throughout my work.  The bean is full of promise as a shape.  It’s a simple shape, mostly convex, but a little bit of concave.  It’s got a shape that’s on its way to do something else.  It’s a shape that looks motivated to become two shapes--to bifurcate.  It has a middle, a side,  a front and a back  It’s a shape that represents genesis, the shape of beginning, the shape of the seed, the shape of the very first embryo—we were all beans to begin with.  I love the pun, the “human being” and the “human bean.”  I’ve made a lot of those images with the bean, full of promise and potential, primordial and simple.      

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July 12, Beginning of the Universe

Sometimes, I like to draw things before I build them.  I don't always do this, but with this cyclotron, it’s quite a complicated apparatus.  A cyclotron is a particle accelerator, used in atomic physics, to accelerate a part of an atom—an electron.  The electron accelerates, faster and faster, almost to the speed of light.  Trouble is, the faster it goes, the more energy it takes, because as it speeds up it picks up mass.  As you approach the speed of light, you can't go any faster, but the more you press down the accelerator, the heavier your car becomes.  I use electro magnets to move that electron along on a collision course with another electron coming round the other way.  It’s like a game of chicken, but they don’t chicken out.  They can’t because the magnetic force won’t allow them to stray.  They collide head on at great speeds and with a mass of great ocean ships compressed down to the subatomic size. An extraordinary train wreck of a collision that breaks those electrons up into sub-particles that never before existed, except at the beginning of the universe.  It’s a little model of what physicists think of what the BIG BANG was like.  It obviously captures the imagination of many physicists, but it has also captured my imagination, so I built my own cyclotron in the studio and I've been experimenting with it.  These are some of the first pictures of what I've gotten.   See what you think of these new drawings and let me know.