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.