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Uncharted Unnamed Untitled A

“Uncharted/Unnamed/Untitled” | Screen print, charcoal rubbing & dye on unprimed canvas | 2 Variations | 32 x 24 in each | 2014

I have been making a lot of work on unprimed canvas and I think this most recent piece is a big success for me. It’s a group of two varaitions called “Uncharted/Unnamed/Untitled.” The image is from the ferry we are lucky enough to have around here–in my experience it’s the third best way to get to work in the Bay Area, right behind the cable car and the Google Yacht.

BARTset

BARTset.

As I spend more time with these pieces I notice a previously-undetected inner depth revealing itself. For me this is related to the setting of the commute. As a dedicated commuter I am well acquainted with its soul-crushing attributes. But even if the commute is the very essence of the contemporary emotional void, I have also come to see it as an almost spiritual setting, capable of assuming special mutable properties precisely because it is an empty life space.

Sometimes I’ve thought that if I could re-experience the most important weeks of my life, I would be most interested in my impressions of the ride to work. From a certain perspective, all the highs and lows of existence unfold in between these daily stretches of extended repetition. In the realm of the mundane, subtext is everything. The void will be empty all the time until it’s not.The expressionless person across from you might be feeling nothing, but there’s always the chance they’ve lost someone that week. Or maybe something really exciting has just happened.  Eventually we will be the ones on the boat or the car or the train on a day that something big is happening. The image doesn’t tell a story, it tells many possible stories. In that way the piece holds an immediate realness to me.

And I love previously-undetected inner depth because it makes the case for process.

With that off my chest, what I really wanted to document here was the printing process. It grew out of a mistake and at one point I thought this piece was dead on arrival. My original plan was to print the image in two identical layers:

1. A neutral opaque base layer. (Though you might be surprised to learn how much color is in this ink.)
layer 1: neutral daylight

2. A misaligned layer of vivid color on top. Note with this transparent ink, only the areas overlapping the previously printed underbase read as “bright.”

layer 2: underpainting
As you can clearly see, that sucked.

In desperation, I printed one final transparent layer of ink on top of everything, lined up with the first layer.
layer 3: subtractive color

An unexcpected result! The bright warm colors work like the underpainting in classical painting. In fact the entire work resembles a painting much more than a photograph. This is as close as I’ve got to my screen printing mission! The art of imprintation has brought together unexpected elements to generate unpredictable and beautiful patterns of complexity and no one got hurt.

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