Cloud - Hans W. Klohn Commons Mural (2015)
Cloud gives vision to what is invisible to us: thoughts, consciousness, messages, memories, wisdom, and the storage of knowledge moving and evolving through the air.
This painting references a long history. As far back as 3000 years ago, information was sent via carrier pigeons similarly to how we now use twitter or social media. As we move forward through the 21st century, information is evolving. It is becoming like air as it travels via electromagnetic frequencies through the sky. In theosophy and anthroposophy there is a belief in the ‘Akashic records’ which are considered an invisible storage of all knowledge that exists somewhere above. The Sanskrit word Akasha translates into sky, luminous, or æther. If such a record did exist, I would envision it as a visible mass in the air – a cloud of stream, smoke, dust or particles. I see these cloud-like organisms as expressions of invisible worlds that are beyond human perception informed by what has become known to us though such innovations as x-rays, microscopes, infrared imaging or artistic/scientific interpretation.
A major theme in Cloud is the development of technology, from nascent idea to full realization. This is typified in the work examining human flight – mankind imagining the possibility of flight hundreds of years before it actually occurred. Throughout the mural are elusive appearances of either real or imagined flying machines throughout history, along with birds and bees. These highlight that invention is the result of many years of imagining the impossible, and that such abstract conceptions are part of our communal evolution.
Another dominating feature of Cloud is the optical grid pattern. This grid creates an illusion of movement when viewed up close, or a buzz-like static when viewed from a distance. The grid also implies an underlying structure or framework. We associate grids with chessboards and games, and thus the grid becomes a symbol for the underlying structure of the game or perhaps life.
Cloud is also like an approaching storm or nebula marking the shift of knowledge taking refuge “in the air” rather than in printed books. The storm begins with the word INK written in large graffiti letters on the far left and travels across the work through images of books, quotations, references to historical paintings and technological objects evaporating into the sky. Conceptually, this theme addresses the Commons space as reflects on the nature of what a library will be in the future. Traditionally thought of as a physical space to store knowledge through books, it is my belief that the ethereal evolution of such storage will enhance the communal elements of a library space, making it more of a gathering space that creates energy though the sharing of ideas and social connections.
Coincidentally, the first stage of my painting process (watermarking) allows my work to form in a similar way to clouds though evaporation and water. I place objects onto a canvas and use water and pigment in a sort of event or ‘happening.’ Once dry, the objects are later removed to create ghost-like imprints echoing the object that originally sat on the canvas. For Cloud, I included writing tools such as pencils or quills; devices used to store information such as CDs, floppy disks, hard drives, and mini DV tapes; as well as keyboards, mouses and a cell phone. I see this process as expressing the tension and struggle to store information in both a physical and invisible manner in the 21st century. In my watermarking process, I also include personal items such as mementos from lost loved ones, quartz crystals (an essential part of computer circuits), and nails (which evoke the age-old technology of building spaces).
“Tropos” is a large installation of twelve painted canvas panels in panoramic circle measuring 8' by 48'. An audio work by Andrew Reed Miller is presented in a surround-sound format behind the canvas panels. The installation references many elements of the water cycle and troposphere in order to draw attention to the current global concerns about the environment.
Tropos, mixing, from trepein, to turn, similar to trope, a way, a manner, a figure of speech, an embellishment in the sung parts of certain medieval liturgies, part of trophic, nutritive processes, from trophikos, nursing, and trophe, food, in aid of the tropoderm, the outermost layer of the cells of the morula that attaches the fertilized ovum to the uterine wall and acts as a nutritive pathway, creating a trophy, a prize or memento received as a symbol of victory, as is the troposphere, the lowest region of the atmosphere characterized by decreasing temperature with increasing altitude, where the phenomena of weather occurs, 99% water vapor and aerosols.