Humans are the most successful animal if measured by the ability to control one’s environment, or extend lifespan, or the ability to adapt or invent. We have been so successful that it sometimes feels like we are something different all together, maybe an anomaly, maybe a higher power. We make things that look like nothing else we see in nature. We think up stuff that doesn’t exist (fiction) and perhaps most puzzling, things that can’t exist (a perfect square, a Mobius strip). Our physicality and mortality bring us back; they prove to us that we are natural beings. However, we can avoid thinking about this most of the time and remain in our perceived separation and buffered experience of nature, an illusion upon which we depend.
Have we gone too far? Not far enough? Almost certainly some of both.
As an artist I try to remain aware of both my humanity and my animal dependency on the rest of nature. I’m fascinated by both. The forms and patterns of nonhuman nature are so intricate, chaotic, and iterative and yet without exact repetition. Even as I feel at home with them around me. The forms and patterns of human expression are easy to see by contrast. Ideas and concepts such as language, models, mathematics, abstraction (abstracting something is a very human thing to do) and human mark-making are all easily distinguished from the rest of nature’s patterns.
I use drawing as a way of locating human ideas in nature. I map out concepts, for example a mathematical model or a game diagram, and compose them of natural patterns. I’m corralling the physio in conceptual forms and conversely, deconstructing the forms with the patterns of nature. I draw as realistically as I can to emphasize the contrast between human and nonhuman expression. I wonder (and enjoy) how the products of human consciousness are so different from the natural world producing them.
Drawing feels right for my current artistic inquiry because drawing is one of the developments that set humans on our anomalous evolutionary path in the first place. What it means to be human is inextricably linked to language, and drawing is believed to be the earliest form of visual communication (at least 40,000 years old). I hope my art will help others wonder why and what it means to be human.