Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Phew--I think it's finished! (See the Sept. 4 post to see how the thing began, and the inspiration.)
It's also an illustration for my other blog, obitulog

I was recently reading about the contemporary philosopher, Derek Parfit, who claims not to be able to save images of his past, and hence rarely thinks of it. Perhaps he is able to work on moral philosophy because is he less burdened by his own identity and subjectivism. Such is not my case; my identity is hyper-subjective, full of associations. My past plays in my mind like a projector supplied with an endless, infinitely large reel of images.

I've used many sources as references to paint these faces.  They are not so much painted as engraved, scraped through paint. Am I one who bows before the graven image? Heck, I'm a far worse idolator than that--I engrave the things! In this painting you may recognize some of the faces: stars, starlets, rogues, heroes, prophets, and prophets of doom. They, and thousands of others, are engraved in the sequence that makes up my sliding puzzle of mental tiles.

Friday, September 16, 2011


This is a detail of a work in progress. In the laboratory of my studio and my blog, painting ideas come and go. Some reach completion, others don't, and the verdict is still out on this one.

I hope I can pull it off. Were I given the resources, I feel that I could edit and publish a real-life magazine of the same name (chameleon-lover, and a file on chameleons, the animal that is little understood.

The mythology of chameleons in the popular culture is that they change colors to suit their environment. This is largely true, but just the beginning of their wonderment. They also change colors to communicate: in order to affect their environment.

Just as fascinating is their personality--their human-like moods. And their sight is perhaps the keenest ever developed on this planet by any animal. In comparison to them, poor humans are as blind as dogs. Sharp-sighted hawks or cats? Poor souls are they, nearly holding white canes in comparison to the chameleon, who sees colors vividly, as well as the outline of a fly, leagues away.

Fascinating as these attributes are, they are limited subjects if one moves on to philosophical and existential questions that the chameleon opens. They are supposed to be primitive animals; reptiles, are they not? How could it be that they dream? Well, they do--easily seen by their rapid-eye-movements in sleep.  As far as I know, other reptiles are not known to dream.

Their postures and attitudes often seem uncannily human, or hominid. I believe this is an example of parallel evolution. Though humans and chameleons are not related other than in the very distant past
( in the same way that any vertibrate is related), they seem  more closely related to us. Their kind took an evolutionary journey that matches our own in two very important parts: (1.) they chose trees as their home, and (2.) they chose sight as their sense.

Primates took to the trees, needing prehensile hands to grasp branches. Same with chameleons, which have tight-clasping hands and tail. (The ground-dwelling choice, which the likes of baboons and hominids took, is late in the game, a few drops in the bucket of evolutionary time; the bulk of our primate ancestors bid their time in the trees, as most of our cousins still do.)

Our brains and attitudes are due to sight being our sense. Some estimates put it that 80% of our sensory stimulus is visual. For chameleons it must be at least that; they are, in fact, deaf, without ears. (They can, however feel vibrations, and even make vibrations to communicate through the jungle telegraph of tree branches.) Chameleons have stereoscopic vision, like us (and unlike all other reptiles, and most mammals.) Because they are so sight-oriented, they appear hyper-aware and nervous, always vigilant. They are very different from a lethargic snake, for instance. It is uncanny when they look at you directly with both eyes, which work a dissonance on your mind.

Just think about life on other planets. We are finding new Goldilocks planets every day, in regions of space remote, but not hideously far across the cosmos. Imagine encountering extraterrestrials that also chose the twin paths of trees and sight early in their evolution. Which type would be the one that reached for technology first: the reptilian one or the hairy one?

Monday, September 12, 2011


Here's my logo painting for the exhibition, which I began some months ago.
It may be finished--but  I never know before it is actually out of the studio.
It shows a mixing of old and new signs, old and new methods of communicating, surfaces and images vying for attention, especially the case now on the web.

I've always had the feeling of being buried under papers. Sometimes I can keep them under control within files, but more often than not they pile up. I tend to collect all to many things, both in my memory and in my studio!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Time Loop

'Been listening to archived broadcasts of CBS Mystery Theatre, the last great radio play program in the US, running through the '70s.   The show was broadcast late in the evening, and I remember originally listening to it with my grandparents in their camper on the Wyoming prairie, in places that felt very far from civilization--so far, not one light made by man could be seen, only the millions of stars from galaxies very close overhead in the high desert sky.

Many of the archived episodes were taped with the commercials and news issued by various affiliate stations, so you get a real time capsule of what was happening in the early to mid 1970s. The program is often eerie, but perhaps eerier is the feeling that I am in a time loop, many of the events mirroring what the world is feeling now. High oil prices, political scandals, wars, economic hardship, record prices for gold--even a debt ceiling debate.

A few years later, in high school, most nerd or geek kids had read Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange. We may have even tried out some of the Russian-Cockney slang that Burgess had constructed for the future. The book was a  horrorshow introduction to dystopia.

The future has come. Rather than cod pieces and bowlers, the protagonists sport hoodies, or burka-like hankies. In this data-sketch I superimposed the iconic image of Stanley Kubrick's sauntering thugs over a backdrop of London burning and hooded rioters. The lettering of the title is inspired by the film's opening  milk bar scene, which featured fluid signage of the same feel.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Obitulog, a work in progress

I'm painting a cover not only for a new entry, but for a new blog, called Obitulog, http://obitulog.blogspot.com/
(Can you believe it, yet another splinter?)

It would seem that much of what comprises the substance of one's mind is the accumulation of memories. These memories are the building blocks of associations. In the age of wiki and google we are free to find out quickly about the status of people or things that slide around on the tiles of our mind. (I wonder if that guy's still alive? is the header question of the blog.)

 Both memory and associations are dynamic; every time you revisit a memory you are likely to alter it slightly, or shift its placement, so that it occupies a slightly new place in the giant mosaic of shifting tiles that make up the mind. Some of these fall away, never to be found, while others become glued in place, firmly fixed, requiring other bits to slide around them.

This painting is inspired by sliding puzzles, the type with one space free, but filled with a matrix of tiles that support each other, sometimes barely. Unlike the mind,  the image lies on the surface. Yet sequence is important--perhaps more important than time itself. 

The question now is: what will this sliding mosaic of tiles have as their image?