Anna Leonowens Gallery,
15 – 20 February 1999

Ardeches installation view, Anna Leonowens Gallery Halifax (Feb 1999)

The phrase ‘information overload,’ has become cliché. What we are dealing with is a new type of mysticism, a technological mysticism. The diagram thus becomes a very important symbol. It is a religious aesthetic, a way of offering mystical understanding of data. The data is so abstract, yet so vitally important, so tangible and yet ephemeral that is has obtained the aura of a god. The diagram thus becomes a way to approach this god. This a result of the triumph of positivism, manifested through the scientific-method, which has led to so much information being produced that a mystical understanding, instead of becoming quaint, primitive, and obsolete is actually required in order to see how the parts become whole.

I have been interested in how parts become whole, how meaning is carried by lines in the form of text and drawing in general, and the subsequent, relationship between Meaning vs. Meaninglessness. I am enthralled by the construction of completely absurd things. This is because of a loss of faith in old god-forms, and recognition of our existence that is made meaningful through action. Our existence seems absurd, but we do exist.

Ardeches references the psychological source of art and religion. The title is meant to suggest a metaphor for this contemporary art show in a chamber which is accessed through a hall and a descent down steps, by alluding to the 30 000 year old Chauvet cave, found in 1994 in the Ardeche region of France. Its cave paintings are the world’s oldest known art. There, the painted animals represent the gods of the day. Here, the painted celebrities and diagrams represent the gods of today. The books contrast the television, both mediums of communicating information that have transformed human consciousness.

Ardeches installation view, Anna Leonowens Gallery Halifax (Feb 1999)

We recognize that we build structures around the experience of awe. The mind is an anti-entropy machine. It takes a chaotic environment and begins by assigning patterns, at first loose, which possibly become more fixed. The mind is limited by its patterns, that is, its beliefs. It forms an architecture Ð a worldview, based upon initial patterns, which become more and more embedded and fixed with the weight of the new structures above. If these initial patterns are unstable and are revealed to be such by the additional conceptions, then they will be replaced. A cycle occurs and a worldview, a sense of self, and a conception (an idea), is formed.

“Contrary to what we might believe, the experience of ghosts is not tied to a bygone historical period, like the landscape of Scottish manors, ect.., but on the contrary, is accentuated, accelerated by modern technologies like film, television, the telephone. These technologies inhabit, as it were, a phantom structure…When the very first perception of an image is linked to a structure of reproduction, then we are dealing with the realm of phantoms.” -Jacques Derrida: The Ghost Dance. An interview with Jacques Derrida by Mark Lewis and Andreas Payne, trans. Jean-Luc Svoboda, in: Mark Wigely: The Architecture of Deconstruction: Derrida’s Haunt, Cambridge Mass 1993, p.163.
“The walls of caves were our first screens, a reality virtual as any we’ve derived. The printed page was our first automated medium, replication guaranteed, word without end. Now the word, the printed word, is an interface of quite astonishing depth and complexity – so complex that whole years of training are required before an operator can access anything like the full bandwith of any written language. (Skilled readers, accessing text, alter their inner states at will. This is why dictators still seek to control presses.)” -William Gibson 11/01/96, Forward for Ray Gun, Out of Control, 1997.
Document History
  1. 1999: Artist statement for my NSCAD graduation show
  2. 2001: Digitized for my website
  3. 2004-2015: archived on my blog
  4. 2015: this version produced