27
Jun


With Oreo having triggered a lovely ruckus earlier this week, I note – tongue emphatically implanted in jowl – that colourful commitments should not really be foreign to fundies. We’ve all shared this flag for a long time now. For those of us whose God is Yahweh, the rainbow waves in solidarity with covenant faithfulness. I consider how something so temporal as light scattered (momentarily, ephemerally) through prismatic raindrops has come to symbolize lasting commitment, in so many places, and see across a surplus of situations the thriving presence of refracted life throbbing with vitality. I’m kind of curious to see whether we’re willing to look around, smile, and share the universal experience of the rainbow.

I have to start by honouring the power of these colours as I locally understand them. So let me show you how they function in the world I grew up in; afterwards we can explore further. In church communities where rainbow theology (read "covenant theology") is central, there are plenty of stubborn, head-in-the-wool, dye-in-the-sand religious bigots to go around. I’m one. For as many Sundays as there have been weeks in my life, I’ve sung antiquated, colourful, dashing and violent (but beautiful) Psalms set to 500-year old melodies. But then I’ve also enjoyed the blessings of a Reformed work-ethic, the ritual strength of belonging (via infant baptism), the constructed saftey of a haven for children in the triangle of home-church-school, a place where promises are made and affirmed; commitments solidified and sealed, marriages (between one man and one woman) forged, formed, and finished (over the course of a lifetime), generations raised in the fear of the Lord… and if all of that sounds like a brainwashed, Bible-thumping, institutionalized, insular soup, well it often is! But we usually end up alright. Well rounded, disciplined, and creative, if a little fearful and misguided.

We are afraid of what we (by virtue of celebrating one thing really, really well) have excluded from the realm of the possible. Though better motivators exist, fear can often instigate positive change, and so I want to enthusiastically affirm, the (super) humanity of the many individuals (and communities) who also wave the rainbow flag in their own windows, in their own ways: expressive of so many flavours of peace that I have only begun to understand. While working as a graphic/web designer/communicator in the context of HIV/AIDS community advocacy, I have been consistently impressed by the authenticity and passion of the beautiful people who live together alongside the label: "at-risk population", and those who come alongside them, or otherwise hang out, in one accord, in the same place. By their struggle to be understood, and heard, I can only be inspired. As a straight white male with conservative Christian roots, my own risks here are simply the usage of acronyms and other linguistic conflations – but in spite of them, my shout of solidarity extends strongly to PLHIV, LGBT, MSM, Drug Users, Sex Workers, Women, youth, unborn children, prison inmates, Aboriginal peoples, Africans, Canadians, Christians, Muslims and Hindus!

Will we lose our individual identities if we become this accepting? Probably, yes. But we will anyway, en route to becoming who we really are: our idols smashed, and our distorted conceptions of God refined. In that process of becoming, I struggle to articulate the particular brand of rainbow-coloured covenant-keeping that I would recommend. There are paradoxes here that I lack to capacity to resolve. But if Plato’s advice to "be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle," is given urgency and scope through Jesus’ call to "love your neighbour as yourself" … we remain free to ask: are we ready to praise the Lord with all created colours and cookies?

26
Jun


There’s a unique privilege that I enjoy, in renting a room next-door to a place of worship. In particular the steeple at Providence has often given me cause to reflect, on the majesty and grace of (church) community, as it lives out its vision for a compelling presence in the world. But I’m also reminded that our beautiful (physical, intellectual, spiritual) eyes lack clarity, depth of field, and focus.

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."
– 1 Corinthians 13:12

The steeple points us beyond ourselves, beyond the mind-bending of pin-pricks of light travelling for eons to get here: to the Origin of the cosmos, to the Mystery of being, to the King of kings… and yet here we are, in this windy heat wave, grounded like a Southcote Road Sycamore… left to ponder such earthly experience as the sound of marching feet in the tops of the trees.

This window – an amalgam of acrylic and arboreal flourishing – frames for me an invitation to investigate, (to seek and to find) the fringes of the knowable – the metaphysical edges of existence. In light of this pursuit, I relish the permission that my Christian journey has given me to wonder about what "face to face" might mean, and to muse on what purposeful end we might be meandering towards in this milky way.

But the visual language of the window pane encourages another kind of reflection too: about how my search effort for clarity is itself supremely ephemeral and small. Certainty, though in some sense attainable, is a project with limits. I struggle to be okay with that.

And yet, when our pretty suburban bell-bearing tower is rendered in the fragility of reflection, it quickly loses all pretense towards monument. In such a moment, in the place where ambition has been killed, we find an opportune time for the Spirit to enter, filling the place it inhabits with the glorious aesthetic of the here and now. Let’s you and I together turn the collective crank of all the world’s windows… let in some wind, and engage in the divinely empowered performance art of Carpe Diem In Dei Gloriam!

26
Jun


Onomatopoeic
stroke of adversity sprung
from a brush loaded
with layers and layers and seasons of painted brightness,
numerous vehicular numerals,
suddenly torn from their nestled velocities
suddenly (tragically) set on a trajectory towards
a terminus of jeering concrete!
Varney Speedway’s corner four
(sharpest in the country)
is a boundary defined:
experience as enjoyed and/or suffered by
the driver of a Durham race car,
making her mark on the whirled.

Zoomable Varney Speedway

29
Apr


Colours do not fade but rather are
obstructed by blocked inkjet nozzles,
killed by camera sensor dust,
muted by tone curves,
amped by ambition.

Veils of history aside
I do intend to trust 580 as
the count of nanometres where
Orange will run out to meet Lemon
regardless of the present century.

And these same wavelengths will remain
as diligently honest as the mirror
with respect to cosmetics, not withstanding
the lines on your back and
the pimples on my cheek.

23
Apr


I’ve been working with Tom Smith at SML Solutions to produce my digital tapestries in a new display format. The artwork begins as a satin inkjet print, and is then sandwiched between sheets of aluminum and acryllic. "U-channels" fixed to the backside enable both a convenient hanging workflow, as well as an elegant floating appearance on the wall. At Move: AN UPWARDS JOURNEY I had an opportunity to showcase the fantastic possibilities offered by this approach. I’m particularly excited about the 6-foot tall Lipo Osteo, although a lot of people in the Christian community seemed to gravitate towards Communio – perhaps because on the surface it appears to be more hopeful and accessible?

The show got me thinking in a new way about the contrast between permanence and the ephemeral. I like to celebrate the way in which my sculptures often blow away, or are playfully vandalized by children on the beach. And yet, in order to share their poignant fragility, I must immortalize them between layers of synthetic human-made ingenuity. Is monumentality a necessary evil? Are there environmental considerations in the use of aluminum and acrylic that war against my concept? What negative side effects are there whenever we (in artmaking, or in other disciplines) work to carve out (for ourselves) a place?

12
Jan


oh conniving incubator
direct your brooding
righteous anger
to devise an assassination plot
for greed

See Also: Zoomable Hatch

24
Dec


"The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation."

Excerpt from T.S. Eliot, "The Dry Salvages" (No. 3 of "Four Quartets")

Text: The Dry Salvages
Audio: T. S. Eliot reading: The Dry Salvages
See Also: Zoomable Salvage Something

15
Dec


Flesh Word straddles the interface between idea and action. It’s a kind of language game. In my head and heart are heavy, violent, dark things, as well as hopeful things. And to explain/express them, I’m limited when I resort to frameworks of language. But the free-flowing advantages of digital tapestry extend also to written work. I can be both honest and open-ended, when meanings flow like this: connected ambigiuously, but placed in stark playful juxtaposition. It may not be accurate in every sense, but when I metaphor-mesh in word and (pixel) flesh, the results challenge and surprise me every time.

Of course there’s an analytical element. "Flesh word" is a derivative of the typical incarnation story "Word became Flesh". These meandering reflections owe whatever stability they have to that story as it’s traditionally told. So when I follow the story into another space altogether… when I see the dance between matter and spirit going onward, beyond the embodiment of God into human form… when I see our actions, our flesh, in turn become the raw materials for our ideas: our theology, our philosophy, our headspace, our heartspace … then I need Jesus to bring all that heaven back down to earth.

When violence permeates both our words and actions, I find irony and hope in discovering the language of a "Mooring Point" on the fuselage of a fighterplane at the airshow, along with a "Refueling"… It’s disconcerting to have to refuel (even spiritually) if the whole process is geared towards enabling a bombing mission. It is, of course, possible that there are legitimate targets / wars / enemies. I’d rather not have to invent their justification. And yet my own heart (engaging with its place and tradition) has managed plenty such inventions. By putting it all out there, I hope I can focus on the the light, on the solution, even the cosmic humour of it all.

Christmas reminds me of a kind of letting go. The Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world. The the veil of the drama involving oversized stars and sheep keepers, we’ve got a little glint of green amid the metal and flesh, the word and the flesh, the flesh wound beneath the gleam of gold-leaf. Flesh Word.

Zoomable Flesh Word

24
Nov


Coordinates: 27.818124,-15.767749

This beach lies just to the west of the harbour in Mogán in Grand Canaria. The image, its composition, and the relationships within it, offer me an opportunity to reflect on a more human arrangement of space and form.

I am a fragment of seaworthiness, robbed of my watery context, denied the opportunity to flourish. I bear the burden of emptiness, carrying precisely zero fishermen. I’m guessing someone had a communications strategy for the sign-space between those two poles… but the wind had a strategy of its own.

And that sphere — is it some kind of anchor? Or a floating buoy? Maybe one of us will leave an educated guess in the comments below. But for the moment the ambiguity resonates with me. Sinking and swimming are playground pals, having learned to take turns.

And yet: is there a hint (in these hollows) of hope?

Could those posts be a soccer net? This sphere an autumn moon? This fading paint a affirmation of an enduring dance between primary and secondary hues?

It is what it is. But it is also what you make of it.

Pivoting around this throbbing heart of metal, we hear the groans and scrapes of a weary but joyful past, now given a time to rest and repose, and to serve as a new a kind of (spiritual) vessel.

This journey ain’t over, people. It’s just getting started.

16
Aug


6-year-old me didn’t need to know the author’s name, although the gold-coloured Newberry medal on the cover intrigued, if only mildly .

What mattered then, to begin with, was the dread of the goblins, the treachery of milk turned sour, and the anguish of villagers.

More recently, the premise of this tale resurfaced in my conscience through such films as "How to Train a Dragon", although this edition was somewhat more redemptive and heartwarming.

In the goblin version, the hero’s wisdom amounts to a betrayal of a raindrop dance.

But today, the sunlight "dances between the raindrops" with a decidedly conciliatory vibrance.

ps: I will be fully grateful to the light that will be shone into my soul by the one who can recall the name and author of the story I am here struggling to recall :)