In the Symphonic Thoughts series of works, the underlying images are also previous photographic pieces that I have shown in exhibits across the United States, and internationally. Each photograph has been substantially transformed, just as the central nervous system transforms visual memories into complex and indecipherable neuronal networks and interconnections.
Ciurlionis's Paintings / Thoughts on a Beach. In the late 1970's I pursued art historical investigations of the painter M. K. Ciurlionis. My investigations led to several important historical discoveries, which I wrote up and published. I did the typing of these manuscripts on a typewriter that had a disposable ribbon. I saved those ribbons. In 1987, I released several of these ribbons on Toronto's Sunnyside Beach, and photographed them. In the photo-documentary piece of 1994, one can actually read my written words on these ribbons. The EEG tracing was done while I thought about M. K. Ciurlionis's Paintings. The musical score applied was from M. K. Ciurlionsis's symphonic poem Jura (Sea).
On precisely noon of June 21, 1980, on the summer solstice near Canada's most northerly inhabited village of Grise Fiord, Ellesmere Island. I placed stones, one after the other, at the end of the shadow cast by the previous stone. The outdoor installation was entitled Stone Time Line (1980, photo-documentary piece, 1994). The EEG tracing was done while I thought Creative Thoughts (1980). The musical score applied to this piece was from Igor Stravinsky's Tango.
During the wars between the US army and Native Americans, the US government was conquering territories, in Minnesota, 50 Native American warriers were apprehended. A momumental scaffolding was build, and they were all executed simultaneously. This was the largest mass hanging in US history. Currently, the site of this atrocity is the front lawn of a farmer's house, with no historical marker, and is extremely difficult to locate. It is simply marked by the growth of grass. (Thoughts of mass execution: 50 hanged, 1980). The EEG tracing was done while I thought about Franz Kafka's Law (1980). The musical score applied to this piece was from J.S. Bach's Fantasia.
During a family trip to the Rocky Mountains, in Colorado, I undertook an individual expedition to find the abandoned, gold-rush Lula City. What was left of the city had turned to swamp, into which I almost sank. On the way back to my family, I became totally lost and feared for my life. As the sun was setting, after several hours of panicked running through the overgrown, snow-covered forest, I found my way out. My four-year old daughter, Ausrine, who was waiting for me, when she heard of how I barely made it back said we should all "go away from here" as fast as possible because "the ghosts are coming." The EEG tracing was done while I thought about Samuel Beckett's Malone (1980). The musical score applied to this piece was from J.S. Bach's Fantasia Cromatika.
In 1980, I visited the village of Pilviskai where my father, and his forefathers, grew up. During mass at the Pilviskai church, I took the photograph of the altar and parishioners in attendance (Thoughts of ancestral religious rites, 1995). The EEG tracing was done while I thought about the Significance of Contemporary Art (1980). The musical score applied to this piece was from Bela Bartok's Change of Time (in Mikrokosmos).
During a trip to the Colorado Rocky Mountains, I took a photograph of an extremely peaceful valley scene (Thoughts of valley peacefulness, 1996). The EEG tracing was done while I thought about the art works of Vermeer (1980). the musical score applied was from G.F. Handel's Water Music.
In April, 1980, while doing a rotation in the electroencephalogram (EEG) laboratory at the Mayo Clinic, I asked one of the EEG technicians to do my own EEG. I had prepared a list of artists and artistic topics to think about as the EEG was done. She carefully recorded on the tracing paper what I was thinking. The EEG tracings on the current sequence of art works were taken directly from these tracings. Although the original EEG had recorded 12 channels, with 12 lines, for the art works I only used five lines, in keeping with the number of lines on sheet music. The analogy with music was further amplified by the application of musical “notes” (actually barbs from barbed wire) onto the EEG tracings. In each art work a specific musical piece was used for the precise placement of the barbs in keeping with the musical score from that composer’s work.
In October, 2004, I traveled to Toronto, Canada, and visited High Park-the area where I grew up. I spent a large portion of my childhood roaming throughout this park. I visited the zoo in which animals are kept behind tall fences which are topped with rows of barbed wire (is this to keep the animals in, or to keep human predators out?). I photographed a large number of the barbs and used those images for the musical “notes” that were placed on my own EEG tracings. You cannot escape your own upbringing-your personality and ideas are formed during growth, and remain in your mind, in your being, like entangled barbed wire.
The premier exhibit of this sequence of works took place in May 2005 at the M. K. Ciurlionis National Museum of Art in Kaunas, Lithuania. During the three years that I pursued art full-time I also studied the art work of Ciurlionis thoroughly and made several important historical discoveries. These articles were published at the time, and this past fall, were re-published by the Vilnius Academy of Art in book form, Ciurlionis: Mintys / Thoughts. The musical elements that I have incorporated into this series of art works, along with many visual elements, are in homage to the remarkable work of the painter and composer Ciurlionis.
This series of works consists of large format digital prints on canvas (54 by 148 inches) and smaller works on paper (13 by 36 inches for the full images; 13 by 18 inches for the detail images). The large format works were printed with a Hewlett Packard 5500 plotter. For the smaller prints, an Epson Stylus Photo 2000P was used. All of the materials, including inks, canvas, and paper were of the highest archival quality.
Sincere thanks to my dear wife, Sigita, for her boundless support through all the stages of these artistic undertakings.