Symphonic Thoughts

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.

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.