This past week I installed TOTAL WAR at a friend's new condo in Seattle and was hit by intense feelings of nostalgia, gratitude and awe. Although she had acquired the work over four years ago, this was the first time it has been placed in context with her entire collection. Created in 2011, it was the first piece I made after I got sober and signals the start of the most positive and creative period of my life. It was literally a new beginning formed in pink neon.
Everyone goes through this at some point in their lives, if they are alive at all. The feeling that you have to summon everything. That every time you wake up, every second, you are a single focused laser on whatever you are seeking. And it's a battle in you, a war that gets waged to wrap your mind around the obstacles, to rectify the past and envision the future at all costs. It's an inwardly focused total war of self fought to answer the one prime and infinite objective we all face: what am I here to do?
And it's nothing false, no exercise for the sake of stretching. No treason of the self or tortured artist gambit going on. Just the pure and simple work of doing the work however you can with whatever you can to get to the bottom of it. This self-imposed process led me to a place where I could begin to create again using: conceptual investigation based on literary, scientific and esoteric research, text, experiential objects and neon. Impulsively rendered in pink, TOTAL WAR emits an abrasive angst balanced by the conceptual bite that would go on to populate the rest of my work.
By some kind of material transmutation, the image of the work became the work itself, propelling me into the digital capillary action of social media right as Web 2.0 really began to solidify. Across the varied interfaces I formed solid connections with artists, critics, curators and best of all, people with a general interest in what I was up to since I had no real friends left to hang out with. I left so much destruction in the wake of my real life that social media platforms were the only place I could exist, get feedback on the work, and figure myself out. It was where, beginning at the age of 33, I actually grew up. Where I began to sense the trails I would go down in life, the heights I might ascend, how I eventually somehow transported myself to the notable vistas MMXIV and JUST BE YOUR SELFIE. And so, I just keep going down these pathways, into the feed, into the network, into...I'm not sure yet.
All I do know is that it began with a pink neon phrase and that I'm getting closer to something based on and beyond it with every subsequent thing I make. Something obscured is slowly being revealed as a total work as opposed to a total war. Is it a monumental DNA snippet presenting 250,000 years of human evolution as a series of interconnected material investigations or are wifi ghosts trying to tell us something? Can I get the owners of these ten downtown LA skyscrapers to agree that an LED installation involving all of them at once is a good idea?
Whatever it is, it's probably just easier to say "yes" when people ask if I'm a neon artist, although Posthuman Contemporary gives me room to grow, and is of course: 100% ON BRAND.