Paintings by Anthony StephensonOnce again we are at zero. The cycles continue as we churn out our equations. If it’s not something, then it is … what. That. Just one? Like what? Our representations become us – and yours become mine, or not. Sometimes it merely becomes a way of framing the situation. We put it into perspective – two-point, three-point. A high level vision reduces this to a zero-point perspective. If we view a distant horizon, reference points collapse, it just becomes the horizon. If we go further, a satellite image loses even the horizon. If any perspective is then perceived, it’s reference point is in direct alignment with the eye.
This flatness from on high lends to the abstract qualities of the diagram. But unlike the “logical picture” described by Robert Smithson of what others have described as the abstract machine known as the diagrammatic, the intentionality of this art is more reflective than the functionality of deliberative design. More evocative than instructive, these paintings are my interpretations of satellite images of famous traffic intersections.
I think it was the aforementioned others, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, that wrote of a history that I found especially compelling, coming after having read of the geologic rivers of ore as they related to alchemy – an area of knowledge often conveyed imagistically. They wrote of the pre-literate era when miners would find their quarry in the environment and re-create the trail that they travelled in the sand so that others could follow – these lines being the precursors to writing.
Unlike Jorge Luis Borges’ confluence of map and territory in “On Exactitude in Science”, representative abstraction allows for both essence and evocation. One could say that vectorial abstraction becomes a tool that becomes vital to both war and commerce – perhaps becoming the key element in developing objective logic. Vectors of commerce become roads and then highways. As discussion of when the age of Man – the Anthropocene – actually began, one could argue that the tracks of carts on Roman roads could be one of our earliest artifacts.
Visiting Glastonbury in England a number of years ago, I took notice of what they call a market cross. While this structure might be interesting for some future project, I am drawn to the symbolic meaning of a cross. It varies from culture to culture, but in both magic and some Christian theosophy it represents a coming together of the worldly (the horizontal) with the spiritual/ideal (the vertical). Was it the disregard of archetypal structure that caused the World Trade Center to become a target? Perhaps this is reading too much into it, but it is true that it is when our paths cross, the world goes ‘round.
X (Anthony Stephenson), 2016