Art and/as Process – Time

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Have you looked at time compressed into a stone, a million years in your hand? Would not our life seem but a blink of an eye to a mountain?

The passage of time can be looked upon in a wide range of ways. For the figures In Fluidity: Actual Entities & Occasions of Experience (FAEOE) time is caught at a moment in-between breaths. It is a fascinating moment one which I spent a long time mediating on after reading Osho’s ‘The Book of Secrets’ years ago. The book is a collection of meditational practices from around the world and “The space between breaths” is one of the simplest meditations that can be practiced everywhere; well not underwater. What I noticed about the moment between breaths is that it doesn’t really exist, not in a definite stop/start view. As we breathe in we begin to breathe out, and as we breathe out we begin to breathe in. It’s a beautiful, non-friction, fluid process whose contemplation changed things as mundane as a daily TTC commute for me…

     In FAEOE the figures can be thought of as entering and exiting a moment. All we have to work with is a ghostly outline hinted by the various colour shapes as they move in all directions on the sheet of paper. The shapes in themselves are an abstraction of the forces and elements, physical and ephemeral, with which we interact. The work is attempting to illustrate that we, like everything else, are in a constant and dynamic process of change, of becoming.

     This image of a fluid transition from one moment to the next, a continues becoming, started to form when I was reading about the philosophical construct of Actual Entities & Occasions of Experience as defined by Alfred North Whitehead. According to him, as far as I understand, is that each moment presents a new arrangement of matter. This occasion of experience constitutes the ‘reality’ of an actual entity, or a physical construct (rock, person, star…etc). This means that at each moment, that which makes up our physical reality is in a unique, one of a kind arrangement never to be repeated again. It’s not that something ‘is’ or things, people, etc. ‘are’ but rather that everything is always ‘becoming’.

     This is why I am drawn to the metaphor of a river which permanents all aspects of this body of work. It’s a visible moving force of perpetually changing content, yet it still has a place in space, a place that is paradoxically static in our minds. In other words, when thinking along these lines any moment presents an opportunity for discovery and change, where the concept of ‘I am’, ‘this is’ and ‘you are’ is no longer static.

Featured music in the above videos (from top) Too Many ZOOZ, Misfits, The Chemical Brothers

Art and/as Process – Display

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Change is one of the key associations I have when it comes to fluidity and it is something I have struggled with somewhat conceptually in finding a way to incorporate it into my work. After all, the most dramatic change occurs during the process of making the work, once finished the process retards.

     With each series of works I found a different way of framing change for myself in order to overcome this conceptual dilemma. In Fluidity: Actual Entities & Occasions of Experience, the show I am currently finishing working on, I am most satisfied with how change is incorporated thanks to the way the work is displayed.

     Each piece is supported on five individual stands custom built for the work. The individual supports allow for an endless set of possibilities in how the work is positioned altering its structure and how the work is experienced each time. I built two different sets of prototypes in order to experiment with transforming the two dimensional works on paper into a three dimensional structure.

     The first prototype was unstable and bulky but it proved that the paper could be supported with magnets alone while interacting with a three dimensional space. The second, and much lighter prototype, added an element of motion to the work do to the elasticity of the poles. It is also a lot more stable do to a wider base. Now the movement of air inside a space can activate the work and in case that the flow becomes dramatic the elasticity of the poles will help to absorb some of the force of without helping to tip the structure over.

      I am really excited about the opportunity of installing all twelve pieces this way at Joseph D. Carrier Art Gallery this September and setting up a river like flow in what is already a really interesting, half rotunda, space.

2015 Fluid 11 with stand

2015 Fluid #8
Watercolour and acrylic on paper
152cm x 457cm (5′ x 15′ feet),
variable foot print when setup on 7′ foot custom built plywood stand

Featured music in videos 1,2 & 4 from DJ Medicineman, narrative in video 3 from Dan Carlin’s “Hardcore History”

Art and/as Process – editing images

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Image gathering and manipulation is a part of my practice. I started collecting images from comics, illustrations and fashion magazine as reference material in my learning of how to draw. As my interests expended past representation of people and characters the images I would collect related to ideas I felt passionate about. As an example of my early efforts the drawing below depicts multiple figures. Some have strings attached to them while others have their strings cut. The figures with cut stings were sourced form skateboarding magazines, the figures with string attached came from fashion and entertainment magazines. At the time I felt that skateboarding culture represented a type of freedom to express oneself as opposed to mainstream culture which represents conformity and control.

      When I started to use Photoshop I stopped collecting physical images and began sourcing images from the web. What I use to do in my sketch books in terms of thumbnails and layouts I now do digitally. For this body of work, 2014/15 Fluid, I wanted to create vibrant and dynamic images that would hint at a narrative. As a subject I chose “kids playing” because I associate childhood with an intense and visible time of growth and activity which lends itself to the feeling of movement I wish to achieve with my works. What I found were cliché stock images of kids playing which did not hold much interest for me. By modifying my search with an addition of a specific country for each of the drawings (ex. kids playing in Syria) the result proved a lot more interesting. I now had at my disposal a much wider array of images from which to create compositions allowing for a broader reading of character reminiscent of my thesis work “The Grown Up Child” which blurred the line between adult and child.

       Because I am interpreting Alfred North Whitehead’s ideas of Actual Entity and Occasion of experience the figures are only hinted upon as outlines. Their identity and action is ultimately left up to the viewer’s interpretation complementary to Whitehead’s theory that all matter is in a constant state of motion in a universe that is continually changing. So as we can never step in the same river twice that same idea is applied to our interaction with any given object or person and more to the point with each of the Fluid pieces.Subjects contained in each of the watercolours are waiting to be flushed out by individual interpretation unique to each of us.

Featured music: Editing Images 1-2, DJ Medicine Man; Composition 2, Tea Party; Composition 4, Robyn (feat. Röyksopp)

Art and/as Process – A walk by a creek

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When I look at the river, or the Etobicoke creek in this case, there is no doubt that it is in a process of constant change. An entity defined by its flow of content and by its constant redefinition of the space which it occupies. It is there in front of me, yet the ‘it’ is constantly different. Now take out the word river and replace with anything else present in the universe. It is harder to grasp that everything that exists, exists as a flow, a transference of energy and matter. This is what I am attempting to grasp and visualize in my Fluid bodies of work.

     Reality as a flow is an idea interestingly captured in Alfred North Whiteheads “Process Philosophy” (PP) which inspired my 2014/15 Fluid works. Whitehead did not believe that the “material world as composed of atoms each occupying a position in absolute space at an absolute time” (Borchert 2006, 747) but as lines of force where no element is independent, affecting and affected by another in a continuing flow. So when we look at something real like a mountain, a person or a galaxy cluster through the lens of (PP) this would qualify as an Actual Entity which is an Occasion of experience. Considering that all matter is comprised of fluctuating elements, at any given moment that which we perceive is in a unique assemblage which has never occurred before and ever will again.

     With this in-mind the work I am currently preparing for my solo show at J.D. Carrier Art Gallery combines figurative work with abstraction. The figures on the surface are hinted by a variety of fluid shapes floating through space. Their action, nationality, age, their very presence is up for interpretation allowing for the viewer’s occasion of experience with the work. Each figure is like the river, defined by its edges with its content changing with each person’s experience of the work.

     The work will be installed independent of walls on custom built stands allowing for fluid arrangements of fifteen foot lengths of each of the watercolors in a 2500+ square foot space.


Both videos feature music from Mogwai in the background.


Borchert, Donald M. 2006. Whitehead, Alfred North. Vol. 9, in Encyclopedia of Philosophy, by Donald M Borchert, edited by Donald M Borchert, 746-753. Thompson, Gale.

Art and/as Process – Work after work

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When it comes to the creative process I am a believer in little steps, all the time. Since work is a necessity which demands a significant portion of my time I find myself working after work on a regular basis. Every now and then there is an overlap which helps with the grind.

     While developing a prototype display system for my fifteen foot watercolours two overlaps occurred. While moving I got to use the rental van to purchase the materials needed for my prototype and deliver them to the studio.

     My original plan was to do the millwork necessary using my circular saw. Unfortunately do to the mess (dust) and safety issues I had to figure out another way. Luckily the jobsite I have been on for the past few months working on some detail oriented (2mm tolerance) millwork has a very good miter saw.

     So on one of the early Monday mornings I found myself on the Spadina street car with a neatly wrapped up bundle of dimensional lumber (2”x6”x6’) heading up to Yorkville to start work. After a typical 9 hrs with lasers, shims and levels I got to stay behind to mill all the pieces necessary for my stand. This second overlap saved me a lot of grief and I was back on the Spadina street car around 9pm heading back to the studio with a smile on my face to do some more work after work.

“Grinding at work” features CBC radio in the background. “Chopsaw” background music is from a DJ Medicine Man mix.



Art and/as Process – Sanding the cushion pad on magnet

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Picture a snake eating its own tale. It’s a good way to illustrate the creative process. There is no real beginning and end to it: we do things, absorb things some consciously most subconsciously, we doodle, tinker, make to-do lists, deal with logistics, and here and there we mark the cycle with ‘works of art’.

     Having been engaged in this process professionally for over a decade, with some extremely prolific periods, I realized that the artwork in itself is merely the tip of the ice berg. Most people experience art in its ‘final’ form; after the artist, having reached a certain climax with an idea steps back and hands it over to the environment where time and context take over the shaping of the piece.

     That said please take this idea of ‘climax’ with a grain of salt. What this and future videos in the “Art and/as Process” series will focus on are the activities that are part of the creative process, some of which may be obvious others I hope will be surprising. I want to show the everyday, ‘mundane’ aspects of bringing a work of art to existence. I hope to demystify the notion of the ‘artist’ grounding it in everyday activity that overtime results in the acquisition of ideas, creative and hands on skills as well as experiences which in turn are recycled back as artworks, the snake eating its own tale.

The music heard in the background is from the Mule Variations album by Tom Waits, “What is he Building?”




Blog: What, why, when, where and how?

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I am starting this blog to explore the notion of Art &/as Process.

To me a work of art is not a static object but one which shifts in form, meaning and interpretation. As an artist I am involved in all the stages, some more obvious than other in the life cycle of a work of art.

I will use this blog to address different aspects of my creative process not shying away form the everyday mundane aspects of bringing a work of art to existence.  I hope to demystify the notion of the ‘artist’ grounding it in everyday activity that overtime results in the acquisition of ideas, creative and hands on skills as well as experiences which in turn are recycled back as artworks.

This blog will include writing, images and video connected to my interests, research and work process. Post frequency is likely to vary, but my overall goal is to have one a month.

The website has been designed by Adam Sawicki.

It is powered by WP and f8.