jungle art / vision quest

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a series of 33 images and accompanying text
the alchemical elements are symbolic and the concept is 

"Anarchy disguised as bureacracy, 
disguised as police state, disguised as democracy."
~Snakeappletree commenting on Life in britain. 

I was taught in school the common understanding that oil comes from what once used to be prehistoric jungles; forests that have rotted down over aeons into a high energy liquid. I find this strange to believe simply because oil floats on water, so logically the oil should be floating on top of the ocean or in time have filtered down into the seabeds. Instead, somehow all that primal rainforest ended up underground in subterranean cavities, only to be extracted millenia later when Mother Nature set her children the task of refining it and filtering in our movable petrol filters into heavy metallic gas.

Thinking about the processes that have to occur to result in that situation is mind boggling. Billions of years in the making and then... a flash of combustion and a thimble of petrol ignites, is catalysed into carbon monoxide fumes and eventually filters into the soil to stunt the growth of existing species.

I have faith that Gaia, the holistic Life force of this plan't, knows what it is doing and the reason behind the chemicals ending up being filtered into the soil is to add a new sort of nutrient for the new sorts of creatures of the future, which will evolve after this current phase of global die-back. Microbes and mutated plant types, most likely. It has happened before, this we know from the fossil record. And it happens rapidly. Meanwhile this thimble of oil is instead used by me in the form of paint, varnish and pva glue to make some lush fresh pictures inspired by the jungle. I made these a few years ago, 2005 or 2006.

This series is about Process. The process of making abstract expressionist art. The process of thought involved with making a painting, deciding which colour, which brush stroke, how to arrange apparently random splatters, how much to use haphazard spills in creating this image.

Prior to making these images and thinking these thoughts I was wand'ring around in a british woodland, consciously picking up and placing sticks that had fallen from trees. My arrangement of these was such that some of them had obviously been consciously placed; others I arranged so that they looked as if nobody had touched them at all, that they had landed there quite naturally and without interference. In retrospect I can understand that I was exploring and deconstructing the decision making process itself. Questioning the qualifiers we use to judge.

Prior to my attending and during Art school (cheltenham university class of '99) I studied Jungian psychology and the Primitive in art. The Jungle, the forest, is metaphor for the inner wild, the subconscious, the primal self stripped bare of judgement, stripped of labels and the labeling system in our minds which program our observations away from true seeing, the Pure Gaze. A breakdown of the artificial constructed memetic grid, the systematic belief structure that we superimpose into the world and mistake for reality.

Wand'ring around in the forest and then making these images became a cyber-shamanic experience for me. Not only in the sense of their construction process but afterwards, the object we are left with, a bunch of petro-chemicals and wooden board (a cupboard door retrieved from the overgrown ruin of an abandoned house) temporarily bound into a form the surface world of which invokes emotional and psychological reference points, an inner journey partaken in by the observer. The images become signifiers of stages or scenes of that journey. It is a journey of transition.

This series is about processes and it is also about change; transition. Change being the only constant (other than void). There is light-sensitive colour changing paint mixed in with the other pigments here. What I observed during painting was that when the paint and pva dries it loses its sheen, its intensity. Subsequently it became necessary for me to take digital photographs of the work in progress, recording the process.

Still moments frozen in time. 
~Snakeappletree, 2009



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