This body of work continues the exploration of
scientific images that I began with the Macrocosm series. With
this new series, I have chosen images that researchers have created in an
effort to simulate interesting phenomena which cannot be observed directly.
Some of these simulations are created using supercomputers, others are
physical simulations, created perhaps on a workbench or in a wind tunnel. The
subject of interest is being seen indirectly, a step removed -- the
eye in the sky has become the eye of the mind. Another layer of abstraction comes into play, as the process of painting
echoes the process of simulation.
Color is an important element in these paintings. The freedom and responsibility of
selecting a palette for an image is both mine and the original scientists'.
Often scientists use some sort of "default" palette for presenting their
images, either from a lack of interest in other possibilities, or a belief
that color has a taint of subjectivity that must be avoided.
In his book Chromophobia, David Batchelor discusses the bias against
color that he sees in many aspects of Western culture. This bias is
perhaps especially strong in science, where color is valued for its ability
to represent information but suspect whenever it seems to have any kind
of aesthetic agenda. I have chosen colors for my work that I hope will
reference the original images and at the same time resonate with the
richness of color's meaning in the tradition of painting. In some cases I have used a palette
that closely replicates the highly saturated "rainbow" palette often used in
science, which I think has very different resonance in painting - in
science, this "default" palette connotes objectivity, whereas in painting it
suggests the psychedelic or the mystical. In other paintings I
have "colorized" black and white images or radically changed the colors, to
different ends. The Drop Formation paintings take on a highly
ambiguous quality from the warm, saturated tones they are painted with,
sharing an iconic reference to soft-drink advertising and nuclear