The Nautilus series attempts to present concepts related to a loose set of ideas I’ve been calling “viseur theory.” Viseur is French for “viewfinder.” Sounds like and is meant to recall the French word “voyeur,” but with a slightly different meaning. Voyeurism is related to surreptitious gazing and ownership, the capture and service of a scenario to a viewer’s motives. Viseur theory relates to a specific kind of disorientation related to vision, and the way that the size, shape, dimensions and topology of an object can change as we look at it in a way that is connected to our psychological state. These paintings came from thinking about the potential for movement despite stasis, the projection into a fragment, the disembodiment of the gaze, the distortion of scale that occurs coarising with fascination.
Most of the Nautilus paintings begin as either photographs (usually of nudes or landscapes) or directly sampled skin tones from a model.
Procedurally, they begin at a specific site in the composition and are painted slowly moving from one starting point on the canvas, tracing an arc through the plane, mixing each successive color using the leftover paint from the previous.
Colors slowly modulate into each other, usually passing through several indeterminate hues along the way.
I think of these as both landscapes and portraits.
The general procedural and formal aim was to deal solely with interrelationships inside a defined palette while doing pictorial work.
I started making these in about 2002–03. At the time I was trying to rectify why I wanted to continue making data- or system-driven images. I started feeling that the kind of intellectualized formalism I’d been employing, typified by the chess & surf bifurcation paintings, wasn’t as satisfying as it had been. And, it wasn’t eliciting the kind of freedoms I had hoped. So, I started experimenting with ways to shift the project toward notions that were both more personal and emotional. Some of that was a direct result of moving to New York, leaving a network of friends and artists behind in LA, and then 9/11 with all its weird aftermath.
I’ve come back to these off an on for 10 years, and am making a few new ones now.