The philosopher Edmund Husserl abandoned the positivist position of the sciences and established the school of philosophy known as phenomenology believing, as he did, that all knowledge comes from experience and that we cannot "know" something through analysis alone. The unknowable essence of place, for example, is felt and experienced rather than objectively measured or cataloged. There exists in architecture an element of the uncanny and ineffable.
I propose, "Interiors", is the embodiment of this thesis, and I have worked with it for decades. The structure and organizing principal of my work is the architectural plane as it forms the boundaries of spaces to create place. Husserl was interested in the senses and how human beings are capable of sense perception or are able to "feel" a place - the implication that there is more present in the space that what is before our eye. Place is often haunted, not by the supernatural, but by one's own state of being brought into a room by the individuals own memory vault.
These works embody this thesis, and are part of the larger phenomenological approach to a narrative art. As architectural interiors are of primary interest to me I have focused on the house of my own childhood, the runes of a dollhouse constructed for my daughters, and the New York apartment of my friend Arthur Danto.
Childhood is an instant - a shadow passing that remains - haunting our present life as a meditation on time and the mystery of place The house represents for many people their first experience of specific place, and is the mirror in which future experiences are reflected. This is the basic theory upon which our cultural beliefs are built. None of us remember the events or experience of childhood in the same way nor are the facts of these early experiences in chronological sequence, rather they are like snapshots or solidified moments. We form and reform images from the past to better understand present circumstances.
These 22 images are poems, poems that might be read as a narrative or as poetic fragments. Memory is not logic and logic is not poetry; however, all poetry has structures that provide readability. These images of the doll house, built for my children and later abandoned as they grew up, contain the ineffable spirit of those moments in that miniature world.
These images were taken in the apartment of the renowned American philosopher and art writer Arthur C. Danto and his wife, the painter Barbara Westman. It was my privilege to know them and to spend time with them in their beautiful and magical environment. In an attempt to express the atmosphere and aura of the rooms I used several formats and methods to accomplish what I believe is a portrait of them focusing on what they have assembled, and the collection of objects with which they have surrounded themselves. The images underlay my belief that how we live in spaces creates a portrait of who we are, and what we believe through visual reveals - open and abstract space becomes place; a specific place with history, memory and a resonance, a kind of metaphysical haunting. I am interested primarily in phenomenological experience, the effect on the senses that provide clues to understanding and offer interpretations of everyday experience.
Produced specifically for the exhibition and symposium, "Arthur C. Danto and the Work of Art; from object to Theory", to be held at the Museum of the Central Academy of Art in Beijing.
These images are from a series of 25 pictures that were created by snap shooting with the intention that they could possibly be used as elements to reconstruct an experience of place. So the structures were not studied, composed or considered, rather are random samples of structures along a street. They could be anywhere and from any time... Enigmatic architectural fragments as still life.