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Who Are the Meek, What Will They Inherit?

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Photo: Fred Dott

Who Are the Meek, What Will They Inherit?

Who Are the Meek, What Will They Inherit? is an example of a composition that brings together an image that I first developed in my sketchbook and then translated to the canvas using an algorithm of weaving circles. Of course things change in the process of moving from sketchbook to canvas, not only because of the shift in medium and scale but also because the use of geometry begins with a measurement taken from the overall dimensions of the canvas and is then carried out by moving through each element of the image. This means that the overall effect is always harmonious in the tradition of modern painting. I find this process potentially beautiful and terrifying.

Perhaps this is simply a means for me to freely create marks and gestures or icons and symbols within an integrated and expanding structure. A freedom that isn’t too free.

A thought that has been hovering in the background for the last couple of years is a concept from Martin Heidegger’s The Question Concerning Technology, in which he proposes the notion of the “standing reserve.” To paraphrase, from memory, the idea: the fact that technology has transformed the natural world into a world of potential human uses has completely altered the status of all the things of nature, including humans themselves. I remember an image he describes of a forest arranged like a battalion of soldiers, at hand, ready for use. Both the trees and the humans no longer exist in the realm of god or gods, they have become instruments of a technological world-view.

No wonder Heidegger got caught up with the National Socialists. Nevertheless, there is something resonant today in this thinking.

Intuitively, I am using geometry, patterns, symbols, rhythms and interweaving forms to envision this duplicitous image of a world densely interpenetrated by an instrumental reasoning that somehow manages to exceed being totally captured or consumed. Naive as it may be, the condition for such a thing to be possible would entail the end of the human species. 

If there is a slow dying out of humanity due to a world that is transforming beyond what could sustain human life, then – if one is to believe what is written in the Christian Bible – who are the meek and what will they inherit?