J. Michael Simpson
March 18-April 29, 2022
Each work included in this exhibition whether made with paint, graphite, or video transcribes the hydrologic drama of a moment of river turbulence. As a child I saw a newsreel movie about a mountain waterfall. Ever since the rush of white-water rivers has fascinated me. As an artist I saw the downstream tumult as a metaphor the ephemeral flow life. To make this clear in my work I needed to see the surge and broil in detail. However, as a subject for painting, rivers are problematic; they never stop moving. Taking close-up photographs of various river sites allowed me to see more clearly into the transient, intricate, and abstract patterns of river turbulence. But more, this stop-action technique raised the question of what happens within a moment of time? Intrigued by the question and moved by the discovery of the powers of digital technology, my use of photography was replaced with digital video. With video editing I could exponentially increase the number of images I could choose for a painting. They could be used in works as single images or sequentially ordered multiple images separated by fractions of a second. As my painting progressed, I began to transcribe the sublime flow and tumult of the river videos into linear abstractions focused on singular moments of movement. In order to identify when and where each video of river turbulence was recoded, I began to document their time stamp and GPS coordinates. Realizing that I was recording a moment on the river in two ways, one a pictorial abstraction and the other numerical abstraction, the data was incorporated into the paintings of turbulence. The double reference calls into question as to how a moment in time is experienced in the digital age.