Thursday, September 14, 2006

Interview for UK Metro Newspaper (2006)

This is the entire interview I did for the UK article that was condensed into the story they ran (found here: UK Metro).

Firstly, what is the concept behind your art?
When knowledge of mathematics started to emerge, it was seen as a mystical pursuit because it began to uncover the underlying forces of our reality. Stated another way, humans were allowed to look into the mind of 'God'. There were many powerful practical applications such as architecture and astronomy, but right from the beginning this knowledge was also used to help people conduct their lives in greater harmony with the forces of nature. This line of pursuit has been called 'sacred geometry', and it was the spiritual leaders who would help interpret what their studies in math revealed to them, for there was no separation between science and spirituality.

While there are many interpretations to the various symbols, one thing is consistent, there is an inherent property of geometrically aligned symbols that resonates with humans, regardless of cultural background. For instance, the spiral symbol is found throughout our physical existence, from the spin of quarks to the movement of galaxies, and while exact interpretations may vary, every culture on earth utilizes this symbol. While I make no attempt to place meaning in the artwork that I create, our minds create meaning from their shapes, even if unconsciously. Feelings may be invoked or new thoughts generated. That is my aim, to instigate this movement within the viewer. [see 'spiral']
'Alien Graffiti'

Another fundamental aspect of the art is its impermanence. How many of us live near something incredibly beautiful or unique but hardly ever experience it? Perceived 'permanence' has the funny quality of allowing us to hold off experiencing something until another time, which could be never (since nothing is truly permanent). But when we stumble upon something that we recognize instantly will not exist later, we stop and take it in, whether it is a beautiful sunset or an animal in nature. And as all artworks that deal with impermanence, such as Tibetan sand mandalas, the transitory nature of my work calls attention to the ephemeral nature of our existence, a recognition and an acceptance of the inevitability of death. I've become increasingly aware of this aspect of my art and how it informs my perspective on my own mortality. [see 'alien grafitti']

The scale of my artwork combined with the fact that it will soon be erased calls attention to itself, pulling the viewer in, allowing them to soak in the layers of meaning within every design (whether intentional or not). My ultimate goal is to promote the cause of self-awareness. The art I create is intended as a reflection and a reminder of the grandeur that exists within every viewer and the beauty that abounds in our world everywhere we look.

How long have you been working with sand?
For about 3 years.

Is sand the only medium that you work in? is the beach the only location? is this the only use of the designs?
Thus far I have focused mainly on the beach, but I have worked with biodegradable paint on streets, grass fields, and hard desert surfaces. I am also experimenting with jewelry and clothing designs and graffiti-style wall art.

Talk me through the process of sand art - from the beginning (is it designed beforehand?) to the end.
It’d be pretty cool to be able to get to the beach and completely freehand it, but I’m afraid that skill is beyond me (maybe when I’ve become One With All Things!). A design starts with an inspiration of some sort- an off-hand doodle, an image from my many books on cultural design, or perhaps something I came across that day of which I took a picture. About 95% of the work is done beforehand on my computer, creating as many versions as I can of a design and choosing the one that speaks to me. Then I reverse-engineer the step-by-step process I would need to replicate the design on the beach. Next I choose an appropriate day for a design, which is contingent on the tides and available daylight. The final step is to trust the guide I made and start raking. Actually the truly final step is the photography, which is a whole other challenge, as I race up the hill to the overlook above (I choose my site locations strategically) to take photos before I either run out of light or the waves start eating my design. The window of opportunity is very narrow.

What elements (temperature/weather) come into play when you are creating sand art?
The main natural force I am working with is the tide. In order to maximize my ‘canvas’ -the available, moistened, hard-packed beach- I work within a few days of the full moon or new moon, during which the difference between low tide and high tide is at its greatest. The sun affects the drying rate of the sand, which can affect a lengthy piece as well as affect the photography. Some really great designs were finished just as it got dark and so no good photos exist of them.

How long does it take to create your art on the sand?
Generally I give myself about 2 hours to work, an hour before low tide until an hour after, which I feel maximizes the space I have to work with. So the better I get the process, the more complex the designs can get.

How does it feel when you see your art washed away in the tide?
Once I have finished a piece and can get up on the overlook to see my work and take photos, I completely let go of it. It's freeing to have an idea actualized. What is difficult for me is to create a piece but not get good images for some reason- the light is too poor or the beach is obscured by fog.

What is your favourite piece of work to date?
Ouch! Which child is my favorite! It's a question I honestly can't answer. Each design has its own unique message, which sometimes comes to me much after I have made it.

What is the hardest aspect of your work?
Waiting for the right tides to let me work!

How is your art received?
It's interesting that almost universally my art is received with awe and openness. Very rarely am I met with indifference. At the beach itself the person lucky enough to see one happening generally stays to watch the process, cheering when I complete the design. For those viewing photographs, once people take in the scale, which for some can take a few looks, guards are usually dropped and interesting interactions often ensue. I have found this to be the case from high society people to folks in the inner city.

Do you work on one particular beach or do you move around?
I tend to frequent the beaches near where I live in the San Francisco Bay Area but I activelly seek new locations and am researching for trips to beaches around the world (and I am very receptive to good tips!).

How old are you and where are you from?
I am from San Francisco and am 36 years old.

Where can more of your work be seen?
My website has all my current work. I also maintain a mail list that lets folks know when the art is going to happen and distributes the newest imagery.

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