I am currently following a train of thought started back in 2015 during an independent study project for my BFA on connections between natural sciences and visual art. I had photocopied hundreds of diagrams from library books, their original contexts are now lost to me, so the images stand on their own without any scientific explanation other than the meaning they independently hold. The collection of diagrams informed the design of Óravíddir, but had otherwise not been transformed into anything directly.
I have a favorite:
Any image is an illusion, inherently meaningless until filtered through perception and cognition.
How early do children recognize two points and a crescent as a face?
When does a seeing a simplified drawing of a cat, saying meow and petting a house cat converge into the same meaning?
While, for me at least, the ART of visual art is in its inherit uselessness, its defiance of utilitarianism; diagrams are utterly utilitarian images.
They are distilled ideas, but most importantly, always oversimplifications or idealizations. Complications are stripped down to highlight a central, useful, meaning.
The aesthetics of diagrams are black and white, at most dotted gradients. Clean lines, straight lines, geometry, intersecting circles and directional arrows.
It is astounding to me that intricate phenomena across vast scales of time and space can be represented with such simple components.
Will they ever become outdated?
What was the first diagram? How far can diagrams be pushed, how much meaning can they hold without language? How context specific, culturally specific, how learned? None are neutral.
These are all questions that I could look up (theoretical) answers to, whole disciplines are devoted to studying the nature and origin of images.
I mostly just want to mix them up and turn them around.
I used to be obsessed with symmetry across scale, an atom is a solarsystem is a galaxy. Atomic structures in crystals dictate their shape in macro scale. Maybe I still am, that is part of what the diagram collages do, mix scales. They also mix disciplines, hard to soft sciences, old with new.
Maybe I want to draw enough of them to get a feel for constituent parts, a library to draw from to make my own non-sensical diagrams for previously undiagrammed things.
I have started keeping an eye out on the internet for juicy diagrams and collecting more diagram heavy books, expanding the biology, crystallography and astronomy I had focused on before into eco-theory, linguistics and archeology. These happen to be books from the phd student I live with, as I have not opened the flood gates of being allowed to buy any new books. Instead of photocopying, I am tracing with pen on vellum paper. I tell myself that the time spent and the wobble in the lines give it something. I arrange the copies into a combination to trace again, each copy either smoothing or exaggerating the faltered lines.
Oh I almost forgot about the glass.
Maybe it is some insecurity, I can’t just make drawings, I would need to spend a lot of time getting good at drawing again to have any drawing be worthwhile, an anxiety that keeps me from doing exactly that. Maybe it is not the lack of skill I fear, it’s also the content. So I use a flashy material to mask my concern that the content is bland or unoriginal. Hence glass! I tricked myself into drawing the diagrams onto glass, because I recently bought a rotary tool and a bunch of diamond tipped bits specifically to engrave glass and have barely used it. So I’ll just draw some diagrams on scrap glass to get a feel for the tool.
There are some directions that could go, I am currently only engraving single diagrams, that is, not collaging them, maybe to keep options open. I am using clear float glass, so I can layer the sheets in a 2d or even 3d stained glass piece. I can paint on the back, have been wanting to paint on glass for so long, have tried a few times but always get frustrated with the cheap feel that acrylic seems to get on glass. I could sandwich something between etched glass. I can play with lights, I can make some household item-y things (candle holders? lamps?). Maybe some parascientific instruments like these from Fullkomið firðrúm.
I’ll at least try to keep going.