Meteographs are an amalgam of painting, ephemeral art and photography. They are a continuation of a first series of small paintings on ice and rocks that I created in 1980, called “From the Canyons to the Stars”. In 2012, I came back to the forest to paint, but this time I came with non-toxic colorants and a different understanding; I was not only painting. I was now, through aesthetic means, recording meteorological phenomena.
Meteographs are made in two stages. First, the miniature abstract paintings measuring 2 to 8 inches in diameter are painted on patches of ice found in forests and gardens. The painting medium consists of a variety of non-toxic colouring agents. The paintings exist for as little as two seconds and for as long as four minutes. Their lifespan depends solely on the temperature of the environment. Second, since the paintings are ephemeral, they have to be photographed before they deteriorate or melt. Photography is used here only in its documentary capacity. The photographs are face mounted with acrylic glass of variable thickness using the Diasec process.
In other words…
The world, what we call reality, is a mesh of societal, psychological, chemical, atomic, and quantum relationships. I already knew that, but only fully grasped its meaning after I went into the forest to paint. Initially, these little ice-paintings were an expression of an aesthetic impulse. Although I used non-toxic materials, I realized I was bringing human-made, industrialized culture, into the forest. Except for sometimes looking like blood stains on the fresh snow, the paintings projected the baggage of centuries of civilization. They were a poetic but crude imposition on nature, not unlike the imposition of human populations on the natural environment. In the end, however, the paintings last only a moment; they melt and disappear, heralding perhaps the self-inflicted disappearance of humankind.
The transformation of an ephemeral process into an object like a photograph, like any transformation, is only possible due to the interconnectedness of everything. There is no separation between the economy and ecology, culture and nature, a plastic bag and a piece of broccoli. Embedded in thick plastic are the images formed by pigments freezing on the surface of ice formed in the forest. This artwork is the result of human and non-human activity. The temperature of the environment has the same impact as the artist. When the temperature is warmer, the pigments penetrate the ice more deeply resulting in effects similar to Murano glass, like in “Garden of Eden”. When it is very cold, the images freeze in a second, in an explosion reminiscent of star bursts and galactic-scapes, like in “Where No One Has Gone Before”, “Galaxy Shiver”, or “Rembrandt Nebula”. When it is just somewhat cold and the colourants have time to linger, the weather exercises another visual style that is more linear, like in “Blue Veins”.