Deep Water / Deep Earth is a continuation of my 2021 collaboration with artist Christel Dillbohner, Deep Earth. The project focuses on our neglected relationship with earth and water: especially the many levels of physical geography below our feet that shape history and culture. For this series of works, we were inspired by the geography of California, especially Orange County's enormous underlying aquifer.
The multimedia works on paper, digital prints, and artist’s books that make up the bulk of Deep Water / Deep Earth arise from a wide range of artistic processes. We generally begin by improvising drawings and paintings, working together on large sheets of paper to develop a truly “four-handed” set of initial artworks. We might then scan these first-stage pieces into the computer, create a set of variations using digital painting techniques, and print out the results. We might take these second-stage works and cut them up and collage them with other pieces; or we might project these works onto new sheets of paper to guide the drawing of another set of variations. We might incorporate photographic processes like cyanotypes at any stage of the process. This improvisational cycle continues through many iterations, feedback loops, and discussions, all revolving ultimately around the theme of water.
In addition, we draw on this body of works on paper for the procedural artwork in the exhibition, the Deep Water Composer. This is an artwork that has been programmed to generate a new composition every 15 seconds. It does this by pulling samples from a library of our images according to a specific set of rules that I designed and programmed. The Deep Water Composer can create a nearly infinite set of digital collages, none of which is likely ever to repeat. Though each composition is effectively unique, viewers will notice many visual echoes of the other works in the show.
The inaugural Deep Earth / Deep Water exhibition opens Aug. 10, 2023, at Irvine City Hall, and runs through Nov. 22. Works are installed in the main City Hall lobby, and on the two floors immediately above. The show is open 9-5, Monday-Friday.
Its predecessor show, Deep Earth, was exhibited at Art Space Gallery at Fresno City College in the fall of 2021.