© 2005 Ken Knowlton



To everything there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under heaven.
        — Ecclesiastes

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
        — Omar Khayyam, trans. Edward FitzGerald

One life is not enough.
I'd like to live twice on this sad planet,
In lonely cities, in starved villages,
To look at all evil, at the decay of bodies,
And probe the laws to which the time was subject,
Time that howled above us like a wind.
        — Czeslaw Milosz


alt Many of us experiment with computers to create and/or process images, and we are often bold enough to call the results computer art, or even 'Art.' In truth, mixtures of brash novelty and serious message are dicey, perhaps impossible. New tools, for new means of expression, lead to new results: provocative, crude, delicate, personal, grand, arrogant, humble, megalomaniacal, predictive, retrospective, sensitive, tasteless. In a way, disarray in the arts mirrors our troubled world and its new methods of building and destroying. What happens to the world, of course, is a much more serious matter than what happens to the arts. But the narrower and wider views exhibit this curious similarity: disproportionate attention to tangential issues.bird

On the world scene, the desperate and tragic fact of the matter is that we are destroying the biosphere. This monstrous problem fragments into a well-known litany: global warming, trashing of resources, toxic pollution, extinction of species and of human societies and their multifarious world views all of these trends relentlessly compounded by more and more people. Future generations face an impoverishment, of habitat and culture, disheartening beyond description. And where does our attention go, as fresh water wanes and the deserts grow? Individually, to mind-numbing entertainment; collectively to savaging societies that are trying to undo us.

altArt, of a hundred varieties, can be that many more ways of describing the things that delighted us, and people and things that we cared about. And of recording an overwhelming sense of loss. Images, and some of their meanings,may remain decipherable longer than words. Including mosaic images, of course what better metaphor for civilizations frozen, fractured and abandoned? Let us make every possible sort of archive, for uncertain and remote archeologists, of what people were motivated by, and what they valued, and why the former destroyed the latter.

altArt, yes, for the sake of a record: living, breathing, thinking, feeling, hopeful, aggrieved humans were here. Images in robust material, for durability and low-tech reception, buried in vaults and landfills. Quixotic in the bitter extreme, hope turned tragic and inward, a million personal views, contrasting what might have been with what did happen, as could-have-been citizens vegetated or starved, while corporations and armed forces sallied forth to make the world, for a while, safe and bountiful for scavengers.

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