: Syntaxis Lineae

Syntaxis Lineae is a progression of my continued experimentation with creating complex structures through the multiplicity of simple forms, composited with the asemic glyphs and black fields which have come to characterize my work. I have attempted to paint images which evoke a familiarity in the viewer—subtle contrivances that elicit a nuance of emotion, the bare feeling that there is a deeper linguistic intention in the work, though the glyphs and the images are intentionally devoid of meaning outside the inspirations influencing the artist. I hope to find an indirect and organic way to connect to the viewer that lies outside spoken or written language.

This series is inspired by the centuries-long attempt by scholars to fabricate a mechanistic model for the motion of the heavens. Syntaxis Lineae literally translates to “a composition of lines.” The name is derived from the Almagest, Ptolemy’s classic geocentric cosmology known traditionally in Latin as the Syntaxis Mathematica. This work and the later mathematical and philosophical modifications to it originated in an attempt to explain the movements of the sun, moon, and planets against a seemingly static celestial sphere of stars. The word linea has also survived past classical times as a scientific term for any of the long markings that appear on the surface of a planet or natural satellite.

From three orbs and hundreds of tiny pinpricks of light were derived astonishingly complicated mathematical models and diagrams. Because these thinkers began with the false premise of an immobile Earth, new observations led to dozens of amended and increasingly complex arrangements of stellar revolutions. What we now know to be the relatively elegant elliptical orbits of the planets were depicted as a byzantine array of circles within circles, orbits within orbits.

The square-framed paintings, with a negative central space hinting at a presumed Earth, are complexes of basic linework shimmering out of the black. The larger painting, Cadmus, traces the paths of luminous bodies through uncertain revolutions. Grounding these images are bright glyphs, meant to starkly contrast the bright lineations. Their placement and rigidly enclosed format implies a foreign language, with no benefit of translation for the viewer. The asemic (non-semantic) nature of these images is meant to feel simultaneously accessible and alienating, prohibiting any understanding the invented and unmeaning language. Thus my goal lies in this irony: by using non-representational imagery and non-language, I hope to find a way of communicating with the viewer in a way too abstruse and subtle to translate into other forms of meaningful language.