What is Multi-Dimensionalism?
My paintings are created from observations of the world around us; but not just from my perspective, from all possible perspectives. Set in a fast-moving metropolis, my images explore several vantage points at the same time, fusing together multiple scenes into one kaleidoscopic image. Viewers are looking up, down and all around, seeing as the floor sees, and as the ceiling sees, as the ground sweeps beneath their feet. An urban landscape unfolds into a labyrinth of hidden spatial dimensions; where time, probability, and the diversity of human perception work together to expand our understanding of reality.
As children, we learn to use simplified visual maps to help us understand the physical world. We see a 2-D illustration of an apple or a rhinoceros, and it becomes stored in our mental file cabinets. As we experience the world, our brain constructs a model of reality by analyzing sensory input. The “real” rhinoceros we perceive is processed through a visual information database that gives it it’s definition.
Before Filippo Brunelleschi defined the idea of one-point perspective (1420), all paintings looked very flat. Artists could accurately depict the light and shadows on a human face, but didn’t know how to place multiple figures in a composition. They might have seen the receding orthogonals of a building, but they had no method of interpreting them, so the information was lost. Over time, Brunelleschi’s perspective model revised our collective mental map of the world, which altered our experience within it.
Models of reality are everywhere, from the stick figures in road signs to our profile pictures on Facebook. Steven Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, in The Grand Design, coined the term “model-dependent realism”, suggesting that everything we know about reality is from observations based on models. Over time, contradicting world-picture models prove to be equally valid, making the “true” nature of reality impossible to pinpoint.
My work investigates reality and the mental maps we use to process it, individually and collectively. As science and technology changes our understanding of the universe, the maps we use need to adapt. In the Renaissance, artists worked together with scientists, astronomers and mathematicians to create models of the universe. Leonardo Da Vinci, in his book Codex Leicester (1510), solved the mystery of “Earthshine,” a phenomenon that occurs every 30 days when sunlight is bounced from the Earth to the moon and back again. This discovery was made 25 years before Copernicus published his sun-centered theory of the solar system. Before it was proven, Da Vinci was observing it.
What if we could observe the phenomenon of modern theoretical physics seeping through the cracks of a fast-moving metropolis? Try to visualize Black Holes, Quantum Tunneling, and Alternate Dimensions in daily life. Picture the past, present and future existing together with branching timelines that show alternate versions of each moment, repeating into an infinite feedback loop.
My current work-in-progress, Revised Maps of the Present, is an installation that moves beyond the two-dimensional canvas into a space that combines painted walls, sculptured figures, lights, sounds and video projections to create what appears to be an urban landscape but actually unfolds into a labyrinth of warping angles, shifting perspectives and hidden spacial dimensions. As onlookers walk into the scene, they experience the layers of this imagined reality disconnect in the form of a kaleidoscopic multiverse. My goal with this project is to provide a public display that inspires people to think about the nature of reality, and consider many possible interpretations and perspectives.
It’s important to think about the many diverse ways of observing the world. What does a city look like to a person rushing through a crowd to catch a train, or to a small child looking up from a stroller? Imagine that you can see through the eyes of your friend, your neighbor, or a stranger that you meet in the market. Are the mental maps that they use different from your own? How do their unique vantage points alter their experiences? If we could learn to see outside of our own limited perspective of reality, we could not only expand our mental universe, but the universe itself; and understand each other on a much deeper, multi-dimensional level.