This work, Bees See, is a digital drawing made specifically for the Holland Project billboard series. In considering the scale and context of billboards as an image space, I thought about our expectations of outdoor messaging and advertising, and how or if I might be able to distance from any commercial or communicative angle. In mere seconds, and from great distances, billboards must be highly effective in visual transmission, and given our collective excellence in visual literacy, the interpretation of tone, character, and quality of rapid images is immediately discernible.

Beyond that, because of the significant financial entry-point of renting advertising space, our experience of this public junk mail and the visual insult of billboards in the US has the public immune to even noticing them at best, and on psychic defense from unsolicited sales at worst. Because of the cost, their promotions must be financially effective–therefore, despite our varying spectrum of media literacy, we are not expected to be surprised by these images or to be given reprieve from capitalism, much less engaged in a no-strings-attached aesthetic experience.
In considering this context, I wanted to make some work for this space as unambiguously removed from advertising as possible through a distinctly ambiguous and confusing gesture. This digital collage appropriates the strangely buzzing optical illusion known as the “Out of Focus” illusion first described by Japanese master Akiyoshi Kitaoka in 2001.

In my work as a painter, I’m interested in perception, pattern recognition, and the limits and capacities of our vision. To that end, optical illusions are compelling phenomenon that point to our own limitations and trouble our experience and expectation of ‘truth’ in the world. Our eyes and brains consistently seek pattern and familiarity, using prior information to predict our experience. Instead of what we might believe to be pure intake or data collection into our eyes, there is just as much unconscious projection onto the world as there is new sensory input, if not more so.

Behind these buzzing illusions, shaped and arranged here like silly shimmering flowers, this drawing also plays with the “armature”, or hidden substructure of the image format and picture plane that artists use in composing images, whether paintings, photo, or cinema. This lattice of lines – vertical, horizontal, and diagonal are found by dividing the image into fractions, and playing off of significant intersections to calculate more intentionally arranged compositions. This combination of hidden art math, and obnoxious optical illusion create an image that refers to seeing itself.

This work, up through the month of April 2022 is otherwise a fun drawing imagining the inner experience of our bee friends pollenating our flower friends this spring in Northern Nevada. 🐝
Thank you Holland Project.