Ditherings is my latest ongoing body of work that has developed over the past two years. The various meanings of the word “dither” inform this series in a literal and figurative capacity.
Dithering, technically speaking, is visual noise that’s used in printed images to mimic broad color depth using a limited range of hues. The effect is achieved by placing dots of certain colors closer or farther apart to emulate a spectrum of tones. Dither has another meaning as well. Dither, as a verb can also mean to act nervously or indecisively. Dithering as a technical editing process was used in the scanner manipulation process to produce this series of prints. Dithering in the conceptual sense guided the creation of this work.
This series was produced during a period of upheaval in my life. The upheaval came from several sources. First and foremost, the social, political, structural upheaval brought on by the pandemic contributed to my individual sense of uncertainty. That, followed by the unexpected loss of my father, caused a sharp and intense shift toward general nervousness, anxiety, and indecision in a way that was completely new to me. This was further augmented by an onslaught of a succession of major personal and professional transitions. In almost every capacity, I felt very unsettled, unknown to myself, and prone to, well...dithering. All of that coupled with a stagnation in my creative productivity nurtured a certain restlessness within me. I wanted to make art but was confined in regards to both energy, ideas, and resources. I had to figure out a way to make something with very little at my disposal. So I returned to a familiar process in my practice -- scanning.
Scanning has been a beloved process for me ever since I was a child. Scanners are like special flat, long, tongue-like cameras, with the ability to flatten, deepen, and distort. I’ve loved these attributes since I first started using them for art as a teenager. I began to move into new territory by altering scanning settings that I’d never used before and applying darkroom and studio lighting techniques in my scans as the exposure was being created and received by my computer.
The waves, streaks, granules, and lines within this body of work at first felt fully abstract and detached from any particular meaning. But as is the case with all art, it is inextricably imbued with the person that made it. The more I made these and I looked at them, the more I could see these warped, disjointed, disruptive, loud, energized images as obvious reflections of my mental and emotional landscape during this time of intense change in my life. And at the same time, the process of making them was a cathartic distraction from that intense change.
Working in this way brought new life and potential to my approach to scanning. And that in general, has made me realize in periods of potent and painful change, returning to old sources of joy can help to reframe and reprocess present struggle. And in that reprocessing, we can go through the process of rediscovering ourselves and learn the depths of our own resilience.
Installation images coming soon.