Reflecting and Projecting
I am currently working on a series of cameo engravings based on photographs that I am taking in museums around the world. I find it interesting to watch the reflections of people in the glass cases that hold objects in a museum; it seems to represent the museum system itself, with our personal and cultural self-perceptions interceding with the objects on display. I think that we are incapable of looking at the objects through the eyes of the people who used them, and often, we don't even notice that we project our own meaning onto them. Our culture, like the glass, is invisible to us, except for certain angles, and we can easily forget the influence that it has on our perceptions. To translate these images from photos into engraved glass, the viewer, the object being viewed, and the reflections become equalized, and the reflection is made a part of the object itself.
Various Engraved Panels
Each profession has a language: words they use that outsiders don't understand (or don't understand the full meaning of,) acronyms, or ways of speaking that can be unintelligible to the untrained listener. These professional languages are interesting in that they serve to enhance communication within the in-group. They make it more precise, or more efficient, but at the same time they create a group of outsiders, who, because of not having learned the language, cannot participate fully in the conversation without the help of an insider.
This work is from a series titled "Secret Languages," that reflects on this idea. They are made on water colour paper, the mark is created by drawing hot glass, straight out of the furnace, onto the paper with a steel rod. The line quality is very calligraphic, evoking simultaneously ideas of language and landscape. For me, this is an interesting meditation on language and communication. This is a mark that glassmakers tend to understand, they have seen it before, they know how it was made, but to an outsider, it can be quite mysterious.