Kristin DonerOakland, CA
Finding Nothing at the Intersection of Art and Technology
Gesture is the medium for this body of work; essentially hand movements captured on a scanner. I have always been intrigued with the idea of making something from nothing. I think of it as magic. Dirt made permanent by fire (ceramics), which starts with nothing of value, was my medium of choice for over a decade. Photography, another life-long investigation, captures a moment or an impression. The scanner, another form of photography, is usually used to capture documents and objects, not movement, so why did I scan gestures?
My first instinct is to work with my hands, allowing me to stop thinking and simply respond to ideas. I had been making gestures in sand then photographing them, but I wasn't quite sure what to do with the result. The act of gesture was intuitive and expressive, but manipulating the resulting image was static and mechanical. Then one rainy day I substituted the scanner for sand. Mutated almost-human forms with fingerprints stretched over the surface presented themselves for more exploration. There were sensual lines formed by fingers pressing together, and patches of color and shape that were unfamiliar yet personal. Fascinated by the rhythm of repeating and reflecting images, I manipulated organic lines and shapes until I discovered nothing in the narrow space between my fingers, which eventually became a dandelion motif.
I began my art career in the field of graphics, which is where I had my first introduction to computers. Toward the end of my graphics career I was working at a high-tech firm producing publications and technical illustrations on a computer. I remember feeling frustrated that I couldn’t touch any of the work I was making. This tactile frustration led me back to working with clay, something that gave me direction and meaning in high school. Before long, ceramics dominated my life, and I left the high-tech world to carve out a profession as a ceramic artist. I enjoyed great success with my hand-built ceramics, but eventually returned to school after 9/11 to reset my compass. With no studio after graduation, I explored ways to create without one.
Ironically, I settled on the computer as a creative outlet, and found a way to make art from my own fingerprints. Featuring patterns found in nature, this work is surprisingly organic and painterly, quite the opposite of my previous experience with computers. Instead this work is a challenge and a thrill to make, as each new composition becomes an exploration. The computer, this time, is just a tool, not an interference.