See accompanying Images below
Over the last several months I've been journeying through a massive novel (1078 pages) called Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace. The events of the story take place at various locales, including a Tennis Academy, Halfway House, the streets of Boston, a cliff overlooking Tuscon Arizona and various Canadian locations. Much of the plot unfolds at Enfield Tennis Academy, and centers around the activities of the Incandenza family.
On one occasion several of the bright tennis students are engaged in a strategy/war game called Eschaton, which uses various items of sports equipment (tennis balls for instance) as props/weapons in fictional world-scale thermo-nuclear conflicts that are played on the tennis courts. As the game proceeds it degenerates into physical violence communicated with a hilarity that only Wallace could orchestrate. One student ends up with his head through a computer monitor for instance, while trying to roll his computer cart away from the tennis court carnage (the student, Otis P. Lord, was a sort of scorekeeper-official-statistician-rule-keeper of the game).
Given my impulse to make things, and my love of humor/literary references and good stories, I was compelled to give life to my enthusiasm for this book today. I began by not reinventing the wheel. I thought surely someone had already worked out some graphic designs to accompany the book. I was right and settled on a radioactivity symbol with a tennis ball in the center. I pasted the image into word and added the additional lines of text at the bottom of the design.
Like many silk-screen prints I've done in the past, this one was executed using a blank screen with a contact paper stencil. I first traced the printed design onto the correct side of some contact paper then cut it out with an exacto-knife. I cut the film so that the sticky side ends up face up, on the outside of the silk-screen (the side that will make contact with the shirt/print surface). After the one large piece of contact paper is adhered (top right image) I fill in any smaller pieces that fell out in the first round of cutting (the radiation symbol and inner shapes of closed letters like A's). Once I'm comfortable with the level of adhesion and the screen is all taped up, I can print. I used Speedball's fabric ink for this and most printing I do (bottom left). After being ironed under a piece of paper, the design is heat set and ready to be worn and laundered. With a time investment of 4-5 hours and a $4 shirt, anyone can make unique clothing items that tell people more about them than Adidas or Nike ever could.
The top of the world is the atmosphere, not the Jackson County airport, where I took the photo at left. What a wonderful mix of gases (mostly nitrogen) blanket the planet. If not for the properties of water and light, we'd have no spectacular sunsets or riveting sunrises.
On many a summer night here lately, I find myself racing up to the airport around 8:20 p.m., eager to know what awaits my eyes. The necessary conditions to instigate such a dash are cloud cover of about 50% or more, and no other commitments in my schedule. The light show to ensue is worth the 40 minutes of solitude on a mountain top, consistently captivating and predictably pulchritudinous. Only occasionally is the song of the wind broken by another visitor by car to the Airport. Usually the visitor to this visual vista stays for a few minutes with their car running, only to leave, seemingly satisfied with a quick survey of the parking lot, where I soon find myself alone again, my only company the cumulus.
The light that evening was unobstructed by stormy conditions, and pregnant with poly-chrome possibilities, refractions regnant. The day's water vapor had been built up into towering volumes of droplets, ready to reflect back to me the coming colors of the departing sun. The cloud were at first unremarkable, displaying the typical white to gray range. As the angle of the sun relative to the horizon became more acute, yellow began to emerge from the bottom of the clouds, like mustard gas preceding some alien ship or burning meteor. As light typically does during sunsets, it had to pass through thicker amounts of atmosphere as it carved an arc toward the edge of the world. In virtue of this fact, the reflected rays assume a more ruddy hue, so that the last clouds to be illuminated by the sun directly are a pink or red color, eventuating in blues and purples. Shortly before the disappearance of the sun, some of the more distant clouds take on a blue, which contrasts vividly with the emerging ocher. This is because the light they are reflecting is that of shadows. Reflections of reflections of the rest of the atmosphere, which appears to us as blue during most of the day.
Clouds are elusive and their forms fleeting. To view clouds at sunset from the east or west, is to witness a process that has endured for billions of years. This cyclical dance is as durable and aged as the spin of the Earth and the motion of stars, yet new every day, never the same.
J0hn Hunter Speier
Recent work, and explorations of techniques, aesthetics and poetics.