Room Four

Room Four

Room Four
3D rendering of proposed gallery installation;
the piece would be 8 feet tall

Bill Clune did the 3D rendering.

This proposed piece would have glass walls, sandblasted with the images on them left clear. The images are “4” in Morse code, Braille, and Minoan/Roman/Etruscan numerals. The roof would be tinted plexiglas. The seat cushions would be covered with linen. The triangular column in the center of the room would be left clear except for havng the Roman/Etruscan “IV” sandblasted on the sides of it. There will probably be a rock garden inside the triangular atrium as a visual clue to keep people from bumping into the walls of the column.

We tend to see the world through pre-made constructs—language, cultural biases, family philosophies, religion, media content, numerical systems, and so forth.

I had one of my first realizations of this concept back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when I used to go out on Sundays to learn how to do landscape painting with a group in Corning, NY. Many of the people in the group were very accomplished artists, especially Tom Buechner, the grey-bearded leader who had pieces in the National Gallery of Art. I struggled for months. Other people would say how much fun painting with the group was, it felt more like torture to me. I’d generally start out OK, but after an hour and half or so I’d be facing a totally ruined painting. Completely frustrated, I’d often then just stand and watch Tom Buechner. It was like watching a ballet dancer paint. His every move was perfect. Every painting worked.

After many months of this I finally realized that I was drawing lines around “objects”—I was seeing through language, chopping the world into separate pieces. That’s a tree. That’s a leaf. That’s a rock. Nothing holds it all together, and it’s too easy to start painting every leaf and rock before the painting is even close to being ready for individual leaves and rocks (and most likely not ever ready for individual leaves!) It was when I started painting light that I finally started getting somewhere. Whatever we’d named what the light was hitting was not particularly important, what was important was where the light was coming from, what it was hitting directly, reflecting or not reflecting from, bouncing back to, being blocked by—and what colors the light appeared to be while doing all this. It was a zen moment of awakening for me.

So Room Four is meant as a way of encoding the realization of many of us tending to see through language and other pre-made constructs. I’m hoping that some people will sit on the benches in the room, look out into the rest of the gallery through the Braille, Morse code, and numeral “windows” and, bam, have the world come alive for them.

Room Four was inspired by wordplay: “cuarto cuatro”, “room four” in Spanish, and “room for”…what?

Much thanks to B for the rendering.