current definition of art

components of an artwork

A work of art has been fully realized when an artist actively participates in the actions of creating, shaping, and framing. When only one or two actions have been done, this only means that the artwork is not as fully realized as it could be.


Since ideas can exist independently of things, there are no physical properties associated with this action. Creating an artwork could be anywhere from having an inclination to make a particular thing to a deep meaning behind something.


Shaping is the rearrangement of raw materials in order to trade one system of organization for another.


The spatial and temporal boundaries which contain the work establish a frame for an artwork’s beginning and ending in space-time. The simplest form of framing is a change in perspective.


An assumption I make when using proportions in placement, repetition, size, and so on is that mathematical  relationships (such as the golden ratio) can be detected at a subconscious level and higher, and in this way are interesting to the viewer.

role of appropriation

When one artist uses another artist’s art, the former has had an active part in at least creating and shaping, and includes framing if the entire artwork was used. Examples of other people’s art (OPA) include photographing an uncited source, use of a font the artist did not create, and collage. My work seeks to be appropriation-free in order to maximize originality in the creative phase of art making.

torah stitch by stitch typesetting

to-engageThe nature of my involvement in this project has changed for the better. Putting my graphic design skills to use, I am now one of 3 typesetters for the project, and will be creating the diagrams which participants receive upon signup. I consider this to be a great honor and am privileged to have found a way to combine typography and Torah. There is a depth of personal meaning for me in this intersection.

If you’re wondering why the typesetting process involves more than just making sure all the letters are in the right order, there are many other considerations which must be made. In order to justify the columns, for example, one must use a combination of word spacing, kerning, and stretching certain parts of certain letters.

My stitching contribution to the project will continue as well, but I plan on slowing down in order to allow time to do typesetting.

Don’t forget to sign up to be a part of this incredible project.

untitled 0024

this is a little piece which was not part of a larger project. it sounds like it might be a prelude to something larger, but for now it’s just itself.

torah stitch by stitch

This post should explain the images I’ve been posting on Instagram tagged with #torahstitchbystitch. I am part of the Torah Stitch by Stitch project, a global effort to create a cross-stitch embroidered copy of the Torah (the 5 books of Moses). Posting daily images of my progress keeps me from slacking off and hopefully will inspire others working on the project to keep moving forward.

Part of the project participation agreement is that you will try to document and share the process. My usual routine is to stitch at least one letter while I’m listening to music, sitting in my kids’ room as they fall asleep. I spend on average 20 minutes a night.

Read the info on the site linked above, but please ask me questions or give me comments (you can comment below this post). This is a very exciting thing to be working on and I would love to talk about it.

review: Abandoned City by Hauschka

[amazon_link id=”B00H38JKUI” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Abandoned City[/amazon_link]

Google Play sez, at the time of this typing, that I have listened to this entire album 17 times in the few days I have known about it (my thought is that it missed about 20 other listenings but who knows). Obviously, I am a fan. This is what I call music! Of course I was reeled in by the title and at first, I wondered how it would compare to Harold Budd’s [amazon_link id=”B000008DUR” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Abandoned Cities[/amazon_link]. Here is the comparison: Budd’s generation is still reacting to the horrors of war, whereas Bertelmann’s generation looks past another possible global conundrum to a time when we will pick up the pieces of a busted piano within a deep forest and bang out a remembrance of now. The sounds of over-stretched metal cables in the second track put the listener in mind of an existence teetering on the edge of ruin. But, since it makes an awesome musical sound, it’s kind of okay that the world has ended. I do think it’s true that the children of the baby boomers have accepted that it’s all going to end, but luckily we’ll be there along with Tyler Durden and Katniss Everdeen and the dad from Jericho to rebuild it all. This album is the soundtrack to that: to rebuilding a future disaster.

Tracks 3 and 4 of our musical journey through the wasteland bring us face to face with Battles and Victoire, respectively. By the time they’ve decided to join our party, we realize in track 5 that Torley teleported in without us noticing. Next, Darren Korb leads us forward in what is probably a terminal march. And then we find it: the busted piano WADF, being played by Ilya Beshevli.

The 8th track may be my favorite. It’s hard for me to tell what’s prepared piano and what’s been processed, and I don’t care at all which is nice. It’s one of those short pieces that you can listen to a zillion times or just once followed by a lot of silence, because either way it will be in your head. The album ends as wonderfully as it begins, and with a sense of having reached a destination (it was your childhood home, which has been destroyed but you can set up camp there and put on an LP of this album).


★★★★★ The album is full of complex new sounds and memorable motives. Clocking in at 9 tracks, there is more than enough musical variety for an all-day listen. This is now one of my favorite albums of all time. And for the record, all references are meant to be complimentary.

sphere of fifths

check out those shadows
check out those shadows

The circle of fifths is a music theory model several hundred years old which describes the relationships between diatonic scales. It can be seen as an illustration of infinite chord progressions. Sphere of Fifths uses the idea of infinite knots to represent musical cycles, and uses pentagonal knot designs of varying complexity to bring the music theory model into 3 dimensions. When the light source is changed to different angles, shadows from the opaque parts of the glass recombine in complex shadows; the viewer of the piece gets to decide on some of its content by taking this into consideration.

The piece appears to be held together tenuously, the same way a motive in a good piece of music will hold everything together without having to overshadowing things. The wood and strings are reminiscent of orchestra instruments. The knots themselves are similarly suggestive, and not directly representative of a circle of fifths diagram.

the rough draught with a thumbs up from the artist
the rough draught with a thumbs up from the artist

This piece was donated to the KJDS‘s 2014 fundraising event, Some Enchanted Evening.

beck: morning phase

[amazon_link id=”B00HHYEOY0″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Morning Phase[/amazon_link]

comments, track by track

First off, my second favorite track is  the 39 second ‘intro’ track Cycle. What can I say; I got pretty pumped up (during all of those 39 seconds) about where this was going. Now that I’ve listened to the album several times, it’s hard to say why it’s even there. Just to tease us? Apparently. But, tease accepted.

The album actually takes a step back from all the bustle of flowing ambience when Morning busts in at a raging ♩=40. Now, I’ve always said that if I needed to kill myself I’d for sure do it while listening to Shostakovitch’s Prelude and Fugue No. 16 from op. 87. In this scenario, when I’ve muscled past rock bottom and woken up to find that I’ve failed even at suicide, Morning would be an acceptable wake-up tune.

Heart is a Drum centers around a repetitive little guitar block which I imagine as the crumbs left over from a Juana Molina banquet. It moves on to some nice and ghostly guitar / vocal etherea.

Next we have Say Goodbye, which is clearly Suzanne Vega posing as Beck. I’m pretty certain that if I listen to number 13 on Songs in Red and Gray, after about 9 minutes, I’ll get to this hidden track. Rhythms, harmonies, and lyrics are decidedly Vegan, and as such are great.

Mandolins. Nobody writes a sad song with mandolins in it. So, Blue Moon gives the general happiness exuded by that tiny little double-stringed gem an interesting twist (and I choose my words carefully here because it’s not some not-so-clever, ironic juxtaposition – see also any indie band using a glockenspiel) by inviting it to answer and play along to vocals bordering on melancholy. (And I swear the ending was written by Badly Drawn Boy.)

By track 6, we’re back to pre-Morning soundtrack possibilities. Warning: Unforgiven should not be consumed with alcoholic beverages.

It’s worth the trudge through Unforgiven to arrive at Wave. This seems like central idea of the album. At times, Beck channels Brendan Perry and obviously that’s okay. Now we can see that Cycle was actually a setup for Wave. The haunting nature of this piece is emphasized by its brevity. That’s why I give in to the temptation to listen to this one on repeat.

Don’t Let it Go will snap you back into your seat without being too abrupt. What I’m really wanting to not let go of is the previous song, but then come the low strings as a welcome surprise.

The album could have done without Blackbird Chain. Maybe I just don’t get it, but Don’t let it Go brought me to the same place as the end of the next track. They seem almost like looking at the same song from 2 different angles.

Again, Phase reminds me what we’re listening to here. It’s another ambient intermezzo which turns things down a notch for the Simon & Garfunkel / Elliot Smith-seasoned Turn Away. When the the strings come in full force (unfortunately again toward the end), they are joined by the ghostly vocals and you realize that there is a new sound on this album. It’s a good sound.

Country Down…could have done without this one. Someone tell me why I should like this. Disposable at best. I only allow CDs on my shelf if I would be happy being stranded on an island with them. This track will cancel its reservation there. I’m only being this critical because I like the rest of the album. Will listen again before writing the next sentence. Nope still don’t like it. Harmoni-come on.

Back to reality with Waking Light. Second longest track on the album, but I was ready for several more minutes. This last one did make me want to make sure I had the repeat album button on.


★★★★ right off the bat. Good album. Loads of subtle parts, not great for listening to without paying attention. Minus ★ for Country Down until I ‘get it.’ Otherwise best when listened to straight through.


proof close up
Proof that I was Where I Said I was at the Time I was There
wood, paper, paint, cremains of 1999 senior show



  1. Students who graduated around the millennium from Carson-Newman College [sic] were invited to submit recent works for a show to coincide with the university’s 2013 homecoming. The purpose of writing so much about this piece is mainly to explain my artwork to the other people in the show, since it was done partly for them.
  2. A geode is a regular-ol’ looking rock that, when cracked open, reveals a secret world of gemstone. If someone handed you a geode, you would have to take it on faith that in the center were amethysts. It would not be until you destroyed the rock-ness (the smooth, round, appearance of something that looks uniformly rocky ) of the geode that you discovered its real nature.
  3. Years after my senior show in 1999, I decided that 1) instead of trying to maintain the pristine nature of several of the pieces and 2) as a way of ‘moving on’ since they physically took up a lot of room and actually got in the way of working on other stuff, I would burn them and save the cremains for a future project.
  4. The development of my optophonetic alphabet has been an ongoing project since high school, and as such has become a part of my artwork. It, along with keeping a journal, was something I was always working on through college.


The cremains were the material I had first, so they were good to go.

proof model

I had the general idea for the form in my head, but I couldn’t work out if it were possible to really exist when I sat down to measure materials. I tried sketching out the form, but I wanted to be sure it would really occupy the space I wanted it to. So, I used SketchUp to create a model on the computer. As I was creating this model, I decided that 21 inches in any direction was a good size; each cube would be a 1-inch cube, for a total of 2321 cubes.

2013-10-10 06.31.50In order to use wood for the basic structure, I had to plane down 2 by 12s to get precise 1-inch pieces of wood to work with. Thanks to my dad for this, because he suffered through running boards through the planer for 2 days with me. After that, I built the structure according to the model.

With the cubes stacked the way they are, only 1326 faces of these cubes are visible to the outside. I used this number as the number of characters I would use for the written message which would appear on the cubes. The form as a whole is based around a cube itself, and so characters on the faces could be read from six different ways. To easily type my message, I needed a font, which I created using FontForge.

proof font

proof in excel

I also needed a 2-d way of plotting where the characters would go in 3 dimensions, for which I used Excel (which I like to refer to as Microsoft Grid, since that is often how it it used). After writing a message, I created .DXF files

 using Inkscape for use with my [amazon_link id=”B008KPBFSI” target=”_blank” locale=”US” container=”” container_class=”” ]Silhouette Cameo[/amazon_link] paper cutter. As the letters were cut out, I glued them in the right place on the structure and painted it with several coats of primer.


finishing touchesThe message written all over this piece is the plain meaning. I wrote about being in school with the other people in the show, about how lucky I was to be around them, and the sense of healthy competition which pushed us all to take things to the next level.

One thing I still like imagining is the pieces in the gallery at night, with no one there, but the presence of the artworks being there, sort of representing each of us. For me, the whole show was about creating a monument to our time at school together.