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The World’s Most Active Action Paintings – FLUIDISM Fluid Dynamics Art

Updated on July 21, 2011

These artworks defy the physics of drying, and they redefine the philosophy of painting.

Aspect 35-P FLUIDISM Art Photography by Robert G. Kernodle
Aspect 35-P FLUIDISM Art Photography by Robert G. Kernodle

Definition Of “Painting”

Consider two sentences:

(1) Thomas is painting a portrait of his wife.

(2) Thomas is hanging a painting of his wife on the wall.

In sentence # 1, the word, “painting”, is a noun (an object). In sentence # 2, the word, “painting”, is a verb (an action). “Painting”, thus, is both a static mass and a sequence of movements. This dual definition of the word, “painting”, usually causes little confusion, because, traditionally, there is a clear division between the painting product and the painting process.

Even when the focus of a finished painting is the action that produced it (as in so-called action paintings), still there is a clear distinction between static patterns in the dry painting and progressive actions in the wet paint that formed these static dry patterns. The common understanding of “a painting” is the dried or stabilized substrate that preserves the original wet substrate’s patterns.

Aspect 688-P FLUIDISM Art Photography by Robert G. Kernodle
Aspect 688-P FLUIDISM Art Photography by Robert G. Kernodle

Defying Drying

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) said:

“To finish a work? To finish a picture? What nonsense! To finish it means to be through with it, to kill it, to rid it of its soul, to give it its final blow the coup de grace for the painter as well as for the picture.”

Picasso realized that artistic creation lies at the edge of stable patterns and unstable patterns. A painting for him was a growing entity, a happening, or an unfolding sequence of moments. From his point of view, as long as a painting was wet and active, it was “alive”, subject to further alterations (growth) by the hands of its creator.

In theory, a painting could continue through time indefinitely, because its creator might never be satisfied. He or she could add new, wet paint on top of old, dry paint in an endless editing process that never produced a single, unique, lasting appearance. Most artists, however, do reach stopping places that allow their paintings to rest. Their paintings dry.

But suppose that the physics of drying actually destroys certain patterns. Suppose that stopping the flow of certain patterns’ actions is impossible within the fluid medium itself. Suppose that there are patterns that require the continuous possibility of destruction, in order for these patterns to exist at all. These are the sorts of patterns that I deal with in fluidism.

Aspect 924 FLUIDISM Art Photography by Robert G. Kernodle
Aspect 924 FLUIDISM Art Photography by Robert G. Kernodle

Photographic Relics Of Painting Events

In fluidism art photography, the actions of paintings and the objects of paintings become confused. I have no doubt that original paintings exist, because paint media exist in which my goal is to discover visually appealing patterns. The original wet media, however, cannot produce dry representations of the wet media’s most stunning appearances. In order to achieve lasting representations of these stunning wet appearances, I have to exit the original media and enter the alternate media of photography, where my impressions of the most appealing wet events can be stopped artificially with a camera.

The art subjects of fluidism photography are paintings as events. The art objects are photographs that mimic traditional paintings through static appearances. Here truly original artifacts are impossible. Only secondary artifacts are possible.

Miniscule Masterpieces?

My painting events take place in small liquid puddles and in thin liquid films, usually no larger than a few centimeters in diameter. These puddles and films are composed of water, mineral oil, art acrylics, oil paints, glycerin, and egg whites, in varying mixtures. Within these mixtures, fluid dynamics patterns appear spontaneously. The patterns achieve peaks of appeal, and then they break apart into less appealing patterns. A camera records the peaks, creating stable, two-dimensional records of unstable, three-dimensional realities.

Who, then, can say exactly when such paintings begin and when they end? I cannot even say that I am the only artist involved in their creation. Instead, I am a collaborator with the universe, in a process that is infinite and eternal.

Fluid dynamic paintings such as these blur traditional boundaries, compelling us to realize that our ideas about reality depend, to a great extent, on illusions of stopping motions and on biases of solidifying boundaries that are ultimately fluid forever.


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