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Protected: Sionnach’s Wager – Part 1, “The Bet”

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Wilderness and Order: Roxy Paine

I wrote this for an art class I was taking in the spring of 2006.  I don’t feel as connected to this piece as I did then, but I still feel that it is a solid piece describing the connection between the viewer and the artwork.  I had never heard of Roxy Paine before this assignment.  If I remember correctly, the only thing I read about him was the article that I found in ArtNews.  Since the newest work that I cited was made in 2005, I’d guess that the article was from that year, but our instructor told us not to include a Works Cited page, so I can’t say for sure.  Something in the back of my brain is telling me to look up the April 2005 issue… if that pans out, I will try to include a link to it, or at least cite it here.  For more on the works of Roxy Paine, check out his website at


Before I set my hands on that old volume of ArtNews, I knew that I would find something special inside.  I opened the book to the  contents page, and I immediately saw something that caught my eye.  It was the artwork of Roxy Paine, a contemporary artist whose work makes a clear statement to myself.  After reading the article about him, I knew I was not alone.

For some time now, I have toyed with the idea of a clash of the wilderness of nature and the orderliness of man.  Anytime I see an abandoned man made structure overrun by plant life, I marvel at the versatility of nature and her ability to conquer man.  At the same time, I marvel at man’s ingenuity to design something  that can stand up against nature and stay strong for years.  I wonder what future generations will see and think about us when they cross the ruins of our society centuries from now.

Roxy Paine embodies these ideas in his artwork, to some extent.  For example, his Weed Choked Garden of 2005 seems to be a satire of suburban life.  The suburb dweller works especially hard to keep weeds out of his or her lawn and garden, yet nature always manages to escape these attempts at control.  Always, some “good” plants will survive, while others are laid to ruin.

In a museum, an installation of realistic looking tomatoes and other plants left unattended and choked out by weeds.

Weed Choked Garden, 1998-2006

Furthermore, Paine adds to a sense of collision with his stainless steel sculptures of trees.  These he places in parks–“pretenders” among the real trees.  To me, it feels like the perfect marriage of nature and machine.

Two steel trees with branches outstretched towards one another.

Conjoined, 2007

In addition to his parody of suburbia, Paine adds his commentary on art and the creation of  art.  He produces nature sculptures with the precision and detail of a photorealist painter.  His amazing attention to detail leads one to second guess his or her eyes.  I marvel at his process.  He takes an organic object and reproduces it with meticulous, machine-like detail.  Likewise, he uses machines to create abstract artworks.  One example is his PMU (Painting Manufacturing Unit, 1999-2000).  This machine has an arm which spurts white paint onto a canvas at regular intervals.

A machine sprays white paint onto a canvas, leaving paint drying to various depths.

PMU, 2001

Lastly, Paine has an obsession with the virulent and toxic nature of some plants, especially, fungi.  Coming to maturity in the hippie era, Paine experimented with many drugs. His artwork is a reflection of this.  He has sculptures of poppy fields and mushroom fields in abundance.

A field of mushrooms appears to grow from a plain white platform.

Amanita Muscaria Field, 2000

His dedication to these plants is fascinating.  To me, it is like he is stripping away their power by constantly manufacturing harmless versions of them.  He is facing his fear of that which use to control his life.  Therein lies a lesson for all of us, a silent reminder to confront and conquer your fears before they consume you.

I am fascinated by the life and work of Roxy Paine.  I connect with his work on a deeper level because I can see similarities between his philosophies and mine.  I only hope that my work can be as moving and inspiring as his in the future.

When dead Sims haunt your dreams…

As a last ditch of the thinned veil, I’ve had one more set of crazy dreams, though this one was more coherent than the others.  It all started when I fell asleep last night while playing the Sims 2, a family of twin sisters who were also witches and possibly of fairy descent.  When I woke up, the other sister was grieving loudly… is that what woke me up?  Maybe.  In true Sim nerd fashion, I freaked out over my broken story line, and closed the game without saving.  That wasn’t enough apparently, as the sisters decided to haunt my dreams…

In the first one, I went to an infomercial kind of show, but when the woman tried to cook something, the blackened old pot burst into flames.  Then the second demonstration, being performed simultaneously by her husband, also burst into flames.  We tried to extinguish the fires, but they were already spreading, so we evacuated the building.  Then, as we’re all standing outside,  We notice that the members of the club upstairs haven’t noticed–the fire isn’t there yet and they think the smoke is part of the club atmosphere.  So I stand on a chair and yell to them, “Fire, get out of the club!!”  They didn’t hear me, so other people joined in until they could here us, and they started to run out.  A few of them were trapped inside in the chaos, so a few of us tried to help them, but then zombies started to come out of the bottom level of the building.  We all ran away (no hope for the clubbies at this point, right?) but we had to go through *another* building to get away.  I opened at least 3 doors with knife-wielding serial killers behind them, and at the last one I had to wrestle the knife away from him because the only other door had a zombie behind it, and while the zombie couldn’t open the door, the serial killer could, so I took his knife, pocketed it, then pushed him out of the way so I could jump out the window.  I woke up after that.

Then when I went back to sleep, I was walking through a field.  The building was far behind me.  There were other survivors behind me and, due to the unwillingness of the firefighters to believe the club-goers since they couldn’t *see* the fire (lol dream logic), the first building with zombies had been ingulfed, containing the zombie outbreak and all proof of its existence.  With that taken care of, my mind simply forgot the second building and its dangers, and so we few survivors (50 or so) were just wandering through the field, distancing ourselves from the still raging fire which the firefighters were now trying to contain but were sure held no survivors inside.  This alone would make a great plot for a video game–escape alive from a building filled with every horror movie villain ever.  But the best plot, oh that was the horror which continued in my second dream.  But I’m not telling you that, because I’m pretty sure that it’ll make a good story plot, once I clean out the silly bits.  Definitely leaving the Rugrats out of it.