A couple of years ago I attended a lecture given by New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl at Mills College. Schjeldahl discussed his fascination with the workings of the human brain and the way that memory is constructed and stored. As a result of his memory explorations Schjeldahl compared the practice of narrative painting to the composition of a memory or a moment in time and that if the work is successful the viewer is left with all the information they need to recount the moment being expressed.
I have chewed on this at great length since and have recently began exploring this idea. First with the following:
Fargo 1968, acrylic on paper, 2007
This is the first painting I've made in probably 6 years. It depicts my mom and one her brothers when she was a teenager. There are things about that I like and many others that I don't. This piece is about 2.5"x2.5". My thought was that if the work is really tiny then the viewer will have to get close to it to reveal the necessary information present. After finishing it I realized it wasn't quite small enough so now I've begun working about .5" of a square inch smaller. I am hoping that from a distance what is unclear because of the scale will work much the same way that a memory does. Sorta like how no matter how hard you try you can't envision your mother's face perfectly when you close your eyes even though you've probably seen it a million times, or if you try to mentally reconstruct your bedroom only key things stand out. We shall see.
In the meantime I am stoked that National Geographic came out with an issue devoted to memory this month!