Semantic Saturation


When a word is repeated over again and again, it becomes foreign and abstracted, losing its meaning.  Distinct syllables divide and regroup.  Holistic understandings dissolve, then diffuse.  Solid, liquid, gas.  

Words are embedded with ambient meaning; tacit understandings that color and contextualize. But repetition dissociates context, placing familiar words within a reductionist framework.  The words were only ever sounds, absolute and immediate.

As saturated sounds roll from open lips, they feel foreign and heavy on the tongue. Nasal vowels settle and diffuse like novocain.  The repetition dissolves semantic noise, lifting the veil of convention and assumed knowledge. It distorts and abstracts until the only focus is the taste the words on the roof of your mouth.

Our minds create divisions among forms according to context. Visual and holistic markers shape the way an object is perceived: scale, environment, proximity, materiality.  The cues puddle and synthesize, congealing to form boundaries and constructs that obscure the parallels between structures.  Nature is saturated with muted repetition.   

In fractals, a larger form is made up entirely of smaller versions of the same form, and the smaller versions are comprised of that same form repeated again, and on it continues in an infinite loop.  A shift in scale in a site or form is often enough abstraction to obscure existing understandings. When a shoulder blade is enlarged, it becomes a sand dune, a swollen ocean wave.   Ridged masses surface and drag outward, swelling before gently folding upon themselves, like some viscous substance, glass, honey, falling from a ladle.  The boundaries between environments dissolve.  Forms bleed into each other, merging and reconstituting in seemingly disconnected contexts.



When floods occur, they swallow their surroundings. Liquid laminates the earth, rising slowly, pouring over from basins and seas.  Pooling in depressions before absorbing more and more of the surrounding terrain.  The only traces of the rolling landscape are scattered arcs of land.  These floating islands emerge from the liquid plane without disclosing the intersection of sloping forms and sharp vertical structures below.  They are neutralized as they are suspended in space, disengaged from their environments. The rising waterline veils the information below its surface, erasing its surroundings.  It dissociates the mound before flashing back to it, mirrored and distorted.  Our gaze is locked between the ridge and its resonance. The liquid surface doubles, triples the peak, until it is abstracted and reimagined through repetition.  The ridges and mounds emerging from the plane take on an illusory quality. Attempts to make out the bodies below are interrupted by the recurring image of the forms above, rippling and striated.



Underwater, light is diffused and multiplied.  Divided masses are absorbed into the atmosphere. Contained forms become liquid, dissolving and reconstituting, continually shifting and responding as though suspended in air. Our awareness of the space slowly unfolds as we breathe in and out, as light flashes before us as we open our eyes.  Rising structures dissolve into pools of light.  Monuments become rippling expanses defined by surrounding masses. Each one takes on the characteristics of the other, slowing time and blurring boundaries.  Absorbing into space like liquid lenses suspended in saline.

Above the surface, the waterline continues to creep higher and higher. The liquid expanse segments and crops forms. Only the uppermost sweep of a hill is exposed, leaving it truncated and isolated from its neighboring crest. The rising waterline becomes an objective plane through which the contours of the hill, at that specific altitude, can be mapped.  Occasionally, the waterline shifts and settles, undulating with the current. The changing borders of the island offer insight into the the totality of the form, alluding to the way that the terrain meets and intersect below. Only scattered traces of the saturated landscape are discernible. The floating ridges act as monuments, fragmented and abstracted markers of the surface underneath.

From the sky, the landscape is reconfigured and flattened. Islands and lakes become graphic elements, rivers are indicated through a quivering line.  The depth and density of a northern forest is reduced and contained within a rectangular mass.  As we zoom out, certain information is lost, until the landscape appears reduced and stylized.  The Aerial perspective trades in subtleties of the terrain in favor of a macro understanding of the topography.  Geographical features are understood both in relation to the regions around them and to the greater mass as a whole.  It links relative bodies, merging knowledge of familiar and unfamiliar territories.



Topographical maps offer a kind of specificity that shapes the way we see the land around us.  Mountains are mountains, raised and ridged masses emerging from flat expanses.  But as the grid responds to the land, it subtly shifts, acknowledging each ridge, each mountain as its own. Its geometry imposes rationality on an irrational surface. Linear structures swell and climb in response to its shifting contours. The structure transforms an uncertain space into something tangible and accessible, allowing us to view and lock into the unnamed spaces.  They create a lens to view the distinct topography underneath.

The surface of the earth is a continuous, wavering arc.  When maps are developed, a specific projection is determined in order to translate its irregular surface onto a flat plane. A hierarchy is established; central information is selected and conserved, and peripheral information becomes hazy and contorted as the lens expands.  Distances and borders are lost in translation.  They are warped and manipulated in support of the designated territory. Ancillary data is distorted in an effort to rationalize incompatible surfaces.



The Personal Equation first emerged in response to repeated inconsistencies in astronomical data. Assumptions of a universal perspective were negated as the impact of individual subjectivities was realized.  The Personal Equation marked an awareness of a visceral, idiosyncratic presence.  Its reasoning extends beyond human influences.  Every element is embedded with distinct material properties that impact experience. The surrounding atmosphere is not a perfectly clear, objective lens.  It scatters and refracts light, displacing and distorting the surrounding landscape.  It is filled with noise, specs of hovering matter that are veiled except under the brightest lights.   

The Personal Equation is an acknowledgement of idiosyncratic variations that occur from person to person, from site to site.  The universal language of the form may reappear in other contexts, but the specific intersection of planes and contours is unrepeated. Basins and Potholes and Navels all melt into one another, ovoid hollows sinking into sweeping expanses.  Each surface and concavity carries with it its own distinguishing characteristics; a ridged band running along the interior slope, a rolling mass rising and sweeping over the outer rim. The fluid repetition is countered by the specificities of each site.

Once an image is embedded in our minds, it appears all around us. Our field of vision becomes saturated with the characteristics of its form, until its features warp and adjust to the environment, transforming it into something else entirely.  There is over looking; looking and looking and looking until the object of attention becomes abstracted.  Looking until our focus shifts.  Looking until we see beyond the familiar forms that have been viewed so many times that they are now assumed rather than seen.  Saturation breaks down arbitrary divisions that prevent the viewer from seeing the fluidity between forms.  The structures before us, what the mind sees, is no longer limited by the constraints put in place by nouns, or expectations.

As familiar structures are reimagined through the saturated lens, parallels begin to emerge.  A shift in focus transforms a flared nostril into a mountain, or the tip of a finger into the transition between land and sea.  Different lines are emphasized, different shadows and contours surface.  There is a fluidity that exists between spaces and forms, between the soft, warped ridge of a tear duct rolling into the glassy white of the eye, and where a sloping hill gently rises before falling over itself to meet the surface of the water. The repetition dissolves conventionalized understandings, allowing the viewer to to look past what they have been taught to see in favor of a greater specificity.  It creates a brief window into an uncanny reality.