Earth, our biosphere mediated by Technology becomes virtual creating Technosphere(s).
By examining this space we create with our environment and technology patterns emerge.
These patterns are symbols, icons, perhaps a new language.
Communication today via mass media, internet, and telecommunications we can communicate
with increasing speed this is changing humanity and how we interact.
Objects become more important: phones, computers, TVs, cameras, appliances, satellites,
chairs. These are used daily and become part of our existence. An artificial life emerges
connected to our own. Have we become super-humans or maybe are we hosts for electronic
Space is less important but the illusion of space is key. The TECHNOSPHERE is place that is
not a place. A virtual space. Physical space has become nearly unnecessary. Yet the idea of
space is important. A pictorial and infinite space expandable and retractable. A metaphor for
Western culture itself. A hemisphere of global culture.
Welcome to The TECHNOSPHERE.
Blake Sandberg's "Images and Text"
Paintings for literate people
"It is not a question of 'applying' linguistics to painting, of injecting a bit of semiology, into the history of art;
rather, one must abolish the distance that has institutionally separated painting from text."
Roland Barthes, Le peinture est-elle un langage?"
Sandberg accomplishes just that by placing his texts and images in one space often competing for your
attention or dislodging your reckoning.
Images and text have long been used together by humans. For thousands of years these have been our
tools for recording and giving something cerebral, a physical staying power, a history of its own.
Images: recognized as representations of objects, drawings, plans for inventions yet to be realized, or fantasies open
for imagination's interpretation.
Texts: perhaps mankind's most treasured and archived achievement(the Bible, Indian manuscripts, the Magna Carta,
Hieroglyphs, countless scrolls, the Rosetta stone, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution....).
The written word facilitates the need to convey a concept, tell a story, write down an event or record one's unique
knowledge. These tools have gargantuan histories yet are still used in archaic ways, perhaps even in regressive
ways. The artist's explorations combining image with text attempt to recreate, and add to, these traditions.
The "Image and Text Series" as the artist refers to it, loosely describes a whole body of work in progress for seven or
more years now. The series was originally experimented with after studies the artist did in museums and galleries in
the mid-nineties. While standing in these spaces the artist observed viewers, "paying more attention to the white
cards indicating artist, date, and title accompanying the painting rather than the painting itself." Realizing this
tendency, Sandberg began to "circumvent this system by painting the title over the image." Having already begun
creating a library or "language of images" placing a label on his carefully chosen imagery seemed a logical way to
add a layer of meanings to his works. Later, he would further extend this by adding "secondary titles," embracing
the extra form of information and sending viewers back and forth to read the texts.
3. Say: Brick
Due to the formation of the concept of labeling the image, the artist began a period of recognized "redundancy." In
early works, Sandberg would depict spaces cluttered with household items labeling every object or space in them in
some attempt to explain what everything rationally "was." This strange attempt seems to coincide with his fascination
with dictionaries and "how things work" books. A seminal work at the time depicts a brick in a simple background
labeled underneath "Brick." Redundancy becomes a major theme for a time, seemingly allowing the artist to create a
base to use as a springboard. This also definitely and intentionally mirrors America's own over produced image and
text media...advertising. Exemplified over and over again in print, the redundancy of a perfume ad swooning girl, the
company moniker, and its catch phrase, "...." Or as seen on TV, the hamburger shown rotating in full spectral color
oozing and melting cheese, suddenly super-imposed by orange text...buy it here, anytime, fresh, hot. Advertising
thus becomes an obvious framework for these paintings, superimposed over American cultural imagery.
4. "Now at this time we must pause for a moment..."
We must consider this obsessive labeling and word infusion in other ways. Overdub: in cinema, a technique to allow
for third person narration during action or to suggest a characters ideas, etc. In this manner, Sandberg' s texts dub
into the stream of the viewers thoughts about an image and carry it another way. Overdubbed texts operate as a
steering instrument to change directions, adding other ideas or references. This overdub could be musical as well,
a way of dropping in another sound or tone into a mix of sounds. When this is considered, the artist becomes a
visual/textual DJ, mixing forms and influences, tones and colors, and sources of opposing origins. If this is the case,
then these works also invoke the "talk-over," reggae's text often total improvisation spoken over DJ mixed music.
The appropriate nature of this apparent technique is seen in Sandberg's references to music, rhythm, and the blues.
Rap artists use words as a way to reference a multitude of ideas quickly through abbreviations and word play. The
word becomes audible naturally when you hear your own voice internally as you read. The painter here seems to
cut this down, simplifying the text into short phrases and often single meaning saturated words. He has crafted a
number of ways to layer and mix his concepts, imagery and texts.
In some works, words jump forward reducing the image to a secondary background. In other examples, words are so
carefully matched in color with the backgrounds, one has trouble finding them. This technique makes the works
seem done in disappearing ink coming into and out of focus. Sandberg's ability to pile up meanings and opposing
references produce a strange sense of humor lodging his images in the viewer's consciousness.
In an interview, when asked "What are you trying to communicate?", Blake responds, " Communication," deftly
saying something so important and nothing whatsoever. This is the nature of his work. For if we could not decipher
images or read and translate words, they would be worthless. This tenuous line of believability is walked, traversed,
climbed over, and sometimes trampled by the young artist. If you note in many of his pieces an odd unfinished
quality, often a corner left unpainted, contradicting the complete illusion of the painting and sometimes hanging it
out to dry. Yet this is a perfect example of his ability to layer his paintings so completely. Chalking them full of
sources, ideas, and nuances. Creating a total communication of image, text, and audible sound bites. The effect of
pairing these forms translated in such a streamlined manner, the artist's paintings seem almost simple. However,
this is where he slips from your fingers and nuances rise from the painted surfaces and these iconic pictures
envelope the viewer in a world of ideas.
Pages from Blake Sandberg's note book reprinted in the
PERFORMING ARTS JOURNAL, PAJ 63, September 1999.
"Notes on the ‘Dramatics' or Dynamics of the Object"
(CLICK PAGES TO VIEW)
1. Blake Sandberg's "Images and Text" - Paintings for literate people
2. Article from Performing Arts Journal, written by Blake and includes pages from his notebook
3. Welcome To The Technosphere
4. Notebook Entries
2. "Notes on the ‘Dramatics' or Dynamics of the Object"
3. Welcome to the Technosphere
4. Notebook Entries:
Paul Virilio's book "Art As Far As The Eye Can See" is an impressive account of the state of today's
mass media conditioned world. His book is almost a written mirror of thoughts I have daily and
specifically on the topics I deal with in my work. Communication, technology, consumption, the
control of mass media over people - consumers, the trends of today, etc.... His book essentially
justifies all of my work. He wrote, "Since the wave of electromagnetic fields flooded the earth with
audiovisuality, not only has the skyline been locked down in the rectangle of the screen, of all the
screens, but the spectator has now morphed into a televiewer who stretches out or, rather, lies down in
front of it." He quotes "Husserl's "Age of the Reclining Man" but furthers this idea to the present,
"today buckles before the comfort of zero energy in a man who is not even a true spectator anymore,
but the author of a domestic virtuality on a life-size scale." Yes! Virilio has foreseen our future and
knows our present. In two paragraphs he has explained my work and subject better than I can, or
perhaps he saw what I see in the ether. He may have seen me.
Blake Sandberg 2012
After reading Louis Aaragon's statement of "painting is jewelry, collage is poor" several years ago the
critic of cubism and what we call modern art touched on something that was important to me.
I believe it is in fact more difficult to paint an object - an image in isolation versus using collage. To
paint whatever "it" is and allow it to breathe, to stand alone to function solely on it's own terms.
Today in the industrialized, mass media, and Post-Warhol world we expect repetition. It is easier
to create something that looks like "art" by simply repeating imagery or collaging images - busying a
surface or filling any void creating the juxtapositions one learns of in art school automatically.
However this can be problematic as a constant all-over composition - when content and meaning
becomes cluttered, happenstance, or lost completely rather than an intended communication
image. These are good tools for creating meaning but are often used for purely aesthetic
purposes. A sign or image has near infinite possibility to convey "something" to discover or
"something" to paint is to discover "Art." In fact when you view a Warhol often it is the independent
image which is important, the one image he made stick out. His singular studies of a soup can or a
dollar bill or a portrait are later incorporated into mural like repetitions of images repeating the
mass media/industrialized factory production techniques and thus making a statement with his
technique - the silkscreen. His process of repeating imagery succeeded in mirroring what he saw
in our culture, in life. He called his studio "The Factory." He mimicked the assembly line. This
dialog with his own culture and time is what made him a great artist - that dialog with the moment,
with his audience. Baudelaire called Manet "the painter of modern life" when he broke from
traditional subjects to paint people he knew - prostitutes, beggars, actors, and events of his day.
Warhol did the same. This is what artist's today must do. This is what I must do. Attempt to convey
what I see and experience now, today and what I envision in the future.
3. Welcome to the Technosphere
3. Welcome to the Technosphere