In my current work I explore the relationships people have in their living spaces, be it with their cats and dogs or artworks on the wall or plants and family. Sometimes it is the missing other that creates a sense of loss and despair. Other times it is the joy of a new baby. Viewers get to put themselves into the compositions and see a different side of their personalities. I come from a large family and my grandfather was an artist so my family was on the lookout for another talented hand. Having found myself to be of the painter variety I pursued the modernist quest of affecting my domain in pushing the medium further. Having also some computer scientists in my family I was at the right point after art school to welcome digital tools to my image making in the mouse-driven early years. I have been in numerous exhibits with my computer art and paintings since then and have received critical support for this combined direction.
In a letter of recommendation: —Howard N. Fox, Curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art wrote “ ...What stands out about Mr. Glynn's art, in my view, is his willingness to engage in an eclectic and free-wheeling range of techniques to process images....”
Mr. Fox went on to describe how I had photo-printed a digital portrait image of mine on a sphere and combined it with a paper print strip displayed in a spiral to create a physical object created with a combination of traditional and computer tools.
I began showing with a group of computer artists that we eventual called the “Digilantes” who were interested in the new tools and their application to fine art prints mostly. Many shows were organized by Victor Acevedo who was a teacher at SVA in NYC in the graduate level computer art program. The other Digilante show curator, Michael Wright, helped me get started in teaching. We taught a class in his digital media curriculum at Otis College of Art and Design.
Having delved into digital media enough to appreciate where my talents lie, I have primarily continued to pursue painting with traditional media ( and acrylic) as my strength and to farm-out the more technical computer work to fabricators when necessary.
As for influences I have been a fan of Philip Guston for years and his freeing up of the picture plane and post modernist approach. For my virtual reality project I was directly inspired by a show at LACMA in 2017 co-exhibiting Picasso and Diego Rivera that showed how Picasso had worked in layers and Rivera in an ever expanding mural surface area. My work process took on a combination of both techniques and soon I was painting over paintings but also photographing the under layers to include in virtual reality experiences in large scaled settings.
I came to an early realization that “Scale” was one of the chief differences with computer art and so I was inspired to create artworks with the imagery scale of Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel. I titled one- “4096: Trust Time.” Art critic Peter Frank chose it for his pick in the LA Weekly and wrote : "Glynn montages a vast writhing array of people conflating Blakean visions of heaven and hell." This was in reference to the 13 foot photo print from a digital file containing over 200 drawn figures that was displayed on the floor of the L. A. Municipal Art Gallery.
Then I had a solo show at the Bergamot Station gallery complex in Santa Monica where the art critic Laurent Chobert in —Art Review wrote of me: (Glynn) As an artist with “...consummate skill. . . [who] executes a seamless marriage of modern technology and whimsical playfulness without losing either sensibility or coherence...”
I then moved to NYC for 4 years and created an interactive CD-rom called “Dragon Year: Four Season” using my oil paintings and digitally collaged model photos. The resulting work was featured in a multi-page spread in MicroPublishing News and is now in the permanent collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, UK with other works of mine including prints.
Also while living in NYC I was commissioned to paint a mural for a ceiling that the New York Times described thus: “...The result is a series of images of a long-haired, discreetly topless young woman tumbling dreamily through the deep…”
Back in L.A. I started teaching at various places including the LA County High School for the Arts (or Arts High.) While continuing to paint and work on computer art projects I received another oil portrait commission for Gil Friesen, former Board President of the L.A. Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and president of A&M Records.
Fast forward past the recession, then the end of the Obama presidency I started figuring out a way to paint “into “ Virtual Reality. I had submitted to the LACMA Art and Technology Grant but ultimately then self-funded a VR project called “Choice Cycle” which I consider to be a proof of concept for my new work and proposal. “Behind Glass” is my current suite of paintings for which I have completed a couple dozen paintings of what could be up to 250 paintings completed for the series.
In my current body of work, which I began before the pandemic, I go from apartment to apartment like a brush wielding Santa Claus in my paintings, bestowing gifts of attention to the inner lives and homes of others. Working with models brings an element of other peoples perspective into my work. We create something as a result of their being seen through the medium, be it paint, photography or video. I intend to pursue these themes further, continuing to depict people from all walks of life. I typically paint two paintings at a time- (one on canvas and one on Arches 100% cotton rag paper, both 54” x 40” ) of apartment windows, completing about 4 paintings a month. I would use the funds from the sale of the originals and prints to fund my VR portion of the project, which would entail hiring technical help.
For “Behind Glass” I made a 9’ foot acrylic painting on canvas of my design for the 3 apartment buildings in the VR experience. Each building is 17 stories with two windows on each side of every floor. In virtual reality one can “fly” up and look at the paintings much as if it were a museum with the paintings on the outside. This VR experience is a night-time scene and the light comes from within the apartments (though you cannot fly inside of them.)
The paintings for “Behind Glass” are meant to stand alone as art objects as well as work together as a whole suite.
Born 1961, Boston, MA
Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA
1981-1982 Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA
1980-1981 San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA
1979-1980 Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
2003 New Paintings, South LaBrea Gallery, Inglewood, CA
1996 Digitalogue Gallery, Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, CA
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2017 Faces in the Crowd, Avenue 50 Studio gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2016 New Work, Perimeter Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2015 Dark Matter, Art Share L.A., Los Angeles, CA
2013 Untitled Projects, Art Copenhagen, Denmark
2011 Mysterious Objects: Portraits of Joan Quinn, Curated by Cheryl Bookout & Amanda Quinn Olivar, Santa Ana College Art Gallery, Santa Ana, CA
2009 Faculty Show, Curated by Max Presneill, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA
2008 Group Show, Fringe Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA
2007 Faculty Show, Curated by Kristina Newhouse, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA
Small Wonders III, Juried by Holly Meyers, Pharmaka Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2006 Inauguration 3, Gallery Revisited, Los Angeles, CA
2005 Portraits, Bamboo Lane/Revisited, Los Angeles, CA
Table of Contents, Modern Art Downtown LA gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2004 Signified, Orlando Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2003 SIGGRAPH ’03, Juried by Michael Wright, Convention Center, San Diego, CA
Architech: Alone in a Naked City, EZTV at 18th Street Arts Center, Santa Monica, CA
2000 New Group Show, Spectra Digital Arts Gallery, New York, NY
1999 Digital Spectrum, Spectra Digital Arts Gallery, New York, NY
1998 Colors, Vibrant Gallery, New York, NY
1997 Through the Looking Glass: Artist Self-Portraits, Curated by Betty Disney, Cypress College, Cypress, CA
1995 Vital Signs, Curated by Noel Korten and Margaret Lazzari, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Hollywood, CA
Digital SITE, Art / Computer Interface, SITE Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1994 SIGGRAPH '94, Juried by Barbara London, Convention Center, Orlando, FL
Digital L.A., Curated by Michael Wright and Patric Prince, Sam Francis Gallery at the Crossroads School for Art and Science, Santa Monica, CA
1993 A Digital Dialog, Curated by Betty Disney, Cypress College, CA
But Is It Art? Currents in Electronic Imaging, Pacific Lutheran University Gallery, Tacoma, WA
1992 Silent Partners, Curated by Patric Prince, Los Angeles New Art Foundation, Cyberspace Gallery at EZTV, West Hollywood, CA
1991 El-Art: An Exhibition of Electronic Arts, Curated by Anti Kari, Retretti Art Center, Punkaharju, Finland
The Computer Art Show, Curated by Karen R. Mobley, University Art Gallery, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM
1990 SIGGRAPH '90, Curated by Patric Prince,Convention Center, Dallas, TX
Traveling Show (featuring selections from SIGGRAPH '90), Computer Museum, Boston, MA
Hard Copy by Verbum Magazine, Curated by Michael Gosney, University of California at San Diego, San Diego, CA
Anna Nicholas, Los Angeles, CA
Claudia Cron, Essex, CT
Janet and Gilbert Friesen, Los Angeles, CA
Joan A. Quinn, Beverly Hills, CA
John and Susan Joyce, Los Angeles, CA
Dr. Kristiane and Niels Janeke, Berlin, Germany
Mark Costello and Gregory McSparron, West Hollywood, CA
Sherri and Howard Kaufman, Los Angeles, CA
Tim Christian and Matthew Eastus, Los Angeles, CA
Todd Stevens, Los Angeles, CA
Victor Sherman, Los Angeles, CA
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
Excellence Award in Art Education, Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, 2002
LECTURES / TEACHINGS
Taught classes on digital media at Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA 2001
Taught advanced painting class at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Los Angeles, CA 2002
Taught classes on figure drawing, oil painting, and portfolio prep at Torrance Cultural Center, Torrance, CA 2003- 2010
Lectured about Computer Art series to Journalism Department at University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 1993
SELECTED BOOKS, PRESS AND REVIEWS
2015 Poets and Artists: Figural Movement. Curated by F. Scott Hess. Laguna, CA: Didi Menendez, 2015.
2007 Not What I Expected: The Unpredictable Road from Womanhood to Motherhood. Edited by Donya Currie Arias and Hildie S. Block. Arlington, Virgina: Paycock Press.
2003 McNamara, Mary. “The Muse Steps off the Pedestal”. Los Angeles Times, Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2,13 April 2003.
SIGGRAPH 2003: Electronic Arts Catalogue (exhibition catalogue and CD-ROM). Juried by Michael Wright, illustrated.
2001 The Fun of It: Stories from the Talk of the Town (The New Yorker). Edited by Lillian Ross. New York: The Modern Library, 2001.
2000 Hershenson, Roberta. “Through an Office and into the Deep”. The New York Times, Footlights section, 10 December, 2000.
Singer, Mark. “Nudie Pix Redux”. The New Yorker, Pg 70, 19 June 2000.
1999 Cavuoto, James. “David Glynn—Expressing the Divine” MicroPublishing News, June 1999.
1996 Chobert, Laurent. “David Glynn—Huge Digital Prints at Digitalogue Gallery”. Art Review, June 1996.
1995 Frank, Peter. “Art Pick of the Week: Vital Signs”. L.A. Weekly, October 1995.
Vital Signs (exhibition catalogue). Curated by Noel Korten and Margaret Lazzari. L.A. Municipal Gallery.
1994 “Digital L.A.” Venice Magazine, July 1994.
SIGGRAPH 94: Visual Proceedings Catalog (exhibition catalogue and CD-ROM). Juried by Barbara London, illustrated.
1991 The Computer Art Show (exhibition catalogue). Text by Karen Mobley. University Art Gallery, New Mexico State University, Cover, illustrated.
1990 SIGGRAPH 90: Visual Proceedings Catalog (exhibition catalogue). Curated by Patric Prince, illustrated.
Choice Cycle :
I created over a hundred paintings for “Choice Cycle,” my monumental mural designed specifically for my Virtual Reality experience.
Since it is in a virtual room without a roof, you can fly up to a virtual 46’ foot+ height and look down over the work from the very top. That’s a foot taller than the Last Judgement fresco painted in the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo-
Each section was painted in my studio, then scanned into the computer, depicting a diverse cross-section of humanity.
I assembled the composition with the computer to make this virtual 40’ by 46’ foot quilt-like composition. Using the headset and hand gear, you can levitate (or “fly”) and hover at any level to study the details within arms reach of the work.
You “fly” by raising your arms to maneuver up and down and, left and right, you can effectively get at “touching” reach to the composition to see it exactly as each section was painted revealing the layers and surface textures.
I created each , 40” by 54” inch section, with paint on canvas and board, working by layering over previous sections, painting a gestural abstract painting, overlaid with bicycles over that, and then with babies over the bicycle layers and repeated. Most of the paintings, over 90 of the individual works, only exist now exist in this Virtual Art Work setting. But, I’ve saved 10 of the best original paintings which could be displayed in a gallery setting alongside the interactive virtual reality headware and hand gear used to view and experience the work.
The title “Choice Cycle” is in reference to our lives of free will and is the first of a suite of murals produced to be specifically incorporated into my virtual environments.
A dropbox link of the VR experience file is available in HTC VIVE format for preview and purchase as well as an intro video on my youtube channel and at www.davidglynn.com
LINKS (please cut and paste):
Thomas Campbell meeting story
-Wanta have lunch?
-Sure, ….. Why wouldn’t I ?
With some things you know how they happen but with others there are more unseen forces behind it.
May 9th, 2019 : Dear Mr. Glynn,
Thomas Campbell asked that I be in touch. He hopes that we might find a time for the two of you to meet for coffee or lunch in the coming weeks. Please let me know if we might look at calendars and find a time for this before the summer.
Assistant to the Director and CEO
Me: "I’d be happy to. What does he have in mind?”
J: “ Perhaps we could arrange a time first. He would be happy to answer any questions you have when you meet.”
So we make a date for the 14th of June. I write: “Please send me any additional details I’ll need closer to the time.” I was just responding to the email they sent to my Artist@glynns.com address. It was from the Director of the San Francisco Fine Arts Museums ( the de Young in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park.)
Tom Campbell had been the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from about 2008-2016 and had just started in San Francisco in November of 2018.
Then J wrote to ask if the lunch could get moved to the 21st. I wrote: “Sure. Is there any more information available?”
J wrote” “It is (just) a very busy time here. I don’t have information beyond what has been distributed but I am sure Tom would be happy to discuss any questions you might have when you meet over lunch.”
I had not done a mailing recently but I had heard from the Director of the Pompidou Museum (Bernard Blistène,) Paris in 2014 responding to a mailing I did regarding my fresco-scaled digital composition “Resolution.” He wrote that he liked it and had showed it to all the curators though they did not have space for it at the time.
More recently I had finished creating a very inspired virtual-reality experience based on my paintings called “Choice Cycle.” This came after completing a PDF for a different, potent, digital photo print suite called “Breaking Wheel,” both of which I had sent to several art institutions.
So I looked him up. I asked my art advisors and friends if they knew anything about him. Read some NY Times articles about him and watched his TED Talk from 2012.
I had a friend I wanted to see in Monterey and a sister to stay with in Marin County, just north of San Fran. My car had just recently been all tuned up so I decided to drive.
I arrived as agreed at the reception desk for the administration offices, “I’m David Glynn.” I had a seat. A few minutes later J, the assistant I had exclusively been corresponding with by email, came out, shook my hand,( me in light blue Kangol hat and biker boots ) and said "Tom will be out in a minute, he is just finishing a call.”
A few minutes later out comes Tom in a nice gray suit and silk tie, a few inches shorter than he looked on video. We greet and we head to the de Young Cafe. On the way across the museum I have time to “Welcome" him to California, having attended San Francisco Art Institute for a year. He was used to giving his resume and said he had spent a few months doing a research Fellowship at the Getty in LA. I also had time to bring up how he and the former director, Max Hollein, had effectively switched jobs. He said he knew Max from before and had suggested Max apply for the position to head the Met. (Separate recruitment firms were consigned. )
Also, since I had done my research, I had time to mention how the “First" Contemporary Curator hired at the FAMSF(.org) Claudia Schmucklie, whose name I had read on the wall text when I viewed most of the exhibits before the lunch, had worked in NY as well, the same time I lived there from “97-2001.
The host brings us to our table in the back corner window with the reserved sign, the only one with a table cloth. I let him choose a seat and he takes the corner with the view of the front desk. I had watched his TED talk and I was prepared for his Oxford English accent, we are offered drinks, I have iced tea. He is familiar with the menu but I haven’t looked as we are still making small talk. He orders the (Spring) risotto and I get a chicken something, not studying the menu, I had removed my hat and windbreaker.
We chat a little more about California and then I lean in and ask, “So, I am wondering how you heard about me?” “Why am I here?” He said that one of the staff ( names somebody) suggested that "you would be someone good to talk to.”
Well, I don’t need much encouragement and I had been practicing. My wife Donna had suggested I bring an iPad ( though they wrote when I asked that I “didn’t need to bring anything”) and the previous day I had given my spiel about my VR painting project to my Monterey friend at lunch and then to my sister and her husband after dinner. It was the last day of Spring in California when I woke up that morning in Mill Valley and being the Solstice, would be Summer when I went to bed.
After winding down my brief biography to Tom as the food arrived, I asked if "I could take a picture for my foodie wife” ("edible flower” I point out in my salad.) I had asked if I could show him the 2 min VR video - he agreed and held his fork in his right hand and propped the iPad with his left. The video shows me flying to the top a my over 46' foot tall mural -"That’s a foot taller than the Sistine Chapel fresco by Michelangelo" I chime in on the soundtrack.
My cel is on the table. After viewing he excuses himself to start typing on his. A few minutes later he gets a response and says: “I am sorry but I must tell you that I was expecting to meet with David Glynn, the venture capitalist.” “I am enjoying the conversation though…”
I say “ you mean even though you sent me emails to “Artist@glynns.com ?”
“Well I didn’t even think about it…”
(the conversation continues for over an hour- )
Ok, so let me back track a little bit. I had already established that we were about the same age when mentioning my college year in SF, as we were walking to the cafe. At the table we are chatting about San Francisco and I have in my shirt pocket a small flash drive with my VR project file on it. While giving my brief intro about myself I asked how much he knows about VR (as he was quoted in the NY Times more recent article about his new position saying that San Francisco is “ground zero of the digital realm" and that he was interested in exploring how technology can take museums beyond their walls.) I go on to describe that there are different levels : from a google cardboard viewer for your phone, to full VR hardware with hand gear like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, to full immersion experiences like the one Steven Spielberg invested in at the Century City mall called “Dreamscapes” which has laptops strapped to your back, hand Plus foot tracking gear, full avatars (gender and race optional) for all 6 participants where you can shake hands with each other in the environment and had objects planted in the black room environment so that when you are prompted to touch something ( like an alien dinosaur for example) in the experience you actually feel something solid. He asked “You can really shake their hands?” Yes I say. He pulls out an envelope and pen and starts writing down “Dreamscapes…”
He asks me how I got involved with that. I said that I didn’t do that project but it is something out there on the level of a Disneyland experience that Spielberg had invested in. He said that he had gone to Facebook about 5 years ago to try some beta tests with the Oculus headset and I said I too had tried the beta version as my friend, who taught in the digital media department at Otis College of Art, had had one and that I had experienced the motion sickness nausea that delayed the release of the early versions. He said that he had felt some of that too but I assured him that VR developers have resolved that by having 2 laser tracker-stands near your computer that track your position precisely so that you don’t feel sick from being out of sync. I told him that you could still feel vertigo if you look down from a great height in a VR experience but that that was different.
So I said that the easiest way of understanding some of what I had been doing was to see my video intro and that’s when he agreed and I opened my iPad. He asked if I had the WiFi and I said I did (as I had remembered to enable it while waiting for him outside Administration.)
So, I had gotten to school him a bit about the technology and my use of it in particular. I described how there was a lot of development and a sort of a format war going on between the Oculus and the Vive- something like the old days of VHS vs Betamax except that that was analog and this is digital so that eventually it will all interconnect. I established that he, like myself, was also a Mac person and that I had hired a woman to do the 3D modeling and VR programming for my experience and that it was in PC format and that the HTC Vive company had said they were going to come out with a Mac version last year though they have not yet.
I told him that my unique position was that of a painter who had found a way to make a “portal” into VR. I told him about how after I had done the fresco-scaled “Resolution” artwork I had applied for the re-established “Art & Technology Grant” from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with a VR project using the headset, even though I got the motion sickness, as I was sure the technology would advance beyond that. Though I didn’t get the single $50,000 award I was still thinking about something I could do with the VR/ painting combination that would bring painting into the 21st Century.
I described the time frame, which I knew was also very tumultuous for Tom too , was around the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, around the first “Women’s March,” that I had gone to an exhibit at LACMA of "Picasso & Rivera." I told how Rivera, who was a little younger than Picasso, had gone to Paris, started painting in a cubist style ( like many others after Braque & Picasso,) and may have met Picasso briefly before returning to Mexico and much success as a muralist. There was a factoid on the wall that said something like- over a 5 year period in the 1920’s Rivera completed over 200 murals. I had my iPhone and pulled up the calculator app and reckoned that that was about a mural every 2 and ½ weeks! Having done a few compositions on the scale of the Sistine Chapel frescos myself I knew that the drawing and designing alone could take months so that even with a large team of assistants he was rapidly covering vast areas of wall space. And my take on Picasso had always been that I only liked about 10% of his output but that his 10% was more than most artist could produce in entirety. I related how Picasso had had success relatively early and had unlimited painting materials and studio spaces , the surfaces of the canvases were often thick with layer upon layer of paint as he could have 15 paintings going at the same time. My mind started buzzing with how quickly I would need to work to fully realize the potential for a truly new form of painting for VR. A pace which took advantage of the unlimited space and scale which I had long felt was the most interesting factor in the digital realm.
I told him how I had gotten into computer art after college when the Mac (black & white screen) first came out. I told him how I had moved to Silicon Valley and interviewed with Apple in Cupertino to see if they would let me use their computers to experiment. It became clear that I needed to buy my own and got a color computer (the Mindset) with a “mouse” that I could draw with and it had some limited animation abilities. I told him how I wasn’t interested in doing animation or entertainment, only interested in the “new painting” but soon realized that it was more like the new printmaking and that for me printmaking would always be subordinate to the immediacy of painting.
This, I told him, was a very exciting time to be alive: this project of painting for VR was “a dream come true.” He asked me if there were other artists I knew who were doing VR art projects like this and I told him there are many doing narrative things or things using animated figure like at LACMA where the Mexican film director (Inarritu he prompted) had presented his VR experience. Tom said he had seen it but he thought it was limited by being only for one person at a time. I said I know as I had tried 3 times to go. He said “you went three times?!” I said no, but that it took me 3 tries to finally get an appointment as they were offered only every few months and the spots went almost immediately.
I said that yes I have digital art friends like the one who taught at Otis and my other friend who taught at the graduate level at the School of Visual Art in NY but that it is not easy to have the inspiration and the ability to bring a VR project to fruition.
When I had been earlier describing my bio and talking of LA he said that "we had thought that you were living here locally." When he said that thing about having expected the other DG, he then asked “you came all this way?” I said “why wouldn’t I?” He said that they could compensate me for my travel expenses but I said I had wanted to stay with my sister and visit my friend anyway. At this point I knew it was time to bring up another reason for why I felt I was there and what a mix-up like this could be about beyond just my ambition for the art and I told him about a friend who had been with a Peace Corp like organization at the time of my inspiration for the VR project and how we were in touch during that volatile time in February of 2017.
(the conversation continues - )
Part 3- the Lunch finishes
Backing up a bit again- I had arrived early enough to explore the collections. Walking around the general galleries, looking for connections, I came soon upon a light-box encased stained-glass figurative piece by Judith Schaechter who’s name sounded familiar and yes, she was my classmate freshman year at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. Around the corner was more glass art including works by the famous Dale Chihuly who was teaching at RISD then and who I was aware of as my best friend from that time is Steve Easton who still lives in and creates cast-glass art in RI. When I mentioned to Tom that I had noticed a classmate on exhibit I also said that I was aware that he, having recently arrived, had probably nothing to do with anything currently on the walls and and he concurred.
When we were talking of neighborhoods and cities. I had done some research and knew that he had done his PhD on the court of Henry the 8th. In the TED talk of 2012 he described himself as a curatorial “tapestry geek.” He had come up through the ranks at The Met as a curator but had probably been selected to lead partly on his initiative in starting the Frances Tapestry Archive and Library in London, prior to his move to NY.
Ok, so we both know who we are, but why are we here? What about that mix-up?
I say that sometimes things can happen for reasons we do not understand. I tell the story of how, on the same week in February 2017 I had started on the inspirational VR painting project “Choice Cycle” with the babies, I had been in touch with a friend working in war torn areas for a Peace Corp like organization and struggling with how the children suffered. This was just too much.
My friend wrote to me “Why do people fight?!” (meaning wars.) I had recently finished the Samuel Adams biography and was in the middle of the novel “Lincoln” by Gore Vidal where I had read that everyone in wars believe they are fighting for “Freedom,” (either their own or for someone they love.) I had also been listening to a lot of spiritual educational material and that night I had a dream of some collaboration between Augmented Reality and QI Gong masters where they were able to immobilize soldiers and end all war within 3 years.
I told Tom how I had then done a suite of images called the “Breaking Wheel” of women chained to bicycles, with tattoos I made with photoshop, about abuse. “Breaking Wheel” is in reference to the actual torture devise common in Europe in the renaissance where prisoners were strapped to a wagon wheel and had their limbs broken as public punishment. I reminded him that an image of such a wheel called a “Catherine Wheel”( and the saint) were included in the Last Judgement fresco by Michelangelo. I told him of how I had set up facebook and Youtube pages for a contest like talent show where the contestants would submit ideas for how we could end all war in 3 years. I called it “A New Kind of Peace.” (a link is available through my website)
I told him that there were these people doing much harder work than I am and that art can inspire them to go on. I told of another person I knew who was a journalist who had worked on stories about high suicide rates in the military and banks that were bilking the elderly of their pensions.
Tom had mentioned how the local tech industry had not been known to be forthcoming in funding the arts and I said that if an arts organization were to perhaps approach a company for a donation of maybe (slightly) outdated VR or AR equipment it could help them promote their products and they could be interested. I described how I had pitched MOMA in NY on an augmented reality mural for their huge 50 foot wall by the elevators that visitors could view only with AR glasses while riding their elevators. And we talked of the big wall at the Tate Modern in London which could also accommodate large work. He said he is interested in something that could be shown to ( tours of) children and I emphasized that my “Choice Cycle” VR project was “family friendly” and had no nudity- depicting just babies, bicycles and abstracts.
He asked me what my favorite art history periods were and I told him that, starting with the renaissance big 3 I loved da Vinci for his drawing but had been inspired by the scale of Michelangelo’s frescos as I had felt scale was one of the major advances to be explored in computer art, as you could have an unlimited “Canvas.” I said that I had identified with Rafael, having done portrait commissions with children like he had done. I knew that Tom was up on Hans Holbein as he was a scholar of the court of Henry the 8th and I told how I had done a video in my “Chalk Talk” series on the artist while teaching painting. My video on Holbein talked of how he had used some tracing devises in his later years but that for him, painting was a matter of “life or death” because Henry the 8th had accused Holbein of misrepresenting a prospective bride ( “Anne of Cleves” Tom prompted) and we know that after 6 wives- it wasn’t Holbein’s fault. I said he was just saying “look- I am not making this stuff up.” Tom asked if there was a record of Holbein saying that but I said it was just my take as an artist who has done portrait commissions on the highest level -including for the Board President for MOCA ( the LA Museum of Contemporary Art,) who was also a movie producer and record company exec (Gil Friesen.)
Our plates were cleared, me having found the 4 bites of chicken in the salad. I shared with him how I had gone to London to meet with the curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) where I had works in the permanent collection- in the computer art print department. My favorite museum was The National Gallery in London and he agreed. I said that the British had got all the best stuff and and he said, with relish," yes they have so many great pieces” and I said that it was so well laid out as well. Since he was “Tapestry Tom” I also mentioned about seeing the Raphael Tapestry Cartoons at the V&A as a reference to the scale and work that went into large pieces like tapestries. We were like a couple of record collectors chatting about our favorite recordings. He lamented that the display of the Raphael Cartoons was so bad with the gray walls and I said well, they are so big and hard to juggle around (some 9 feet by 15 feet.)
When he asked what I was going to do after lunch and I asked whether he suggested a Warhol show or the Rubens exhibit at his own Legion of Honor Museum and, knowing my preferences, he enthusiastically recommended the Rubens show.
I told him of what I liked to experience in virtual reality was not the violent ones simulating battle, but there was one called “AirCar” where you sit in your own glassed in flying vehicle during a light drizzle and you fly around a “Blade Runner” type city with skyscrapers that you can fly around or up the side of the exterior like superman. I described it fulfilling the promise of flying cars that was made to us as kids. He said “don’t you think we will eventually have them? ” I suggested that the trend was towards Self-driving cars with auto-pilot. This experience lets you enjoy the feeling of doing the flying part yourself without any liability. I showed him my Instagram page featuring my latest paintings of apartment windows for my next VR project called “Behind Glass.” In this one you will be able to fly up and look in the window in 3 high rise apartment buildings, though some of the paintings would be somewhat abstract as though depicting curtains and blinds.
He was interested in coffee and we looked about for a server. One came and he ordered a double espresso. I told him how I had done a casting looking for baby models and photographed a cross section including one half black and Russian boy, a half asian Cambodian and a girl with a polish born mother and latino father. I mentioned that in a space the size of this cafe you could set up a number of VR kiosks (with little investment.) I said I realized that he probably had to get going and we needn’t leave together. Standing, he again offered to cover my travel expenses but I thanked him for lunch and said that I would just like to be able to keep in touch by email etc. He nodded. I asked smiling “Will you answer the phone when I call?” and he smiled back and said “Yes.” We shook hands and he was off.
I walked back to my car past the de Young’s 9 story observation tower. The museum itself looking like something out of "Blade Runner." I drove west to the Legion of Honor to catch the Rubens show which was worth it. It featured a painting called the “Massacre of the Innocents,” a biblically themed painting of babies being put to death.
On the way out before meeting my sister and brother-in-law for dinner in Sausalito I wanted to see a Rembrandt. I had told Tom about how, back in my sophomore year when deciding not to stay in San Francisco, I remembered thinking I couldn’t live in a town that did not have a museum with a Rembrandt painting. He said, “We do now, a couple of good ones.” Near the entrance I asked a female guard where I might find one and she pointed into the nearby dutch gallery. “Just one? The de Young doesn’t have one?”
“No,” she said “they are an American museum.” Their Rembrandt portrait of a young officer was a nice one.
I didn’t mention that I had told Tom that during the creation of "Choice Cycle" I had re-painted over 90% of the paintings. He asked “How do you make a living then?” and I said that "I have the 10 best paintings for sale.”
When I was standing and we were saying our exits I asked if "I could press this on you” (my flash drive with the VR files on it) and he nodded yes as I gave it to him. I said “give it to a curator who knows something about digital.” I had previously brought up that there had been a precedent set for museums collecting video cassettes etc and this could be a more updated version.
And from our after correspondence:
- From: Thomas Campbell
- Date: June 24, 2019
Subject: Re: Thank you so much
And thank you to you. The circumstances were unusual! But I greatly enjoyed our conversation and hearing about your work.
- Hope our paths will cross again some day
- All best, Tom
- On Jun 24, 2019, at 8:51 AM, David Glynn <email@example.com> wrote:
Subject: Thank you so much
For the lunch and listening to my story.
Very much enjoyed meeting and speaking with you.
Onwards in the arts!