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Diana Cooper

I create visual hybrids of drawing, painting, sculpture, and installation that are experiential in nature. It was drawing, or I should say "doodling," that facilitated the transition from an impersonal to a more personal form of expression. For me, doodling is simultaneously a process and an image. Doodling is a visual way of thinking or of tracing one's thoughts.

Like many artists, I want to translate into abstract visual language my thoughts, experiences, and emotions. Some concern the inner workings of the mind – the impulses to play, to invent, and to change. Others have to do with systems and patterns that possess an endless labyrinthine complexity – for example, the visual display of quantitative information. In recent years I have been attracted to graphing devices ranging from the eighteenth-century French Encyclopedia to the recent IBM History Flow Project, which maps the creation of Wiki pages on the Internet. Because doodling is, I think, an expression of the unconscious, it sometimes captures inner connections and becomes, in its way, a system. Conversely, we might think of some of the graphic systems we are familiar with as society’s unconscious doodling.

I am increasingly attracted to photography, which I've been using over many years to create a kind of sketchbook of abstract forms taken from the urban and technological environment we now inhabit. Close-ups of the painted lines on airport tarmacs, subway seats, and construction fencing are some of the things I am drawn to. Seen properly, these things have more strangeness and beauty than we think when we rush by them. By presenting them out of context and away from natural forms, these photos seem to re-enchant a seemingly hard and standardized world. I believe what one student wrote on a wall during the 1968 Paris demonstrations, "underneath the pavement – the beach."

 



Fun, 1999, felt tip marker, aluminum tape, acrylic on paper, 50x38x3.5 inches



Fun, (Detail), 1999, felt tip marker, aluminum tape, acrylic on paper, 50x38x3.5 inches

“Out of the Corner of My Eye” incorporates imagery drawn from nature, technology, and my imagination. I wanted to create a visual environment that was abstract but at the same time suggestive of things in the world. Like an enormous drawing, the work presents episodic and mutating imagery echoing the meandering quality of the viewer’s movement and mind traversing the space. My hope was to create an environment that immerses the viewer on both micro and macro levels.

“Out of the Corner of My Eye” has no beginning and no end. For me, its sense of endlessness mirrors the non-linear nature of education. I wanted to emphasize, in abstract language, how education is an ongoing process continuing throughout a person’s life. I also wanted to emphasize how education, like making art, is associative in nature. In my previous pieces, I have been concerned with the inner workings of the mind: the impulse to play, to invent, and to change. These same impulses are central to “Out of the Corner of My Eye”. I am particularly concerned with systems and patterns that possess an almost labyrinthine complexity – for example, the visual display of quantitative information. In conceiving this piece I looked at graphing devices ranging from the eighteenth-century French Encyclopedia to the recent IBM History Flow Project that maps the creation of wiki pages on the Internet.

One challenge of the installation was to embrace the complexity of the architectural space. “Out of the Corner of My Eye” covers the entire 107-ft. “boomerang” wall and includes ten 8-ft. tall glass windows I designed. It can be seen from several vantage points, all offering different perspectives: from outside the building, inside the lobby, and from the computer library. From the library, for example, the piece is experienced solely as a glass artwork, creating an environment that is part aquarium and part virtual reality. Since much of my work combines drawing, sculpture, painting, and installation, I wanted to retain the same hybrid feel in this public work of art. “Out of the Corner of My Eye” is both two and three-dimensional, combining wood, paint, glass, and Nida –Core, thus maintaining a dialogue between the handmade and the machine-made.

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Out of the Corner of My Eye, (Detail), 2009, Wood, MDF, Nida-Core, Acrylic Paint, Glass, 11ft x 112ft x 4 inches (room 2000 sq. feet)
© 2013 Diana Cooper | Do not reproduce without permission.
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