Alan McKee

Nature, Technology and Spirit

Without the pioneering creations of Lillian Schwartz, my work would not be possible. She made her seminal animations “Pixillation” (1970) and “UFO’s” (1971) while working with scientists at AT&T’s Bell Labs. In these works she combined a background in fine art with experiments in film, video and the nascent field of computer animation. Ms. Schwartz developed the computer as a new art form, and helped to gain its acceptance in places like the MoMa...

Today, with advances in technology and a greater awareness of the fragility of nature, we can take the computer to another level and us it as a tool for focusing us on nature and its incredible forms and colours. In fact, before the computer we had no way of reproducing the colours our eyes were capable of seeing in nature. The impurities in paint and printing inks made it impossible to reproduce the pure, vibrant colours that exist in the visible spectrum. Now, however, with the advent of RGB printing and advances in computer technology, we can at last realize the dream of the Impressionists: to paint with light itself. These are the things that govern my work: the light or colour available on the computer and the plasticity of form and texture that the computer provides--always rooted in the forms and colours of nature that make up our world.

Yet, even these forms and colours are not, in themselves, the ultimate things that true artists pursue. They are a metaphor for an even subtler beauty which underpins all of nature'’s creations. As Hesse wrote:

“Each phenomenon on earth is an allegory, and each allegory is an open gate through which the soul, if it is ready, can pass into the interior of the world where you and I and day and night are all one. In the course of his life, every human being comes upon that open gate, here or there along the way; everyone is sometime assailed by the thought that everything visible is an allegory and that behind the allegory live spirit and eternal life.”

A glimpse, an intuition of this inner meaning, this “instress or inscape,” as Gerard Manley Hopkins called it, is what I try to reveal in my work. Using the richness of the computer’'s tools combined with the spatial and dynamic principles of abstract expressionism, I try to enter a meditative state beyond space and time. This, I believe, is what art is “for.” To create a “gate” that can take us beyond the visible metaphor of this world, to construct, as Miro described it: “...a doorway to another world,” this is the ultimate goal of art. My mother’'s teacher, Hans Hofmann, called it “the search for the real.” My mother, when she taught me about art, would take me for walks in the woods and teach me to use my senses to intuit this deeper reality. The computer and its unprcedented range of expression can, I believe, bring us closer than ever before to the essence of our experience, by providing a medium capable of richness and flexibility unknown at any other time in history, a medium that can bring us closer to an essence that underpins human experience.

“Artists must express their own creative character in the technology of their era in order to find their own historical and individual level. -Lillian Schwartz.

Alan McKee's AutoGallery exhibit