Monday, December 19, 2005

Superstringy Micrography Love


I publish my web log specifically so I can help start conversations about topics I am interested in. Particularly, World Peace and Biodiesel. It just so happens that I am interested in a few hundred thousand other things, but I have decided to keep the external chatter to a minimum (At least I am trying to do so).

However, one of the things I am quite interested in is the art of micrography. It's a fairly ancient art, made somewhat known by religious artisans in Safed, Israel. Although I am capable of doing the work in Hebrew, I like to focus my work in English. I have produced Ketubot, memorial pieces, and birthday micrography. I do it solely on commission, and the process is pretty painstaking.

For me, writing hugely important ideas in nearly unreadably small letters is a very Zen experience. My sense of scale gets all out of whack, my eyes get fixated and outside distractions fade away. I admit that sometimes I write things small in order for them to be harder to find. It's paradoxical, as I am interested in sharing as many good ideas as possible. I don't quite understand it myself.

I started doing small writing on the train in Europe so I could write in my journal without having it accidentally read by a passerby or a couchette-mate. Even if you had the thing in your hand, it would be hard to read. It started with a ballpoint pen (actually capable of quite a fine point if you have a light touch).

After 9-11 (hmm, such a potent phrase...) my need to express myself grew stronger as the thoughts I want to share piled up in my head. Trauma spurs much art... The only way I could see that would allow me to "get it all out" was to put as much writing on one page as possible. The smaller I tried to write, the more I realized the sentences were forming lines from farther away, a la Chuck Close or pointilist artists. Once I discovered my handwriting wasn't getting worse as the lines got thinner and smaller, I tried even harder to shrink the letters.

As I got more skilled, I would look for smaller and smaller tipped pens. My original choice was the Micron archival pen at .2mm. It offered a variety of colors and needed no refilling, pretty hassle-free if you avoided crushing the tips and kept the caps on. I moved deeper into a .13mm Koh-i-nor from Germany and found it was the smallest tip (capillary action!), but I only bought two of them due to their tendency to dry up (India Ink cartridges). I settled into a refillable cartridge pen by Rotring called a Rapidoliner. It's also .13mm and delivers solid inkflow.

I enjoy doing my own creative art somewhat by my own direction, but I like doing collaborative art much more. I have done some of my best work with other people's words, with other people's background art (ideally watercolors), and other people's subject matter and symbolism. I add my own feelings, art, and design to the piece, but I like the idea of combining multiple artist's work with my own and seeing what comes of it.

The basic process is:
1. Make a drawing in pencil
2. Write text within the lines of the pencil
3. Erase the pencil lines.

I have done some freehand drawings, but they aren't nearly precise enough. I enjoy doing my writing on other people's watercolors since there is a more freely-flowing set of boundaries to deal with, as well as the obvious benefit of a background color to work with.

The metaphor is clear to me, important things come from important beginnings. Wolfram-esque, I see that small changes in simple rules make large complex patterns emerge. I know that this world is made up of good things, that the base unit of the universe is perfect and spirit infused, and I mimic that creation when I make larger pictures from tiny letters. Each letter is essential, and they collaborate to make the larger picture. Although each letter may not be shaped perfectly, each droplet not be exactly placed, they combine with my loving intent to create a larger image of love-art.

I would like to do this art full-time, but I have not been good at archiving or displaying the work for viewing or sale. I have been reluctant to show the pieces I care most about, for some seemingly unknown reason. It could be fear of rejection, I suppose. Most have liked the work, so it doesn't really make sense. I have collected a number of pieces into a portfolio, but have shown it to very few for fear of seeming overly proud of myself or my work. Odd.

In any case, I will try to put links to jpg's on the blog at some point. I'd like to share the concept with the world via the web, I just don't want it to look silly or self-aggrandizing. I think it's a great art niche and I'd love to see more of it out there. I suppose I really should take that step myself if I expect others to do the same. Hmm...

1 comment:

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