In my on going attempt to explain my work this painting seemed important since it is a first stab at distilling the concept of society down to a single image. This painting is basically an oil sketch of a beautiful bottle machine circa 1910. I really dig the aesthetic of it without any meaning attached, however, I am slowly building a vocabulary based on images to be repeated in future work and as such I need to define what it means when I include machinery in my paintings.
I have often casually referred to society as "The Machine", a mechanism that simultaneously provides equal parts freedom and oppression.
"The Machine" has provided us all with an impressive array of life altering improvements. Medical advancements that extend life, complex technology that connects us all instantly, entertainment literally available at the tips of our fingers, almost all of human knowledge condensed smaller than a deck of playing cards in our pockets, the unlocking of interstellar secrets, commercial airplanes that allow us to travel anywhere in the world in less than a day. The list of perks the machine spits back out is nearly endless. Yet, somehow we have allowed our own inventions to complicate our lives instead of simplify them.
I believe we need to understand that these benefits come with a heavy cost. Our communities are enormous, impersonal and sprawling. We currently have the highest cancer rates in human history, until very recently almost all forms of civilized society depended heavily on slavery, our financial system is completely based on debt creation (the new, gentler slavery), a very small group of people benefit greatly from the machine while almost everyone else runs around frantically trying to maintain the inner workings of this massive self perpetuating pyramid scheme before it crashes into the dust killing everyone inside.
The American dream is to earn enough money to do whatever we want... seriously.. Stop. Think. About. That. You, a human being, with roughly the same intellect, capabilities, number of eyes, limbs, hopes and dreams of every other person on the planet have been conditioned to believe that, upon birth, you are a life a long debtor to the machine and it must repaid sufficiently before being allowed glorious "retirement" when your autonomy is restored and freedom granted.
We spend our whole lives chasing money, the lubrication and fuel of the machine, a concept we as a species invented and are now comically enslaved too. Your value within the confines of the machine is clearly listed and updated daily in your bank account.
As a species we have largely abandoned the concept of Kings, naively attempted to abolish class systems, have mostly moved past outright slavery, poked at equal rights between the races and sexes, and strongly considered peace as a healthy alternative to warfare. So there is the dim glow of hope on the horizon that someday, we will actually take care of one another instead of continuing to use each other to further our own selfish ends.
So.. I'll continue to drink heavily and daydream of creating a collective of 25 people or so to grow our own food and dip into the machine sparingly, for some modern comfort and to stream live updates of the world's insanity in real time. Until then whenever you see a machine in my work you'll know I'm referring to society in general, for better or worse.