Wherever You Are is the Center of the World

April 9 - July 3, 2011

Most of us spend some part of our day looking at a computer screen. This now common experience became a key element of our painting project, Wherever You Are is the Center of the World. We engaged the world through our computer screens and the Internet (Google maps) and painted what we saw, just as painters throughout history have painted what they looked at in their own time: still lifes, landscapes, portraits.

We have used methods of chance (details below) to chart these “maps,” reflecting the way in which a chance email, news story, or hyperlink will sometimes transport us to unexpected corners of the globe. As we painted, the chance operations occasionally forced us to obliterate images we cherished, just as one might occasionally go somewhere she did not intend. In other words, these paintings attempt to imitate the very ways in which we navigate our world today.

Renaissance painters said that the most important image of all is one of the world in which we live. This kind of image gives us a cosmology, tells us who we are by showing us where we are. They said that there is magic in a powerful image of our universe. Our paintings attempt to bring this tradition into the present.
For us, looking at the earth day after day has felt quite intimate. We stumbled upon several uncanny coincidences and began to see more and more in the lands and seas of our beautiful living planet. We offer these paintings to you, for your own rich — and perhaps unexpected — realizations.

— Hari Kirin and Susan Quaglia Brown

Chance Operations utilized in Wherever You Are is the Center of the World

We created a template that is divided into 21 numbered locations that stay the same for each painting, and 19 changing locations, which are lettered A-S.

For Locations 1-21, we determined what to paint by randomly picking two numbered stones: one number representing latitude and the other longitude. We typed these coordinates into Google Earth and then painted the place that appeared on the computer screen.

For Locations A-S, we determined what to paint in each of the 19 circles by picking numbered stones as described above. We threw dice to determine where to place each circle and how big to make it. We threw two dice to determine “what time” (e.g., 2 o’clock, 9 o’clock, etc.) on the canvas, two dice to determine the diameter of the circle in which that location would be painted (from 2 to 12 inches), one die to determine the spiral ring in which to paint (from 1-6, 1 being the center and 6 being the four corner quadrants).

Click here to view selected images from this exhibit.


Artist Talk & Gong Performance

Art & Google Earth

Art & Dream: A Talk by Author Thomas Moore

Where Light Falls: An Evening of Poetry & Harp