Wednesday, February 22, 2012

'Metaballs' and 'Skoshes'

Roses<br>original painting by Peter Ciccariello 

Artists are generally aware of the tension and visual gravitational pull of one object placed in close proximity to another, and many have spent a lifetime pondering and experimenting with the duality of that pushing and pulling of color and form (think Gottlieb, Rothko, and other Color Field Painters). My work is often in a virtual three dimensional environment where in some cases there is an object called a "metaball" that was invented by Jim Blinn in the early 1980s. The interaction between two different three-dimensional positive metaballs is such that if they "kiss too closely," two smaller metaballs will merge into one larger object. I find this analogous to the mental merging of visual objects that may or may not be "kissing" properly.

At one time in my life I did a great deal of work with wood and a common term among carpenters and woodworkers was "skosh" which even Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines as "a small amount: bit, smidgen". The problem then becomes how close should objects come to kissing? Perhaps a skosh or two away? Enough distance to prevent a metaball convergence? Even in typography, when you closely kern two letters or even introduce negative letter spacing by tucking (or kissing) one letter as close to the other as possible, trying to keep a simple skosh away one becomes aware of the attraction and repulsion of visual objects.

I like the idea of objects "kissing" and I definitely like the analogy hinting at a state of visual harmony that resembles "love." When paint and pigment, form and structure, color and line align perfectly and balanced, the image is undeniably and unabashedly in love, and at that point the rest of the world slips away and you know your work is done. 

- printed in The painter's Keys 2009.