Ten Seconds On A Foggy Night / Group 1

House Hunting in St. Barts

"It's a chance, I tell you," he interrupted, "as everything is in a man's life. Only the asses won't see it! Why am I here now, an outcast from civilization, instead of being a happy man enjoying all the pleasures of London? Simply because eleven years ago--I lost my head for ten minutes on a foggy night."

-H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau, 1896

“You can only take 150,000 per day, per person.”

-The Book Thing, Baltimore, MD

The Foggy Night project began shortly after I arrived in Baltimore in 2012. I had lived in Miami FL for the previous seven years. I consider this work my first response to the city and my new home. It took over two years to complete but its foundation was laid in a single morning through a visit to the venerable Baltimore institution, The Book Thing. I am a collector of printed matter, and I suppose by default, a book collector, and The Book Thing’s simple but profound mission to put unwanted books “into the hands of those that want them” perfectly suited my archeological spirit.[1] It became a discovery space that eased my geographic transition by connecting me, albeit indirectly, to the people of Baltimore through shared objects and the words/images held within.

I don’t use the term “archeological” for effect, quite literally my process for engaging with The Book Thing required surveying, excavation and analysis, all for the purpose of learning about the past to inform the present. I was interested in the range of unusual material culled from the bookshelves but also in the extreme limitation imposed by navigating such a specific space for a specific time. As a result, the material I collected had the quality of being both deeply personal and ubiquitous, both distinct and random, both modern and antiquated. Ultimately it inspired me to create a new series of images, imbued with the same binary sensibilities. The system for image creation, largely intuitive, involved the translation, association, re-contextualization and deconstruction of both the form and content of the source material. The process resulted in 66 discreet images created with water-based inks using pochoir and screenprint techniques on paper. The images can be read individually but their full potential is claimed only through their consideration in relation to one another.

The project’s title, as well as the title of the exhibition, Ten Minutes on a Foggy Night, takes it’s name from an early passage in H.G. Wells’s Victorian science fiction classic, The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), in which the character Montgomery, in conversation with the novel’s protagonist, Prendick, nearly reveals the reasons by which he became outcast from civilization, living a life he does not wish to live. The elusive specifics however, lost in a fog, are never subsequently revealed, framed only by the harsh vagueness of chance.  It’s a meaningful omission that ultimately enriches the novel’s pervasive despair. The phrase is a time (ten minutes) space (fog) construct, symbolic of the elusive reasons, or rationale, by which meaningful things occur, and furthermore the difficulty of self-determination. The phrase is a symbol of not only the chance operations at play in the creation of this artwork, but much like in the book, the power of excision as a tactic to engage the reader/viewer.

[1] http://www.bookthing.org