Precision: An Artist's Statement

A scalpel within a millimeter of an artery…  The hand gently caressing the neck of an 18th Century Stradivarius… Like the vocations of the surgeon, and the violinist, I am an artist that seeks precision.  I embrace the correlation between medium specificity and human perception by the application.  Three basic tenets propel me, the pursuit of meaning, and the exploring, and expanding of avenues to human understanding. As an artist, I have long been interested in the specific investigation of material and the diverse responses reached through engagement with the Art Object.


My “Propositions” have become a nomenclature of entitling. With exactitude, I have created surfaces that shift when engaged by the viewer. There is play between both the physical and chromatic natures of paint, which allows the substance a sensual viscous nature.  Paint can flow, drip, and carry the brushstroke’s gesture, while at the same time being governed by the laws of gravity, measured geometrically, and formed mechanically. I am deeply involved with the textures of a medium capable of universalizing so much lost intimacy.


By creating a chemical conversation, I am enthralled with the incessant change of pace, a slowing-down, that allows the viewer the opportunity for contemplative exercises of the mind.


A pause in locomotion is necessary since the human eye has certain limits; a designed myopia, where the eye cannot see what the intellect understands.  Breakthroughs in material science have allowed me to work with specialized substances that have great potential to relieve these types of blind spots.  With precision in mind, I began to incorporate into my work carbon nanotubes while at the brilliantly-led Heller Lab in New York City (Memorial Sloan Kettering/Weill Cornell). More recently at Rice University, I’ve continued these iterations by studying innovations in optics. Utilizing short wave infrared cameras at the Weisman Lab I have generated new ways of seeing color. Working with Christian Boada, Tasciotti Lab, Houston Methodist Research Institute, has allowed me to analyze pigment samples and create audio signatures based on the physical material analyzed. This feat is achieved using techniques idiosyncratic to nanotech. Collaborating with Dan Workman at Sugar Hill Studios has permitted me to pursue, answer, and display to the viewer, with great fidelity, the question: what does a painting sound like?


Like the doctor and musician, the precision I bring as an artist is central to my vocation.  Through an interdisciplinary approach to art and science, I will continue to include carbon nanotubes as I fully integrate the artist, researcher, and scientist into my practice.  Our ability to learn from one another as we evolve, extend visions, and share our diverse experiences, will inevitability push the boundaries of art.  For me, this heightened layer that I am unlocking for the senses adds a level to the art and science for which new meaning and understanding can be realized.

Joseph Cohen - Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved.