Erik Sanner Home Visual Other About


people or problems? intended to ask for help with a technical challenge. in seeking to communicate what i want to do, my issue seems to have offered a solution.


possible to walk the twenty-five miles per day, i think. (kisokaido.) after fourteen yesterday did twenty-three today.

got to see some exceptional traffic cones.

but frankly almost gave up. ron was very motivating, especially on the last stretch when he started to utilize the baseball he found. don't want to let it drop and all of a sudden you're moving fast without realizing it, nice tactic.

maybe the biggest thing, though, was being asked, at the barbecue, why i was preparing for this kyoto-tokyo j-walk. didn't want to talk about the art project because that's still being worked out. i mean at this stage it's still really "i want to do something with matthew" and "i'm pretty sure it's going to involve video." and after not answering very thoughtfully, very fixated on jong's food and the beverages and saying hi to tim and all that, started to remember.

matthew told me he was thinking of walking the kisokaido (nakasendo). what struck me is that he said he'd always wanted to do it. since high school or college i think, whenever he first learned about it, early in his fascination with j-land. after learning from him that hiroshige had done a series of woodblock prints, i thought "join and do something." then comes the part that's stuck in my head today. after a week or two or three of general talking about the walk, he sounded not very resolute, not at all. sort of "if i'm going to take three weeks and spend some money, aren't there other things i'd rather do?" but i had heard him say, he had always wanted to do this. and that made me want to do it. because we all have these things we really want to do. maybe it's hard or maybe it seems illogical or maybe you have to look at a calendar and set a date, not in a year or two, but this year. yet these creeping doubts will surface. is this the right thing?

i believe matthew will grow and learn on this journey and treasure the experience. me too. dual gratitude. yes i have this agenda of wanting to make art. but that's my thing i've always wanted to do. he has always wanted to walk from kyoto to tokyo. isn't that inspiring? that somebody wants to train and map and plan an ambitious trip like that?

the thought of being near a yearning, an unfulfilled goal... maybe proximity to chasing something is what's driving me.

argument for video

yesterday there was video, sure. here's the setup.

all the camera saw was paint, hands, brushes - less than you see here.

i often use video as a painting tool. when you see a painting, you don't see the expression on the painter's face, you only see the result of the process. i might capture the process and that might augment the result, but it doesn't feel like video to me, it's conceptualized as paint, defined as color arranged on a two-dimensional plane. if i wanted to capture the emotions of the painters, it becomes narrative, it becomes different. it would be more filmic, it's not treated as paint. this doesn't feel like paint to me, this feels like documentary footage. video is still a tool - but now it's video.

so why am i talking about yesterday? the chess methodology, not changing it. video will be used as a time-based color-arrangement technology, a recent addition to the palette and brush.

what about kisokaido? what is the project going to be? that's what's on my mind. today and tomorrow, some considerable time spent walking. did over fourteen miles, gearing up for about twenty-five, back-to-back days important because when matthew and i are in j-land, it will be every day, roughly walking a marathon each day, none of this "oh man i can barely move" the morning after. we'll need to get up and check out and get to the next stop in the sunlight.

and nothing is clear yet, what we're doing. this is ok, i like letting things evolve, or searching for what we really want to do, however you want to think about it. between 12:35pm and 3:45pm, i saw a lot of things. i didn't shoot one second of video. jotted down some notes, never once turned on my camera. here's the route, upper west side through midtown and a bit of central park, across the bridge and then a sometimes-empty sometimes-crowded walk to the queens museum of art. destination was this nifty scale model inside.

one idea which keeps suggesting itself is to video the entire kisokaido walk. so, say eight hours a day, fourteen days, that's... doable. desirable? today thought hard about that. made a rule as i set out: no picture-taking. no video, no stills, no stopping, just walking and trying to get in shape and thinking hard about what our project will be, what do we really want to do.

the first thought i had was to get more serious about figuring out what is analogous right now to woodblock printing in hiroshige's time. i think video is closer than some sort of dynamic online collage. and then i did end up stopping occasionally to jot down some notes.

when i set out, still in my neighborhood, i walked by the spectacular hearst building, across the street from it, and noticed a woman passed out under a bench. her shorts were pulled halfway down - it looked like she had gotten very drunk, fallen asleep, woke up to pee, couldn't quite work out how to get her shorts down far enough to do that, end up falling off the bench and sleeping under it in a puddle of her own making. that's what it looked like, anyway. not an old woman, not a particularly poor-looking woman, didn't look abused or raped, just somehow ended up under a park bench. maybe it's an awful story of how she got to be there. anyway all of that was a split second, me an observer right, on my training trek, just passing by, thinking "wow, that would be on video" and then a security guard is pouring water over her and saying "get up" and she's emitting this "whaaaaaaaa" moaning noise, and i'm now out of sight or hearing. and frankly it reminded me a bit of "blackbook" (recent paul verhoeven movie) and episodes from my life and from other real and fictional people i know or don't, not literally "ah, yes, the time i pissed all over myself and was awoken abruptly by a security guard" but in a more general when-we-lose control kind of way, and now i'm in central park, trying to figure out what i would do with video footage like that, and what the potential legal risk might be. wouldn't want to ask either of them for a release, wouldn't want to stop or slow down, we need to cover our twenty-five miles.

a bright fuscia petal fell, near katagiri, where i got some itoen oolong tea, and i thought "that would have been filmed." it was beautiful - ordinary maybe, but unexpected.

matthew's toe has been on my mind quite a bit. he's having a nail removed, hopefully it will grow in and not be a bother, so our walk can be as painless as possible. surgery in a couple hours. didn't jot it down, but maybe making my mood more serious. what is our project, really? what do we really want to do, or accomplish, or experience, or share?

incredible traffic cones. arrangements of various states of wear, several colors, spatially (in relation to each other and in relation to their surroundings) composed with such distinctiveness... i did stop, twice, once for over a minute. fumbled around in my pocket and held my camera, before resolutely leaving that, and staring, and thinking "could i sketch this? could i remember and describe it to someone? what is so special about it?"

and then the big connections topic was launched. and everything started feeling super-connected. my life - the people that create it, the past, and this project, which you can define as existing in the future or the present or both. matthew, after all, was in the first ever traffic cone photo, the one that made me notice them, and it was a long time after that before i realized that the humans were entirely superfluous, the cones themselves were beckoning observation and indeed aesthetic appreciation. that picture and that story are best left for another time. but there it was, now, the human connections, the friends who have told me things that just stuck, day after day or popping in and out of mind sporacically, maybe years go by, but that stuff is in you, those things have impacted who you are.

why queens museum of art? original plan was williamsburg galleries. reason = final day of robert moses exhibit. ok connection = ? getting ready to go to japan, in the middle of reading "the power broker." 1993 late or early 1994. made a decision: leave the country for at least five years (wanted to get other perspectives, see and experience other ways of living), and spend no more than two years in a single country or region. would necessitate packing light right? so limited self to one suitcase. that power broker book, it's big. seemed too heavy. was more than two-thirds done. so ripped it, and just took the part hadn't read yet. this had unanticipated interpersonal repurcussions. i was just thinking about me, my requirements, my convenience, that was it. but new coworker dave made some comments about the sacredness of books or whatever, and that was one of many, many always-on-the-wrong-foot tension-additives in our (largely congenial but never buddy-buddy) relationships. matthew, on the other hand, heard from his wife, my manager, that the new teacher had shown up with just a part of a book, and somehow that made him curious. i wonder if he would have been as open talking to me, what course our friendship might have taken, if i hadn't been reading about robert moses.

tomorrow's a big day, need to print out the maps, need to get up and leave early, will try to wrap this up quickly, some other bits from notes on today's maps:
- heights = brian and i used to climb up things, yamanote, we were both scared, even crossing george washington bridge a few weeks ago there was a bit of vertigo, but today, woah, didn't really notice it. can't remember ever experiencing such a lack of awareness of heights. shocking.
- saw a marshall's and a home depot; bracing for mister donut etc. in japan
- older men with expansive guts without shirts playing bocce, echoes of gateball. how would it look on video?
- beautiful spool of paper unravelled, over a grate, and then a block further, a much narrower spool, also shorter, looked related, both somehow poetic
- a truly unique dead bird, and then a more subtle one, both of which reminded of the role sherri played in helping me have enough guts to draw and paint
- a very old car, some sort of volkswagon
- and another old car not super-old, but hulking, was just talking to ron about those cars from those days last night, would liked to have panned as it boated on by and took that turn in its own time
- remembered an early project idea was "traffic cones of the kisokaido" and wondered, can dead birds and floating petals fit into that? then saw on two separate street carts roasted pig heads

as far as audio goes, the high point was definitely inside the museum restroom, as i sat in one stall, the gentleman next door fielded queries from his daughters about "peepee" and "kaka" - they laughed quite a lot and seemed to really enjoy repeating those words, it would be nice to hear it again.

oh, there was a pennsylvania license plate with a picture of a tiger on it. yes it said save the animals. but it looked like there are tigers in pennsylvania.

i saw a fight. and i saw a few cop cars suddenly appearing, one of them had a pretty girl locked up in the back, but she seemed to be helping them out, giving them directions.

there was a man who looked just like gerspach. i mean, i think i saw gerspach.

and finally, the project, what is important about it? a month ago i would have said, if i'm tired at the end of the first day, i'll hop on a bus and meet matthew whenever he shows up at wherever we're slated to sleep that night - as long as the art gets made, the walk just isn't important. but the walk has ascended. it's as much about our experience as making something or trying to give someone else an experience. the buildings with the dots on them and the mini-dumpsters full of earth and grass out in front, that's wrapped up with aesthetics. for that building, those people, or for passersby? is it both, is it equal? so when i commit to the walk, am i committing to giving a viewer a different experience?

there was a bridal photoshoot right outside the museum. who is she dressed up for - him? her parents? herself?

what is art about, connecting us?


that river walk from the upper west side to midtown again this morning, battery had juice.

studio session

chess project = lots of room for improvisation, changes in rules or basic structure. katharine brought razor blades.

so, a flat painting was forced to become three-dimensional in its quest to enter the virtual world. my view, not necessarily shared by co-creator and chief method enhancer.

something new

or not. but slightly easier to sketch out than to set up.

this is something i've been thinking about for, oh, years, and all of a sudden, wonder if there's not a breakthrough. involving the mylar. (how-to can really get in the way sometimes.) anyway, over coffee ron challenged me to find a new idea. i mean, he said anyone, anything. i said ok, got one, and talked about this. don't think he was convinved. but it's another thing to try out, sooner the better. basically an attempt at luminous reactive painting, if that makes any sense. translucent surface, brush, translucent paint, human, camera, projector, can't figure out which is better, camera at top and projector at bottom or vice-versa. anyway, that's something to experiment with. either way there's going to be a bit of hand-brush interference.

but looks fun to try. excited. still.

found video

not yet sure how/if this is going to fit into my work, but have noticed an increasing tendency to start collecting it.

think everything effects everything else somehow or other, so it's probably triggering changes already, in the inner art cauldron.


got some. wonder if egg tempera will stick to it, be beautiful; hope to try tomorrow.

more julia barnes

think i'm going to somehow pay homage to julia in my artmini piece. how exactly not yet sure. what i'm doing keeps changing a bit. but feels linked to her work.

a case of me maybe doing something i wouldn't normally do in order to see someone else's vision more realized. normally only want to do exactly what i want to do, and that's still going to happen, but there will be more considerations. anyway still in process (thinking/imagining) but julia's work is permeating how i look at everything these days.

200 words

in order to propel the continual evolution of my artmaking practice, i apply the following paramaters to every new project:

1) it must must be experienced visually by the audience.

you can’t do everything, and paint exerts the strongest pull on me. my definition of painting has grown to encompass any two-dimensional visual work.

2) it must utilize current technology.

since we spend ever-increasing amounts of time in digital environments, i want to make art which is at home in both the virtual and physical worlds. also, using new media helps alleviate the oppressive weight of art history.

3) it must constantly change, engendering a unique experience with each viewing.

nothing is static. i want to address this fundamental condition of existence through my work.

4) it must be something i have never done before.

i believe artmaking is a method of exploration. i strive to chart new territory.

i use existing techniques in unconventional processes. i have scraped paint off a wall to create a computer-controlled collage. i have projected layers of video onto egg tempera and venetian blinds. i combine new and old media, alone and in collaborations, seeking change.

i aspire to create paintings that move.

innovation on hold

a bit more significant-feeling than variation. so the weather is iffy-looking enough that chess is not going to happen this coming weekend, may 26th-27th will likely be final wetwork days. (don't yet have a waterproof case for the camcorder.)

each session has seen evolution in the form of painting on chess boards in the park. this detail of a "game" between vineel and stephanie s was created without brushes, using tubes of paint.

and here's a detail from the final one sunday, steph h and me "playing." it's the only collage so far, we took a picture of the chess board, cut it up, affixed it with mounting adhesive, during this the other person could of course with the second polaroid camera take a picture of a polaroid photo already taken of the board during the development process laying on the board, and so on, back and forth, until we were out of film (about 23 pictures, very little black/white space peeping through). very intense sensation, doing that, and it did end up breaking the no-color rule, mostly due to the age of the film, presumably.

yes i'm looking forward to may 26th.

project x

what do you do if you start a project, and then eventually you abandon it for whatever reason, and then it never stops remembering itself to you, it won't let go, not that there's anything external to fuel that? and after years you think "ok i want to do it but boy does it have nothing to do with what i'm doing now"? you do it. you start it. again. you start to reach out to your collaborators, and you say yes, that was me, i was the weak one who just slid away, but now, this time, it's ok, it will happen - not like a lost romance right? because we all, any one of us, could have given it that frankenjolt current? or so wait it is like an old flame? still paintings, there is still a space to be made for them, in my near-future, there is no abandonment, yet, of pigment and yolk and brush. while project x ressurects itself, of course.


usually i buy a monthly unlimited metrocard. figure a two-dollar penalty for hopping on a bus or a subway will get me into kisokaido shape quicker. 9.75 miles walked today, only one descent into the mta. one gorgeous traffic cone this morning but camera battery was dead, you'll just have to imagine. breathtaking.

the wait is real

please bear with me, a bit tired. ok here's the thing. i used to live near ikebukuro, and i used to work in ikebukuro. but one of my strongest memories of that place, isn't real.

this is a still from julia's video twenty-nine, part of the twenty-nine stations of the yamanote line. back in those days, we talked a lot about what the end-state of the project would be, and it wasn't just an exhibition. a book, vhs tape, cd, all sold as a little box set, with poems and sound collages and what you see up there only fluid and full-color prints of paintings. multimedia for your living room. what stopped us? fear? lack of connections? disorganization? anyway maybe nothing stopped us. maybe this is a great time to either find a publisher or take advantage of all this distribute-it-yourself, there are a lot of book printing services out there, i listen to mike's cd about once a month, i guess...

anyway this image was one of my favorite things - is, not was - is one of my favorite things to ever come out of an art project i've been associated with. i don't know what makes me more excited or feel better than knowing that in some way i helped make their stuff possible. the experience, with brian, wandering around, yes, nothing could be better, how could time be better spent. but that idea that brian's poems might not exist, would not exist probably, and that particular arrangement of sounds mike made, and now finally being able to see julia's video again, after all this time, got it transferred from vhs to dvd last week, just reminded me - fantasy, my reality has always been grounded in it. life was leaches and braces. reality was "we're going to the stars" and i still have a hard time figuring out what's real, what's valuable, what's true. do i really paint with video?

reduced to a functional object

instead of being displayed for your viewing pleasure, this traffic cone has been converted into an umbrella stand. sort of like using a painting as a tea tray.

statement (<100 words)

i aspire to create genuinely new contemporary visual art. currently I combine new and old media to build installations, conceived as paintings that move. i employ different processes for each project. for example, recently i projected dynamic video onto egg tempera paintings. at present my work adheres to the following methodology: 1) it must be experienced visually by the audience; 2) it must constantly change without repetition, providing a unique experience with each viewing; 3) it must utilize current technology; and 4) it must be something i have never done before. this propels the continual evolution of my artmaking practice.


not everything works out, not everything gets done, but exploring the different things, you can do or you want to do, is how i work. you try it, you like it, you maybe focus on it. maybe it involves too many obstacles and you keep it in the back of your mind for another time. this chess thing, the germs of it really were there in the late nineties, it was based more about the concept of using a timeclock to collaborate on paintings so that each contributor had the same materials to work with - pallette, surface, brush, time. it has changed a bit, but even wanting to use chessboards, that was a while ago, just never took priority, never had the feeling that there was a park in my neighborhood where people would want to do it, or the video element to really make it something i felt i was making - anyway so here's an image from a meeting with one of my most excellent brothers not too long ago.

you could say nothing came of this or will come of this, because we were really thinking about it differently.

or you could say that these images are proof of a meeting which cemented and acknowledged our desire to collaborate again (last time was sonntag). and we were led to silliness rather than beauty, but now i'm thinking, won't the "chess" "players" enjoy a little play-by-play announcing during their "games"? announcing as something we'd like to do was put forth by paul a few months ago, and we've been kicking it around a little bit, where or how to use it - i think this is a pretty good chance, really hope he can show up and feels the same way.

other feeling

for a long, long time have wanted to paint and use computer with drawing tablet and projection all simultaneously. this finally happened, with ron and michael. it didn't feel like painting, far more time-based-artform sensation, like music or dance. a bit like playing with waves in a swimming pool, wasn't prepared for such a different sensation. exciting. wonder what my dreams will be like tonight. that's my hand, holding paint brush, putting wet paint on a chessboard taped to my easel, michael's white photoshop splotches, he's using drawing tablet attached to laptop outputting to projector, ron holding camera for this picture, and there's a virtual chessboard projected onto a real chessboard, but it's flipped, so black squares being projected onto white squares and vice versa - this is right at the beginning of a collaborative piece, one of three or four made today using these techniques, many more earlier in the park, just painting...

what is art for?

one of my goals was to blog definitions of art. and that question looms large in my life, not always at the front of everything, but look forward to engaging in some kind of exploration.

yesterday was a lot of chess email. today a bit of chess email as well. another session coming up, excited.

but maybe more important (long-term) is that i met shin-il. this is someone who is not afraid to address a large room full of people with the question "what is the function of art?"

it has been over six months since i've done that. but i think we have something in common. and i think chasing that answer is going to be fruitful somehow. either way, something not so project-specific which matters, impacts what i do every day.

if you want to join a monthly round-table discussion focussing on this topic, please let me know. first tuesday evening. and if you can think of a good space, with coffee, maybe food, but definitely where a few people can sit and figure out the purpose of art, suggestions much appreciated.

the world is shrinkifying

soon mike and i will talk. skype keeps improving things for me. everyone all the time we're around each other we are. this is his.
and that makes me want to do more. there's nothing like other people - friends, collaborators, idols - to push/pull. mike, you make me want to do more!

tokyo is nyc, now, practically. this is an old cliched thought the global village but with daily contact between me and matthew everything just feels so small it's getting silly.


this doesn't exist yet

but this is something you can enjoy right now