Erik Sanner Home Visual Other About


putting the chess paintings in order, making sure i have all the video included in the piece, a still photo of each one, the right names and numbers. has been occupying most of my art-time lately, everything else on hold while i get chess wrapped up (work complete) and share it.

some details if you're curious.

by the way, really enjoying listening to some of the conversations (which won't be included in the piece). was telling sarah schmerler about ray kurzweil and transhumanism and how i believe we're all going to become the borg, she stopped painting at some point, got to see a physical reaction other than facial expressions.

final painting, six children together, i sound like beavis and butthead's teacher, "ok kids, do whatever you want, ok?"

unforseeable effect

starting another class tomorrow, drawing interior public spaces in new york city, that might not be the exact title, but you get it, a drawing class. not so long ago was talking to katharine about why. big part of my answer was "i don't know but i want to." anyway, that perspective drawing class last year, today it changed what i'm doing and how i do it. i've done a lot of projects involving rectangles or grids of some sort, usually painting, going all the way back, almost, as long as i've been painting - certainly in the nineties in tokyo there were a lot of grids in my work. i didn't see them that way, to me they were rectangles. anyway, never once did i use a ruler or a straightedge or a pencil or block anything out. as a painter i've always just stuck to paint, not drawing underneath, not lining out or outlining or going around edges much if at all, painting should come from the center so i'll start everything from the center, that has pretty much been my attitude.

so, that color study piece i'm about to embark on, was thinking about how precise i wanted it to match up, how it might be more interesting but definitely more work later on to just haphazardly paint a square, another square, another square, and see if they come out uniform, or try to see how uniform i can get them - anyway that's what i'd usually do. but i want to see that piece. and i don't want to spend days jiggering little movie clips in flash or whatever software it ends up being and matching them up. it might look more "organic" or you might see my "hand" a bit more, but basically i want this to be a functional color study and i'd rather realize it than futz around either painting over and over to get the grid right or coaxing video clips into specifically picky locations. so, i got out my square with the straight edge, and the tape measure, and i drew a grid.

which never would have happened if i hadn't taken that other class. this piece is going to be "flat" and perspective is not going to be a consideration, but drawing a grid or using a square or a straight edge or measuring, none of those things would ever had occurred to me if i hadn't taken that class. didn't have the equipment anyway, was resisted getting it until i realized i wasn't getting any feedback from the teacher without it. so it's already had an effect on how i work, how i think, on my practice.

i didn't really know why i was taking that class either. there were a few vague ideas, i don't want to get into them because i want to go to sleep, but - never would have thought i'd end up painting inside lines. so even if i'm not using what i learned (perspective) i'm using what i learned (tools, precision, efficiency).


think thai/french fusion restaurant breeze on 9th avenue is going to let me show chess for a couple weeks in february, should know for certain this week, that's a great development on the sharing-chess-with-the-community front

regarding the call-of-the-paint, put some more grey on the base of color study first half last night, no real reason to do that, except i could hear it


this is what the first half of "color study" (now a piece, not just a color study, although it will be functional) looks like now.

my tripod broke a few months ago, plan to buy a new one sunday (hope it's in stock); then hope to begin work on the piece this week. getting chess shown and anything that entails still priority right now. also got matthew's images (from the nakasendo) and haven't been thinking too much about that lately - anyway, color study, a couple issues resolved. first, both halves (diptych i guess is the correct word?) are going to contain "real-world" color and pigment paint-world color. on one square, the one you see up there, i'll paint 81 squares of fundamental colors (grey, white, black, yellow, green, blue, purple, red, orange). i'll videotape that painting - up close, i think. so i'll have 81 little video clips of a base color being painted. then, out into the world, looking for things which have those colors, and taking 81 video clips of whatever i find. green is easy - leaves, grass, public garbage cans. but i'd like to have movement, that's where it gets tricky, maybe - don't know, haven't been out exploring yet. maybe someone is wearing an orange hat and i can zoom in on it? but i'd like to have, not sure if this is the best way to say this, contained movement - so, a toilet flushing works fine for white, for one-of-nine white moving images anyway, because the camera can be still (on the tripod, not tracking an orange hat through a crowd of people on a subway platform - never mind that it's illegal to film in the subway these days anyway) and the white (toilet basin) will also be still, but the clear water swirling will create some movement. suds popping, that's another, fixed camera angle but the popping is happening, that's two white movements, and maybe clouds if i'm lucky, so six more whites to go. so, i don't know, blue or orange - anyway hopefully either sunday or this week or next week i'll be wandering around accumulating these shots. yeah i could go through what's on my hard drive but i'm interested in really trying to find those fundamental colors. a really red red, moving, now, here.

the foundation of the second half then will also be a color grid, but they'll be stills from the video, and that will be printed and plexi-mounted. then the pieces get joined - i'll project the painting of the colors (rotated ninety degrees so you get one yellow square on the yellow real-world image, but then yellow painting over a green image, yellow painting over a blue image, and so on, until you get all 81 color combinations, as shown below in the post from the other day). and vice-versa - projecting all the real-world clips, in a grid, onto the painted half.

i guess this could end up taking a little while - weeks? months? anyway it's started, and it's clear what i want to do, and i don't think there are any major obstacles (flash might not like showing 162 video clips at once, i suppose, i could always cheat and use aftereffects, but i really want it to be nonlinear and always changing). anyway, i'm excited about it. i want to share chess, but this is something for me to just work on. getting it shown might be an obstacle, but that doesn't really enter into my head when i'm concentrating on a project. i figured out a way to let me paint, and painting is so all-absorbing, everything else just fades away, i could be anywhere, really. even just painting that grey, very moving, somehow - it's that painting-state you enter. painting-mind. could call it meditative, i suppose, but it's so active. even just grey, it's action, mental and physical, whole-being something-making.

and yes, i think it's funny that i can't start a painting without a tripod for my video camera. brushes i got, thinner i got, palette, easel, tubes of oil and powdered dry pigment if i decide to use egg tempera, that's all here, but i can't start painting without the tripod for the video camera, that's because i'm a new-media artist rather than a painter, right? a painter would just paint. me, i need to capture that video, or there's no point in doing it.

color study

planning to do, think it will look something like this

if you look in the pdf (, first image is what i'll paint (oil or egg tempera, undecided), second page is what i'll project (originate in computer or digitally capture real-world image with corresponding color tone, undecided), three and four are what i imagine the result will be (top layer is 50% transparency on both, bottom layer is 100% on p3, 50% on p4).

objective = get a better handle on this new palette of this new medium. what does orange projected onto blue look like? what about blue onto orange? getting a clue about the properties of the mediums i'm using, the interactions between them, should help, somehow, result in stronger work.

go for it

this morning met up with some other artists and we shared work, talked about opportunities worth pursuing, and spoke a bit about certain trials or dilemmas facing us.

lisa has been working on some small "precious" very detailed drawing-embroidery pieces for quite some time. she is having a show in five months and really wants to make much bigger pieces, basically they sound like massive room-sized installation-drawings the way she described them. so what's the problem with that? she has been believing that five months is not enough time for what she wants to do. so she's frustrated - she wants to keep all the detailedness of the precious ones but increase the scale. there were some really good suggestions, particularly aletta saying "what about making them small and then using some kind of technological printing process to blow them up huge?"

but what i really liked, is that everyone sort of looked at her and came back with a unified response - go for it. every single person supported her trying to work bigger and working towards that and just seeing what she can do huge, since that's clearly what she wants to do.

there was a great sense of "better to fail at some grand vision than to stay in your little comfortable i-already-understand-how-to-do-this world of confidence in perceived future accomplishment."

basically, don't worry about if you can do it or not, just try to do that thing you want to do - just try to do that. not what you can already do. what you want to do. the ambitious thing.

galvanizing to hear, galvanizing to say.


one of the things i agonized over, for years and years and years, was what kind of art to pursue, believing you can't do anything, so better to focus on something. directing movies, making paintings, writing novels, composing music - all were attractive, all seemed to have a big obstacle in the form of "ok, so how am i going to get to the point where that's putting food on the table?"

and there was a weight, a history of towering giants, all those heroes and dols who preceded and built those mediums and it was very hard to ask "can i add anything to that?"

anyway eventually i accepted painting as the strongest call. it took years and years, but it happened, i made a commitment of sorts. so why am i bringing this up right now if this is an old query?

two big reasons: 1) look at me now (both "right now" and "these days") and 2) the pull of other things still pops up, it's not the overwhelming daily dilemma that it once was, but it's still there.

so right now i'm blogging. and the two projects i'm working on, chess and the nakasendo - i'm not painting with either of them right now. yes conceptually i view them as paintings. and chess involved a lot of painting, by me and other people. but right now all i'm doing is finishing up the video rendering and trying to get it shown, approaching landlords of vacant storefronts and saying "hey, how about letting me show my piece here? it will look great and you'll be doing something the neighborhood may appreciate." video rendering isn't painting. nakasendo is even more different. pretty early on, became aware that i might not ever actually use paint in the project. could figure out a way to inject it if i wanted to, but seemed forced, contrived, not a natural fit. do i want to be so dogmatic that i have to paint, is that going to be one of my rules, even if the piece doesn't seem to need it? no. so, not painting and not painting, right now, the projects i'm pursuing. then we have the right now right now, blogging away, i could be drawing or painting, right? so there's a disconnect between my reality (doing new media) and how i think of what i am or want to be or wanted to be (a painter). just semantics? face the reality of "new media artist" and accept it - hey, i'm not a painter, i do use paint, but i'm a new media artist?

see, it starts leading you back to the initial dilemma. if i'm a new media artist, i can use sound, right? i could do sound work. in fact, there's an audio thing i've been wanting to do for months. i keep putting it off because i'm not sure it fits, and there are other visual projects, even painterly ones which i also want to do - but it's a candidate for post-chess post-nakasendo, this sound thing.

and then there's the physicality of chess, and the physicality of paint in general. paintings take space. you need space to make them, space to show them, space to store them. how much space does an mp3 take? what about a dvd, staying visual? all of a sudden it's a decade ago and instead of "but if i want to make movies, film is really expensive and i don't have access to the editing equipment" it's "hey, i could spend a lot more time actually developing the work further than just trying to get it shown if i made movies instead of paintings." there are some pretty powerful arguments all around - so what do i want? and who am i? and where are we all going anyway? isn't painting dead? are there going to be paintings when we're the borg?

have work, will show

if you have a relationship with a public space anywhere in hell's kitchen, and you think it would be neat to show "chess" there, let me know, ok?

in the meantime, i'm talking with the real estate people

art crit thing

we've been getting together since last spring i guess, monthly. evening-before-yestereve we saw chris' and rosie's works in progress, mind-opening (looking, talking)

chris =

rosie =

all of us:

something to show

have been working on this. also sorting through still pictures, want to share.