Erik Sanner Home Visual Other About


everything we know about is changing all the time. paintings fade and crack. trees fall, new growth springs up. technology is evolving at an accelerating pace. and each of us is a constant work in progress, either developing ourselves or lapsing into decay, but never static, never still.

in my work, i use computer processing to montage painted and filmed images which are in a constant state of flux. i create “moving paintings” which give the viewer a unique experience every time they are seen. i avoid video loops in favor of non-linear projection onto prepared surfaces such as painted canvas. my new media installations are simultaneously filmic and painterly.

i aspire to continually explore the expanding possibilities of art. this is both my goal and my method of artmaking. by striving to create something new, perhaps i can help shed light onto who we are becoming.

blue and yellow

trying to better understand the new palette. decided to do a limited color study, using only two colors instead of a full palette, and still images instead of video.

painted a square canvas half yellow, half blue (this is a digital photograph):

cropped, duped, and rotated a digital image of that canvas (this is a screengrab):

projected the digital yellow and blue back onto the canvas (this is a digital photograph). the studio light is on. top left is just yellow oil paint, top right is just blue oil paint. middle left is blue projected onto yellow, middle right is yellow projected onto blue. bottom left is yellow projected onto yellow, bottom right is blue projected onto blue. think the colors look a lot more intense when you're projecting a color onto the same color.

here's a different one (also a digital photograph), just rotated the digital image of the canvas. studio light is off. top left is yellow on yellow, bottom left is blue projected onto yellow. top right is yellow projected onto blue, bottom right is blue on blue. it's subtle, but there's definitely a difference between bottom left (blue on yellow) and top right (yellow on blue).

was surprised both by the intensity of the color-on-same-color and by the similarity between yellow-on-blue and blue-on-yellow.


for the past few years i've tried to go to every single art fair in nyc. it's worth the energy. you see work from all over the world you might not encounter otherwise. ultimately i think it's really efficient. it takes a lot more effort to go to several galleries in chelsea any day, waiting for elevators and walking from building to building. a lot of people complain about the art fair experience, the simplification of what a gallery could offer, the relative uniformity of the spaces, the crowds, the "vulgar" emphasis on selling, and sure, there's a lot to bash if you want to critique the blossoming of art fairs over the past several years. but i really enjoy them. part of it surely since i'm not a collector or a gallerist or an exhibiting artist, there's no pressure for me, no quota to meet, no demands to be met. really, though, it's getting to see so much in such a short period of time, and not having to worry about museum guards stopping me from taking pictures. just once a year, too, so easy to surrender to it, like thanksgiving. if i stick to my schedule, should be able to see them all this year too.


on the way from diva to bridge, john and i stopped to take pictures of shadows, i liked the geometric linear architectural ones over/under/against the tree

reminded me of a project i put aside, it came tangentially from working on winter branches, never quite finalized how to get away from linearity, may work on that a bit today. pretty straightforward to create, showing a little bit of the breadth of the shadow world.

night and day

the other evening i saw this cone and thought "that's not long for this world"

felt lucky, really, for noticing it, and having an operational camera

today walked by the same spot, and the sun was hitting it just so

can't figure out which is more pathos-imbued - lost in the gloom or spotlit by the sun

conedred spirits

so maybe i'll be cowriting (conewriting) a book soon.

have mentioned les before, he and i have both been taking pictures of traffic cones and making art about them for roughly fifteen years, independently of each other. now collaboration-talks are starting and we hope to share our deep appreciation for traffic cones with the world. traffic cone viewing is as rewarding as any aesthetic experience i've encountered, including music, film, painting, literature.

unrelatedly, got just a little closer to getting spring planting from out of my head into external reality


was just told that the first day of spring is tomorrow or the day after (today or tomorrow given how late it is now).

now that spring planting seems to make sense, in my head, started working on articulating it so can get started realizing the piece.

figure if i plant some seeds on the first day of spring, i should still have a day or two to buy some time-lapse equipment (the video camera i got last year has a lanc port, one of the main reasons i chose that camera is so that i could connect it to some sort of time-lapse driving mechanism).

was pretty energized all day, finally figuring out a method that makes sense to me, expanding it, but right now exhausted, goodnight.


think i have a new way for spring planting to be made and be shown which makes sense for the theme, for the viewer, and for me.

this might not clarify it, but here's the breakthrough sketch.

color study also new method possibility became clear today; no image yet, but can likely start both, or at least proof-of-concept proto-versions over the next few days.

rare email contact with julia barnes and maybe we'll do something with brian and mike again . . .

today, yesterday, day before yesterday

saturday art group met, i took notes, still need to type up and share.

usoon showed some work (that's not her stuff on the wall, we met in a friend's friend's studio).

she also passed around a wallet she made with clear duct tape.

we discovered we have both had cars drive over pieces as a step in the process of creating them.

then i bought some brushes, a new palette, other art supplies, it's funny to have virginal brushes and palette, but i sold all my used ones, and any new brush always does make me excited to paint.

sunday did a brunch drawing.

saw a traffic cone across the street in a window behind a grate, echoed in the blinds.

then found its companion.

spent much of the afternoon at moma. there's a great design show up now, but the show design itself is a little frustrating - the layout herds you into little pockets with crammed entrance/exit (no flow through) and even though most of the work needs contextualizing, ther
e are only tiny little word-panels next to the pieces as if they're paintings and all you want to see on there is the artist's name, maybe a date, maybe the materials. found myself wanting to know a lot more than that about much of the work, but not having the patience to bump through all the people squinting at the little description - which was a novel and uncomfortable feeling, usually i ignore most of the text at any show - but it's not "art" per se but "design" and just not as interesting to look at "for it's own sake" as when you know a bit about the problem somebody was trying to solve. anyway was good to see work by brad paley up; not often i know one of the artists in any show at moma - ok can't think of that ever happening yet - excellent first time. there's another show up about colors, which was way more enjoyable, in that there was plenty of room for the work to breathe. i'm glad to see nothing quite like my "color study" piece (work in progress) was included. not saying it hasn't been done a hundred times already but at least i don't know that yet.

last night matthew and i skyped for the first time in a while. i might be concentrating more on some sort of solo piece about the nakasendo, we have gone back and forth several times about what we're collaborating on or how the collaboration might happen, but he sounds more interested in other things. he's part of it anyway - we did the planning and the walk together (well, that's not really true, he did most of the planning) - and we've shared all our pictures - anyway, still sorting out the priorities, but maybe the color study or spring planting come before a nakasendo piece, just because i have a clearer idea of how to go about making something.

tonight had drawing class at the barnes & noble which is shutting down, the one on sixth avenue at twenty-first street.

we did the drawings inside, but then to look and share, lined them all up outside. teacher's decision. dark, windy, cold - we all have our own way of looking at things, that's for sure.


still figuring out which projects to pursue, or complete, immediately, and which opportunities i want to try to secure - still engaging. will likely result in a new artist statement, a more current reflection of what i want to be doing and how i see the history of art, the relationship of art to humanity and the future and the borg, and what my motivation for practicing art is.

ok now that all of a sudden sounds like an ambitious thing to attempt to write. so maybe it won't be all that. but trying to get specific, in terms of "what do i really want to be doing?" for now and for the imaginary yet possibly foreseeable future has been pushing me back to think about the bigger things than "to finish this piece, i need to render sixteen more video clips." in other words, this is the really juicy artsy stuff - the what-to and how-to are informing the why all of a sudden, in a very immediate tutorial.

getting as close as i have in a long time to understanding my motivation, and maybe what drove so many of my heroes.

the other night had a productive solitary strategy session, thought:

(my handwriting is not always super-clear. it says "continuous exploration." i think that's the most important part of artmaking to me. if it's not brand spankin' new then what am i doing fooling around in there? there has to be more out there in the uncharted bits than in the well-worn garden paths. and not everyone maybe wants to leave the garden. but i think i really want to try. it's not just "making something really new." it's "trying to go someplace really new and then seeing if it's someplace you want to invite your friends to come and enjoy with you.")

oh - yes, that's a picture. got that battery charged and put in the memory card and the new camera does, in fact, function. awesome. look out traffic cones. i'm armed and attentive.


stayed up late again last night, had started tweaking the cover of the about-chess document, ended up rewriting most of it.

lack of sleep

when chess was up, that was a big chunk of time each day, but since then have been editing some of the video footage, hoping to be included in a curated show soon - right now it's only a possibility, but want to do what i can to make it happen. so, several nights haven't gone to bed as early as usual.

however, tonight the rendering means a bit of waiting time, so i wrote a couple of emails, did the dishes, and just opened the box to examine my new camera. the battery is charging now, so will be able to take pictures again. it doesn't feel as solid as my last one. i keep buying the canon powershots until i drop them one too many times. actually you pretty much have to drop them right on the lens to break them (twice now) or from a high-up place, like a stepladder (once). but this one, even though it's a little uglier, and maybe not as sturdy-feeling, has a time-lapse movie shooting mode, where it will take one frame per second (or half-second) for up to two hours. super-handy for me, so i can forgive it for being a bit on the bulky side and more plastic.

sarah schmerler and i were talking about the genesis of the project, last spring, and i mentioned that it was partly an homage to yoko ono. turned out sarah had interviewed yoko for the time out article which prompted me to go see her retrospective at the japan society some years ago. since she lives about twenty blocks away, i sent her an invitation (both to paint as part of the project and also to come see the piece last week). never expected to hear from her, just wanted her to know that she had an impact on my life, but she sent me a super-nice (very brief) note, and picture of her birthday cake, which was decorated with large (presumably edible) chess pieces. i haven't even responded to some really good friends who wrote back something after i sent out my new year's greeting/video, and then i get a hand-written note from a hero - makes me know i have a lot to learn.

there's a surreal quality to editing video footage, i bet most artists who use video feel this. because you shot the footage, you were already there. so you know exactly what you're going to see. that means you're experiencing repetition. then, during editing, you'll play the same few seconds several times, and the next few seconds, and so on. got me thinking more about the differences between painting and video. decided
video is much more needy and possessive. video wants to keep hearing the same bedtime story over and over. also video is tyrannical in that you are forced to experience it through time at its pace. a painting you can glance at for a second or sit in front of for hours.

really wanted to go to dorkbot tonight but so glad i got the first version of chess footage edited. rendering now and should be able to sleep plenty tomorrow night.

there are about five projects i want to start. i'm having a hard time picking one (or two or three). applications (for opportunities to show, for grants, for residencies) too - there are several things i'd like to apply for, but don't think i can get the materials together for all of them in time.

kisokaido is already well underway, there, that's one decision.


no pics

art crit thing last night ( was super-helpful. it's good to be confronted, to be forced to justify or attempt to comprehend what's most important, why you make certain choices, to have eleven people speculating on what could be changed or improved.

did get a new camera yesterday but didn't have time to take it out of the box, charge the battery, etc. feels a little odd not to have a camera in my pocket. by sometime tomorrow will be a camera-carrier again.


final night of chess started snowing, turned to rain, all the chalk and charcoal began washing away

today still a faint trace

time to focus on other projects . . .

my camera finally broke (that's why that second picture is so blurry), and i'm out of space on all my hard drives (again), so shopping tomorrow morning will be the first step towards getting the chess documentation together, embarking on color study, getting back to the nakasendo, or starting spring planting. just as much thinking-work as making-work in nakasendo or spring planting really. but with nakasendo, i have the footage, so the thinking will be real-world experiments rather than just imagination - digital media in virtual space on hard drive is real world. maybe time to buy that time-lapse device too, will likely use in spring planting.