iphone notes i

on my phone i must have a couple of hundred notes to myself. they run the gamut from inspirational messages to “buy stamps” to quotes at lectures to names of painters to well- really anything that felt important to me at the time. some have held the test of time. many haven't. i want to explore them all here. this is the first in a series that is neither complete or in progress. here is the first one:

richter, incremental change- his work changes so fast. didn't realize this before

i wrote this note in my iphone on march 29, 2012. i remember exactly what i was doing at that time. i had just gotten home from seeing “gerhard richter, painting” at the gene siskel film center. i went with julia. i loved the film. i bet i have seen it 30 times since then. i own the movie. i may watch it again tonight.

a small adjustment made toward an end result. in a business environment, making an incremental change to the way that things are done typically does not significantly threaten existing power structures or alter current methods.¹

incremental change lives in the concept that each change, or step, is logical. a plant growing follows a series of steps. they don't even appear to be changes. plants grow by cells dividing and elongating. it can be described as morphing. but if you look at a tomato seed, a tomato plant, a tomato, and then a seed from inside that tomato — you know that something has happened.

a plant as it changes

how slowly does something have to change for it to be imperceptible?

still from gerhard richter painting. this looks like incremental change.
still from gerhard richter painting. this looks like drastic change.

if you recorded a richter swipe with a slow-motion camera and played the video as slow as possible would something that looks drastic at full speed appear incremental?

can incremental change be defined in art or is it completely subjective?

i think about incremental change a lot. perhaps in an obsessive way. whether it is in reference to weathering on a project i designed- “has that wood turned a bit greyer?” or in my own life- “have i lost half a pound”. if you only saw the black ensemble theater when it opened versus today — you would think it has drastically changed. but in reality the slow weathering process of the exterior ipe cladding has happened over the course of seven years.

finishing ends construction, weathering constructs finishes.²

i’m not sure if i started thinking about incremental change before or after this night. but it has become a part of my lexicon.

i always thought of gerhard richter’s work as thriving on incremental change. one pass of his squeegee and you may not even be able to tell anything changed. i could not have been more wrong. with each swipe of his squeegee it is as though you are looking at a completely different painting. a painting will change from yellow to red in ten seconds and then again to gray in another ten seconds. the change is in some ways void of relationship to the last. but at the same time only exists because of the last.

that relationship of seemingly no relation to complete interconnectedness is rich. it is what makes the world function. the fact that richter’s paintings are at once radical changes and incremental changes at the same time fascinates me. what other work embodies these two opposite working methods at the same time?

[1] http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/incremental-change.html

[2] mostafavi, mohsen & leatherbarrow, david. on weathering, the life of building in time, 1993

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