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Creating structure : the complexity of making, dwelling, and being Kirker, Lindsay 2020

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 Creating Structure: The Complexity of Making, Dwelling, and Being.    by   Lindsay Kirker      BFA., The University of Alberta, 2017  Fine Art Diploma, MacEwan University, 2015    A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT  OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF     MASTER OF FINE ARTS in THE COLLEGE OF GRADUATE STUDIES  (Visual Arts)   THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA   (Okanagan)    October 2020     © Lindsay Kirker, 2020  ii The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the College of Graduate Studies for acceptance, a thesis/dissertation entitled:   Creating Structure: The Complexity of Making, Dwelling, and Being.    submitted by Lindsay Kirker    in partial fulfillment of the requirements of   the degree of  Master of Fine Arts     Samuel Roy-Bois, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies  Supervisor  Dr. Greg Garrard, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies Supervisory Committee Member Denise Kenney, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies Supervisory Committee Member Katherine Pickering, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies  Supervisory Committee Member   Dr. Francis Langevin, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies University Examiner   iii Abstract This supporting paper investigates subject matter that I have intuitively been drawn to paint. This painting method began after experiencing loss, and by reflecting on my response to trauma, I attempt to understand our attraction to structure and our collective response to climate change. I wish to find a connection between personal understanding and the broader collective experience. The cityscape acts as my primary case study. I question whether city planning reflects a subconscious need for stability, over function and economic gain. I begin by describing a seminar I attended at the Kluane Research Station in the Yukon to understand the cascading effects of climate change and the Earth as a complex system of exchange. I introduce contemporary artists who have influenced my work, who use similar approaches and methodologies. I outline a history of artistic inquiry, where the artist investigates their inner nature by looking outwards to the natural environment they are inherently connected to. I research plausible psychological reasons the city is laid out in an organized fashion, explaining the history of linear perspective and its influence over how we perceive our immediate surroundings. I investigate concrete, the foundations of the built environment and a reoccurring theme in my work. I examine the suggested renaming of our current epoch, the Anthropocene, to display the problem's complexity, where the naming alone demands critical engagement. My conclusion is that nothing could be considered in isolation. We must attempt to examine all internal and external interactions when attempting to understand any system's structure. Whether that be the individual, the city, or Earth, everything is connected.     iv Lay Summary I intend to understand the systems I am drawn to paint, the cityscape and our relationship with Nature. By digging deeper and reflecting on what initially provoked me to paint human-made structures with the natural environment, I attempt to understand our collective response to climate change.                    v Table of Contents  Abstract  ............................................................................................................................ iii  Lay Summary  .................................................................................................................. iv Table of Contents  ..............................................................................................................v Image List  ........................................................................................................................ vi Acknowledgements  ........................................................................................................ vii Dedication  ...................................................................................................................... viii Introduction: All at Once, Individual Particles Moving in Waves  ...............................1 The Self: Nothing Can Be Considered in Isolation  ........................................................4 Conscious Participant: The Kluane Research Station  ..................................................8 Influences: Everything is a Continuation of What Came Before  ...............................16 The City: All External Interactions Must Be Considered  ...........................................28 The Anthropocene: In Any Complex System, Nothing Will Unfold Linearly  ..........37 Ecology: The Complexity of Being  ................................................................................40 Concluding Thoughts  .....................................................................................................46 Work Cited  ......................................................................................................................49          vi  Image List  1.1 Lindsay Kirker, Vibrations  ...................................................................3  2.1 Lindsay Kirker, Rebuilding 2  ................................................................5  3.1 Lindsay Kirker, Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah  .................................................11  3.2 Lindsay Kirker, Mountain Dam  ..........................................................15  4.1 Caspar David Friedrich, Monk by the Sea  ..........................................19  4.2 Tim Kent, The Somnambulist  .............................................................22  4.3 Tim Kent, Data Lake  ..........................................................................24  4.4 Lindsay Kirker, Dissociation  ..............................................................27  5.1 Lindsay Kirker, Uniform Spaces  .........................................................29  5.2 Green Infrastructure, Landmark Complex, Kelowna, BC  ..................30  5.3 Lindsay Kirker, Oscar  ........................................................................34  6.1 Lindsay Kirker, The Flood  ..................................................................38  7.1 Lindsay Kirker, A Horse of a Different Colour  ..................................42  7.2 Lindsay Kirker, String Theory  ............................................................45            vii Acknowledgements  I would like to express my gratitude to my committee members, Denise Kenney, Katherine Pickering, and Dr. Greg Garrard, for their time and essential feedback. Most significantly, thank you to my advisor Samuel Roy-Bois, for his patience, support, and guidance.   Thank you to Jorden Doody, Tania Willard, Renay Egami, Patrick Lundeen, Philip Wyness, for your support, advice, and always brilliant conversations. Thank you to Dr. Lael Parrott and the scientists I got to know and work with while in the Yukon. The interactions over the last two years have served as a reminder; our humanity and compassion for one another and all life fills me with hope for the future.   Thank you to the writers, philosophers and artists whose work I cite, who continue to inspire me in this endeavour. I also thank the scientists whose research I quote, who have devoted their lives to studying, communicating, and ultimately finding solutions to our present-day environmental concerns.   Finally, thank you to the wonders of life, more significant than any idea of self, more remarkable than I could ever begin to comprehend or adequately describe, that brought me here.                             viii          For Brad                              1 Introduction: All at Once, Individual Particles Moving in Waves. Pay attention to the things you are drawn towards. This remains significant advice concerning my artistic practice. To not focus on making specific statements, but instead, trust what is inside of you, all that is important will come through in the work. This supporting paper is a reflection of this process as I investigate the subject matter I am drawn to paint. I observe the relationship between the built environment and Nature.  Creativity does not unfold linearly. In any complex system, we cannot understand the complexity of that system by solely studying its parts. “We can’t fully understand the behavior of the parts without placing them in the larger system in which they are embedded” (Parrott 17). As an artist, I observe multiple scales, myself, the city, and the earth, and disregard all boundaries to form a broader understanding of my practice, but more importantly, the world around me.  I look to the systems in the natural world to better understand my own reaction to loss and our collective response to the global climate crisis. I have researched outside of my field of study to understand our present ecological circumstances and the suggested renaming of our epoch, the Anthropocene, because I wish to participate in a larger conversation outside of my painting practice. This research led me to attend a seminar in the Yukon to learn about complexity science and the earth as a complex system. In any method of inquiry, there are multiple scales of internal and external interactions to consider. I continually draw parallels between my studio practice and the ecosystem because I believe that by understanding the systems we are a part of, whether that be the cityscape or the landscape, we are better able to understand ourselves.  I have organized this paper in the way that I would approach a painting. The painting is a succession of layers. Everything that came before is on the canvas, either covered up or as marks  2 left behind, but past decisions cannot be erased; they are fundamentally a part of the final composition. I cannot detach life experience from research as every moment inherently has influenced this work. There is no predetermined plan, but there are always the foundations to rely upon. Space is organized concerning the rules of perspective. The paintings themselves are the foundations of this paper. When I am in the studio, I work in silence, and rarely rely on photos. I push myself to be present and allow my inner voice to guide me. I regularly take a step back, moving to the back wall of my studio to consider the painting in its entirety. It is essential to take a step back and observe the composition as a whole. Intuition tells me how to move forward, what next steps to take, or when to take pause. I go into individual spaces to give more details but continue that back and forth dialogue, moving away, then moving inwards. Nothing can be considered in isolation. I cannot consider what is going on in the top right-hand corner without considering what is painted, and how it is painted, in the bottom left. By reflecting on these exchanges, I can begin to convey to you what this body of work is about.    3  1.1 Lindsay Kirker, Vibrations, March 2020, oil on canvas, 90” x 108”            4 The Self: Nothing Can Be Considered in Isolation. I paint images of man-made construction with Nature as a way to reinterpret the world around me. The construction site acts as a symbol for rebuilding. This method of painting, within my current body of work, developed significantly after experiencing loss. In 2015, two traumatic events shifted the subject matter of my paintings. I dissociated from everyone and everything around me and watched my grief translate through my artistic practice. I intuitively began taking pictures of homes and construction sites, as a need for stability manifested itself through an attraction to structure. Life felt chaotic, but I found salvation in scaffolding, cranes, and concrete. Through my artistic practice, common themes emerged: the idea of home and a sense of place, but more so, preservation, fragility, demolition, and creation. There was an immediate agency to create, and my paintings became both a response and a way to make sense of the nonsensical.  The following year I travelled to Liverpool. I remember standing across from St Luke’s Church, otherwise known as the ‘bombed-out church.’ It was under repair and covered in scaffolding. To say that building held space is about as inadequate as the modern-day support system that tried to contain it. That scaffolding looked pathetic up against a structure that carried a substantial history of both love and destruction. My moment of clarity came in thinking about the idea of rebuilding, more specifically, rebuilding an entire belief system. What does the scaffolding of a belief system look like when everything has fallen apart? The previous year's experiences did not make me question everything I knew to be true; everything I knew to be true about the world collapsed. So, when everything is stripped away, what do we gravitate towards? I paint elements of construction with Nature as a way to interrogate these foundations.    5  2.1 Lindsay Kirker, Rebuilding 2, 2017, oil on canvas, 40” x 48”, The University of Alberta.  Everything is matter before, and after stripping it down, the same particles exist at the fundamental level. The same energy radiates throughout all. With this thought alone, I question whether the spaces and structures around me support this inherent connection. If I live in a disconnect from the natural environment, then I live in a disconnect from my inner nature because everything that is in the trees, the land, the sky, the water, the flowers, the soil, is in me. The particles that move like waves, throughout nature, throughout the concrete, move through me. The man-made phenomena I paint represent only a perceivable separation, but I question whether they contribute to a mentality of disconnect when encountered in our day-to-day. The paint becomes the common element to communicate two seemingly separate spaces.  My work is about paying attention. I observe my immediate surroundings and paint the construction I see, but this has only led me down further paths of inquiry. If I was drawn to stability during a time of uncertainty, could there be any relation to how the city is structured? I  6 believe there is a connection between the emotional state and the constructed environment we find ourselves. Is the organized city space merely a way to encourage order or, simultaneously, a manifestation of collective unease? Dr. Bessel van der Kolk explains that when facing unbearable and intolerable situations, as a way to move forward, we push the memory out of our minds and act as if nothing has happened. However, our brains, the rational part that ensures our survival, is not good with denial. Unpleasant emotions can be reactivated long after a stressful situation (Van der Kolk 2). It would then only be understandable to employ within our immediate surroundings, some attempt at order and control, to avoid unpleasant emotion. The cityscapes constructed in my paintings are a visual representation of my need to control and contain.  I believe this tactic in avoiding discomfort can be seen in our collective response to the global eco-crisis. We live in overwhelming circumstances. Timothy Morton refers to climate change as a “hyperobject”, because it becomes an issue that is “beyond the normal scope of our comprehension”, arguing that “the result of about two hundred years of human industry – could change the Earth for thousands of years” (Morton 131). Climate change is such a “large and complex” idea that it is difficult for us to grasp (Wallace-Wells 13). Perhaps, as a way to move forward, we distract ourselves and act as though nothing is happening, but only as self-preservation, because the reality is far too vast to comprehend. While my painting, Vibrations, seems to emulate an apocalyptic future, my outlook is positive. Bright orange lines divide and unify the composition, rejecting the idea that all is doom and gloom. What fills me with reassurance is what I have learnt from my brief time studying the natural environment; that matter is continually rearranging itself to maintain the stability needed for life. So while Vibrations depicts a landscape in flux, void of people, there is stability amongst the  7 concrete forms and the lines that overlay the image. The use of perspective and paint as a material become the foundations to build upon and explore this exchange.    Climate change may be a symptom of a more substantial collective trauma, but to say that trauma is a result of our disconnect from nature is reductive. This encourages a linear model of understanding to comprehend a complicated situation. Instead, it becomes a place to begin. In reimagining the systems that I am connected to, the city and earth, I seek to shift perspective but, at the very least, selfishly reinterpret all that can sometimes be perceived as disorder.                          8 Conscious Participant: The Kluane Research Station. During the last year of my graduate degree, I visited the Kluane Research Station, located about an hour outside of Haines Junction, in the Yukon. Trips like this are essential for an artist, as they present the opportunity to shift and challenge one’s perspective and direct the subsequent artworks produced. While in the Yukon, we were guests on Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, White River First Nations, and Kluane First Nations land. Organized by Professor in Sustainability, Dr. Lael Parrott, the purpose of the course was to learn about Complexity Science and the Earth as a complex system of interconnection. My intention was to understand the complexity of a system that I knew intuitively I was a part of, and that I was consistently drawn to paint. The paintings I have included in this section, Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah and Mountain Dam, directly responded to this trip. Over ten days, I learned about the history surrounding Kluane Lake, meeting with community members with a range of backgrounds, learning about the consequences of glacier melting and the cascading effects on the surrounding species, land and people. What I remember most from this experience was a red vine weaving its way through vast, empty space. Empty, because you could feel something significant was once there. What now remained was a mark on the Earth. In 2016, the Slims River, known to the Yukon First Nations as Ä’äy Chù, ran dry. As the river dried up, all minerals were pooled into where the river once flowed. Once the last water moved through, the moist land and remaining nutrients leant themselves to be ideal for this little red plant to grow. The support system depicted in the painting, Mountain Dam, is a direct response to this sight.  The red vine was viewed on the first day of the seminar. Ten of us walked out into the dried-up, dusty plain; the ground cracked and pushed up new growth in-between. Kayleigh, a  9 PhD student in biology voiced her concern over the research being done on the ‘invasive species’ she was now observing in the area, explaining that if not contained, the plants would move into other areas, affecting the surrounding ecosystems. For ten days, I had conversations like this. Every day, reaching a broader understanding of all things that had to be considered when studying complexity science. Complexity science is big picture thinking and encourages an “exchange between disciplines.” Dr. Lael Parrott explains that in studying any system, the parts of that system cannot be studied in isolation “without placing them in the context of the larger system in which they are embedded” (Parrot 17). The shrinking of the Kaskawulsh glacier caused the rerouting of an entire water system, and the Slims River to dry up, and researchers know this to be a direct result of “post-industrial climate change” (Shugar 370). This shift continues to influence the species, lake levels, and community reliant on that system, forcing the ecosystem to reorganize, and because there are no boundaries around these systems, all interconnecting systems are impacted. Mountain Dam reduces this complexity to a binary system of exchange. Man-made support makes its way through a voluptuous field of organic form that will inevitably overpower it.  It is safe to say that before this trip, I viewed glacier melting as a somewhat isolated event. I was aware of sea-level rise, flooding, and the displacement of life, but I had no idea of the overwhelming cascading effects that needed to be considered. When I am painting, I need to be conscious of making general assertions with no further insight. With every action comes a series of reactions, and what I could not stop thinking about was that red line. As you looked out into the distance, you no longer saw a river flow, but instead, a red plant where the river once was. On the one hand, the vine stood as a symbol of loss, but on the other, growth.  10 A significant takeaway from this trip was understanding the complexity of climate change and how difficult it is to calculate the Earth's response precisely. Scientific models can help climate scientists project what the Earth will look like as temperatures increase. With “high confidence,” scientists can say that we will achieve global warming of 1.5°C “above pre-industrial levels” by mid-century (Allen 62). Considering it is difficult to “measure all variables related to human behavior and decision making” (Parrott 22), these projections become more challenging to forecast. In the last year alone, the numbers I have attempted to include in this section have fluctuated. It is a challenge for any artist to communicate abstract ideas; it is also difficult to attach significance to these single digits, for a perceivably small number to represent ocean acidification, sea level rise, floods, drought, species extinction, loss in biodiversity, loss in food security, rise in poverty (Allen 6). It is a moment of concern. We live in uncharted territory because humans have never lived with this amount of carbon in the atmosphere (Monroe). As scientists publish yearly carbon budgets for the amount of carbon pollution we can emit to stay below 2°C, by mid-century, future projections rely on a ‘business as usual’ assumption that emissions will continue to increase at the present rate (Evershed).  Ten days in the Yukon had a profound effect on me. I was learning about serious concerns while being surrounded by what appeared to be pristine landscape. The conversations I found myself having shifted my approach to my painting practice. Most mornings, I would get up before the majority of the group, shuffle quickly through the dining hall as not to strike up an engaging conversation, grab a cup of coffee, and sneak away to a lookout that I could experience all on my own. (Insert here what Timothy Morton would describe as the obligatory mention of the weather (28)) It was warmer than the usual September morning. In watching the sunrise, pinks, purples, and ochre make their way across a vast mountain skyline, I would think about  11 how I could paint this relationship of exchange, or try not to think at all. All was calm, yet everything was moving. As I was learning about the widespread systems that lay out before me, the constant flow of communication, I was conscious of my sense of place. I was not an intruder, not merely an observer or guest, but by my very nature, by my very breath, interconnected with the expanse of life that extended out before me.    3.1 Lindsay Kirker, Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, October 2019, oil on canvas, 64” x 77”   The Kluane region is diverse and presented the opportunity to look at a vast amount of cross-scale interactions. I was conscious of painting these cross-scale connections in Zip-A-Dee- 12 Doo-Dah. The structure supporting this open network confronts the idea that Nature is something to be contained and held up on a pedestal. This painting was produced while I digested the trip to Kluane. I was changing my opinion that Nature was something to be protected from human interference. That would involve studying a system with the assumption that there was no human interaction. Whether population increase, tourism, or economic and means of survival, the relationship with the ecosystem includes human collaboration. Within my work, the built environment stands in for the human figure to explore this relationship.  Interdisciplinary artist Olafur Eliasson is an example of a multidisciplinary contemporary artist who uses scientific research to produce immersive experiences that visually communicate our present-day circumstances. In Ice Watch, Eliasson connects the assumed city dweller with an ecological experience. From 2014-2019, Eliasson transported dozens of blocks of glacier ice from Greenland, presenting them in the open air in order for the public to observe ice melting over time, obviously referencing glacier melting. Significant in size, the intention was for the work to raise “awareness of climate change by providing a direct and tangible experience of the reality of melting ice” (Eliasson). It is a popular device for contemporary artists, such as Eliasson, to comment on man’s influence over Nature.  It is challenging to communicate climate change through painting, as you risk losing the complexity of the subject, and the danger lies in the work becoming didactic (“Climate”). UCLA Professor, Louise Hornby argues that works such as Ice Watch miss the opportunity to critique, and instead use sentimentality to contribute to a human-centred narrative that has become a personality trait of the Anthropocene (63). I think we still need to hold space for these kinds of works. As I cannot assume what the art viewer knows or does not know, I cannot assume what an engaged observer will do with newly acquired information or a slight shift in perspective. As I  13 agree with Hornby, through hashtags and photo ops, some of the attention will contribute to Ice Watch becoming a spectacle in itself (Hornby 62), taking away from the present issue by projecting a future imagined state of loss (Jackson). There remains, however, a chance for the engaged individual to develop their own method of enquiry. Perhaps, conscious awareness is activated through the sentiment of care.  While in the Yukon, most evenings, we would meet as a group, in seminars where we would speak about present concerns and imagine future scenarios and new ways of problem-solving. Being the only artist in the group, I was worried about taking this trip. I had no background in the sciences and questioned what I could contribute. Once there, I was able to keep up with the course material and conversations, and my perspective was valued because it was not predisposed by years of scientific research. Instead, I was able to offer creative insight into problem-solving. I also learned quite quickly that I could no longer look to the land as something separate from myself, that had to be returned to its ‘natural’ state. As my understanding of this relationship was expanding, my perspective shifted, and I began to truly understand the gravity of concern for the present ecological crisis and the complexity of climate change. It was a consistent reminder of the value and possibility of open and honest conversation. It was a consistent reminder of how small and insignificant we were compared to a continually renewing system, in constant exchange, and constant adaptation. The earth needed me to paint a picture just about as bad as it needed us as a species to come up with solutions, if anything, we just need to slow down.  I had several experiences over the last two years that produced the paintings, Vibrations and String Theory, the final two paintings completed during my degree. These paintings depict  14 knowledge gained from experience, significantly from this trip and Parrot’s teachings. They represent an interwoven system, in constant communication and exchange. All systems within the ecosystem are self-organizing. James Lovelock may have been the first to poetically point out that the Earth is a complex being. From the atmosphere to the biosphere, the oceans and soil self-regulate to maintain optimal conditions for the nutrients essential to life (Lovelock 11). The rerouting of an entire water system that caused the Slims River to dry up is an example of a system reorganizing itself. Self-organizing means resilience. When a system instinctively organizes itself to respond and survive in response to internal and external encounters that are distressing to that system, it allows it to evolve and adapt to constant change (Heylighen 2). Like any living being, the earth has adapted to its environment (Lovelock 25). Forests adapt over centuries and carry memory, but let go of the idea that this is simply about the forest; we could apply this kind of logic to any form of life. The longer the life, the more adaptable it is, because it has had a lifetime of experience to respond to. Not only is it adaptable, but it is going to function the best it can with high resiliency. We can begin to account for large-scale interactions that an ecosystem is undergoing. However, we must consider that the ecosystem is continuously self-organizing in order to adapt to these interactions. The forest is not waiting for humans to solve the climate crisis; it self-organizes to adapt to more carbon in the biosphere, warmer winters, less rainfall and ‘Black Swan’ events. Black Swan events are considered outlier events that cannot be forecasted. No amount of previous observation can predict certain things that happen outside of the data, which occur beyond what has been observed and shift the system entirely. I could have chosen several examples to include in this paper, but that red line through that dried up open plain was a visual that has stayed with me.    15  3.2 Lindsay Kirker, Mountain Dam, January 2020, oil on canvas, 66” x 78”           16 Influences: Everything is a Continuation of What Came Before. I am drawn to artists interested in something far greater than the idea of self, artists who attempt to connect with something outside of themselves. Whether it be scientific or spiritual endeavour, art becomes the precise in-between moment to fuse some comprehension between the I and the Universe. These included artists have significantly influenced my work. Anselm Kiefer bridges spirituality with science and myth. Tim Kent thinks about the invisible lines throughout our immediate surroundings, and Julie Mehretu employs similar marks and signs to create space through repetition and overlapping city iconography. These artists demonstrate the role of questioning the systems we are connected to, visually communicating that it is limiting to stay within our fields of study in a naturally connected world. Contemporary artist Anselm Kiefer demonstrates the necessity to pull from all available resources. In observing his art practice, it motivated me to attend the Yukon seminar on Complexity Science. It is not only important to follow whatever paths our curiosities might lead us down but to utilize every and all research available in order to expand upon our understanding of the world. Drawing upon human history, culture, science, philosophy, music, art, and poetry, Kiefer’s work embodies a vast representation of collective memory and the continuous cycle of human life (“Anselm Kiefer”).  In 2016, in London, I first saw the work of Anselm Kiefer at his exhibition Walhalla. Overwhelming installations inhabited all space. Twenty-foot paintings were placed alongside sculptures in rooms, that because of the scale, had to be remodelled entirely. Displayed in one room was a large-scale landscape painting using linear perspective to draw the eye through a wheat field surrounded by tall, lanky, abandoned towers. Due to size, Kiefer’s installations and paintings become a world we can enter. The scale of my paintings emulates this strategy. I build  17 up layers through the material of paint, Kiefer builds up his layers by leaving the paintings themselves for months, even years at a time, in chemical baths, in order for the work to decay and deteriorate.  Kiefer’s process demonstrates neglect and refusal to see the object as something precious that needs to be protected. I approach with haste; the canvas is not stretched but stapled to the wall. I apply and pour house paint. I add water, spraying it to allow those initial layers to drip and bleed. The paint responds to the gesso and raw canvas differently, and I build up my layers with this in mind. I often feel rushed when building up the substrate, and an urgency to begin building structure. The further along the painting gets, it becomes sacred. I observe myself becoming fearful of making mistakes, or covering something up that I wished to leave behind. My brushes get smaller, and I focus on smaller details, constantly inching towards a place that I am satisfied, but often simply too scared to move forward. Kiefer’s work feels bold, even brash, but uninhibited from making mistakes. Layers of oil paint include natural and man-made matter, sunflowers and rope, gold dust, and books embedded on the surface. Inspired by his method, I experimented with leaving my paintings outdoors, allowing rain, mud, leaves and sticks to build upon the canvas, but the results never felt as intentional as Kiefer’s. These endeavours were helpful none the less. Sometimes you have to disrupt the foundations in order to remind yourself of where you wish to go.  I feel a constant urge to create. When I am in the studio, I feel this determination the most. Logistically, there is a need to utilize the time and space given to me, but it is more than that. There is a search for understanding, “there is something that an artist is in pursuit of, and is answerable to, some nexus of one’s being, one’s material, and Being itself. Inspiration is when these three things collide –or collude” (Wiman 45).  18 I watched an interview with Kiefer explaining this search, and a need to connect with something greater, beyond the material world. As a young man, he expected to find this in religion, but it came through the act of painting. Kiefer believes that art is spiritual and that art holds the ability to “make the connection between things that are separated.” He explains that where science is separated into fields, art can give context (“Anselm”). Walking through Walhalla was a spiritual experience, where I lack adequate words to make sense of a sensation that felt to be outside of myself. In my practice, I am not simply concerned with the world around me, “art needs some ultimate concern” (Wiman 45), what I am interested in far surpasses prefabricated concrete slabs constructed to contain. I am interested in the foundations of Being.  Painting becomes a medium to explore the spirit's place, immeasurable energy we know nothing about, and the soul's position amongst the material structures we construct. “The word spirit comes from the Latin word, spiritus, which is a translation of the Greek pneuma, meaning breath” (Harris 6). And it is parallel to the breath; the breath enters the body and then leaves, all at once, something is happening outside of yourself, that you are a part of simultaneously. You become aware of your existence and realize that you are connected to a larger field of energy, something far more significant. In becoming entirely present within this exchange, it is humbling and awe-inspiring. It is an experience that poetry, music and art can tap into, and the capacity to emulate both in observing and creating.  Kiefer places himself within a continuous dialogue of artists attempting to understand their place in the cosmos, by looking at man’s relationship with Nature. Life experience has inevitably, and almost formulaically brought me to look for a deeper understanding of my sense of place and purpose by looking towards nature. Still, within any endeavor, there is a lineage of human interaction to consider. At the end of the 18th century, within European culture,  19 understanding human place in the universe became for the Romantic artist, something the church could no longer resolve. Christian iconography traditionally explored western spiritual values, but David Casper Friedrich’s painting, Monk by the Sea, stands as an example of an artist craving some sort of comprehension, separate from the church's answers. Friedrich’s monk looks to the natural world to form a more personal understanding (14). Intuitive minds craved something beyond the scaffolding of the Christian church. Instead, there was a sense of the divine in the nature surrounding them and an overwhelming connection that demanded to be engaged with. Poet Thomas Moore convincingly wrote that Nature affected his “whole heart and soul” (Rosenblum 20). Moore’s words are not subjective, and our connection to the natural world extends beyond what we can palpably understand. Friedrich’s figure with the landscape is a search for an understanding of the divine by understanding his relationship with Nature. Through my work, I attempt to do the same. I build upon an atmosphere established through the materiality of paint.   4.1 Caspar David Friedrich, Monk by the Sea, 1809, oil on canvas, 43" x 67 1/2" /110 x 171.5 cm, Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen, Berlin.   20 In his 2019 exhibition, Superstrings, Kiefer draws inspiration from scientific theory, alongside visual references to Van Gogh and Norse mythology, exhibiting the freedom the artist has to pick and choose. By liberating the imagination, we can observe beyond limited fields of study and our immediate surroundings “because it posits more than the dimensions that we think we live in” (Kiefer). For an artist, there is a sense of freedom because we can borrow information, building upon our perception and experience, untethered from obligation and years of scholarly learning that can, and within any field, limit our ability to see outside of that field.  Superstrings was primarily a response to Kiefer’s research concerning String Theory. “String theory is a mathematical model that attempts to articulate the known fundamental interactions of the universe and forms of matter” (Superstrings). String theory is the theoretical framework that unifies two seemingly separate theories, General Relativity and Quantum Field Theory. Two theories that account for the fundamental principles of Nature at the quantum or “subatomic” level and the cosmic level but appear to be incompatible with one another. Physicist Michio Kaku explains it is “as if nature had two minds, each working independently of the other in its own particular domain, operating in total isolation from one another” (Kaku 3).  In my work, I focus on painting two seemingly separate ideas, examining the relationship between the built environment and Nature. I use the material of paint to communicate these two concepts; loose, expressive mark-making is used to paint Nature, while a small brush and attention to detail is employed to convey the built environment. As my degree has progressed, I insist on developing a more uniform visual language to communicate the objects as not belonging to two separate worlds but coexisting in one.  Kiefer merges seemingly separate practices, science, mythology and sentiment towards Nature to communicate that everything is connected (Superstrings). These techniques become  21 even more compelling within context because Kaku explains that to the beginner’s mind, String Theory is not unified. “To someone learning the theory for the first time, it is often a frustrating collection of folklore, rules of thumb, and intuition” (Kaku 4).  Kiefer’s powerful and emotionally provocative imagery can leave one feeling defeated. Not everybody wants to confront the concepts of Kiefer’s work. Sometimes you just want to participate in the nine to five without thinking about our place in the Universe. There are moments where what we can deal with is limited. My painting, String Theory, is a homage to this exhibition and to all that I lack to comprehend. Both my and Kiefer’s use of architecture, with the natural matter, reflect an attempt to understand our position within the Universe and displays our limited understanding. The works of art that I have seen in person have profoundly impacted on my practice. During the second year of my undergraduate degree, I travelled to New York. Tim Kent is whom I remember from that trip. I walked into a studio with ten-foot-tall contemporary paintings that displayed a realism and attention to detail that I felt I was being instructed within my program not to do. I was captivated. Kent uses linear perspective and mathematical models to question the intense concentration of power structures extending beyond our day to day visual field. From the city's literal power grid to the more conceptual expanse of political power, Kent explains that “we live in an invisible world of connectivity and invisible power dynamics.” The line within Kent’s work and reference to the figure represents how humans have consciously constructed the world. When you move through his paintings, you move through an atmosphere of mathematics (Kent). My paintings are influenced by the use of architecture in Kent’s work. Partially rendered spaces contain abstract male figures that, to me, confront one’s internal dialogue. The unfinished  22 quality encourages a conscious interaction and for the viewer to participate by simply filling in the gaps.   4.2 Tim Kent, The Somnambulist, 2015, oil on canvas, 70” x 70” (Kent).  Kent’s use of colour and line within contemporary interiors pull on a history developed by European painters, the interior spaces of Johannes Vermeer, to the fragmented perspective and forms of Francis Bacon. His recent work extends out, looking towards the city and exterior spaces where his male perspective is forced to live and interact. Large-scale landscapes hold  23 space for the human form, alongside man-made structures and digital interference (Wagner). Architecture is a language Kent is comfortable using. The paintings are about our relationship to geometry as a way to make sense of the invisible, for example, radiation (Jeffery). Kent suggests that “we don’t actually know what’s happening most of the time.” He displays this curiosity by creating spaces that investigate these invisible systems that “are mainly conceptual in their nature.” Exactly. The lines that move throughout all of my paintings are not simply a reflection of the city grid and its interactions, but the connections that are not perceivable by the eye. Connections made between matter, spaces, and objects, explored through the material of paint.  When describing these abstract ideas, painting, as a visual language, can order our thinking and begin to reign in our understanding of immaterial concepts. Within the limitations of paint, presents itself the opportunity to demonstrate profound ideas quite simply. Kent’s use of perspective is a metaphor for examining our interactions with power structures and our inherent connection to technology and political networks (Kent). I use perspective to establish a formwork, to explore our inherent connection with Nature.    24  4.3 Tim Kent, Data Lake, oil on canvas, 2019, 100” x 80” (Kent).  Kent says that when developing a visual language for mathematics, painting is limiting (Kent). I work within these spaces of limitation, limiting my subject matter to expand upon what can be perceived as a simple concept, but that carries layers of questions about the complexity of the city spaces and systems surrounding us. By solely focusing on elements of construction with growth, there remains an abundance of matter to study. The cityscape is a system of organized symbols that explore complex ideas. However, what is often explained as complex can be broken down or communicated in a way that makes it more accessible. Inherently, there will be an embedded narrative when using the familiar (“Systems”), but by creating a ‘likely’ world, you invite the viewer to build upon their perceptions. Julie Mehretu  25 is a contemporary artist who draws and paints layer upon layer of the ordinary, organized city space. Scaling anywhere from ten to eighty-five feet in length, Mehretu combines elements of architecture with organic forms that can come across as chaotic. Elements of topography merge into architectural drawings. The extensive layering quality in her work allows her landscapes to reject the idea “that it is possible to impose a rigid structure on something as fluid and unstable as a city and its inhabitants.” Art critic and Art Historian Meghan Dailey further explains that her work is a moment to understand that the city is not just an assemblage of people amongst infrastructure. Instead, the city space reflects human mind and behaviour, with spontaneous encounters that occur outside of assumed “patterns of movement and interaction” (Dailey 214).  In works such as Dissociation, I work with static lines and spontaneous brushstrokes to display a landscape in flux. The substantial grey concrete column that intersects the image with the more uncontrolled painterly elements guide the viewer’s eye and offers a place to rest. The mapping of a city visually displays order. The city grid assumes pattern and stability, but this suggests that life unfolds linearly, that we take the same unconscious routes among clearly defined paths. That there is an order between our experience and the people we come into contact with. Similarly, to Mehretu, I use memory informed by the spaces I have lived and travelled (214) to create my work, for example, Oscar, depicting the Metropolitan Cathedral in Rio de Janeiro. Mehretu’s paintings contain a vigorous movement, through layering and repetition, further communicating the complexity of the city space and its inhabitants (Dailey 214) Like Mehretu, I use “recognizable elements,” but not to reflect a specific place and the history of that place. Instead, the relationships depicted on the canvas have been informed by lived experience and day-to-day interactions. The building constructed in Dissociation was  26 viewed on my runs through downtown Kelowna. These in-between spaces often go overlooked, a construction site on the side of a busy road, or the concrete landscape surrounding a communal walkway. Comparable to Guy Debord’s ‘dérive’, where the Situationist asks us to enter a familiar space unexpectedly, Mehretu flips all expectations of what space is. Rearranging the everyday over the literal depiction, whether you are an observer or inhabitant, the work presents a conscious shift from one layer to another, introducing multiple perspectives, and asking the viewer to inhabit all space with awareness. (Dailey 214).  In rearranging the everyday observations, I hope to create a believable space to enter into, and with that, the viewer will leave behind preconceived notions of space. Along with the artists that I speak about, there remains a need to understand the systems we are interlaced with. Systems that taken at face value do not always connect with the internal dialogue. Art presents the opportunity to rearrange. There might be value beyond the large automobile, the beautiful house and the beautiful wife (Byrne). We may belong to something far greater than the predictable, linear model and way of living presented to us. I take symbols that are familiar to the eye and repurpose them to create a new narrative and confront possible presumptions. Scale becomes a way to transport the viewer into the artist’s constructed world, and an invitation to be a conscious participant. This is also a strategy to tempt the viewer to think about how we inhabit space, whether everything is happening around us and to us, or if we are embedded in a more significant communal experience, one that does not solely involve the human experience.     27  4.4 Lindsay Kirker, Dissociation, March 2019, oil on canvas, 78” x 90”               28 The City: All External Interactions Must Be Considered.  No one place has informed my identity. Growing up, my mother and I moved once a year. Starting a new school was my norm, and I never grew a strong attachment to where those schools were located. I was in constant transition and continuously passing through. As these patterns of living in transit followed me into adulthood, I learnt that the idea of home was not attached to any distinct coordinates. My experience as a young child, living in and around Calgary partially informed my relationship with the land. By its very nature, Calgary draws a clear division between the downtown skyline and the mountains off in the distance. As you drive towards this iconic mountain range, there is no gradual shift, only an abrupt separation between Alberta Plains and the Rocky Mountains. Driving to Banff was a regular occurrence, and this act alone encouraged me to experience the land and city as being two distinct things, leaving one place to enter the other.  I attempt to understand my attraction to the cityscape by looking back on previous architectural and artistic movements within context. In Bodies in Space, architectural historian and critic Anthony Vidler consistently names fear as the motive to rearrange the urban landscape. Vidler looks to previous philosophy, and architects such as Le Corbusier to outline a pattern of decision making tied to mental illness and anxiety (Vidler 8). Le Corbusier believed that the city reflected human energy (15), and that “man” by his very nature needed order (Le Corbusier 17). Following the First and Second World Wars, some theorized that the city encouraged ailments such as agoraphobia and claustrophobia. Trauma, perhaps persuaded the city to become a simpler composition. The First World War influenced architects to reorganize space. Old city monuments were erased to restore the urban environment to what was interpreted in the 1920s as a more “natural state,” implementing more space and more glass, as a way for the  29 city to feel minimal and open. The intention was to clear out the city of all “mental disturbances” (Vidler 8).  Uniform Spaces communicates my own need for stability. This search is reflected in the paint's handling, areas built up, to display time in motion, energy reorganizing itself. No form is solid, but there is a sense of stability through the composition's overall structure. In these spaces, I aim to contain and transform fear, the fear for the future, and ultimately the fear of the unknown, into an image that makes sense, and establishes some perceivable order.    5.1 Lindsay Kirker, Uniform Spaces, January 2020, oil on canvas, 76” x 105”   30 Fear is a recognized trait of human evolution. When we were not yet able to trust entirely the visual field laid out before us, this encouraged the city to become a more uniform space (Vidler 5). Any sense of control over what one is perceiving would be implemented to measure threat accurately and believe we had control over that which was perceivably threatening. As I paint elements taken from the city I live in, I watch it grow. Newly developed spaces are unvarying, simple shape and simple composition, and the nature introduced are contained. Through concrete cubes, trees are regulated down the city street. Is this simply an extended timeline of the ideas that came before, or should we read in this urban design the expression of fear? Between my compositions and present city planning, why does aesthetic decision reflect a need to control and contain? Is it perhaps that uniform spaces are built because there is a need for stillness? Concrete is cost-effective and functional, but I propose that it also reflects a subconscious need for stability. We may require a modest visual field for the mind to comprehend because contemporary life can feel quite chaotic and overwhelming for the senses.   5.2 Green Infrastructure, Landmark Complex, Kelowna, British Columbia.  31 Concrete is depicted in all of my paintings. Filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal, collaborator with Edward Burtynsky and Nicholas de Pencier on The Anthropocene Project, describes concrete as a techno-fossil, “a human-created object that will persist in the biosphere and eventually end up in the rock layers of the earth.” Burtynsky believes “concrete or cement to be the greatest techno-fossil that we have left behind.” Baichwal says that concrete will degrade but will act as a visual timeline beyond human existence (“Art”). My paintings display this visual timeline; the process is never entirely covered up. The way I paint concrete further pushes the agenda of leaving behind a trail of breadcrumbs for the viewer. Never solidified, the underpainting always pokes through. Considering billions of tons of concrete are produced each year, it has become the material of choice because of its versatility. If well designed, concrete is durable, moldable, adaptable to climate, and more fire-resistant than most other building materials. Most considerably, concrete is readily available and is inexpensive, both in production and market value. Environmental impact is also well established. Production is energy-intensive, generates a significant amount of CO2, and requires a large number of natural resources (Meyer 601). Economist Jeffrey Morris describes concrete as an “externality,” because once the transaction between maker and buyer occurs, the external environmental impact is not reflected in the initial market price (Morris 1).  Concrete exhibits certainty. No longer used only as of the foundations for a building, exposed concrete, and the building's revealed exoskeleton is an aesthetic choice. Concrete floors, tables, walls, countertops, something that was once covered up now displays an honesty, refusing to cover up the architecture's integrity. Similar to paint, concrete displays a range of finishes, shades, and texture. Employed in my paintings, I leave the areas exposed. The concrete in my  32 work is rarely depicted as a tangible form. Instead, it becomes a place to push colour, application, and intrigue into a material that I observe in every visual interaction in the city.  When I begin a painting, I start with an element of construction. I arrange two vanishing points and paint that structure within the space. As the painting develops, a sense of order is established through line, grid, and repetition. By using linear perspective, the painting establishes a realism that the eye perceives as truth. I create a three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface and communicate my subjective observations.  Professor of political science, Philipp Lepenies believes that the cognitive invention of linear perspective encouraged a “human-centered way to view the world and mankind’s place in it” (584). In fifteenth-century Renaissance Italy, linear perspective became a perceptive tool used by artists and architects for a two-dimensional space to appear three-dimensional (Lepenies 585). Euclid’s optical and geometrical formulations played a vital role in the Renaissance perspective. “Formulating the first theory of vision, Euclid explained the mechanism of vision by saying that visual rays sent out by the eye form a visual pyramid,” converging at one vanishing point (Scolari 11). The theorisation of linear perspective shifted how we interpreted the physical world because perspective was a specific method used to give spatial depth, projected from individual gaze (Lepenies 585). By recreating reality through linear perspective, the eye was told that what it was seeing was not a symbol but a reproduction of truth. However, the invention of the “vanishing point,” was just that, an invention, and not a “faithful representation of reality but a symbolic system” of understanding (Lepenies 591). In researching any system, it is essential to understand the system of which it took shape from; in context, this technique was a response to European “renaissance culture” and “a desire to order the world in a certain way” (Lepenies 590). This way of seeing depended on one set of  33 eyes looking off into the distance. The receding lines within the space, which would ultimately converge, communicated that there was no beginning or end, establishing “a novel notion of infinity.” The representation of infinite space was a new idea of renaissance art, but again, reliant on one set of eyes, and “the gaze of the individual observer.” In this way, “the idea of the individual spectator is an integral part of the perception and the construction of ‘reality.’” The result of this was a shift from a worldview based on symbolism to a worldview based on individual experience (Lepenies 591).  This body of work is a direct response to individual experience, based on my observation of the spaces I routinely pass through. My work is not specifically about Kelowna but completing my graduate degree in the Okanagan Valley, located on the traditional territory of the Syilx/Okanagan Peoples in British Columbia, surrounded by the picturesque landscape and ever-increasing infrastructure, has been a source of inspiration. With a plan to make space for more than 50,000 people over the next twenty years (Official Community Plan), the expansion of Kelowna’s urban landscape has served as a model for my work.  A home is built to project the kind of person we want to exhibit to the world, and cities are built to display idealized power, morality and wealth (Botton 135). The painting does the same; it voices opinion and virtue. By employing a vocabulary taken from the built environment, I rearrange the everyday to display a perspective, that when integrated with Nature, evokes an idiosyncratic reading of the city: scaffolding and formwork are a temporary support system, cranes lift beyond human capabilities, concrete embodies the need for stability. Demolition is the breaking down of things that are no longer of use. My work reveals multiple references to notions of ‘taking something down’, or ‘covering something up’, as these acts serve as metaphors of human intervention.  34   5.3 Lindsay Kirker, Oscar, May 2019, oil on canvas, 96” x 85”  Oscar depicts the Metropolitan Cathedral in Rio de Janeiro. During my graduate degree, I travelled to Brazil. When I looked out from the balcony of the home I was staying, no city streets or cars bustled below. They were there, of course, but hidden behind a canopy of trees and green infrastructure. Walking down the city streets, I observed a flow of saturated colour with old and new city architecture; there was a feeling of continuous movement, constant absorption of one’s  35 environment and using it as inspiration to transform the city. Whether writings on the wall or the built environment, the city's vast range of influence reflected humans decoding and translating life. On the last day of my trip, I sat in the concrete Cathedral of San Sebastian, designed by architect Edgar Fonceca, student of Oscar Niemeyer (Blazeski).  Architecture plays a large role in my painting practice, and I attempt to understand the decisions made, in myself, and the visual field around me. In Brazil, it was hoped that through modernist architecture, concrete and steel buildings, the country could distance itself aesthetically from a legacy of colonialism (142). Bringing in Le Corbusier to help with his endeavour, Niemeyer worked under him. Le Corbusier saw architecture itself as something that was going out of style, in 1923 he wrote that it was no longer appropriate for cities to invest in “historical souvenirs” instead, engineers could provide functional space, void of decoration and the ornate (55). Le Corbusier described Rome as a ‘city of horrors’ “on account of its violation of functional principles though an abundance of Baroque detailing, wall paintings and statuary.” He privileged function over the aesthetic choice (Botton 56). Niemeyer ultimately rejected the idea that architecture should abandon history and culture. “It is the privilege of architects to be selective about which aspects of the local spirit” they wish to include. “While most societies experience varying degrees of violence and chaos, for example, we are unlikely to want our buildings to reflect those features of the zeitgeist. Then again, we would feel uncomfortable if architects abandoned reality altogether to produce designs that alluded to none of our prevailing morals or goals. We no more favor delusion in our built environment than we do in individuals” (229). Oscar Niemeyer was an architect who maintained faith in the history of the city. He sought to create structures that reflect the burdens of the past while considering modern  36 technology and future ambitions. He intended that his buildings reflect Brazil's spirit, the people who lived there, and the natural environment that surrounded them (Botton 229). My intention is to learn more about the objects and spaces I am naturally drawn to paint. I need to be conscious of the assumptions structuring my way of thinking and perceiving the world. I am open to what my paintings communicate and the conversations they initiate. Historically, environmentalists viewed the city as the ultimate culprit contributing to climate change. However, this environmental view of the city resulted from “the popularization of carbon mapping,” in which carbon was not accurately measured (6). In actuality, the least environmental impact comes from those who live in the city, and surprisingly, “the denser, the better.” Tracing environmental impact to the individual over the community, living in a dense city, we are more likely to walk and take public transit or cycle (Speck 7). I can begin to understand the materials found in the city and depicted in my work by looking at history, economic decisions and values, but vast amounts of cross-scale influences need to be studied. I am in constant navigation of these spaces; I cannot paint the structures depicted in works such as Oscar and Uniform Spaces without carefully considering them. Even in the process of painting there is consideration. I am conscious of how I render the structure, deciding how much detail to include or leave out. The layering quality in my work, and the application of paint, acts as a visual timeline to trace these paths of enquiry.        37 The Anthropocene: In Any Complex System, Nothing Will Unfold Linearly.  My thesis initially developed from a concern for the ethical and emotional disconnect in the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene is the suggested renaming of our current epoch by geologists and earth scientists in response to the high levels of carbon emissions in the atmosphere, “the biosphere and geological time has been fundamentally transformed by human activity” (Moore 3). There is no place on earth that has not felt the anthropogenic impact. In 2014 Naomi Klein wrote, “if we continue on our current path of allowing emissions to rise year after year, climate change will change everything about our world. Major cities will very likely drown, ancient cultures will be swallowed by the seas, and there is a very high chance that our children will spend a great deal of their lives fleeing and recovering from vicious storms and extreme droughts” (Klein 4). Loosely translating to “the age of man,” this suggested renaming emphasizes the human/Nature relationship and encourages a dialogue to understand that relationship (Moore 80). We have transformed the earth system, and the evidence of this is species extinction, severe weather fluctuation and ocean acidification (Hamilton 1).   In The Flood, I paint my distress and concern for the future. Just as in Vibrations, water floods the picture plane. The process itself presents allegory. As I established the composition, there were many vanishing points. I wanted the painting to feel destabilizing. I soon recognized that I only needed a couple of places to venture off from the rules of linear perspective to give the impression that something just wasn’t right. It only takes one element not to follow the rules of symmetry to throw the image off entirely, telling the eye that what one is perceiving is wrong. So I can be subtle, it doesn’t have to be so obvious. Because of my working method, I do not start with preparatory drawings nor plans to guide me. When I realized the subtly that I could introduce, with so many vanishing points, it was unclear how I was going to fix the problem.  38 Engulfing the entire picture plane in water became an easy fix. The act of concealing the issue meant I no longer had to deal with it.    6.1 Lindsay Kirker, The Flood, 2019, oil on canvas, 64.5” x 77”  Understanding the present does not just involve science and social policy but creative endeavor (Morton 2). The built environment stands as a visual timeline, but exploring development reflects a grander narrative. I explore the materials we use, through the act of painting, and question how we construct structure. I reflect on the history of human decision  39 making we wish to leave behind. A history of decision making is revealed in The Flood. The act of painting the water exposes the decision to cover up and to leave something behind.    While the renaming of our geological age reflects the Human and Nature relationship, the Anthropocene implies shared responsibility. I cannot speak about what the renaming of this period implies, without considering what it fails to acknowledge. Historian and critic, TJ Demos, supports the Capitalocene as a more accurate renaming, where colonial capitalism acknowledges a specific history and the scaffolding of an economic system that benefits few while exploiting vulnerable communities and contributing to the environmental crisis (Demos 54).  Philip Lepenies argues that the cognitive development of linear perspective was the beginning of the Anthropocene, referring to it as the ‘Anthroposeen’ because it began a “specific way of looking at the world from a privileged, human position with the confidence that what one saw was how things were” (591). Artists communicated that the visual was objective and measurable. During this period, the universe became one the human could not only grasp but contain, making the boundless, infinite a possibility of conquering, not by the artist but by humankind (Lepenies 592). In The Flood, most lines converge at a common vanishing point, but the paint reveals something that is not contained, this is not a space that projects solidified confidence. My work is a navigation towards the boundless possibilities. By leaving the substrate revealed or the raw canvas exposed, I admit that this is merely several steps taken to understand the world around me. Nothing is entirely covered up. Nothing is rendered with a realism to display truth. The marks and accidents left behind reveal a pursuit, through the exploration of paint on canvas.   40 Ecology: The Complexity of Being.  While the scientific approach has managed to answer many questions with precision and clarity, their description of the world alone cannot encapsulate the full spectrum of enquiry. There are no boundaries to contain what we perceive as separate, i.e., Man vs. Nature, ecology not only includes humans but all social construction. From economic stability to political motivation, it is ultimately restraining to create borders around fields of study in constant exchange, manipulating and motivating one another. This tendency stems from the scientific method, where the world is divided into smaller and smaller units to be studied and has served as a useful approach but this has also led to the realization that there are limits to reductive science. It “has given rise to the development of new models and methods that facilitate the study of systems across multiple scales of organization,” such as complexity science (Parrot 17). The paintings, Horse of a Different Colour and String Theory, display my transition in understanding and knowledge gained. While completing my degree, I move from painting matter in isolation to displaying a system of interconnection.   String Theory displays an open network of exchange. Mountains transform into fabric, and waves into concrete. The environment is fluid. I question the relevance of boundaries we place on other areas of life. Timothy Morton explains that the ecological thought “is a vast, sprawling mesh of interconnection without a definite center or edge. It is a radical intimacy, coexistence with other beings, sentient and otherwise” (8). A complete understanding of the sprawl can only be found in an amalgamation of different forms of research. We cannot consider components of a complex system in isolation, without considering all internal and external interactions. Why would we think that we can utilize one field of study to understand an  41 immense network that stabilizes itself through a vast aggregate of apparatuses, in constant flow, encompassing all that is in view, and extending beyond all human measure.  The forest serves as a model of interconnection that is not unique in its own right and displays the complexity within all systems of exchange. The forest is a complex system in constant communication. To better understand the growth of a tree, from how it adapts and gathers nutrients, researchers now know that they must look at the system as a whole, considering multiple interacting relationships within and extending from the system that the tree belongs to, and this includes human interaction. The internal and external interactions to consider are endless. No system can be understood by looking at its components; instead, examining the broader ecosystem is essential (18). Previous science studied systems in isolation, studying one area of the forest, creating human-made boundaries for that system. This limits our understanding of an interconnected system, in constant flow (Parrot 17) and communication. Professor of forest ecology, Suzanne Simard, explains that “trees are the foundation of forests.” The forest is behaving as a single organism, through an intelligence that is in constant communication through the trees’ roots extending out to an infinite number of biological pathways throughout the forest floor. Through a network that works in constant conversation, this model of communication is a model that can be found in other areas of life. Simard uses the example of the internet (Simard), displaying that there does not have to be visually perceivable matter for a connection to occur. Creating boundaries and looking at any timeline of life as a linear succession is reductive. It limits the capacity to see beyond the restrictions we are only placing on ourselves and, by extension, our inquiry methods.    42  7.1 Lindsay Kirker, A Horse of a Different Colour, June 2019, oil on canvas, 96” x 85”    In A Horse of a Different Colour, I established a method of inquiry by painting human-made structures and the environment as two separate and distinct things. The lone tree encapsulated by the orange road. The architectural plans remain unsolidified. On the right-hand side, an orange pole supports a concrete wall, but it is temporary. The wall can still come down or be further stabilized by completing the building. What is being constructed is a result of no previous experience. In no world is this how we would build, but it is how I construct my paintings, feeling my way through, and being open to what they have to teach me and what they will become.  43 Morton says Nature is not something that needs to be taken care of, and I am conscious of my desire to paint the idea of ‘Nature’ as sacred, not only separate but something that should be communicated by way of “ideal image” (6) because there is no dualism. Between subject and object, there is no here vs. there.  “The ecological thought is the thinking of interconnectedness” of all beings, “animal, vegetable, and mineral” (Morton 7). Ecology includes human presence, and in reframing my perspective, I cannot observe the world from any one place because there is no over there. We are here, we are in it, and the environment includes us (Morton 9). World ecology disassembles a historical narrative of Cartesian division between man and Nature (Moore 4), instead, understanding the synthesis of all living things, “seeks to move beyond dualisms, especially the Nature/Society binary” (Hartley 154). Natureculture becomes a concept that synthesizes Nature and culture to recognize their inseparability, fusing a socially and biophysically formed way of understanding. This concept not only interrogates previously formed thoughts of dualisms, i.e., Human vs. Nature but encourages the dissemblance of human-made boundaries placed on fields of study, such as the sciences and humanities (Malone 1). In producing any painting, a new conversation with the work takes place each time. I respond with the knowledge I have accumulated. I could not have painted String Theory without producing The Flood, or Mountain Dam, or seeing the Kiefer exhibition. Everything is a continuation of what came before. I allow the painting to unfold without planning what it will be, trusting that previous interactions and experience are influencing the work. To plan is to limit. Within my own environment, I cannot possibly begin to predict future scenarios or consider all interactions and conditions, and in planning, in that need for control, something is lost. This leaves no room for mistake or discovery, and for something to unfold that could have never been  44 foreseen. I work on several paintings at once so that they influence another but so that I can continuously be moving forward. When I do not know what steps to make on one, I move on to another. The decisions made on one will inherently inform another. Like any ecosystem, the studio is in constant exchange, and over multiple scales. The detailed spaces within one painting inform the other areas of the composition, whether displayed in the gallery or my studio, the paintings themselves become beings, influencing each other. My painting practice subsequently impacts how I observe the world around me. Building upon every idea that came before, all inquiry methods have shifted the paintings to become what they are now. A Horse of a Different Colour and String Theory, reveals a transition from distinct separation to coexistence. There are no boundaries in String theory, from concrete to water, there is a synthesis between all matter depicted. The paint itself is the visually perceivable matter that connects all forms. I embrace a mesh of interconnection and the challenge of balancing information. I let go of the restrictions I place on myself of what a landscape painting is supposed to be. Nothing acts in isolation. The scaffolding acts as a temporary support system and an aesthetic choice to guide the viewer's eye towards the next space to consider. The forms adapt to their environment, and in the process of painting, I adapt to changes in the composition to maintain balance and order. This was the first time I allowed for the material of paint to truly guide me. Materiality dictated where we were going to go. The marks became water, mountains, fabric, or concrete. There was a continuous flow weaving in and out of space, inwards and outwards and listening for the painting to tell me what to do next.   45  7.2 Lindsay Kirker, String Theory, March 2020, oil on canvas, 90” x 108”           46 Concluding Thoughts  I once texted my brother to ask him how subatomic particles were created. He wrote back that nothing is created, all matter in the Universe already exists, it is just changing form or being destroyed and turned into energy. I replied that if it turns into energy, nothing is ever being destroyed, in which he said, yes, but energy will eventually deplete, it does not last forever. When I wrote back that perhaps a human soul or consciousness could be energy, he replied, well, that’s not physics anymore, not even science, but definitely spiritualism. He didn’t think science would ever be able to account for what makes consciousness or the soul because it was not something that could be measured. My immediate thought was, that is the role of art. Art is the precise in-between, and the forgiving transition between facts and feelings. I paint because my words are inadequate to describe a continuous search for understanding and connection.  I have organized this paper as a succession of layers because my paintings are an assemblage of acts. It is difficult to summarize an artistic practice as though it were an isolated event. I do not leave one world when entering the studio space, only to enter another. My practice is an extension of all my experiences and interactions. I have struggled to sum up my work within the two-liner elevator pitch that is so often expected when explaining what you do. I do not always know what is unfolding before me. This paper has become an opportunity to examine my practice further. In the painting process, I let go of a plan, the need for control, and trust that what is important will come through on the canvas. When I allow for the construction on the canvas to unfold, this is when the image becomes more than I could have foreseen. Artist Tracey Emin explains that when she is painting, she does not want to paint something she  47 already knows. She wants to paint something she does not know. She looks to the painting to tell her something, "something that I need to know” (Emin).  Grief served as a reminder to reexamine my immediate surroundings. To be significantly dislocated within my own life, I think it is only natural I began to question my sense of place. My concern grew for how we are treating one another, all living species, and the Earth. The more considerable trauma became about the collective disconnect from Nature.  From individual experience to the collective mindset, our surroundings are a response. The city can be understood as a system of recognizable symbols that allow for deeper contemplation when integrated with Nature. Vast experience and interactions within a contained, manufactured, organized space encourage me to question why we attempt to impose a rigid structure on something so fluid. I impose structure within my paintings as a way to reinterpret. In rearranging the visual, it forces me to rearrange my perspective and think more critically and openly. The foundation for any exploration is that nothing can be considered in isolation; all internal and external interactions must be reflected. In An Introduction to Complexity Science, Dr. Lael Parrot suggests that “most natural and social systems (and also some technological ones) are complex systems” (18). It has been in learning about ecology, and the forest's complexity, which has encouraged me to reflect on these external systems that I intuitively know are connected. Cascading down from the world, the city, to the individual, if nothing can be considered in isolation, there is a constant exchange over multiple scales, “involving fluxes of matter, energy or information across their boundaries” (Parrot 18).  The Kluane Research Station had a significant impact on me, expanding my understanding of climate change and a reminder that I am a conscious participant. I feel a  48 constant pull to ask (in David Byrne’s voice), “how did we get here?” But the Anthropocene, by any other name, would still smell as sour. If anything, looking back on the trail of bread crumbs we have left behind, might serve as an opportunity to see where we did detour. To observe and analyze so that when those bread crumbs are extended out before us, become constellations to guide us. The painting practice serves as a reminder, to consistently move to the back wall of my studio to consider the entire landscape but only as a guide to move inward and pay attention. It remains necessary to continuously step back and observe in order to gain greater insight into the present.  My paintings are a preservation and conservation of place and response to personal observations. Everything is connected. The process reflects the question, the narrative, and the concern. Layers show a history, a struggle or an attempt to cover up that history, but human presence is felt, and the navigation towards understanding is left behind.              49 Work Cited Allen, M.R., O.P. Dube, W. Solecki, F. Aragón-Durand, W. Cramer, S. Humphreys, M. Kainuma, J. Kala, N. Mahowald, Y. Mulugetta, R. Perez, M. Wairiu, and K. Zickfeld, “2018: Framing and Context.” Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, H.-O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P.R. Shukla, A. Pirani, W. Moufouma-Okia, C. Péan, R. Pidcock, S. Connors, J.B.R. Matthews, Y. Chen, X. Zhou, M.I. Gomis, E. Lonnoy, T. Maycock, M. Tignor, and T. Waterfield (eds.)]. In Press. Web. 02 June 2020.  “Anselm Kiefer.” Gagosian. 2020. Web. 02 June 2020.  < >. “Anselm Kiefer Interview: Art is Spiritual.” YouTube.  Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2010. Published 20 Jan 2015. Web. 7 March 2020. “Art in the Anthropocene: Interview with the Artists.” Baichwal, Jennifer; Burtynsky, Edward Pencier, Nicholas. Episode 01. Art Gallery of Ontario. Soundcloud. 18 Sept. 2018. Web. 04 Nov. 2019. Blazeski, Goran. “The Saint Sebastian Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro has little in common with traditional church architecture, and is built in the style of an ancient Mayan pyramid.” The Vintage News. 25 Oct. 2016. Web. 31 July 2020.  Botton, Alain d. The Architecture of Happiness. New York: Random House, Inc. 2006. Print.  50 Byrne, David. Once in a Lifetime lyric. Warner. Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group. Web. 5 April 2019.  “Climate Change is a Challenge for artists.” The Economist. The Economist Group limited. London. 21 Sept. 2019. Web. 04 June 2020.  Corbusier, Le, and Frederick Etchells. The City of Tomorrow and its Planning. Dover Publications, 2013. Print.  Dailey, Meghan. “Julie Mehretu.” Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting. Phaidon Press Limited. London. 2002: Pages 214-215. Print.  Demos, T. J. Against the Anthropocene: Visual Culture and Environment Today. Sternberg Press, Berlin, 2017. Print.  Eliasson, Olafur. “Ice Watch.” 2015. Web. 04 June 2020. <> Emin, Tracey. “Tracey Emin and Jeremy Strick. An Insane Desire for You.” YouTube. Art Projects Ibiza. 10 July 2019. Web. 25 June 2020.   Evershed, Nick. “Carbon countdown clock: how much of the world’s carbon budget have we spent?” Global Warming. The Guardian. 19 Jan. 2017. Web. 04 June 2020.  Hamilton, Clive. Defiant Earth: The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene. Polity Press, Cambridge, MA. 2017. Print.  Harris, Sam. Waking Up. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. New York, N.Y, 2014. Print.  Hartley, Daniel. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, and the Problem of Culture.” Edited by Jason W. Moore. Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crises of Capitalism. Oakland, CA. PM Press, 2016. Print.   51 Heylighen, Francis. “Complexity and Self-organization.” Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences. Free University of Brussels, Krijgskundestr. Edited by Marcia J. Bates and Mary Niles Maack (Taylor & Francis, 2008). Web. 10 May 2020. Hornby, Louise. “Appropriating the Weather: Olafur Eliasson and Climate Control.” Environmental Humanities. Vol. 9. 01 May 2017: Pages 60-83. Web. 03 June 2020. Jackson, M. "Glaciers and Climate Change: Narratives of Ruined Futures." Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change. Vol. 6, no. 5. 2015: Pages 479-492. Web 03 June 2020. Jeffery, Jocelyn. “The Abstract Geometric World of Tim Kent.” The Huffington Post. December 6, 2017. Web 02 June 2020.   Kaku, Michio. Introduction to Superstrings and M-Theory. Graduate Texts in Contemporary Physics. Springer, New York, NY. 1999. Web. 13 June 2020.  Kent, Tim. “Tim Kent: Dark Pools and Data Lakes.” Sept. 2018. Vimeo. Web. 02 June 2020. Kent, Tim. The Somnambulist. Data Lake. Tim Kent Studio. 2020. Accessed 28 August 2020. Kiefer, Anselm. “Anselm Kiefer Panel discussion. White Cube.” YouTube. White Cube Bermondsey. 23 Jan. 2020. Web. 05 June 2020. Klein, Naomi. This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. the Climate. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2014. Print.  Lepenies, Philipp. “The Anthroposeen: The Invention of Linear Perspective as a Decisive Moment in the Emergence of a Geological Age of Mankind.” European Review. Chichester, England. Vol. 26, no. 4. 2018: Pages 583-599. Web. 01 Aug. 2020.   52 Lovelock, J. E. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1995. Print. Malone, Nicholas., Ovenden, Kathryn. “Natureculture.” The International Encyclopedia of Primatology. The University of Auckland New Zealand. 2017. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Web. 21 July 2020.   Meyer, C. "The Greening of the Concrete Industry." Cement and Concrete Composites. Vol. 31, no. 8. 2009: Pages 601-605. Web. 01 Aug 2020.  Monroe, Rob. “Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere Hits Record High Monthly Average.” Scripps Institution of Oceanography. May 2, 2018. Web. 6 Oct. 2019. Moore, Jason W. Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crises of Capitalism. PM Press. Oakland, CA. PM Press, 2016. Print.  Morris, Jeffrey. “Environmental Costs and Externalities.” The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Sound Resource Management Group, Inc. 17 December 2013. Web. 01 Aug. 2020.  Morton, Timothy, and EBSCOhost. The Ecological Thought. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2010. Print.   “Official Community Plan.” City of Kelowna. n.d. Web. 01 Aug. 2020. <> Parrott, Lael., Lange, Holger., “An Introduction to Complexity Science." Managing Forests as Complex Adaptive Systems: Building Resilience to the Challenge of Global Change. Edited by C. Messier, K.J. Puettmann, K.D. Coates. Routledge, 2013. Pages 17-39. Web. 01 Aug. 2020.   53 Rosenblum, Robert. Modern Painting and the Northern Romantic Tradition: Friedrich to Rothko. Harper & Row, NY, 1975. Print.  Scolari, Massimo. Oblique Drawing: A History of Anti-Perspective. MIT Press, London, England; Cambridge, MA, 2012. Print.  Shugar, D., Clague, J., Best, J. et al. “River piracy and drainage basin reorganization led by climate-driven glacier retreat.” Nature Geoscience. Vol. 10, no. 5. 17 April 2017: Pages 370–375. Web. 5 May 2020.  Simard, Suzanne. “How Trees talk to each other.” TED. YouTube. 30 Aug. 2016. Web. 7 March 2020.   Singer, Peter, and Helga Kuhse. Unsanctifying Human Life: Essays on Ethics. Blackwell, Oxford; Malden, MA, 2002. Print.  Speck, Jeff. Walkable City Rules: 101 Steps to Making Better Places. Island Press/Center for Resource Economics. Washington, DC, 2018. Web. 27 April 2020.  Spicer, Emily. “Anselm Kiefer: Walhalla.” Studio International. 06 Dec 2016. Web. 02 June 2020.   Superstrings, Runes, The Norns, Gordian Knot. Overview. White Cube Bermondsey. Online resource. Web. 05 June 2020.  “Systems.” 28 Oct. 2009. Art21. Art in the Twenty-First Century, Season 5. Web. 7 March 2020. Wallace-Wells, David. The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after Warming. New York: Tim Duggan Books, 2019. Print.  Wagner, Virginia. “The Matrix: Tim Kent at Slag Gallery.” Artcritical. 4 Oct. 2018. Web. 22 Nov. 2018.  Walhalla. Overview. White Cube Bermondsey. Online resource. Web. 05 June 2020.  54 Wiman, Christian. My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York. 2013. Print.  Van der Kolk, Bessel A. The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma. Allen Lane, London, 2014. Print.   Vidler, Anthony. "Bodies in space/subjects in the City: Psychopathologies of Modern Urbanism." Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. Vol. 5, no. 3. 1993, pp. 31. Web. 01 Aug. 2020.                


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