Mapmaker Aaron Owens Shares Path

Art Speak

Oui asked Aaron to write about the current state of his artwork and what it means. This is his un-edited writing.

The purpose seems to be to open myself up, share myself through taste. The things I like, the things I am attracted to say something about me in inexpressible ways. And that’s enough. I struggle with tying it all together and constructing a narrative meant to define and categorize and make money. What I share is what I am attracted too and that’s enough. The narrative is me.

But what am I attracted too? Themes develop from the subconscious and include transitional landscapes, cultural totems, geometric pattern, and light and shadow. I’m attracted to these things as clues to the understanding of place. Pulled from my geographic background and spit back up as art the pictures are a result of curiosity and an addiction to the imaginative joy of thinking into a still image life and history and substance of my own making. There is also the attraction of organization, the ability to make and recognize pattern both real and imagined, to see through objects into light and color and shadow, is to linger inside the primal. It is natural and fun and sparks a way of seeing the world beyond judgement and history. It’s basic, it’s what we are always seeing before the filters of memory transform.

There is video in there too and some audio but it all stems from the picture making which stems from my being out in the world. My experience interacting with and traversing the landscape. The visual work I share is a memoir of clues. There is no other message of caution or proselytizing, no great conversation with dead artists. The photos are personal, snapshots of a world, not part of a larger project outside of myself as a project.

What do I see when I look at a photo I have taken? It’s memory mostly but sometimes I also see the layers underneath the landscape. These are the clues of inhabitants, of a unique ecosystem limited in time and place, to the here and now or the there and then. It is a scene telling a timeline with all the story there if you take the time to look close enough. Or not, sometimes it’s just a picture of a pretty fire hydrant.

What’s next? More of the same. I hope it’s very different. There are impulses in me that push towards the subdued, the small and the calm. I find myself less interested in the large and the high definition that obscures through technology and novelty and makes honest communication more difficult to discern. Enough noise is being made to allow for a pocket of quiet within the din. So maybe I fold inward and whittle away, offering up small art to people I care about, the people who might actually stand a chance at seeing it for what it is or what I want it to be, an invitation where my words leave off.

Aaron Owens (b. 1986) is a cartographer making art from marginal landscapes that intersect human and natural forms. His work explores themes of surveillance, human versus nature and holistic approaches to modern ecology.

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