It’s hard to trace where this fascination come obsession really started for me; from my early childhood I’ve been a fan of MC Escher and the way he conveys mathematical concepts through highly precise and ultimately unforgiving mediums such as lithography. As I’ve grown older and subsequently geekier I’ve come to understand more of the ideas that underlie MC Eschers work and meanwhile playing with my own process oriented art including the ever evolving window art Ive been doing, which while is nowhere near the same caliber it still really requires you to plan things out so you don’t make a royal mess of things.

Line art study for the window

Orcas – window with spraypaint – for photos detailing the process click the photo

Since I’ve been using line art for my windows, lately I’ve been really taken with woodblock cuts, particularly the late 18th century Flammarion woodblock which depicts a man poking his head through the sky to see the inner workings of the universe (as depicted by the wheel within the wheel)

the caption in french stating “A missionary of the Middle Ages tells that he had found the point where the sky and the Earth touched…”

As I have a shared love for this print with my friend/ music partner Rubin I decided I would remix / redraw this piece to paint on a window and subsequently like any true nerd would, decided to research the subject and see what else was out there. Of course there is the piece that Rubin first sent to me – Tuefels Dudelsack which is an amazingly executed, albiet twisted, woodcut of a furry owly demon playing a human head as a bagpipe. I’ve only managed to discover a few pieces of information about this woodcut (though I plan on digging deeper when time allows) The name translates in german to Devils Bagpipe, and it is a satirical cartoon depicting the devil playing a bagpipe made of Martin Luthers head.

A few other favorites include these three – Ive chosen to ommit “The sale of indulgences” woodcut because I fear I would want to write a whole post on that alone and end up sidetracked… but if you are the sort that is familiar with the Catholic church selling indulgences thereby bringing the printing press to popularity I would recommend check the link out.

So we recently went to the MC Escher exibit when it was here in Portland and what I loved most about it was the chronological ordering of his work and through the years you could see him work with various media and really refine his craft. I realized how many years he worked to get it down to the razor sharp cleanliness we’ve all come to know. There were also a number of studies which were my favorite part of his work as it shows the steps involved and thereby makes the whole thing more human and inspiring. While gaurds were looking the other way I had to sneak this photo of a study of his geometric progression study for angels and demons.

Additionally I checked out which of his pieces might translate into a nice window painting to adorn my house and at first  thought the ants & mobius strip piece would translate nicely though would be an insane amount of work as there are soooooooo many lines.

If i ever feel up for it theres always the final piece MC Escher did before parting our mortal realm – Snakes which is a three color lithograph – which was highly efficient in that it only created blocks for 1/3 of the image and rotated them to create the whole thing. If only I could do the same for my process. I plan to someday paint this onto a circular piece of glass which I will then use as a table.

Lastly while doing this research I stumbled upon this 3d representation of Snakes which is really cool and reminds me of playing with xenodream.

Snakes from Cristóbal Vila on Vimeo.


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