ne afternoon on Avenue 'A', in an autumn grayed not only by Neal's death (Jack's was yet to come within weeks) but a dismal New York summer, wet or overcast through all September, I passed another of those sidewalk carts left over from the days of Avenue 'C', this one with chandelier prisms on sale for twenty-five cents each. I invested in eight, and when I got home, hung them with fine gauge wire in my windows.
Next morning I awoke to the first truly sunny day for months, my aluminum foil walls covered with spectra from the prisms in the new morning sunlight. As I lay abed, facing the windows, I could see the sun itself in each, changing color as it moved through the various thicknesses of the crystal, and more fleetingly as the angle of the prism changed in the breeze. I returned to the shop and bought twenty more. Light filled that winter with color.
As I began work on the canvasses I'd prepared, I picked up where my work had left off in my last studio. As that first drawing unfolded from my hand, poetry began to grow outward, transforming the marks from a wadded rag I'd used staining the canvas, into mountain ranges, lotus petals, particularly the thousand-petalled one, and I realized I'd finally absorbed the experience of psychotropic drugs seven years before.
How to preserve the openness of a drawing when it is weighed down with saturated color? The prisms suggested a way into transparency, and as I began to work the drawing with the natural values of each hue of that palette, realized I could make a new drawing with each edge of a color as I applied it. Each shape became its own enclosed reference to an aspect of the material developing before my eyes. The paintings are not about the psychedelic experience so much as they record perceptions while using color to make painting, itself, real. Of finding a way to materialize that experience, and finally speak to the process of it, and matter's, construction.
I remembered being transparent, mesmerized by the shimmering of light being broken into color by irregular surfaces, particularly the scales of the two boa constrictors sharing the room with me on my first acid trip. Now, I could see how a large animal like man, as an aggregate of electro-magnetic fields, could easily and truly experience transparency. When the boson baggage of the electron soup is seen as it truly is, travelling through our 'selves', those invisible fields of force that form us, it pauses momentarily in that field of magnetism and then is pushed out again into diffuse invisibility. While in the field, the particles, clear as glass or water, are deformed, their collisions pressing one another into prismatic shapes, forms, diffracting light and thereby rendering the colors of light passing through them, visible to the eye. And Voila! The form of the field can be seen! We call it matter. Then I remembered feeling the air (or was it the ether) of the room pass through me, just as any magnetic field, or aggregate, must experience existence in Post-Einsteinian space and time, even as theoretical strings containing those six other 'rolled-up' dimensions must enclose define or delineate some space within the vibrations which characterize them.