2.14 - Painting 2011
2.03 - Deliverance

Song of Substance - Heads and Horns

During the development of Song of Substance, I began using gouache for its fluid working properties, which extended the dialogue I might have with the content of an image. Gouache has a chalky texture once it dries. Those qualities led me to respond with drawn marks over the top, marks which are dry and powdery. That materiality related to bone, which informed the content of the imagery.



I was interested in how humans give or receive information from the environment—whether by looking at something, they are ‘spitting vision’ at it or they are taking it in and receiving it like a radio transmission.

Some work is like a conversation between two heads—magicians talking, with rocks or crystals forming inside their minds.


Some have vision coming out of the eyes, penetrating a field of matter. Sometimes this vision is imagined as huge arms, sometimes as heavy cable or telegraph wire connecting the heads.



Some works evoke a type of abrasion between two heads. These relate to drawings I had made some years before, based on the topography of my own head. I would touch my skull and translate the information, which I felt but could not see. I was converting the three-dimensional information from the top of my skull into works that were like earth forms or continental plates.



Producing these drawings became like an incantation or spell. The contour studies of my head became symbolic ‘winged’ forms through which passes an exchange of communication—subconscious longings for distant lands or other heads. I imagined this transmission was like a physical ‘thing’; a staff that a magician might pick up and hold.

The following works are very large-scale woodcuts, incorporating painted and drawn marks. In these images, emanations from the substance of the head were described as antler-like forms.


Observing this growth in nature, I became intrigued by the way a horn is anchored within the head and extends into the world. I imagined that we may all have horns, and their elaborate formations describe the particular passage of our thoughts into space.

The gigantic presence of a beast’s head in the lower part of the following image is like a fragment of the ground itself, with subterranean turmoil giving rise to wondrous growths.

In the image below, a magician grows magnificent antennae from his weeping, muddy head. His horns are telephones that create a closed circuit of communication, broadcasting his consciousness to itself. This is a device that seems to have a self-sustaining function, which relates to Art Battery and Transmigratory Passage of the Death Wish.




















Explore this theme

1. Introduction

2. Heads and Horns (You Are Here)

3. The Effigy of Image

4. Transmigratory Passage of the Death Wish

5. Dealing the Death of Me