The words "Photonucleic Art" popped into my head a couple weeks ago, while staring at the latest place pigments and pixels have been leading me. But I didn't really think about what the heck Photonucleic Art was going to turn out to be until yesterday, Sunday, June 25, 1995, an exceptionally warm sunny summer day on Planet California. I was sitting in my greenhouse, iced java in hand, looking at the way the paintings had accumulated over the years. I looked at the next place a painting would go if I knew what to paint, a blank spot of support beam that lined up with "Ourobouric Acid" and "Deoxyphotonucleic Acid."

In a way that I had never experienced before, an image popped into my head as soon as I looked at the blank spot on the beam and wondered what came next: A tree with snakes as roots and braided bodies as the trunk, and leafy, flowering, unfurling tail branches above flashed right out at me. Or in at me. You know those stereo ads that have now become a visual cliché, of the guy sitting in his chair, windblown by the soundz coming out of his stereo? That's how it felt when the image came to me. It was like a new card from a Tarot deck nobody had ever seen before. I could turn the page of some Bollingen Foundation tome on Jungian theory, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it. I guess people will now e-mail cool anecdotes about snaketrees in history. There are probably snaketrees on the Web.

A tree with snakes as roots and braided bodies as the trunk, and leafy, flowering, unfurling tail branches above flashed right out at me.

The book. 33K .gif
So I grabbed the little sketchbook I kept out where I paint. For some reason, I've been miserly about what I put in this little book. The earliest entries are ten years old. I left the greenhouse, between the rows of corn, now waist high. Corn is a tool, but that's another story. I sat on the lawn, under the plum tree Brenda Laurel gave me for housewarming ten years ago, one bough suddenly leaning all the way to the ground with the weight of big fat hot purple chin-juice-dripping plums, barefoot, my big toe in direct contact with the root of the tree, and the sketch jumped out of me onto the page in about four hot Web seconds.
Of course, the next thing to do was to run in the house and grab my QuickTake, run back out, hold the notebook in one hand against the rosebush, and look through the viewfinder from as far away as I can get without wrenching my back. So this darn thing isn't even pigment yet. I barely got finished sketching it before I was tweaking pixels. It was a hot day. Photonucleic. For a long time, I sat on the lawn and tweaked. Then it got dark. It was midnight before I finished tweaking it to the soundz of "Qawwali: The Vocal Art of the Sufis [1]" (highly recommended). I'm disappearing into the virtual world and sitting on the lawn. I surrender to the words and images. I choose to call it art. The medium is just the medium. It's the lure of walking upstairs, docking in, logging on, uploading, xmodem to your visual cortex, sitting somewhere else in the world, that draws me in. Even though I know it's just a toy, a beautiful, distracting, toy, that gives the illusion of power, the way we can pass these words and images to each other does have a strong attraction. Where can we go with it?

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