CALEB WEINTRAUB: Spooky Action at a Distance
Spooky Action at a Distance, 2013
pigment print on Sunset Velvet Archival Paper, unique print
69 x 76 inches
Grandparents like to tell stories about the olden days. People spend whole lives, whole fortunes trying to bring back the past. What if, in the not so distant future, our daily experience were so altered that we could not remember the way things were, not at all. The present would then be the past and the past would be something precious, something nearly impossible to revive but not entirely impossible to imagine. This is the starting point for this body of work.
These are glimpses into worlds that exist either in real space or not, in which people have done their best to reconstruct what it might have been like to have a home, to walk through a forest, to bathe in an ocean. This is a time when the virtual has supplanted the real and the real is the stuff of imagination. Were trees brown or white or had they a pattern? Where were the doors to the places called homes? If clouds were real, could they be turned on and off? Have snakes and people always been equal?
Some time in the 1930s Albert Einstein coined the term “spooky action at a distance” when dismissing a paradox of quantum mechanics that seemed to measure identical behaviors in vastly separated particles. In an age of the virtual, it is in fact plausible that an iteration of a particle, a pattern, even a person could occur in multiple “places” at once. If one moves, the other moves, if one fails, the other fails. Partly because this is in fact a method I use in the creation of the works, and partly because the term is suggestive and playfully disturbing, I thought it fitting for this body of work.
There are a wide range of artistic and cultural influences at play here ranging from Henri Rousseau to Frederick Church, to the neoclassicists and on to movie posters, science fiction art, and video games aesthetics. My favorite experience in viewing and making art is existing in a state of uncertainty; Oftentimes, disciplines such as gaming and science fiction illustration are designed to lend clarification, the experience of ambiguity is not usually part of the equation. So in a fantasy illustration a dragon may be seen at the very moment it is being slain by the hero, in a video game the objective to free the prisoners may be a clear and constant theme, or on a sci-fi book cover, the particular mechanical details of an imagined invention or vehicle may be the obvious intended object of interest. For these prints, I have drawn influence from many of these types of sources, but have sought to distill them in such a way as to retain the kind of ambiguity I crave in my work. I mean to capture moments of humanity, moments of limbo, to present people as they are deciding something, just before or just after a personal triumph or tragedy. In this way I see these works as akin to history painting, allegorical painting, and genre painting, though the genre or the moment of history they may capture be entirely virtual.