I awake to the chill that seeps through my window. It caresses my bare shoulders and arms. My fingers automatically curl into my palm, and fist the sheets that I drag over my head. I take one small peek at the clock to find that I have five more minutes to sleep. Relief washes over me. I begin psyching myself up, to get up. My mind calculates the various task of making the bed, the coffee, getting dressed, and brushing my teeth. Debating over which order they should be performed in. Should I make the bed before the coffee? I’m up in my room now, but if I put the coffee machine on first, will it be ready to drink by the time I come back down? I’ll brush my teeth last, but will brushing my teeth after coffee affect its flavor? It better taste good, and its color right when the creamer is mixed in. Like melted caramel, or rich butterscotch. Mmmmm. I hate it when there is too much or too little poured in. Cream can turn the roast’s dark richness to a watery white, cooling it to a lukewarm. Too little cream creates a shit brown. A bitter taste followed by acid reflux. God only knows how much I need a good caffeine kick today!
Between 1968 and 1970, artist Sol LeWitt created four “Drawings Series,” which presented different combinations of the basic geometric elements that he drew directly on the gallery walls. In each series he applied a different system of change to each of twenty-four possible combinations of a square divided into four equal parts, each containing one of the four basic types of lines LeWitt used (vertical, horizontal, diagonal left, and diagonal right). The result is four possible permutations for each of the twenty-four original units. The system used in Drawings Series I is what LeWitt termed ‘Rotation,’ Drawings Series II uses a system termed ‘Mirror,’ Drawings Series III uses ‘Cross & Reverse Mirror,’ and Drawings Series IV uses ‘Cross Reverse.’
The smallest squares are exploring unique arrangements within the context of the larger ones that surround them. However they are limited. They can only move within the structure in which they are embedded. The larger squares contain them, as the largest contains the whole, while the wall contains the drawing itself. That’s where it ends. There is no growth beyond those white rigid boundaries of the square.
Man created the perfect square for everyone to squeeze into. Symmetry is beautiful. There is no denying it. We are comforted by geometry because by looking at it from one side we know exactly what to expect from the other. Vision is clear, and thinking easy. Too easy? This is because the palette is limited and there are no surprises.
Like the drawing, we are safe and comfortable in our boxes. Once where in we don’t want to come out of, and it’s not because we are happy here. We sometimes mistake being content with being happy. In the limited space we exercise our control. The more you get the more you want. It’s a safe, predictable, and a completely miserable way of living. You can’t stop. You’re afraid of living so there is a constant tension, constant question, a challenge, a debate in your head that plays again and again like a young annoying pop singer that’s on every radio station you tune into. That stresses you the FUCK OUT! You begin to distrust yourself, so it comes to a point where there is nothing you can measure yourself against. Perfection is a flimsy fabrication. An illusion of the ideal reality. But if perfection is the perfect scale to measure against and it is nonexistent, what then?
Twenty-four possible combinations of a square divided into four equal parts, each containing one of the four basic types of lines. Perhaps numbers is our answer. Their measurements are even more exact. So now you can feed your cravings for control and satisfy them to the ultimate degree. Although, it won’t last forever. Cravings return. Like a hunger for late night chocolate, or leftover lasagna in red gravy. Reality is so shattered. COLLAPSE. DESTROY. BREAK DOWN. Start again. Move back to the organic and asymmetrical. Plan in vague thoughts and leave the rest to chance. Sometimes the subconscious can manifest what the conscious could never imagine.
We all try to organized and plan our lives to some degree. Whether its as big as as to where your life is headed, to how you are going to get there, to the good cup of coffee that gets you going. These designs, however, are artificial. Perhaps if we allow the subconscious to function more than the conscious, take a risk, loose control, or just simply allow that drop more or drop less of creamer in our coffee. Only when we find that balance will we find ourselves awed by the art of life.
I then wrap my little black hoodie over my shoulders. Its shade faded to a dark charcoal. Similar to the graphite boxes. I feel the soft velvet rub against my flesh. I stand on the edge of the subway platform as the “A” train pulls up. The door opens, and I step inside. Taking my usual seat where I am boxed between two. I sip my coffee, and am surprised by the silkiness of….not caramel, butterscotch, milk white, or shit, but…mmmmm…hazelnut! My palm cups the thermos, while the thermos cups my liquid. It empties its heat into me, and my oxygen into it. We continue the dance as we bask in our chaotic splendor of a disorganized reality.
[Anne Frances Clinton is a Fine Arts major, class of 2014.]