Between the visual and the olfactive.

When I first started ripping out pages from motel-room Gideon’s Bibles and old copies of Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams to make abstract collage, before making the first tear I would smell each book. Each whiff revealed a different identity, a different past.

Mit. Collage on canvas board on masonite, artist's frame. Chris Rusak, 2011.
Collage on canvas board on masonite, artist’s frame.

When I recall my beginning awareness of a scented world, I think of the particular stale beer breath of my father’s late-night arrivals home, a moment which evoked a certain kind of recoil in a little boy who wouldn’t fully understand that repulsive odor of addiction until many years later when it rolled off his own breath and unsettlingly slithered back into his own nostrils.

That decades later I would first huff the identities of books before I would start destroying them for the construction of art, now, in hindsight, makes sense.

When I think of approaching perfumery as art, I invariably think of a formative experience I had in my youth — the moment when I realized I must make things — seeing for the first time John Baldessari’s Solving Each Problem as it Arises (1966-68), part of his National City series of paintings.

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¶ 2018·01·17
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Creativity in a time of constructed chaos.

How does one jumpstart a stalled studio practice, or renew a discipline of creativity, or revive a blog, refresh a website, and be committed to one’s vision and remain productive in a time of astonishing, distracting political chaos?

In the face of what feels like a capitalist push toward American neo-fascism, and after a serious, personally fallow period of depressed creativity and post-academic burnout, I feel like my only answer is to actively choose to make work as my form of resistance. I feel that self-discipline and resolve is the only plentiful tonic. I feel that now is a time to innovate and adapt, to rethink how one can work and thrive creatively in our present and forthcoming economy, and to surmount the many barriers we face, ideological and political, however one can. I feel that art and small-scale creative sectors must be an antidote to mass-production and mass-consumption, must retrieve importance from the complacency of corporate commodification, and restore excitement for the unusual, the intricate, the intimate, and the sensual.

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¶ 2017·12·20
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Kierkegaard, religion, and existentialism.

Sunrise. A woman and a man awake. Their eyes crackle open to the outside world and freedom faces each with the day’s first challenge. Burning like the hot sun, this empty day stands before them and demands recognition, having returned once again with freedom’s unworn morning salutation, a vehement inquiry, “what now?”

To acknowledge one’s mortality is to bear the burden of assured finitude — an unknowable end, an unavoidable certainty, both of which habitually offer nothing but disquiet and enigma; but, to acknowledge one’s free nature is to confront an existence containing unfailing infinitude — the unavoidable certainty that unknowable ends await us, as we are compelled, simply by being, to decide each moment of our own fate. Bound by these facts, which incites the harsher terror: accountability for a repercussive future, which results from answering the day’s “what now”; or, the knowledge that every action, no matter its effort, cannot stave off our grandest threat? In questioning the purpose, then, of existence, some individuals may see the day’s warming sunrise and believe it need be nothing more than what it is, another moment enjoyed or ignored in another day — inherently meaningless. For others, the shelter of religion provides solace from the terror of their existential bind as it supplants divinity for uncertainty, moral doctrine for individual responsibility, and eternal salvation for encroaching annihilation. One individual who shied away from the simple mechanics of sunshine and instead found existential warmth underneath tenets of divinity was the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.

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¶ 2017·03·11
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Donald Trump’s Fight to Make America Great Again

Because the amplitude and frequency of an intentionally divisive and enraging discourse, one hinged clearly on fascist ideologies, has become so loud, I feel I can no longer sit silent.

There has been much talk about our ostensible President-Elect’s similarity to hideous leaders from the past who employed the same style, tone, and types of loose logic his various aphorisms and press releases embrace, digestibly fashioned as part of an attempt to rise to a dangerous level of power.

These various floating theories are all quite believable. There are admissions on the record that Donald Trump owns and reads the writing of Adolf Hitler, stated by both his ex-wife and a close friend. There are scholars who note the similarities.

But, we have had little visual analysis of the two men and their words united.

In the Internet Age, visual analysis is paramount to understanding the present and investigating how the ethernet cables of history connect into contemporary culture. Especially since the Presidential campaigning is now, more than ever, a visual barrage of memes, hot takes, and logo-emblazoned soundbites experienced as a visual object of communication and persuasion, there is much to be said about a supposition — an imagining — of history and today’s phenomena colliding in one form.

Today, as a cadre of the mainstream media — nay, a free press’s heavily spotlit faces meet with Mr. Trump in a private, off-the-record meeting, I have composed a pamphlet which presents a hypothetical rendering of history and hysteria colliding.

This pamphlet employs no original content other than direct quotes from Donald Trump and Adolph Hitler, all readily available in the furor of the public sphere.

It is presently available as a PDF and I am releasing this artwork into the public domain.


¶ 2016·11·21
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We are witnessing a distinct period in America, one when social media effortlessly ushers to the national surface an immediate awareness of all that can be wrong with us.

Between the ascendent rapture of nationalistic racism coloring trepidatious political theater, and the actual, applied racism administered by myriad overparamilitarized local governments, and the rhythmically induced torpor of celebrity drivel, each interbuttressed with consequent communal outrage and adulation, the Internet and society feel rotted.

Vagary has become so normalized, precipitated into a reactionary amphetamine on which rapid-fire events flood a visual consciousness with gore, absurdity. What next? What possibly next?

Everything lately feels very, very episodic. Beyond soap opera.

Almost beyond control.

As artists, we must question our operations herein with the Internet social medium.

We must question, in general, whether screaming into the digital abyss actually harms us more than the continued emitted assaults toward which we can digivocally descend.

Do we simply recycle vitriol with each bump? Do we just help turn up the heat when it’s already sweltering?

Though we do find connection and comfort and maybe even revelation through these pipes, we must, perhaps, move ourselves away from these lightboxes, even if just a bit farther, abandon unconscious efforts for culling mentions and being liked. Amend our exposure. Step back rather than in.

And certainly it would help if we subvert.

¶ 2016·08·02