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time bender eye

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Date Minted:  April 18, 2020

Artist Description: ..always moving forward but never at the same speed..  

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Be not immediately distracted by the contrast of color and movement. Yes, see them and appreciate them, but know that this is not all artist Toxsam has imbued within his work, the mesmerizing time bender eye, an exercise, yes in contrast, in line, but more than anything in perception. It is not mere coincidence that to confront a piece like time bender eye, we are tasked with staring into the perceiving device of another. Cosmic, floating, highly-textured, it espies us in our subjective, ever-changing state in just the same way we perceive it in it’s. This piece loops on and on, three strands of escalator-steps rising and falling into eternity, the same pattern, the same repetitions. And yet, looking at it twice produces two different results. A third fresh focus illuminates new patterns in the piece. Time bender eye is ever-changing, but asks us to discern whether that’s the result of something within the piece itself, or whether nothing can ever be seen the same way twice.

It’s probably easiest to begin describing this piece where it is singularly static. In the very center of the piece —positioned just slightly above the actual center point— a winged eye sits unmoving like a mandala. Its iris is completely black, as black as the background of the piece, a spatial void bereft, mostly, of color and object. The outline of the eye glows a phantom white. As does its pupil, a perfect circle affixed to its upper eyelid, but one composed of many squished shapes, elongated ovals and strands of thick white. It’s the only place in the piece where we find such shapes, and such defined edges. The rest of the piece around the pupil moves; even the listless glowing outline of the eye seems to twinkle at its edges like a faraway star. But the pupil, and the hundred-or-so shapes contained within it, maintain stillness. I find myself returning to this pupil as the object of my attention, even though the more engrossing aspect of the piece is in the movement of the objects outside the eye. These are three…well…I’m not exactly sure what you’d call them. Ladders, in a sense, if the spokes of a ladder could move. Escalators if they were flattened. An optical illusion is probably most apt, where curving lines bisected with perpendicular lines commingle to create the sensation of downward movement. We feel, looking at the central staircase (let’s just call them staircases, shall we?) that we are stepping down towards the eye, that we are forever moving towards it, the irony being that, of course, we never get any closer or further away, and the eye itself betrays no movement. On the two edges of the piece, left and right, similar staircases revolve, curving off away from the frame, as if they entrance other perceptions down towards other eyes. But though there may be many like it, this eye is ours, and try as we might to descend to its level, we are kept at a distance.                 

Notice the changing colors within the lines themselves. From faraway, they appear solidly white. As they come closer to us, they split into a series of rainbow hues, literally reflecting the ROYGBIV composition of a rainbow. The effect takes place all the way on the other edge of the piece too. As the stairway spokes enter the frame, they possess this same rainbow quality, though the colors coalesce into solidified white bands as they pass through the crucible of the eye. At beginning and outset, there is color, although the eye inflects its own pale coloration onto all that pass around it.

 A piece titled time bender eye certainly elicits cosmic connotations from its subject matter. And since the composition is subtly speckled by dots of white and elongated UV light, it seems clear that Toxsam has placed us, intentionally or not, in some space-like vacuum, speckled with stars, the artist clearly interested in exploring more high-minded ideals.

Identifying those ideals is trickier however. Abstraction and philosophy do not a perfect match make. The former is obviously based upon ambiguity. The latter requires specificity, and in the liminal space between the two, all we can do is cling onto symbols. Fortunately, we have a pretty powerful one in the floating eye and another in the endlessly rotating staircase, which, since we see it bending in so many places, perhaps we can perceive as a wheel. Should that be the case, we have two interacting bits of Eastern philosophical imagery, the vaunted third eye married to the endless wheel of birth-and-rebirth, the cycle known as samsara which enlightenment theoretically puts an end to. There is no force strong enough within the frame to put an end to this endlessly-turning wheel. And the third eye which sits amidst it is clearly not our eyes, but the essence of that third eye, the theoretical ability to see the wheel for what it is: exhausting, endless, full of suffering, and  ultimately unnecessary. The question becomes not what are we seeing, necessarily, but what is the eye seeing? Is it capable of seeing the truth of the realm it exists in? Are we assuming it is gifted with enlightenment simply because of its location? Or perhaps that’s an assertion built on its singular ability to sit still amidst a cycle (in every sense of the word) that proves otherwise unceasing?

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