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Shannon Bickford

Facts Are Fuzzy Things

Facts are often fuzzy things, dependent as they are on the means we have to view them.  We see the world as fact full and draw the line between fact and opinion outside of ourselves.  Many disagree on where that line should be drawn.  You would think that such disagreement would provide us with a clue that maybe that line between fact and opinion lies not outside, but too often inside ourselves; and is as flexible as a snake wiggling and whipping across a rock.  A fact viewed is seldom considered in the context of the limitations and the biases of the system by which it was produced. 


Our perception is filtered through a sensory and cognitive system that evolved over eons, not to see the world as it is, but to see it as it is helpful to see it.  Add to this the filter of decades of varied life experiences we use to interpret our perceptions and it is a wonder that we can pick out an observation common enough to all to call a fact.  Scientists train themselves to guard against this subjectivity by limiting variables, double blind tests and peer reviews.  Artists may exploit this flexibility of fact to manipulate images and ideas so that they can be seen in a new way.  Others may exploit the ambiguous fact, expertly molding fact and fiction into an effective medium to manipulate attitudes. 


Many of us just struggle.  We stand in the grey mud between fact and fiction and we earnestly search for the boundary between the two that we’ve falsely assumed unbending and outside of ourselves.  Oddly enough, it is this search that gives life meaning.  While it fosters disagreement, it also provides the opportunity for resolution and understanding.  In short, our perceptions take us on a very human journey.


These paintings address our perceptions and the transformation of light as it bounces off or is absorbed, reflects or is refracted, by a material. I work from photographs of transparent or reflective materials and may manipulate these images further using the computer. I search for other images and then put them together as words are combined and then recombined to make sentences.  Thus the original image may go through various transformations as it is manipulated by a camera lens, the computer, or placement with other images and finally as it is being painted. This process is a metaphor for the way we see our world, and how what we see is painted by the medium through which we perceive, that medium being ourselves­­­.

Shannon Bickford 


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