Eric Standley is an Associate Professor of Studio Art for the School of Visual Arts at Virginia Tech. He received an MFA in painting from the Savanah College of Art and Design and a BFA in Painting and Interrelated Media from the Massachusetts College of Art. He sleeps on rare occasions and dreams that with hard work and concentration he might one day become a modernist. He holds allegiance to a faith of his own construction, which is reinvented on a daily basis.
The Phi Decreed
Life is a space on which fractals can be imbedded.
Visual Archetypes occupy human consciousness across societies, cultures and histories. The Gothic architecture of Chartres Cathedral, the Mughal architecture of the Taj Mahal and the Japanese Edo-period block print The Great Wave off Kanagawa have been consecrated into history by way of near universal allure and familiarity across cultures. They also share proportional relationships to fractals, signifying visual rhythms that transcend human consciousness.
Fractal geometry has a self-similar replication that is found at a cosmological scale in the ever-expanding universe, as well as at the profoundly fundamental building blocks of life. When a DNA stand is viewed from the top-down, the layered double helix rotation abides by the golden ratio (phi). These strands are compressed by braiding, twisting and supercoiling into chromosomes. Nearly two meters of DNA strands are packed into 6 micrometers of space within each nucleus of every cell in our bodies. DNA packing is a complex phenomenon that eludes complete explanation in the scientific field. It is likely that multiple fractals are at play in the organization of such vast information.
The number phi is used as a compass to guide compositional decisions for work of the Phi Decreed. By employing phi on top of my own sensibility, I am staging what happens in all of life: the unique modulation of a fractal’s path. This subtle corruption of mathematical self-replication within lifeforms extends outward as action. The sum of these actions intertwine into a dynamic collective existence that connects all organisms by way of circumventing predictability. By focusing my work on this premise, I believe I can tap a stream of paradoxical archetypes that are newly encountered yet familiar, discovered and reunited, indeterminate but known.
The Either/Or Decreed
My interest in geometry from Gothic and Islamic architectural ornamentation is an attempt to capture reverence for the infinite. Can I channel a conceptual migration from the permanence and massiveness of stone to the fragility and intimacy of paper? To be a conduit for such a migration, I must understand my own faith and doubt in all things equally.
I reference Søren Kierkegaard’s essay Either/Or as a metaphor for my natural attraction to paradoxes. Obsessively detailed fractions and broadly holistic concerns are consciously separated but equally vital in my work, just as Kierkegaard’s aesthetic and ethical divisions present different ways of living. There is a harmonic relationship between aesthetics and ethics that is played out in the things that I do naturally. Methodology is refuge for determination. The resulting works are artifacts; static indexes of my compulsive behavior.