In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s I had the GREAT fortune to attend School of the Art Intstitute of Chicago (SAIC) in GENERATIVE SYSTEMS under the incredible Master Artist SONIA LANDY SHERIDAN. During this time in history the explosion of computer technology was going on in many fields such as computer design, graphics, advertising, the textile industry, etc.
It was a very exciting time.
Even before I got to SAIC, Sonia had been invited to work at the 3M Laboratories in Minneapolis/St. Paul with scientist Douglas Dybvig while they were doing research with the 3M Color-In-Color machine. As a creative artist with what seems to be a “supersensible” connection to the future, Sonia would ask Douglas, “Well, can it [the machine] do this….can it do that…..can it do this”? And good ol’ Doug would figure out a way for the machine to do this and that. It was an amazing collaboration between the two geniuses in art and science.
It was really a marvel, that Color-In-Color machine. While Sonia instinctively knew what would “happen” when gobs of people showed up to “push the buttons”, she expressly forbade such “lemmings to the sea”.
Our first classes were in physics… HOW images can be made from pressure, heat, light, magnetics, electrostatics, and so on. We went back to making images by hand to understand the processes.
THEN, and only then, came HOW the machines were constructed, what physical properties did what kinds of processes to have the “magical” image come out in the tray. It was the first place I had been where the “process” was stressed more than the “product”.
We can easily see where the detriment of technology has deteriorated our society when we find millions of people addicted to an alternate reality of televisions and computers instead of real life and nature. Have folks lost their common sense? Are they stuck in their heads? Has life become really more about greed and making money than it is about understanding and helping each other? These are serious questions I ponder. As a painting therapist, I see the fall-out. In Genrative Systems we had the chance to sit and ponder and discuss and exchange ideas and collaborate with each other. It was definitely a time in my life when I grew and discovered so much and was able to participate with others.
Nearly 25 years later, after going backwards to study a lot of painting (playing with color) which somehow I missed along the way, I now come full circle to explore again the “process” of GENERATIVE SYSTEMS. Besides my inherent desire to let my soul sing through the use of color and to weave together all the facets of my interests (to make sense out of my life), I have much more to add to the mix;
a deepening understanding of spirituality and many more technologies at my fingertips. It seems I pull together opposite poles here. And yet, I want to create by hand. I want to bring “spirit into matter and lift matter into spirit”.
The pages of images you will see that connect to this work are yet to come. Some are of the past which you can see hints of in the weavings on the Fine Arts page. The ones of the present that you can see now are the weavings and Star Chart Talismans on the Fine Arts page. Yet, many more are of the future, so I hope you’ll check back every so often.
To explain the value of what you are looking at:
These 3M Color-In-Color machines were originally designed for the office copier market, of which 3M was the originator of copying with the Thermofax machine, BEFORE Xerox! 3M created the copier market and was only slowly overtaken by the Xerox copier. Because of it’s initial dominance, 3M management wanted to continue its leadership by being the first to copy color (not only into black and white copy but into color copy–thus the name “Color-in-Color”). The acceptance of the process by the textile industry market was unexpected, as were so many of the other applications–most noteably the pioneering work done by Sonia Landy Sheridan in the field of Fine Art.
It is a true pity that the markets then could not support this wonderful invention. At the end of the 1970’s the machines were destroyed and supplies/materials ceased to be made. Anyone who had materials to use back then probably used it up long ago. Fortunately, I happen to still have some supply that I can work with by hand for a long time. Also, I am sure that another technology has been invented that I don’t know about that might be similar. However, NOTHING can take the place of the RICHNESS of this product and it’s offspring. It is unable to be duplicated in any way, shape, or form. You will NOT FIND this art or the materials it is made from anywhere else in the world.
If you do, I am mistaken, and you may inform me.
And then I will eat crow and apologize.
A comprehensive collection of Sonia Landy Sheridan’s artwork, spanning more than half a century, may be seen at the Hood Museum, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.
To access more information about
Generative Systems, it’s students, collaborators
who/what it was/is/has become,