Athena #2 – The Origins of War
36 x 36 inches
Mixed Media with Acrylic Binder on Canvas
In this collage, very disjunctive objects are shown at different scales. At the upper right is an electron photograph of brain tissue by Lennart Nilsson. At the center is a hand-drawn helmet image formed by plates fracturing, revealing a fearful and possibly mindless creature underneath. In this image I am attempting to suggest that the creature inhabits the inner recesses of the brain, the limbic system where the most primitive feelings of fear are initiated. A spear, upper center, that could be read as thrown by Athena, is poised to strike the most visually significant area of brain tissue, keying into the idea of self-destruction. Initial primitive feelings include strain responses to the thrust and piercing angles of Athena’s helmet, as well as surprise and a strange unfamiliarity upon viewing the fibrous forms of the neuron arms and the helmeted creature. The fibrous, dendrite-like tissue enveloping the neuron arms adds an intricacy without familiar scale. The notion of scale arises as a conceptual feeling that may be processed a number of ways, in context with the head of Athena. For example, I see it as a symbol of the vast, scaleless universe eliciting a component of awe. It may also signify that in the labyrinthian intricacy of the brain of Athena are instructions for the destruction of the race.
The nerve-like texture, the red touches and the recognition of brain tissue serve as reminders of the physiological aspects of the body, and the body itself as a reference frame. The fearful face under the fractured helmet personifies war. It represents a projection of fear, and the animal-human ambiguity indicated by the spear-carrying Greek warrior at lower left. To simplify the image, I reluctantly painted out an even larger spear-throwing warrior with a literal ram’s head, which would have made the animal-human duality even stronger. These feelings of fear and animality-suggesting deep-seated mechanisms form which we are unable to escape-conform to my original grasp of the datum that is governed by a superject in which fear, aggression and self-destruction are retained to be contrasted with the sensitivity and intelligence of Athena.