TITLE: Remembrance and Sustenance AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: June 24, 2010 8:04 AM DESC: ----- BODY:

All those things for which
we have no words are lost.
-- Annie Dillard, "Total Eclipse"

My family and I spent eight days on the road last week, with a couple of days in the Jamestown/Williamsburg area of Virginia and then a few days in Washington, D.C. I'd never spent more than a couple of hours in my nation's capital and enjoyed seeing the classic buildings in which our leaders work and the many monuments to past leaders and conflicts. The Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC The Korean War Veterans Memorial caught me by surprise. No one ever talks about this memorial, much like the war itself. I had no idea what it looked liked, no expectations. When we came upon it from the rear, I became curious. Standing amid the soldiers trudging through a field, I was unnerved. They look over their shoulders, or they make eye contact with one another, or they stare ahead, blankly. This is no sterile monument of while limestone. It is alive, even as it reminds us of men who no longer are. When we reached the front of the memorial, we saw a wreath with a note of thanks from the Korean people. It brought tears to my eyes, and to my daughter's. As touched as I was by the National Mall, most of my memories of the trip are of artwork we saw in the several galleries and gardens. I came to remember how much I like the paintings of Monet. This time, it was his "The Seine at Giverny" that gave me the most joy. I learned how much I enjoy the work of Camille Pissarro, another of the French impressionists who redefined what a painting could be and say in the 1800s. I even saw a few abstract pieces by Josef Albers, whom I quoted not long ago. That quote came back to me as I walked amid the creations of men, oblivious to computer programming and the debits and credits of department budgets. What happens happens mostly without me. Indeed. One Hiroshi Sugimoto's seascape photographs I left Washington with a new inspiration, Hiroshi Sugimoto. My daughter and I entered one of the gallery rooms to find a bunch of canvasses filled with blacks, grays, and whites. "More modern nothingness," I thought at first. As we absorbed the images, though, one of us said out loud, "These look like pictures of the ocean. See here...?" We looked closer and saw different times of day, different clouds and fog, horizons crisp and horizons that were no more than imperceptible points on a continuum from dark ocean to light sky. Only upon leaving the room did we learn that these images were in fact seascapes. "This is modern art that works for me," said my daughter. I nodded agreement. Sugimoto's seascapes are only one element of his work. I have many more of his images to discover. I did not get through my eight days away without any thoughts of computer science. In the National Gallery of Art, we ran across this piece by Edward Ruscha, featured here:
Edward Ruscha's 'Lisp'
I vaguely recall seeing this image many years ago in a blog post at Lemonodor, but this time it grabbed me. My inner programmer was probably feeling the itch of a few days away from the keyboard. Perhaps Ruscha has an his own inner programmer. When I did a Google Image search to find the link above, I found that he had also created works from the words 'self' and 'ruby'. We programmers can make our own art using Lisp, Self, and Ruby. Our art, like that of Monet, Pissarro, Sugimoto, and Ruscha, sustains us. -----