Man, Myth, Model and Mimetic Desire

Urban mass media culture. The experience of an individual living anonymously within a concentration of individuals living together but remaining anonymous to each other.
An individual perceives the anonymous others as they meet in the street face to face and conceives of them as they meet indirectly through mass media or through the signs and symbols of popular culture. I am interested particularly in the space between the perception and conception; between the actual and the symbolic; the difference between immediate and vicarious experience of the others.

How can we know the people that we don't know?

How does one put together one's experience of the others through the media with one's experience face to face with other individuals?

Can clear ideas be delivered through the illusions implicit in vicarious experience?

What is the relationship between symbol and illusion?

How do symbols work on the psyche?

What is the relationship between symbol and archetype?

How are our actions toward other people affected by what we hear about them?
How are the actions of one culture affected by what that culture is informed about another?

These are all questions of human relationship. These are questions my painting probes.

The Street -
For me the street constitutes the most dynamic element of our social environment. It is intrinsic to the individual's concept of the masses of anonymous others and it exemplifies the flux in social order. The street has been a recurrent theme in my painting. When the street paintings are hung with the media paintings they represent the known as contrasted with the imagined.

The Media People - see "Court Card Culture"
As a culture we share the daily bombardment of countless images through the mass media. We are presented the faces of millions of people whom we do not know but can identify with as types. Most flow through the eye without sticking in the mind. But some do stick and we are moved by them. One might postulate that as the residual faces and types accumulate we form our impressions and opinions of the society that we know is there but do not know personally.
Personalities represented in media pictures have been transformed-, mediafied by the processes of photo reproduction, massive duplication and distribution. The transformation begins with the self consciousness of the model being photographed for the media. Portrayed to a mass of anonymous people they become archetype, symbol. I am interested in emphasizing this in my painting of media people. The faces I have chosen are not famous yet all have had their media moment. I want them to read as symbols within systems of symbols.

Minetic desire
It's been convincingly argued that all social relations arise from mimetic desire, our desire to imitate others and be imitated by others.

I think what I'm trying to get at with these paintings is a connection between our need to imitate each other as well as the reciprocal desire to be imitated, and the creation of archetypes, symbols, myths, then models that define our culture.

I guess the hypothesis would be: our drive to mimic and to be mimicked gives rise to fad, fashion and cultural trends and thus to the origin of our cultural archetypes, symbols, myths etc.

The images of faces have been selected twice, first by the media, then by me, both selections made from a position of anonymity, the faces depicted have become archetypes, possibly models if we desire to imitate them. That is, in the absence of any personal connection between us, they become, to the viewer, representative of some cross section of the society within which we live. By pushing the faces around in paint I move them from archetype toward symbol and, with a little suggestion of narrative, toward myth.