Marginalia

In this ongoing series of large-scale Epson inkjet prints I begin with books and manuscripts on subjects having to do with the history of art, astronomy, physics, religion and other subjects, and make high-resolution scans of selected title and text pages then add text and/or commentary to the scanned images in reference to the style of marginalia, drawn from my own writings and those of certain individuals in history. In the series below, a scanned manuscript page for composer Charles Ives'(1874-1954) The Unanswered Question, written in his own hand, is juxtaposed with three different writings: by Nobel Physicist Richard Feynman(1918-1988), poet Walt Whitman(1819-1892), and biologist D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson(1860-1948).

Stephen Nowlin









L - R
Charles Ives/Richard Feynman; Charles Ives/Walt Whitman; Charles Ives/D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson
Limited edition prints, each 47 x 38 inches.















Marginalia (Nature is Space), 2021
Text: Stephen Nowlin. Image: title-page scan of Albertus Seba’s Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, 1734.
Epson ColorSure print on enhanced matte paper; Edition of 10; 66x44 inches.











Standing on Earth Gazing Skyward, 2021
Text: Stephen Nowlin; Image: scanned 1647 etching by Johannes Hevelius, (1611-1687)
Epson SureColor Inkjet print; Edition of 10, framed, 22 x 24.5 inches










This Land

The series title references the Woody Guthrie song This Land is Your Land, written in 1940 as a critical response to Irving Berlin's God Bless America. Guthrie's song romanced about the American landscape while also protesting its privatization and the treatment of Dust Bowl and Depression era refugees. As a tribute to Guthrie's song, in my This Land series I puzzle over the flawed concept of divine blessing and the provinciality of an Earth-bound conception of ‘land,' as well as a reconsideration of what 'our land' means in a solar system full of new worlds. For me, the series is a meditation on how science re-scales our perspectives by disrupting fixed assumptions concerning our place in the universe, what is ours, and how we fit in.

Stephen Nowlin




This Land, (Series 1), 2016
Video wall projection, dimensions variable








Sequence 1
Left:
Bull Pasture, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona, USA, Earth; Photo: The National Park Service.
Right: Curiosity Rover at Rocknest, Mars; Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

Sequence 2
Left:
Rocky Mountains, Colorado, USA, Earth; Photo: Chris Helzer, The Prairie Ecologist; prarieecologist.com.
Right: Curiosity Rover at Yellowknife Bay, Mars; Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

. Sequence 3
Left:
Isle of Jura, Scotland, Great Britain, UK, Earth; Photo: Jurainfo.com.
Right: Spirit Rover at Home Plate Plateau, Mars; Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell University.











This Land, (series 2, #1), 2016
Overlapping still images, limited edition inkjet print; 20x34 inches








Above, top image:
EARTH, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona; Courtesy National Park Service

Above, bottom image:
MARS, Rocknest, Point Lake Area; Courtesy Curiosity Rover, NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Framed, 20x34inches:











This Land, (series 2, #5), 2016
Juxtaposed images, limited edition inkjet print; 48x8 inches








Above, top image:
EARTH, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona; Courtesy National Park Service

Above, bottom image:
MARS, Rocknest, Point Lake Area; Courtesy Curiosity Rover, NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS











This Land, (Series 2, #4), 2017
Juxtaposed images, limited edition inkjet print; 21x20 inches








Above, left image:
EARTH, North Col of Mount Everest, Tibet; Image source: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Above, right image:
MARS, Gale Crater Layers in a Northeast Section of Mound, HIRISE Camera, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; Image source: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona











This Land, (Series 2, #3), 2017
Juxtaposed images, limited edition inkjet print; 22x22 inches








Above, left image:
EARTH, Slopes of Kilimanjaro Volcano, Tanzania, Africa; Image source: Google Earth; DigitalGlobe; CNES/Atrium

Above, right image:
MARS, Very Bright and Sun-Facing Gully Deposits in Hale Crater; HIRISE Camera, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; Image source: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona











This Land, (Series 3, #1), 2018
Juxtaposed images, limited edition inkjet print; 22x22 inches








Above, left image:
EARTH, Anza-Borrego Desert, California; Image source: Google Earth/Digital Globe

Above, middle image:
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, somewhere in space; Image source: Rosetta Spacecraft Navigation Camera

Above, right image:
MARS, Gullies in a crater within Newton Crater; Image source: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

Framed, 22x22inches:











This Land, (Series 3, #2), 2018
Juxtaposed images, limited edition inkjet print; 22x22 inches








Above, top image:
EARTH, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming; Image source: Google Earth/Digital Globe

Above, middle image:
MARS, Gullies in a Crater within Newton Crater; Image source: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Above, bottom image:
Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko , Image source: Rosetta Spacecraft Navigation Camera

Framed, 22x22inches:











NNON, 1970






NNON was conceived, programmed, and generated by Stephen Nowlin in software developed at the Booth Computing Center, California Institute of Technology, 1970. Filming technology was provided by John Whitney.


I filmed NNON at the old Booth Computing Center at Caltech, 1970, in the middle of the night which were the only hours I could schedule computer time. I started the camera-computer interface at about 11pm and then periodically slept in my VW bus while it filmed, and it's possible a janitor might have opened a door to the room where the camera was running and affected the exposure in certain places. Computer graphics were experimental in 1970 and nobody got to do them except at places like Caltech where there were big machines. At the time I was employed at Caltech's Astro-Electronics lab, drafting computer circuits for the Mount Wilson and Palomar observatories, and involved in a Caltech EAT (Experiments in Art & Technology) program inviting artists to work with scientists.

In NNON, each individaul line segment was programmed to rotate 180 degrees counter-clockwise around its own center at 1 degree per second, so it took 3 minutes for the final frame to end up looking the same as the first. In between, what it looked like was left up to the math. I called it NNON becuase it was really about being non-subjective, about squeezing subjectivity out of the aesthetics and surrendering personal choices to the rules of geometry -- which I thought of as being a metaphor for how Nature worked and, ultimately, a higher order of artistic process or at least one that interested me more. This notion was generally being explored at the time, by artists like Sol LeWitt, Mel Bochner, and Dorthea Rockburne and others, whose work had influenced my thinking. Over the course of the film, the entire image doubles in size while rotating clockwise, which adds to a spiral galaxy-like appearance as everything unfolds.

- Stephen Nowlin