Necessary Incarnations by John D'Agostino Necessary Incarnations is the continuation of Empire of Glass, a body of work which has profoundly affected how I make and understand images. Comprising works from 2009, the pictures range from 30x24” and 80x60” in size to 25x50” and 60x120” - pigment prints on stretched canvas, with floating frames. Empire of Glass offered me a myriad of unexpected resolutions and revelations; what Ottavio Berard once called a “punch in the eye.” As such, my artistic practice changed forever. I photograph the D'Agostino family's relics: the forgotten fragments of broken favrile glass that my grandfather, collector Vito D'Agostino (1898-1968), rescued during the liquidation of Tiffany Studios in 1933, when Tiffany's work had fallen so out of fashion it was actually being destroyed. I use each piece of glass like an individual film negative. Favrile glass is dichroic (literally: “two colors”) meaning it absorbs and emits light in an almost endless variety of possibilities. I am able “to print” many different kinds of images from the same glass negative, depending on the intensities, kinds, and angles of light employed from a full 360 degrees. In this sense, light itself is the protagonist, and being naturally invisible, I use the glass to trap light and give it a viscosity, density and texture from within. The Romantics of the 19th century used the landscape as an object of emotional and spiritual awe, often employing light in their paintings to exude a magnificence of color and grandeur. Historian Robert Rosenblum saw this tradition as essentially a religious one, and his Abstract Sublime (coined in 1961) charted how the Abstract Expressionists of the 20th Century were following in the footsteps of these spiritual ancestors. For Pollock, Rothko and Kline, these proto-landscapes became more and more unrecognizeable, till they eventually became totally abstract. Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), a key figure in the transition from representational to abstract art, saw these apparitional forms as spiritual. For him, these “incarnations” were inherently revelatory, and moreover, necessary - what George Bernhard Shaw called a “faith of one's own.” Mark Rothko (1903-1970) believed that modern society no longer properly recognized this urgency for the transcendent experience. He argued that for the archaic artist, however, this transcendental urgency was not only understood, but given official status. In this sense, his aims were essentially restorationist. So too does my work harken back to the archaic: to the first pre-historic artists and vision-seekers who created haunted works in darkened caves, where sensory deprivation, isolation and darkness would intensify the many visions to come. I believe in the viability of abstraction as a breakthrough to a more essential language, in which the powers and principles of the cosmos can be expressed more clearly. My imagery, although based on antique industrial material from the age of Art Nouveau, was originally made to suggest the natural and organic world, and continues to do so today. These abstractions evoke distant and far-off places, both underwater, and interstellar - of great heights and depths. Although made of only glass and foil leaf, they suggest compelling phenomena, from the geological to the meteorological and cartographic. Combined with the ravages of time and neglect from the past 100 years of decay, they employ a full cycle of seasons of the mind, from the joyous to the ominous. Like a deep-sea diver falling into a dream, this descent into Dionysian realms is full of secret knowledge, like in a poem. The eye and mind are free to wander. Anton Ehrenzweig described this process as a secret conversation, taking place in the territory of the unconscious, between the artist’s depth mind and the viewer's. Its substructure is shaped by deeply unconscious processes, that display a complex organization superior to the logical structure of conscious thought. The Abstract Sublime values vitality over finish, fluctuation over repose, the unknown over the known, the veiled over the clear, the inner over the outer, expression over perfection. The image becomes an area of suspense. It is not so much looking “at something” so much as being somewhere, and creating a sense of place. The abstract is a marriage of minds: one that embraces and includes the spectator. It leaves the content of the transcendent open – it is up to the viewer - to fill it in. In this sense, the viewer is a partner in the creation of my work - not just a recipient, but an active participant in helping me to complete the idea. Perpetually becoming and forever evolving, in these mysterious and resurrected objects, I continue to find imaginative fuel for the Sublime experience.