Dig Boy Dig
My earliest memory of an excavator is from our summer cabin with my father is next to me as I am in the sandbox playing with a green metal toy excavator, which was just a mechanical digging arm with a seat on it. You would operate it by pushing and pulling on the handles you were holding on to. I remember the joy of discovering how it worked after the initial struggle, and how satisfying it was just to dig and move the sand around. Much later in art school, I started doing ink drawing between painting sessions. I did a little bit of it in my teens when I was enthusiastic about making comics, though without much patience for it. And then, few years after my graduation I would pick the pens again, with more definite goals. I was often drawing just random things in my sketchbooks. I did not think much of them then. They were an excuse for the line as I wrote on a notebook once. I was trying to learn the medium. It was awkward first. I had wrong kind of paper, and the ink would splatter as the nibs scratched the paper. Then again, I cherished it and often abused my pens on purpose creating a big mess. Looking back, I see frustration of all kinds. I remember that my eyes got very tired quickly from drawing. I was not very good with expressing myself with words and especially dreaded writing, It is all in there. At some point the excavators started to appear. I found them fascinating to look at, If saw one on a construction on my way to college. They reminded me of some ancient dinosaur, perhaps because of association from the Flintstones cartoon. I still stop to admire them sometimes. The drawings were not trying to be actual representations of the machinery, though I did study them a little bit. The excavators were turning out to become a part of a system of symbols, same as with the repeating letter “a”, I was drawing with something of a built obsession as method to discover meaning with absurdity. The idea began with the launch of the 24h feature on AsyncArt. It has changed a lot since, but it was always going to be something with excavators. Some of the watercolor works were made for this piece in particular. Though I forgot about them for a while until finding them in box stored away. Some are old ones all the way from my first exhibition. I put them all together and arranged them randomly. The runes I painted myself just for fun, let’s say, not intended to be used in art. As the time arose, I felt compelled to use them. I cast them randomly for each picture, as a symbolic gesture. The runes can be representing many things, from actual letters to wisdom and magic. There are many things we can see but don’t understand and then ignore until we learn their meaning, like words of a foreign language. The old drawings from my sketchbooks were placed on the image transparently showing the inverted colors of what is below. I still feel ashamed about a lot of them, the silly puns and visual jokes, mundane scribbles, desires, and struggles contained within the pages, but it was necessary to the turn the ground for this work. Some of it I can appreciate more now and feel proud of things that I have made progress with. This makes me think of history and archaeology. the act in time, digging in the present to gain knowledge of our past and creating it for the future, while we are constantly producing new material to be dug up later. The feel for material is very important to me. whether digital or traditional, it takes time to get acquainted with it. With this piece my material is beyond the changing images and the technology making it possible - it is almost as if it is time itself that I am digging away.
Dig Boy Dig Mikko Lyytinen 2023
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