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Some time ago I asked myself questions that dealt with iconography. I came to the conclusion that if we lived in Italy during the Renaissance, the painter could take a fellow Italian and paint his own portrait. He could then claim this was a painting of Jesus; nobody would question this claim because the people would expect the religious icon to look like themselves. The culture dictated their perception.

The question is, “What is our icon today?” The answer that I came up with is that the icon would be found in forms of film, television, or the computer, rather than walls of churches.

The next logical series of inquiries dealt with how we visualize a moving object and how it differs in its presentations from that of the past centuries. We live in a time where everyone understands the sequence of events. In the past the painter was mainly involved in “freezing” time. The use of space was related to perspective, cubical space, and the world of values that worked with color.

When one deals with form in time, one is asking questions that deal with the brother of art, and that is science. The form that was there 20 seconds ago is still there in the memory of the viewer. How does one portray the present form as well as the past?

Today we can move around the object and see it through many machines’ visions. To me, this is a worthwhile endeavor for the contemporary artist. The computer enables me to see the objective world in both its three-dimensional as well as its two-dimensional aspect. In many ways it enables me to be a director of the third dimension as well as a refiner when it comes to the two-dimensional considerations. The fact that the light, rather than pigment, is the medium is also a plus. The origin of the light behind the screen reminds me of the art of stained glass windows. This, of course, helps give a spiritual feeling to the artist while he is in search of this new icon.

Saul Bernstein 2010
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