Rodney Chang, November 11, 1972
Northern Illinois University
A new dimension in the pursuit of the discovery of a new mature painting "style" has occurred this week. It culminated with my purchase of wooden stretchers and a sheet of clear plastic.
Ever since the start of my graduate work, I have been involved with the confining element of the borders of a rectilinear canvas. No matter how long or wide the size of the stretcher (i.e., the frame of reference), I had to compose my images with due consideration to the restriction of the edges. Thus my past four months of painting delt with the variations of shapes that reached out to the borders of the painting, in a lyrical and harmonious, sometimes aggressive, way.
Now I will venture into liberating my shapes/iamges out of the frame of reference but yet maintain this frame of reference as the cornerstone of the composition. I always did away with illusory 3D effects and created with the idea that the painting is an object, not an illusion of nature or of natural objects. Thus now I have further advanced my objects as things that exist in their own right. One now gets a view of the inside (behind, the wall) of the painting; he sees the structure or skeletal framework that supports the painting or face (plastic) of the object upon which the painted shapes reside.
Great excitment awaits me in the following experimental areas-
1. Working the stretcher into the composition.
2. Working out and defining relationships of images painted in the traditional frame of reference, painted outside of the frame of reference on the plastic areas that extend outside or beyond the frame and painting both inside and outside the wooden frame support simultaneously.
3. Experimenting with paint textural possibilities on the sheet of plastic, such as paint application with paint rollers.
4. Balancing problems of plastic unequally affixed on the traditional stretcher.
This new avenue of approach does not curtail my current work of studying the relationship of confined shapes within the usual stretched canvas field. I see both approaches as necessary in my continued search for personal satisfaction and interpretation of physical interspatial relationships as a mature painter.
NOTE - Chang finally graduated with a Master of Art in Studio Art- Painting & Drawing in 1975. The next month after this was written in the artist's journal, the art student was drafted involuntarily by the U.S. Army. After a two year stint in South Korea, Chang returned to complete the program. His "one-person graduate show" at the art department gallery consisted of 16 paintings on transparent plastic sheets. After that the artist worked in various media, such as painting, mixed media assemblages, photographic monoprinting, serigraphy, ceramics, and bronze sculpture. In 1985 Chang discovered computer graphics and has remained with this medium going into the new millenium. 1985-1995 was spent working through different platforms and evolving software to develop a personal "computer art" style dependent on accumulating experience and tools of the trade. From 1996-2000 the artist embarked upon the new Internet, using his virtual Web museum as a platform for proclaiming and promoting a new "cyberart" or "Webism" as indigenous digital art for a digital online virtual community. In retrospect, the Internet became the new wall (environment ) in which to "hang" his works.