it was in 1960, 23 years before cwm was born, that yves klein wrote:
it is not with rockets, missiles, or sputniks that modern man will achieve the conquest of space.
it was as true in the chauvet cave thirty thousand years ago as it was a half-century ago that man can only truly occupy space—be it terrestrial or celestial—by impregnating it with human sensibility. building machines and placing them in dialogue with architectural space, light and camera, cwm considers how technology both accelerates and cripples our project of filling time and space in order to exist in it. in the "lines" (2009), "box"(2008), "grid" (2010), "bodies" (2011), "for josef" (2008), and "good heavens / bad heavens" (2011) pieces, the machines he created slowly move points of light through a space or project light onto surfaces. captured with long exposure photography, the images produced are a kind of unpredictable dialogue between an (often simple and often somewhat random) machinic performance and the concrete space in which the light materializes. consecutive parallel lines crawl off into the distance. a patch is violently torn from a spiraling pattern and twisted and contorted into a messy nest in the foreground of the image, the grid--that paragon of scientific metrics--deliquesces into a series of fluid folds, etc. the spaces are written upon by the machines--a writing that leaves no permanent mark on the space itself but is preserved in the photograph like some species of futuristic cave drawing whose documentation exceeds the fragile and fleeting original.
generosity of time is a sustaining force in the machine photography pieces--the purposefully slow-moving machines sometimes taking more than an hour or two to run their course--as it is in some of cwm's other work in sound and video. expanding on klein's suggestion that we can only conquer space through impregnating it with human sensibility, in these pieces cwm explores how we can fill time in order to inhabit it. in "ascension (1up)", a fragment of michael jackson's "Man in The Mirror" is processed and repeated so that its key change becomes a continual step-by-step ascent into the sonic stratosphere--after half an hour the pitch is so high that even the original fragment's bass line is higher than a piccolo and by the end of the piece another half hour later all that remains is a barely perceptible, heavenly shimmer.
filling time with these repeated procedures cwm calls new forms into being. in "moving line" (2007, 2012), a vertical line is picking up speed as it moves left and right across a large television screen. in this extended duration (the piece lasts about four hours), as the line moves faster and faster, the television fails to accurately "see" the line and starts to represent it as broken fragments of line. but in this failure, the line becomes so broken that its tiny twisted fragments are wiped over the screen forming new complex diamonds melting into curved helices at times appearing three-dimensional as they rotate on the screen. this exploration of the rich topology of the line is something of a monomania for cwm--how much one dimension can bare! the complexity of these patterns is so far beyond the computational power of the electronic components in the cwm's circuit generating the video signal: so through this slowly degrading process of serendipitous technological failure, the work seeks to achieve what is strictly beyond its abilities and through the generosity of time and failure the impossible is achieved.
cwm lives and produces his work at his farm in killingworth, connecticut where he also runs a retreat-style music production studio, killingworthsound. he was drawn to music at an early age and by ten had taught himself how to program computers. those two passions fused over the years into a practice of electronic music that eventually led him to explore visual art. the richly poetic musical performances of robert ashley, the early performance art-like text pieces of composer lamonte young and the visual work of musicians like john cage were tantalizing examples of what was possible. he approached marcel duchamp through cage's work and was mesmerized by the visual results of dicing with authorial death. musical works like yves klein's "monotone symphony" were further proof of what the other side had to contribute not just visually but musically. and in cwm's work of the last few years, his growing passion for abstract, minimalist and conceptual artists such as barnett newman, agnes martin, yoko ono, kazimir malevich and joseph beuys is apparent. they may appear wildly unique in the appearance of their work but each is a utopian deeply moved by the transformative power of ideas when embodied in the materials of art. those ideas drove them to explore a wide variety of materials with which they each had varying degrees of success yet they were not primarily painters or sculptors but artists whose work originates first and foremost in an aesthetic confrontation. that confrontation bleeds into the viscera and returns finally to the mind bringing an idea that is now coupled with the explosive power of that confrontation with space and time.