Rhythm & Reflection

Figure Ground Rhythm is a concept I’ve developed in my research of making time-based interdisciplinary artwork. And, now has also become the title and concept of this website/blog. My work has previously been on a somewhat typical artist website, a place to view the pieces and information about my research. I’ve decided recently to change the old format into something more interactive. Writing has always been a part of my work, either in poetic form as a preface to an artist book or in research form in my MFA written thesis. My goal with this website/blog is to write about my work and also include excerpts from my thesis which I may respond to as each entry evolves. I hope to reach a wider audience in the writing and art community as well as social media outlets for shared ideas and thoughts on contemporary discourse in art, education and community.

What is this concept of Figure Ground Rhythm? I developed this idea from both my art practice and my interest in the research that led to my written thesis. I graduated from NYSCC at Alfred University with a MFA in Electronic Integrated Arts in 2010. The thesis research involved making my work and also, writing about how the work evolved and my particular interests in subjects that contributed to my overall concept. The written thesis is in the form of a self published artist book and resides at Scholes Library at Alfred University in Alfred, NY. Until recently, it also existed as a PDF document on my previous website. And, now, the writing will live here in the form of posts, entries of selections from various chapters.

A Thesis of Figure Ground Rhythm, Jamie Hahn, copyright 2010.


being mesmerized by a spatial density between atmospherics and figure ground relationships within a landscape.

in search of orientation, an awareness of presence in time, in history. a place of familiarity, a kinship within a figurative environment…

a meditative space. a reflection on time, light and modulating surfaces.

being saturated by an atmospheric rhythmic shift in perception and sense of expectation…

Chapter 1: section 1

“Lightly, almost in a fine mist, the snow falls. The falling is multi-directional. Like a wave or a strong current, the mass of flakes shift from left to right, up and down, diagonal, forwards and backwards masking clarity. Through the blinds, the perspective from here portrays a view almost like static television noise. The pine tree shape is fuzzy, the suspected distance or depth of view is altered. A focused eye can see branches swaying through the rapid haze of snow falling. The static eases, the tree is clarified. A constant flurry of movement reignites, and the dotted air obscures vision once again.

Outside in the flurry of falling snow, time feels different. Accumulation of snow takes time. Flake by flake the sea of white rises and covers the previous scape of ground. Standing within this hazy, damp atmosphere, accumulated time meets the moment, and an overall point of view meets focused attention from the whole scene to the one tiny flake that just landed on the tip of your nose. Catching a flake and inspecting its uniqueness suddenly draws intensive focus to how the multitude of them could possibly create a mask of white to every other shape, contour, contrasting texture, light or movement within view.

Shifting focused study from the tiny flake to the grand view of swirling masses is almost dizzying. Standing there with this kind of focus on the tiny amongst the many of similar form, motion and time move differently. Whatever the background, as hazy or masked as it may appear to be, is mostly still. Standing too, feels still. Passage of the moment slows with an intensity of watching single flakes travel through the atmosphere and make their landing. Patience is required to watch the entire journey as the flake nestles into its new home and gently blends into a new surface becoming less dimensional, less affected by movement.

As the flurrying diminishes, new focus is allowed to rest on the still forms. Trees, grasses, plants and the shape of the surrounding land can now be seen clearly. The dusting of white may alter their previous shape, but overall, these forms have returned to recognizable states of being. Before moving away, attention may be given to some movement of less intrigue. This is the movement of what appears to be still. This is the form that appears to be constant, reliable, known, definable as such and such. And, yet, with focus, it moves, and shifts dimensionally. The brush, the grasses, the leaves, the tree branches, the water in the pond, the clouds in the sky. Eventually movement within the standing position becomes clear and a realization occurs: motion is an ever present constant. Movement seems to engage intimately with time.”

The next post will continue with section 2 of Chapter 1.










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