Sparrows do not fear the sun.

When I was asked to interpret one of Alma Thomas' seminal works, Resurrection, I was overjoyed by the opportunity. Alma found delight in the sway of a leaf blown in the breeze, in the changing hues of a tree from one season to the next, in the quiet contemplation of nature's course. Serendipitously, over the last few months, nature has been at the core of my practice, by way of artificial intelligence.

It all started last year when I decided to train my first GAN model with a database of my works - hand-painted acrylic abstract vignettes. I needed something to meditate on while creating the necessary volume of work to properly train the GAN; in my case, 2000 paintings. What better than nature as a focus of meditation? Its expansiveness as well as its changing place in my life over the years provided me with enough inspiration to get through the vignettes. This was the biggest undertaking of my career as an artist, and I had no idea how drawn I would be to both the process and the results.

All of my work today incorporates the outputs of this training and AI in general. I have discovered more ways than I could have ever imagined to collaborate with AI, guided always by the exploration of phenomena in nature. Sparrows do not fear the sun is the beginning of a new direction in my collaboration with AI. In this new exploration, I bring outputs of my AI training into the canvas and integrate them back into my painting practice. There is something fascinating that happens in the journey from human to machine back to human. The process is long and leaves lots of room for contemplation and meditation on the natural phenomena I set out to explore.

In the case of Sparrows do not fear the sun, I focused on the only tree on my late grandfather's millet farm which provided the only shelter from an often cruel sun. It was a neem tree of modest size but a mighty capacity for cooling. Most importantly, it was easy to climb and one could see the whole spread of the farm from a few branches up. From up there, I would watch sparrows descend on the millet stalks to feed for short periods of time and fly back up. Their choreography was fluid and ever-changing, providing entertainment for long stretches of time.

Unable to cope with the increasing demands for water and inputs as climatic conditions worsened, my grandfather eventually sold the farm, and with it, the neem tree, the rows of millet, and the sparrows that liked to feed on it. I am glad one of my earliest memories of communing with nature is still alive in my mind and lives on in my work. Thank you Alma for taking me back there.






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