Artist's Statement

Evan Lord Martin

What do things really feel like? What is a thought really like? I have what is most accurately described as a sensory processing disorder. My condition resembles, but isn't exactly, an autism spectrum disorder. Twenty-three of my thirty-one years were spent trapped in a fury of mental and somatic noise. I have, out of necessity, spent the last decade deliberately investigating and redesigning my mind. My functionality remains hindered, but my video work functions as the effective center of processing this effort.

I am equally fascinated by other people's internal processes. My videos are an attempt to explore consciousness as a private aesthetic experience; I use my art practice to explore the features of my own to which I may be blind. My work is about what I find most familiar: the inherently crude nature of that which is purely mental. The foundation of whatever self-understanding I have is the study and practice of Zen. In this process I have become fascinated by the idea of liminal mental phenomena.

When I visualize something, what distance from my mind's eye is it? What does it really feel like to make a mistake? What exactly happens as I imagine running my finger across a rough texture versus a smooth one? How do we know we aren't missing something essential as we complete a familiar task? What if, as Zen painter Paul Reps called it, some “unheard music” plays beneath what we're sure is mundane? I consider these liminal features to be things defined as whatever would be easy to ignore during routine cognition.

What relationship do these liminal 'happenings' have to language? Do they lose their status when language is used to consider them? In my videos, I am attempting to articulate unrefined states of mind without using words in a traditional way. It is my goal to tune attention in mysterious ways and I am curious about how - or, if - it can really be done.

My video practice has become my preferred way of asking the questions that may help me achieve this. They are always experiments in asking. I want to explore methods of asking questions without submitting to words. I want to ask questions of the muscles on the top of my foot with the same expectation of response as one might have of the region of my brain that processes grammatical forms.

My videos are composed of arranged processed found footage, text, audio samples, and my own musical compositions. Some videos also feature spoken word. I gather my multimedia samples primarily from the internet. To me, this is my way of speaking with, and through, a concrete manifestation of the collective mind's eye. I am also currently preparing my first video installation.

It's a fun and mysterious (and occasionally terrifying) game to try to make “paint” from this strange collective medium. It is physical and metaphysical. The process of trying to understand the architectural motion of something is no different than trying to understand the process by which we make meaning of it.

These colors might be figurative or concrete, but these two sides of something can only exist in an interdependent dance. hese colors exist in a kind of unique motion, and the properties of this artistic flux are what we must decode. Understanding might be what I am really looking for. I am fascinated by Zen koan problem solving principles and consider them as practical, and integral, as instruments used in the physical world. Zen koans are to me one of the most mysterious of these thinking tools. They are like jokes without a punchline, a particularly gnarly psychological-tangle. I love the idea that Koans induce tension without the guarantee of release. And of course, they aren't about getting a correct answer.


My videos are koan-like; an attempt at letting myself -and maybe a viewer – have a glimpse of the experience of pure process.


See more of Evan Lord Martin's work on his website or on social media.

  • YouTube