© 2018 CRAIG VAN DEN BOSCH

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NATO

STATEMENT

 

The NATO series juxtaposes the absurd and formalistic distillation of horrific events into desensitized simple geometric symbols. More specifically, these symbols were devised for use on NATO maps. The simplification enables an expedient upload of information at an international level of understanding creating a universally excepted set of symbols. Each one represents precise events, placements of munitions and other related actions associated with the organization’s peacekeeping efforts, duties and planning. All of the symbols are reduced into a succession of aesthetic considerations completely devoid of their original intent.

The new design symbolizes the complexity and interconnection of these events. These images are a pictorial juxtaposition to the actual atrocities of war they represent.

To complement the main aesthetic structure, a series of five separate paintings on panel speak to the density of the distilled information represented by the NATO symbols. The paintings are comprised of several layers of media such as acrylic paint, spray paint and wood cut prints. The effect is a dizzying amalgamation of information that could be overwhelming to process. At this point, the reconfiguration of the events into a multifaceted formalistic geometry occurs, which can desensitize the viewer over a period of time through repetition. The symbols represent actions such as; rape, vandalism, kidnapping and hijacking. These are of course very tragic occurrences that lose their connotative punch when viewed as layers of symbols.

When I first discovered these NATO symbols, I was shocked that a simple stick figure with a line through it meant assassination. I found that as I deal with their transformation on a formalistic level changes in meaning occur. Desensitized to the original meaning, similar to the way a soldier can be condition for effectiveness in combat, these panels lose their meaning and become simply a formal transformation of image. At this point, the symbols have been reduced to little more than a succession of aesthetic considerations. This speaks to the way we are anesthetized by the constant barrage of media information surrounding the tragic events in our global society. These paintings are meant to represent a façade.