I am totally serious about this.

Samuel Rowlett


Notes on Park River Canoe Spelunking Expedition 7/17/12 Hartford, Connecticut

As sure as the echoes of our adventure still reverberate in the tunnels under Hartford, so too does the lingering squelch of the unseen city bubble forth from our still damp sneakers.  

Perhaps, I might funnel philosophic effluent through this singular experience?  

Of primary importance, I must begin reflection with the empirical: on seeing something new, or as it were, NOT seeing something new.  Not, not seeing for lack of light, but instead for feeling something new, for I felt that tunnel with my very skin -changes in pressure, direction of wind, shifts in temperature, moth wings fluttering.  I listened with ears outstretched like antennae.  Each scrape a screech.  Each bump a repetitious thump-thump.  Each trickle a torrent.  My nose drank of the dank funk, drunk of the dunk of oars, each splash a crash and a micro-plume of must.  

The experience of things new, created (moreover re-contextualized) for me an even more sensorial landscape than I imagined possible.  

I might theorize that this tunnel, this hydraulic toreador, this engineered rectangle, functions like a picture plane stretched out away from me in either direction, like the odd sensation of walking between two mirrors that face one another, creating a gateway in time.  Time however, without light to mark its passing, only the constant flow of the river.  The dear Park River having been de-riverized into something darker -an anti-river.  The reflection-less reflection of something paradoxically more unmistakably of the human hand and yet less familiar to us having been stripped from nature.  

I felt a bit of what art we know of, from ancient caves.  For down there under Hartford, my thoughts raced and visions from my mind became projected into the darkness around me, onto the dark walls, the blank slate, the tabula rasa, the unmarked canvas.  

The Park River is in my mind, a stick of charcoal, a black branch burning at both ends.

-Samuel Rowlett




(A not entirely out of date) Artist Statement

My recent work presents a series of investigations into the unreliable film of memory and an awkward state of quasi-adolescence.  It is vaguely autobiographical and partly invented history.  I have come to realize that my memories of youth are so under-the-influence of peer mythology and popular culture that it is impossible to unravel them.  They are projections of a kind of childhood of the collective unconscious.  My work attempts a mytho-psychological space –the puerile need for reckless heroics and alter ego.

The kid reaches a transcendental nexus in the act of play, an almost god-like sense of purpose, a simultaneous state of heightened consciousness and perfect oblivion.  It's almost as if he has stepped out of the stream of time and ceased to be a mere mortal altogether.  There is something both heroic and futile in the Houdini-like attempt to escape the bounds of reality.  Everyday occurrences take on epic proportions.