This on-going series of works revolves around the fractal-like patterns, often called viscous fingering, produced when a high viscosity liquid (or gas) is injected under high pressure into a lower viscosity liquid (ink). I’ve always been interested in fractals, not just as abstract, mathematical expressions, but methodological and visual ones as well. How do I create a body of work that’s devised from a fractal-like process? 

Eight handcut inkjet prints, foamcore, spray paint and laminated MDF frame
Approx. 32” x 37”

These works, which sprout from a random discovery at the printing press, encapsulate the ubiquity of fractals as seen in plain sight throughout our world. All of the objects in this series are derived from  a unique form of printing developed in my studio. The resulting prints I’ve termed Viscosotypes. From these prints come a variety of analog and digital art objects. Together they create a kind of self-multiplying microverse of shapes, patterns and objects with an evolving mythology of their creation and purpose.

Gradient Viscosotypes
Viscosotype on hardboard with clear spray enamel
Sizes varied (approx. 9” x 11”)

The Spiral-Verse

The Spiral-Verse is the culmination of nearly six years of research, experimentation and iteration within the viscosity body of work. This piece  was installed at Cove St Arts in Portland, ME, for a group exhibition titled Gargantua & Lilliputian--curated by studio friend, master printer and artist David Wolfe of Wolfe Editions. The installation plays off one of the centrally atractitive qualities of fractal geometry--self-similarity at ever greater and diminishing scales. The goal was to create a body of work that is not only visually fractal, but made by a fractal-like process of self-reference. A fractal of a fractal of a fractal, and so on. Even more, the work is distilled in the continuation of derivitive works--such as the characters featured in the section below.

The Spiral-Verse
325 Scroll-sawed viscosity monotypes on hardboard with acrylic and lacquer.
Approx. 11’ x 8’

The Viscosities

The characters below, otherwise known as the Viscosities, were digitally extracted from the print (also below) The Elder. The Elder is of the first generation of impressions made in this body of work. Contained in it, such as all of the impressions made in this series, are a multitude of characters or beings. Each of these characters is considered a whole-part, that which is simultaneously whole unto itself and part of another whole. They are the building blocks of the subtle, evolving mythology of this expanding body of work.

Viscosities of The Elder
Digital extractions
The Elder
Scanograph inkjet
54” x 34”

Meroloch the Many Limbed
Carved MDF, acrylic paint & rubber ink.
25” x 42”

Untitled Drawing
Graphite on paper
6” x 6”

Copyright 2024 Carter Shappy