J I M   S E R B E N T

These artworks fall into three categories: abstracts, photographic-based works and video art; sometimes these divisions overlap. The dominant medium used for the first two is the archival pigment print. Regardless of category, all are by design open to interpretation, each work given the freedom to speak for itself.

“Individuality of expression is the beginning and end of all art.”

— Goethe

Following rules and conventions, emulating other artist’s styles or being associated with schools, groups, trends, or movements have been eschewed in pursuit of abintra creativity. It is this liberating independence from what is expected, hot, current, or commercial that affords me true, total freedom of artistic expression.

On a virtual tabula rasa I lay down intuitive mind’s eye imagery and ex-perimental treatments of photographic works.
Because my prints are almost always multi-layered or multi-paneled, often incorporating video-processed imagery, I consider myself more of a digital print maker than a fine art photographer. The print works bifurcate into abstracts and the Zen-influenced Koan Series. Many of the abstracts are unique in that video feedback, a process exploited by video art pioneer Nam Jun Paik, played a significant role in their creation. Video art works vary from the purely abstract, accompanied by soundtracks of electronic tonalities, to highly structured narrative compositions with original scores.

“Modern art must of necessity remain in the state of experimental research if it is to have any significance at all.

— Marsden Hartley
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Experimentation and imagination provide the springboard for these compositions. Using intuition and enthusiasm for the mind’s-eye image — brief and fleeting — the basic idea processes through a fusion of video, electronic transmogrification, photography, and extensive hands-on digital brushwork. The result is a final print that works visually and registers emotionally. Many works were self-revealing in that they evolved into something quite different than originally conceived — the work itself guiding me toward a surprising conclusion.

“ 'What does that represent?' has no meaning.”

— Fernand Leger

Through the abstracts one can glimpse cosmic ruminations where completely unknown forces are at play. Natural phenomena such as elements of light, clouds, water and earth merge with video-generated forms, fractal imagery and digital brush strokes to reach toward the ineffable. The new Bardo Series features high energy fractals superimposed over multi-layered video feedback backgrounds. This series was inspired by levels of being and states of consciousness rooted in Tibetan Buddhism. Explorations of time, space and place, energy and imagination influence the directions of both the abstract compositions and the Koan Series.

In an effort to leave interpretation wide open, all works are deliberately untitled. Print sizes vary with the largest being 44 x 60 inches. Many are of a numbered, limited edition series; some are one-of-a-kind.

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These works are about impressions, relationships, remembrances and pure chance. The in-progress Koan Series is composed of arrangements of original photographs, artwork and the odd appropriated image. Some are formatted into an irregular grid structure. These compositions can contain as few as two and as many as a dozen or more component images. I have always been intrigued by Zen’s mystique and its promise of transcendence and certain Zen ideas seem to resonate with my existential view of the universe. The koan is not unlike an insoluble puzzle. Its purpose is to throw one completely off balance mentally, for an instant, and in that moment induce a flash of enlightenment and transcendence. My approach is to use the principle of the koan as an influence by combining diverse images in balanced, intuitive, visually compelling compositions.

“We are not here to do what has already been done.”

— Robert Henri

As digital photographic collages, the Koan (Japanese for puzzle) Series encourages intuitive contemplation beyond the surface of what we see. This series subdivides into two additional categories: Tatemono (architectural) and Ganseki (rock). The former melds buildings from all over the planet in intriguing compositions; the latter features pan-cultural faces, masks and images from across the ages transparently layered over time-worn rock formations. As these long-gone visages gaze out upon you, the living, you may find yourself contemplating your own mortality. Allow these works as well as the abstracts to jolt your mind into a new state of awareness. Let them confound conventional thinking and transcend mundane interpretation.


In the Portraiture Gallery are displayed some examples of video and digitally enhanced portraits produced from the 1980s up to the present. People often wear masks that change instantaneously depending upon what and whom they face at any given moment. The Personae series attempts to reveal the myriad masks that dominate human interaction.
The World Trade Center - A Photographic Study is included solely as a memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attacks. If that devastating day had not occurred, these now haunting images would most likely remain as unprinted 35 mm slides stored in my image library. In the 1980s I was captivated by the twin towers of the New York World Trade Center. These architectural behemoths appeared massively imposing yet elegant — and impossibly tall. I was drawn to photograph them repeatedly day and night at different times of the year. Using various lenses and transparency films including infrared, I attempted to capture the surreal essence of these giants.
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. . . range from pure abstractions, The Video Life Form Series, to ambient video works, Retinal Circus, to art / music videos, Out of Dream, Message from Space, Aging Rockers, and Theme from 'Le Sacrifice.' Some video works, originally produced in the 1980s, are undergoing restoration, reediting, and massive revision. In the following decade I created Bent Cross, a pure stream-of-consciousness video based on the overwhelming power of religion and cultural conditioning on the human race. Out of Dream has recently been fully restored, re-edited and extensively enhanced as Out of Dream V2.0. It and Aging Rockers V2.0 are currently being entered in film festivals internationally. New video art works are in production.

“The nature of really serious art is that you don't know what you're looking at. You're impressed by some quality or bothered by some quality. You don't know it's why it's the way it is or how it came to be that way.”

— Robert Storr