from and email written to a friend:
...so, I started doing "A City Upon a Hill" before "Non-Vitruvian Man." The image comes from a 1970s Superman comic letters section and not the narrative section. I was in NYC on 9/11 and saw the 2nd plane hit the second tower. What struck me about the image was the cool confidence of Superman, the immense and warming sun and the Twin Towers still standing in the skyline. And as I looked at the image it brought to mind John Winthrop's words from a sermon near the beginning of the Massachusetts Bay Colony...how this new land would represent a beacon...a shining city upon a hill...extolling all the liberties not found in the Old World they had just left. And I wondered if that idea still exists or if America has turned a corner and has a new sense of itself based on a growing experience as an entity and based upon the experience of vulnerability experienced in the attack on the Twin Towers. The sentiment of the image is not the sentiment of our time in this country.
Then, I painted "Non-Vitruvian Man" using the tape to indicate the geometric perfection into which Leonardo fits his Vitruvian Man...the summit of creation in his naked form based on the evidence of his resonant divine geometry. Again, the idea no longer resonates with me and is only an approximation at best and an imposition of idea on particular, spacetime embedded reality. There is no state of nature. Humanity is always and always has been "technologized" ...clothed, empowered by the use of tools, limited but with the means through intelligence to surpass that limit. But the surpassing of the limit is always through super-added means. He is aware of limit and the possibility of failure and darkness.
That made me re-read even deeper the Superman image. Superman is a "state of nature" Superhero. His power is his state. His costume reveals his identity and his state. Batman's hides it and allows him to act for his justified reason. Superman is a Superhero built in the teenage imagination based on the implication of a vitruvian man...a being built in the divine image. Batman is the opposite and inhabits a future world (now here) where he is, always was and always will be a cyborg...part man and part machine. That is his true state. Clothed in technology. He is not naked. His identity is not power.