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Wally Gilbert – Crossing Lines


Post by Corey Armpriester

Delicate dark chocolate squares and tiny ceramic cups half-filled with espresso slowly consumed in a small studio kitchen; flying high on my caffeine buzz (and feeling over confident) I start a modest conversation about art, science, robots and genetically modified foods with the artist that helped map the Human Genome Project, 1980 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, Wally Gilbert.

Wally Gilbert, Four Faces
Wally Gilbert, Four Faces, digital print

Corey Armpriester -When you were 14, you created a telescope that could photograph sun spots.
Wally Gilbert -Yes, actually a telescope-camera

CA – Are Solar flares responsible for global warming?
WG – No, I’m afraid it’s people. The best evidence is the increase of carbon dioxide in the air, and that’s human caused.

CA -Do you always trust your perceptions?
WG -Complicated question, there’s a whole question in science about “What’s the nature of an observation that people can agree on.” My perception, which is only something I can see, can be misleading in many ways. That’s a big discussion we can get into ranging from optical illusion or what the nature of deceptive perception is.

Wally Gilbert, Tall Color, digital print
Wally Gilbert, Tall Color, digital print

CA –Sacred Geometry runs through some of the photographs in the series “Vanishing” you have on exhibition at LACDA, is that intentional?
WG – No, I’m not interested in sacred geometry — it depends on what you mean by Sacred Geometry.

CA – Geometry and geometric patterns created for a specific purpose, often used for manipulating one’s environment and or influencing the human brain.
WG -I’m still not clear about what to think about Scared Geometry. In one sense the use of imagery to manipulate the mind is of course part of what’s going on in that show. It’s interesting because it does have an effect on your mind, an effect on your eye. What I’m doing is creating patterns I find interesting, they entrap my mind in a certain way.

CA -Art and business have what common?
WG – Very little, art and science have more in common.

CA – Are you a self taught artist?
WG -Basically, I hadn’t gone to art school.

CA – Where do you get your inspiration?
WG -A lot of inspiration was from seeing elements of the world and photographing elements of the world.

Wally Gilbert, Red Point, digital print
Wally Gilbert, Red Point, digital print

CA – Why did it take you so long to dedicate your life to art?
WG – Tricky question – because I was doing something else.

CA – Why did that “something else” take priority?
WG – The commonality between art and science is essentially a strong creative element in both of them. The urge to be creative I could satisfy in science. The rules around each are different.

CA -Is visual art only for the eyes?
WG – Eyes and brain, the eyes are an extension of the brain.

CA – Can art exist in a robot world.
WG -No, because I think art needs somebody to appreciate it. I make images I love and enjoy. I’m delighted when other people enjoy them.

CA – Is there an art gene?
WG – No I don’t think so. Maybe we can come back to that question.

CA -Which do people fear most, art or science?
WG -People fear science more than they fear art although they may hate art.

Wally Gilbert, Squares, digital print
Wally Gilbert, Squares, digital print

CA – How important is the distribution of influence vs. the consumption of influence?
WG -I don’t think that’s a meaningful question.

CA – Does Genetically Modified foods have an affect on human creativity?
WG – No

CA – That was quick.
WG – It’s nonsense, all the food we eat is modified by human manipulation.

CA – Does light shoot through the double helix?
WG – That’s a metaphor, not reality.

CA – Back to the art gene.
WG -I don’t know.

CA – Your “Tall Tilted 3Cd” image resemble brain wave patterns that create an argyle design forming an army of bug men wearing crowns, is this my projection or a real thing in the work?
WG -I think it’s a projection of yours. It’s pure pattern.

Wally Gilbert, Tall Tilted 3Cd
Wally Gilbert, Tall Tilted 3Cd, digital print

CA – Have you volunteered any cells from your body to the Human Genome project?
WG -I thought of getting sequenced but I haven’t gotten sequenced yet.

CA -What’s the cost for divergent thinking?
WG – It can be lonely and unpredictable. I can say the art world is divergent.

CA -Is there room for god in your life?
WG – No room for that, no.

CA -Thank you Wally.
WG – You’re welcome

Wally Gilbert will show 24 new images from his recent abstract work in VANISHING at Los Angeles Center for Digital Art to Jan. 2, 2010. 107 West Fifth Street
, Los Angeles 323-646-9427  More images and information about Wally Gilbert’s art here.
–Corey Armpriester is a Philadelphia artist. He can be contacted directly at