Inspired by a mis-communication, Robert Straight and I collaborated on Somnium to explore what making would be like from the perspective of another artist. Using simple tools of our trade—paint brush and camera lens we (mis)communicate and interpret each other’s work. Through the magical lens of spinning tree slices, we visit the original site of inspiration while a contradictory tale of half-truths is told.

The video resides next to a painting. Each piece is the outcome of a meandering conversation about photography, painting, water towers, trees, and inspiration. The video’s soundtrack is a voiceover, read by Bob Straight and written by Amy Hicks, that could be a retelling of a dream, an actual event, or a painter’s inspiration.

Straight’s paintings often reference trees, earth, and astronomy. While watching him work, Bob rotated a metal disk to paint a spiral and I thought of Johannes Kepler’s Somnium (circa 1620) in which Kepler attempts to describe how the heliocentric solar system would look from the perspective of the moon. In this video painting I attempt to link our collaboration to Kepler’s early work with lenses and science fiction—telescopes pointed toward our universe probing to learn what else is out there.

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