The Drawers - Ed Varney   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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For Font's Sake

THE FUTURE, in capital letters, will always be a vague and philosophical notion. It is also rife with cliché and our imagination, although it can extend towards that unavoidable time, tends to clothe the future in sci-fi imagery. Ed Varney lays down a digital premise as the ground for the collage - a starry sky with a technological design to the lettering of 'the future'. He addresses the earth, gravitationally situated, backlit by a rip. His choice of earth imagery varies from vague semblances to city lighting or an undersea shot to more graphic depictions that we recognize as 'earth'. With one collage element juxtaposing the set-up location, he floats a new idea, this time pristinely cut out and pasted so that it could be a digital rather than a virtual application.

By describing the object in each piece and stating what is seen, the message comes through. For example, “A vehicle with open doors floats over a landscape” or “A snorkel clad woman leaps into space above a field of cows.” Crazy disconnects in an eerie silence slows down the movement towards The Future as we attempt to make sense out of the diverse items. There is a stock taking in place where the random associations of elements may or may not be clueing us into the mysterious and unknowable future. Instead, a singular idea of the future is clarified, a visual moment that could be as possible as any other visualization of The Future. The dominating words, however, are what promotes the inquiry into the reason that the particular 'earth' and 'object’ has been paired off. It is a clever way of approaching the union between text and image and balancing the weight and importance of the concepts suggested by both the words and the visuals.

The pen and ink words that make up the pieces War and Peace also vacillate between text and image but this time it is the tracing of the silhouettes of the letter, an act of the artist's hand, that is the visual element and the words, addressing monumental themes, are carefully recorded by the unusual process. Varney, with a life long dual practice as both a poet and a visual artist, exercises a sensitive power-of-one in the painstaking process, with the words using the alliteration and grammatical construction to put forth the messages.

Ed's work has been text based from the get-go. A co-founder of Intermedia Press, Vancouver, an active poet, and a versatile potentate of multiples, he has galvanized the diverse output of artists far from his geographical area. He was one of the early initiators of mailing correspondence projects dating back to Junk Bonds and continuing through his famous stamp editions. Both the insides and outsides of envelopes, globe trotting from post box to mail bag to destination, have displayed the results of his generated visuals. He is a puppet master, pitting and playing Word with Visual in a manner that, like the familiarity of Punch and Judy, tackles the problems of our everyday concerns in a recognizable way.

Copyright © 2007,  Julie Oakes