Roman Verostko: The Rocktown Scrolls, Black Elk Speaks

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    The Rocktown Scrolls, Black Elk Speaks



    Pen and ink plotter drawing


    35" x 29"


Artist Statement:

    The Rocktown Scrolls are named after the Pennsylvania coalfield “patch” where I grew up dreaming wondrous dreams while sliding down the ash-dumps. They present colorful algorithmic drawings accompanied by passages selected from a wide range of literature and culture. The passages are written with algorithmically generated glyphs clothing the alphabet with a unique set of linear forms. These coded glyph forms invite us to ponder the nature of language, while the larger colored forms may be savored as cyber-flowers floating in unbounded space.

    My algorithmic work is rooted in the tradition of early 20th-century artists who sought to create an art of pure form. A few years after graduating from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh (1947), my interest turned to the theory and practice of the pioneers of a pure “abstract art,” an art that purists preferred to label as non-objective. Influenced by the work and writings of artists like Malevich and Mondrian, my work turned to a lifelong quest for visual forms that can stand on their own without “re-presenting” or pointing to other realities. All of my current work, generated with coded procedures, continues the same quest for “pure form” that seduced the first generation of early 20th-century purists.

    The glyphs, without spaces, read: “Then I was standing on the high­est mountain of them all and round that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father – Black Elk”

    From Black Elk Speaks, as told to John Neihardt by Nicholas Black Elk, Chapter Ill, The Great Vision, 1932.

Technical Information:

    The Rocktown Scrolls are pen-and-ink drawings executed by the artist using his own software. Each drawing consists of hundreds of lines drawn with technical pens using a pen plotter coupled to a PC.

    For this drawing both the text and the colorful forms were executed with ink pens driven by personal drawing algorithms the artist began writing over 25 years ago. Written in elementary BASIC with DMPL as the command language driving the pen plotter, the code remains a primitive form of algorithmic drawing. It employs elementary procedures using plane geometry, logical operation, and adjustable ­parameter controls.