I always use three lines/three dots on anything I do. Sometimes they’re front and center, the focal point of the art, and Sometimes they’re obscured- hidden in the backdrop or repeated in a pattern so as to be less noticeable.
I began doing this because of the greek character Ξ, Xi. There’s a few layers of meaning there, and all of them combined made me interested in the symbol/shape, and that interest led to me using it as a part of my signature for a while. After that it migrated, getting further detached from my initials, and becoming more a part of the artwork. And from there it just sort of infiltrated every piece I make.
Back in the 80s-90s I was really interested in mindhacks and psychedelics and pTv and related art and music.
I did some work with sigils. I’m not a believer, not even agnostic, but I do know that our subconscious is a strong force, and that affecting it, changing it, tinkering in there, can bring some odd results. Working with visual symbols is one of my ongoing experiments- using an eye as the main focal point in a painting that is smaller and might be stolen from a gallery (even the most abstract eye affects the behavior of the people around it- see this study for details) or using hands, in various gestures, to suggest action to the viewer.
So while I have an abiding interest in all these things I am not any kind of believer. I do entertain the idea that Jung may have had a good point about how symbols and visual cues lead us, and have an impact on our lives, so it’s always been my effort to find ways to incorporate these things, at least subtly, into my work. The three lines/dots is a personal symbol, though, which I use in my art to influence MYSELF. So in the sense of it meaning something to the viewer, maybe- it’s done intentionally as a prompt to myself while working, though.
I like studying the I Ching, not for its woo-woo forcefield of prognostication, but for its base symbolism. The trigram Ξ in the I ching means, “the force of the small”, power in a detail. Doubled, as a hexagram, it represents creativity.
Qian is the creative.The activity of qian is often fraught with tragedy (…), because humans with their finite vision embrace qian in lopsided ways, and their creative activity gets shunted into groupings.
(from ASSOCIATIONS ON THE TRIGRAMS OF THE I CHING by Denis Mair)
This trigram represents transcendence. Going beyond, creating. Being uplifted. It has a really positive association for me, because of this.
..also the XI card in tarot is strength, or passion..
The old name for this card is “Fortitude”. I think of it as stoicism in the pursuit of a passion; the ability to master forces opposing a goal. In the Crowley deck (gorgeous artwork!) this card is named “Lust”, in the sense of great desire or passion in life. again- for me, these are really positive associations that can remind me, even if subconsciously, the drive and determination to finish a piece, to keep working even when things suck or are falling apart all around me- to keep pushing even when the art piles up and nobody wants it and my wrists hurt and I’m tired. It also reminds me to make my work as potent as possible.
Ξ is a letter of the greek alphabet.
In mathematics, it represents several things- the universal set (an all encompassing set of numbers/equations), implying wholism. Or, in chemistry, the extent of a reaction- the resonance of it.
It can be used to represent the number 60- making it the centerpiece of a sort-of-moronic controversy about the number 666, of which it’s the central character.
It’s also used, turned to its side, as a symbol for conditional equality in an equation. In other words, the answer will hold true in that case but may not hold true in others. as in X≡a*b
There’s an uncertainty about it.
Then, there’s the lines and dots together. First of all, I call them sweat lines, because they remind me of the way cartoonists draw sweat popping off of a character who’s in trouble. But they also are a druid symbol, related to inspiration. Since, again, I am not religious at all, the whole “food of the gods” story here doesn’t mean much- but the idea that inspiration can appear from outside the self, and be disseminated then by the things you create with that…I can get my hooks into that.
Three dots is an ellipsis, implying that there is more to come, that the thought is unfinished…
I have a tiny tattoo on my hand of three dots. Yep, it’s a ‘Mi Vidi Loca’ tattoo. Yes, my life has been crazy. I tend to draw from all that weird experience in the things I make and do.
There’s more to it too, I have a bit of a compulsion to do things in sets of three in general. So even when I use the three lines/dots as a background pattern, they’ll appear in multiples of three throughout the piece. But all that’s a story for another day.
(originally posted 03/29/2013)