Design pioneer, neo-futurist, and novelist Bruce Sterling reflects on Half-life’s tug-of-war between human hope and failure in The Sleep of Reason, an essay the gallery commissioned to accompany the exhibit. In it, Sterling portrays Rockman as an alligator at a watering hole. “Though he is known for the searing clarity of his paintings, there are things below the waterline that he does not paint,” Sterling writes. “He decided, as an act of deliberate will, to maintain his amphibious ambiguity. An ambiguity about the boundary of man and animal. An ambiguity about the borders of nature and artifice. Of art, of science.” Rockman started this series two years ago, before the current economic crisis. So while the work has an uncanny timeliness to it, it’s almost as if he had the foresight to know this moment would not call for another Manifest Destiny — or any other detailed illustration of our failings. Half-life has just enough of the good stuff, enough reminders of the beauty and hope of humanity to hang a life raft on.
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