"Captain Richard Lumpkin Emerges From the Flaming Wreckage of His F4 Phantom Jet in the South Arkansas Forest"
When my dad was 31 he rode the back seat of an F4 phantom jet into the ground.They were flying so fast, the aluminum wings ripped through branches before the whole spine of the plane crumpled on impact with a south Arkansas hillside. Then the fuel exploded. I used to find charred pieces of the metal honey-comb wings hidden in plastic bags in the garage like the bones of some unburied family pet.
He was navigating. The pilot was flying. They both died, faster than they could do anything to stop it.
This past year, I turned 31, the same age my Father was when he died. He's been on my mind a lot this year and keeps showing up in my artwork. I keep finding things about myself that came from him even though he didn't raise me. He never emerged from that crash. The notion that he or anyone could have is pure fantasy. But the image keeps coming back to me and showing up in my work.
I made this piece combining scans from books, an ink and water painting of mine and the digital artifacts of a corrupted PDF file splintering off in a thousand directions. I made the collage in my iPad, adding the layers over one another. I wasn't trying to create the image of my father, I was only arranging the layers until, all of a sudden, it became the scene the title talks about. In one gestalt pop, it became another image of my dad emerging from the wreckage.
Much of the conversation at the Brehm lectures surrounding McLuhan suggests that the media, more than the content they carry, have a profound shaping influence on us as humans. But even when a new medium is exerting its shaping force on us, ultimately we bring our own meaning to it as well. The tool of the iPad and software enabled me to juxtapose the images, but it was the intersection of these images with my own personal history that snapped the meaning of the image into focus for me.
The medium may be the message but we are the choosers of the media and the interpreters of the messages.
Matthew Lumpkin is a polymath. That's all he wanted his bio to say. If you want to know more, visit his website where you can learn about the music he makes, the talks he gives, the images he sketches, and the conversations he is starting.