As young boy in Vietnam, Tomas made money by taking care of the surfboards of American G.I.s stationed in his city. One G.I. in particular took a liking to him and introduced him to the Beatles, and by extension, the international community. This G.I. was a sniper, a literal killing machine who spent his days exploiting the possibilities of mechanized violence. Yet the modern technologies that gave birth to his violent job also allowed him to play the Beatles for a young boy, changing my life and giving the G.I. a sense of personal redemption.

Thus the inherent tension of technology – its possibility to both enhance and destroy life – was apparent to Tomas at a young age, and continues to inform my work

The surfboards are modeled on the alaia, a pre-20 th century Hawaiian surfboard that was traditionally between 7 and 12 ft long and made from koa wood. Tomas’ boards, like many modern alaias, are constructed from paulownia wood rubbed with linseed oil. They are produced using natural material shaped with human hands, and are thus variable and imperfect. The imagery and text are then laser cut on these boards, employing a mechanical process to describe a mechanized future.

The imagery on the boards describes a dystopian vision of our future, an epic clash between man and machine, nature and technology, which I see as the defining tension of our modern era. The visual idiom of these drawings consists of layered, open spaces that evoke both topographical landscapes and gravity-less space. The compositions are de-centered: the activity is thrown to the periphery, suggesting a moment in which order and chaos seem to hang in the balance. This cosmic space is populated with industrial detritus and efficient technologies of war that crawl in and amongst tangles of anthropomorphic and organic forms.

Complicating this further are the Beatles songs with which the imagery is paired. The Beatles were known for their often-random lyrics, with many of their songs no more than word collages (think “Revolution 9” or “I am the Walrus”). Yet, though the Beatles often explicitly protested “deeper meaning” being projected onto their works, the songs have become transcendent and universal.

That the boards will eventually comprise every Beatles song ever recorded is not incidental, as with Flatlands, his intent is to create something that mutates through multiplicity. Whereas selecting individual songs could curate the viewers experience into a narrow space, using all of them allows meaning to proliferate. The songs and images are paired randomly, allowing connections to come about naturally, many of which are only evident to the viewer. It also puts the emphasis on not particular songs, but the fact of the Beatles and their cultural impact as a whole, which reverberates just as strongly fifty years after they were recording.

The Fifth Season, Fredric Snitzer Gallery, Miami FL, 2018