memory w/out words (after Dorsky), 2018
Graphite and watercolor on paper
15 3/4 x 18 3/4 inches (124.5 x 47.6 cm)

Colter Jacobsen (b. 1975, Ramona, CA; lives and works in San Francisco, CA) bases his pencil drawings and watercolor paintings on found snapshots. He makes two versions—the first is an exact rendering of the image, and the second is drawn from memory. The artist describes his subject as the way “the dream of memory gets watered down and changes”.

memory w/o words (after Dorsky) references a Nathaniel Dorsky film screening in which the film inadvertently melted in the projector, turning the illuminated image of a buddha’s head to a bright white screen. According to Jacobsen, the shock of this technical malfunction wrenched the audience from their visual reverie into audible gasps, a moment that stuck with the artist. The title of Jacobsen’s work comes from Dorsky’s own description of his films as attempts to make memories without words, a concept that Jacobsen has wrestled with since.