Throughout the history of Jewish culture, the image has been inseparable from the word.
Question: What balance dornyou strike between your teaching, writing, science, and art?rnrn
David Gelernter:rnNowadays, I spend my time mainly painting. I havern an exhibition coming up. Generally speaking, I rnspend more time painting than doingrnanything else, except for writing. rnI’ve been writing pieces for—some pieces connected with DLD wherern I gotrnto meet Frank Schumacher, who's been associated with the meeting for rnsome time, andrnis an editor and publisher at the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and a rnremarkable guy. So, I agreed to write a series ofrnpieces for them and he’s a wonderful guy and I think Europe is more rninterestedrnin the implications as opposed to the immediate market meaning ofrntechnology. I mean, I don’trnthink people are better educated or more thoughtful or any different, rnthey’vernjust got a somewhat different focus. rnI think growing out of the nature of the European market and the rnoriginrnof so much of the technology in the United States gives them one degree rnof remove,rnwhich I think is useful. There’s arnlot of thoughtful people over there.rnrn
Question: What is thernfocus of your new art exhibition?rnrn
David Gelernter:rnWell, let’s see, this is the latest of a series of exhibits at Yale, rnwhich is arngood place for me to exhibit. Irnlike to sell paintings, not from galleries, but from a more informal,rnone-on-one way, and so a non-commercial gallery space in which to rnexhibit, is, forrnme, very useful. I mainly—I’vernbeen trying for many years, I should say for many decades at this point,rn tornfigure out what Jewish art is, if there is such a thing. rn It’s come to seem to me that Jewish artrnis paintings of words. Not justrnpaintings in which words appear, or words on a wall, but paintings in rnwhich thernwords themselves have meaning and decorative significance and conceptualrn weight. It’s hard to describe an image,rnespecially one that is somewhat idiosyncratic, but anyway. rn General idea.rnrn
Question: How doesrnJudaism shape your work?rnrn
David Gelernter:rnGenetically, to begin with. When Irndo think up pictures, my own job description is an image thinker, as rnmanyrnpeople have been, and what I do is a matter of the images that float rnthrough myrnhead. Many people think in images,rnit’s hard to say how many. rnCertainly many people think in images some of the time. Many people think in images virtuallyrnall the time. When I’m working inrnsoftware, I’m thinking of the picture that needs to appear on the screenrn orrnthat needs to appear in the user’s head in order to make sense of the rnsoftware. In the studio, more directly, I try andrntake as any painter does, as any artist does, tries to take what is in rnhis headrnand make it concrete which is a constant—which is a struggle, which rnisn’t easy,rnbut is what art has always been about.rnrn
When I write, I tend to write vividly or try to rnwriternvividly, and it’s also a matter of the images that drift through one’srnhead. So, this is the way I dealrnwith the world, picture-wise.
Recorded on April 1, 2010.