The most fundamental takeaway from the excerpt of the book Seeing is Forgetting, and I believe that there are many, is what Irvin says about his own practice. He says:
“We are past minded, in the sense that all of our systems of measure are developed and in a sense dependent upon a kind of physical resolution. We tag our renaissances at the highest level of performance, whereas it’s really fairly clear to me that once the question is raised, the performance is somewhat inevitable, almost just a mopping-up operation, merely a matter of time. Now, I’m not anti performance, but I find it very precarious for a culture only to be able to measure performance and never be able to credit the questions themselves.”
It is an interesting quote especially considering the time he was in which he was working. With contemporaries such as Frank Stella or Mark Rothko. The works of these artists were striving toward the finish of the ideas that Irwin was asking questions about, but rather than the finish of the idea of the depth and boundaries of the canvas. But Irwin was interested in the journey. The exploration and the process itself was what he considered to be his art. Although he admits that he had some work that was seen to its conclusion, he sounds almost bored by it. It was the curiosity and the development of the processes that was exciting to him. It was also during this time that people like Miles Davis were changing jazz to its highly improvisational form. Something more about the process than the end result of what is now called jazz fusion.
The excerpt of Seeing is Forgetting was also a fantastic insight to that process that Irvin was so interested in. When speaking about dots the author chose some fantastic quotes about how the painting “blushed, and you blushed back.” It would seem that this was about the answer to the question that Irvin was asking, but the author talked so much about the painstaking process of achieving it, and in a way implying that it was only the beginning of that inquiry because it led Irvin to the disk work. Which he said was more about experiential rather than intellectual concerns. Something evocative and emotional.