War Museum Series 2011 - 2014
At the center of Scott Sawtell’s practice is an exploration of empathy. He purposefully chooses subjects which he has strong and passionate opinions about, but no actual experience with. In-between the two extremes of tactile experience and imaginative experience is a large crevice. Bridging this crevice is empathy.
Sawtell has never been a direct victim of war, nor has he been a soldier. His experiences of war are all imaginary; mediated through movies, books and the media. This type of false experience is what War Journalist Chris Hedges refers to as the “Mythos of War”.
Sawtell writes “My experience is partly a complex mixture of awe and repulsion, but most importantly a feeling of detachment. I am painfully aware of this detachment. This detachment has a duality that is both emotional (I want to feel stronger about these things) and intellectual (I know I am looking at objects of destruction, but am attracted to them).”
His process is to create the image and then obstruct or abstract, and continuously recreate and reconstruct and then obfuscate. He views this abstraction as a way to show simultaneous creation and destruction, plus to hint at a third possible emotional experience. These mediated images to reveal the chasm between the “tactility” and the “mythology”.