Sandwich Isle Romantics: Deeper, Deeper Diamond Head!

By Johannes DeYoung and Natalie Westbrook


Far from Tony Oursler’s suburban psychedelic, it rises from Pacific blue, calcite cliffs glimmering siren-like allure.  Once upon a time, explorers drifted in its wake and in 1889 Mark Twain famously pined:No alien land in all the world has any deep strong charm for me but that one, no other land could so longingly and so beseechingly haunt me, sleeping and walking, through half a lifetime, as that one has done.  Other things leave me, but it abides; other things change, but it remains the same.  For me its balmy airs are always blowing, its summer seas flashing in the sun; the pulsing of its surfbeat is in my ear, I can see its garland crags, its leaping cascades, its plumy palms drowsing by the shore, its remote summits floating above the cloud wrack; I can feel the spirit of its woodland solitudes, I can hear the splash of its brooks; in my nostrils still lives the breath of flowers that perished twenty years ago.Laeahi, brow of the tuna, was long ago mistaken for riches.  Nineteenth Century British sailors called it Diamond Head, fooled by its calcite crystal mirage.  It haunted Mark Twain like a mythical Bali Ha’i.  The Beach Boys spied the island through the prism of their 1968 Friends album, but not before The Ventures found its staccato rhythm. In time, the lonely sea will reclaim Gaia’s ancient orgasm.  Now the rock stands half-erect in the middle of an ocean.What remains of Diamond Head is not that distinct from Oursler’s psychic crater, a 1979 video that appropriately shares the name: the cultural creep into the jungle, human or otherwise.  What is it that gets inside the mind of far-out travelers?  What vertigo draws them nearer and nearer the brink, deeper and deeper inside?

The histories, allegories, visual mysteries, and polymorphic natural forms of ancient and contemporary Laeahi inspire the work that we’ve shared with Title Magazine.  The collages and GIF animation are parts of our own collaborative Diamond Head project, an ongoing multi-media collection of video, animation, and collage.  The GIF animation was created especially for Title Magazine as an experiment in viewing the work in this web-based platform.

Johannes DeYoung received his MFA from the Cranbrook Academy of Art.  His work is currently on display in Microwave at Grizzly Grizzly until May 26, 2012, and Ego Loser at Real Art Ways in Hartford, CT until June 17, 2012.

Natalie Westbrook received her MFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Yale School of Art and her BFA from The Cooper Union.  She has recently exhibited at Vaudeville Park and Interstate Projects in New York, and Reynolds Gallery in Virginia.