In 1934, an edition of Raymond Roussel's epic non-narrative poem, New Impressions of Africa, was published with a series of illustrations. In Roussel's prose and poetry, one imagines de Chirico-esque vacancies populated by impossible machines and humans performing unmotivated actions. The illustrator was Henri Zo. Roussel never met Zo. Zo never read the poem; and anyway the instructions for drawings that Roussel sent to Zo, through a detective agency, had a tangential connection to his already opaque poem. Roussel sent Zo generic phrases such as, 'Nocturnal landscape. Very starry sky with a thin crescent moon. (no people.)' Zo would send him an adequate illustration. These illustrations have a beautiful blankness to them, probably due to the lack of narrative information given to the illustrator who functioned as a sort of police sketch artist trying to reconstruct Roussel's brain from disembodied fragments of thought.
In an essay published after his death, Raymond Roussel revealed his writing process. His abstract prose was based on pre-existing puns, plays on words or synonyms. He allowed himself to become a machine that produced verbal dreamscapes after being fed their linguistic coordinates. Roussel, it turns out, like Zo, was doing the most he could with the information he could be sure of; the information that he saw as data. By placing his subjective impulses at the mercy of givens, Roussel created some of the most subjective literature of the modern era. He also invented the first mobile home and the first (and last) wall insulated by vacuum tubes. Roussel is a good example of the fact that true madness presents itself as logic. This opens up the idea that our computers may be crazier than we are.
In his series of drawings, Life On Other Planets, Weinstein has taken a selection of these Roussel/Zo illustrations as source material. He has altered, stretched, edited and then drawn them using japanese sumi ink and pen on watercolor paper. Into each drawing he has inserted painted solar flares that fill the blankness and stillness of these drawings with illuminations, special effects; a glimpse of a double moon from another planet. Weinstein's drawings, which utilize painting, airbrush, hand drawing, as well as computer vectoring, are odes to Roussel's prescience in testing the boundaries of one's mind by looking at it as a silent machine. Like Roussel, Weinstein begins with selected data (the drawings) which he outputs as new cultural artifacts using his hand/machine techniques. Having opted to get a degree in Art History and not Studio Art, Weinstein's process has always been to select moments from cultural history and, instead of re-representing them or appropriating them, he wholly absorbs them and transforms them into something new until the original content, or data, is unrecognizable.
The phrase 'Life On Other Planets' is suggestive of a parallel universe where things are the same but somehow unfamiliar at the same time. Like the transformation of history into the present or the transformation of content into culture, art can isolate the strangeness and wonder of the everyday.