I remember the first blog post at ITP I wrote was for icm, the assignment was to talk about what artworks or artists we were inspired by, and I chose Irwin as one. Two years ago, when I read the book Seeing Is Forgetting The Name Of The Thing One Sees for the first time, not only it was such a great reading to understand Irwin's works with much more depth, it also provided me confidence in the state of being uncertain of results yet certain and determined to experiment.
Irwin's works to me, is using so subtle, so gentle yet powerful persuasions to let us see or discover "things" that have always existed within the eye frame, yet we normally ignore or unsee by our own unconscious filtering.
"If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite."
A quote from the book of a quote found in another book, James Turrell's notes in the LACMA documentation of the Irwin collaboration.
Irwin's certainty and determination of taking detours, "... until he's finally arrived at what makes sense to him. ... the artist measures from his intuition, his feeling. In other words, he uses himself as the measure.","... it is pursued for no reason whatsoever; it is the project of the passionately curious. The wilderness is stalked by explorers without maps and without any particular goals : their principal compass is their reason.". What is often overseen in Irwin's works, is his scientific approach and methods of experimentation and iteration, over and over, as his works are visually extreme subliminal and beautiful. Irwin's ability to abstract and concentrate on familiar almost trivial elements and put them into a complete different context for the artist himself and the spectators to truly see them again. I say this as also, Irwin's writings and notes often do not follow grammatical norms, exploring the phenomenal aspects of words, allowing us to devour each selected words ever more. (* this an afterthought of Irwin's book Notes Toward A Conditional Art)
The way I see Irwin as a true inspirational source, is to break or turn away from norms and social myths that often play as unnecessary filters and deluding shades, and truly see even the most trivial or mundane things in infinite possibilities.