Jasper Johns Racing Thoughts, 1983.


“Racing Thoughts” is a representation of the human pattern of thought. We move from one thought to the next, our mind wandering from each one of our life interactions.  Johns describes it as a

 “series of images that ran through my head without any connectedness that I could see”


This illusive background appears familiar. Almost as if when you close my eyes, you see it. The streaks of color, the darting light. It becomes known, recognizable without recollection. Representing the mind at rest, the universal display of colors and patterns are what we fall asleep to. Depicting the moment we close our eyes to the world, we are inducted to a new perception of reality. The title “Racing Thoughts” imprinted twice towards the right, as if we need to remember that these are thoughts, racing thoughts. The arranged images capture the relevant imaging of Johns mind.

Each one of our thoughts have meaning, whether it be personal or impersonal, it holds significance in our mind’s perception of thought. Jasper Johns allows us insight into his mind, images that hold significance in his life. Hidden or unseen, his message is imbedded within each detailing.

The disorderly portrayal of mindful replay in “Racing Thoughts” may seem unconventional. The display may appear as if these thoughts are unusual, unkempt and jittery. But when examining our own mind, our own thoughts, I believe that our own thought map would resemble this piece. We see things that have never appeared to us before, impersonal memories that we remember, redesigning our thoughts through these images. We all do it. “Racing Thoughts” are our thoughts, our enchanted vision. These thoughts are our greatness, our gift of life. Without thoughts, we cannot envision. Without vision, we cannot see the physical and mental realms of life. Without a mind, we are just hollow bodies. So even though “Racing Thoughts” display a random disjoined union, it is one that keeps us being. It is what we see, but don’t see. Reaching the balance of unknown and known, real and imagined.

Jasmine BootheComment