With a propensity for lenghty internal monologues, I have come to realize that nothing is new but merely appropriated from something else. There are no new ideas. Although this fact alone may be the source of eternal despair for any creative person, it is both humbling and inspiring. All I can aim to be is a maker - a maker of things; a maker of visual casseroles.
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Category Archives: philosophy
Painting is often difficult to talk about. Especially Contemporary Painting.
According to Neil Campbell (an artist, curator and educator at Emily Carr University), painting has the ability to “deliver you to the artist’s mentality.” He offers mentality in the broadest sense, implying the full human spectrum of mind-body-spirit: rational cognition, intuition, emotions, physical rhythms, affects and experiences not necessarily rooted in the verbal (Monika Szewczyk). The activity of Painting can be interpreted as an investigation in mind-expansion.
Thirteen strategies for enjoying Contemporary Painting.
Spend time with it. The average viewer spends less than 20 seconds experiencing a painting. It probably took the artist longer than 20 seconds to make it. You would be doing yourself a great injustice by dismissing it so quickly. Even if did take the artist only 20 seconds to make, this 20 seconds is the product of a lifetime of practice.
Be an active participant. As a viewer, you are responsible for completing the artwork for yourself. What you see and feel are often very different from what you say. Each painting has the unique ability to deliver you to a space that is beyond verbal language. The artist is merely the mediator and the artwork is the backdrop for discovery! There is a subtle intelligence to painting. The maker had an intimate relationship to it, so in experiencing it, you are experiencing yourself.
List of possible questions:
How do I feel when I stand in front of it?
Where does it take me?
What is the artist’s agenda?
Do I care to figure it out?
Can I sense the underlying structure and logic of the system?
How does the scale interact with my body?
What colours and techniques did the artist use?
Is this an illusionary space or a flat surface?
How does the medium describe the ideas inherent to the work?
Is this image a response or reference to something other than itself?
Realize that there are no set meanings in visual art. Many kinds of knowledge cannot be understood by the mind but enter the body in ways we cannot describe with words.
Appreciate that the physical presence of a painting bears weight. For it to exist in public means that it has a presence in the canon of art. Once an artwork leaves the artist’s hands, it takes on a life of its own and now belongs to its audience.
Know that a large part of visual art is Frustration. Anything that is too easily obtained isn’t worth having.
Appreciate that each visual work has its own language. Even though we are all made of the same evolutionary hardware, we are all different and express in different ways. Some people are good with words, others are good with pictures.
Realize that having eyes does not imply knowledge about Visual Art. Sight is more than just owning a pair of eyes.Visual art and music are probably the most readily consumable forms of expression out there because everyone feels entitled to their taste and sense of value. The difference between participating in art and being an art consumer is the amount of time invested and intentions behind the effort. Doctors go to medical school to advance the knowledge of the human body. Scientists devote their lives to research in order to advance our definition of science. Artists go to art school to expand the definition of art and in doing so, growing our awareness of what it means to be human. So to recap, to know something about visual language is more than just consuming with your eyes and knowing how to write a cheque.
Be aware that words like post-modern and contemporary just imply the acceptance of uncertainty, change, possibility and turning inward. Artists working today are concerned with expanding the definition of how painting functions as a medium and how you can re-interpret and re-inhabit this two-dimensional surface without repeating the past, unless doing so intentionally. If all else fails, make fun of yourself.
Know that Visual Art is more than a comparison game. If you hear someone saying, ‘oh my child could have done that,’ the fact is that they didn’t. Art requires creativity and creativity lies in the ability to take an idea and execute it. Everyone can criticize in hindsight, but how many actually follow through with their ideas?
Enjoy the Silence. Silence creates a space for interpretation and growing one’s awareness. Quiet time for yourself means that you are open to inspiration that is everywhere, all the time, available to anyone with an open, untroubled mind. The collected sum of these moments can be defined as one’s sensibilities. What you see in a work of art are the collected sensibilites of an artist’s lifetime of practice and discipline. Children are often more receptive to inspiration. Perception is reception.
Realize that liking and disliking something are relative terms that don’t mean much. If you do not
‘like’ a work of art, could it be that it is simply foreign territory? We tend to be drawn to things that validate our own existence and when something is unfamiliar, it can create an existential crisis.
Be Present. Let go of what you need to do later on and what you’re having for dinner. Your anxiety is not welcome here. Everything is perfect in this moment. Enjoy it!
How is information disseminated and communicated? The power of the image often shocks me. I subconsciously emulate familiarity whether it is grasping for (what I thought was) my favourite colour but is really a product of clever marketing or copying the mannerisms from my favourite television character and altering my behaviour. Why can’t I be accepted for what I am and not what I should be (according to somebody else?) Then again, I usually have to remind myself that the key to easing my discontent is in seeking my own acceptance of self and no one else’s.
Can I not distinguish truth from illusion?
Many of us have eyes and yet we do not see. If we have ears, do we hear music or is it merely noise?
Perhaps it is less about what one ‘says’ per se and more about the nature of the medium used to express it.
Language is a very powerful tool for communication. We are each versed in a variety of languages, often switching back and forth amongst many on a daily basis to communicate various kind of information. Text, image, light, sound, touch, etc, each hold their own unique language set that you and I may or may not speak. For every purpose, there is a different language set. Have you ever noticed the way you transform and adapt your language when speaking to your parents versus clients, colleagues or lovers? How do we engage with other people, places and ideas through language?
We seek the company of others. Yet is it mainly for enjoyment or for validation? If we are constantly speaking, are we really communicating? Or are we merely seeking company so that we may feel validated by the reflection of ourselves through another? Are we gathering information to share or merely waiting in desperation to offer our opinions when no one was asking for them? Where is the silence? To remain open means quiet presence – a kind of tuning fork capable of delving into the subtleties that lurk beneath the surface.
Maybe you are not stupid or a bad listener but that I am bad talker or maybe we’re not speaking the same language despite the supposed ‘english’ label. Or perhaps something in you is part of me but I can’t admit it.
We are all lost and We are all found, as long as we are here together.
How am I not myself?
I am not myself when I let this moment slip away without being here. Being now. Or now.
Where am I?
Elsewhere upstairs where reality fades and a new language divorces me from myself.
I am not myself when I am elsewhere.
Away from this moment. Away from my breath and my body and living in my mind. I have ceased to be me, when the me I thought I knew has taken a trip far far away. The me I become is a construct of mind, speaking in a language I don’t recognize. Do I want to live here where the dinner conversation is fractured at best?
A moment, waiting to be enjoyed and missed because of my troubled mind. The yearning for something that is not and the rejection of what is. I know little. What I do know is true. Truth reveals itself to me when I don’t need it. Fleeting moments of awareness and action spring forward and open me to the inspiration that is everywhere, all the time. I am not open to it when my distractions live with me.
Nature is mother. When I detach from me and mother becomes other, I am dislocated. When I breathe the sea air and hear its song, that is reality. When the me I thought I was turns on the radio, the me that is here goes upstairs into the unreality of intellect and politics. To live here means the death of now. They murder me and dampen the sound of quiet joy. The me I want sometimes forgets the words to a song that I once knew. But I’m learning it again. The People Doing Very Important Things All the Time tell me that the body serves the mind. But the children tell me that it’s the other way around.
I am you and you are me. I can only know me through you. You and I make three.
We are not alone when we are here. I can only be me when I surrender to this moment that we’ve shared. At times painful, but always fair.
When everything has a home, I am home. When I am aware of this, the moment is gone, waiting to be re-discovered. My limited grasp of perfection slips under my feet like a shadow. Acceptance of me allows myself to simply be.
“ascetic” (adj.) derives from the ancient Greek term askēsis (practice, training or exercise).
Originally associated with any form of disciplined practice, the term ascetic has come to mean anyone who practices a renunciation of worldly pursuits to achieve higher intellectual and spiritual goals for himself or herself.
Lecture at Cornell University – Agnes Martin
I want to talk to you about “the work”, art work.
I will speak of inspiration, the studio, viewing art work, friends of art, and artists’ temperaments.
But your interest and mine is really “the work” – works of art.
Art work is very important in the way that I will try to show when I speak about inspiration.
I have sometimes put myself ahead of my work in my mind and have suffered in consequence.
I thought me, me; and I suffered.
I thought I was important. I was taught to think that. I was taught: “You are important; people are important beyond anything else.”
But thinking that I suffered very much.
I thought that I was big and “the work” was small. It is not possible to go on that way. To think I am big is the work is big.
The position of pride is not possible either.
And to think I am small and the work is small, the position of modesty, is not possible.
I will go on to inspiration and perhaps you will see what is possible.
As I describe inspiration I do not want you to think I am speaking of religion.
That which takes us by surprise – moments of happiness – that is inspiration. Inspiration which is different from daily care.
Many people as adults are so startled by inspiration which is different from daily care that they think they are unique in having had it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Inspiration is there all the time.
For everyone whose mind is not clouded over with thoughts whether they realize it or not.
Most people have no realization whatever of the moments in which they are inspired.
It’s a peaceful thing.
It is a consolation even to plants and animals.
Do not think that it is unique.
If it were unique no one would be able to respond to your work.
Do not think it is reserved for a few or anything like that.
It is an untroubled mind.
Of course we know that an untroubled state of mind cannot last. So we say that inspiration comes and goes but really it is there all the time waiting for us to be untroubled again. We can therefore say that it is pervasive. Young children are more untroubled than adults and have many more inspirations. All the moments of inspiration added together make what we call sensibility. The development of sensibility is the most important thing for children and adults but is much more possible in children. In adults it would be more accurate to say that the awakening to their sensibility is the most important thing. Some parents put the development of social mores ahead of aesthetic development. Small children are taken to the park for social play; sent to nursery school and headstart. But the little child sitting alone, perhaps even neglected and forgotten, is the one open to inspiration and the development of sensibility.
Cosmic Trigger I deals with Wilson’s experiences during a time in which he put himself through a process of “self-induced brain change” as well as vignettes of his earlier life. The main discovery of this process—which, he tells us, is known in certain traditions as Chapel perilous– is that “reality” (although a noun in most Indo-European language systems, and therefore commonly conceptualized as being a definite, unchanging “‘thing”) is mutable and subjective to the observer.
Wilson employs several models for his experiences, such as the interstellar ESP connection, during which time Wilson enters a belief system (or as Wilson prefers to call it, reality tunnel) in which he is communicating telepathically with extraterrestrials residing in the Sirius star system. Wilson states, however, that this belief system does not necessarily have any objective truth, which highlights his main point: that all such models—whether spiritual or scientific—are just that: models, or maps, of the world, and they should not be confused with an objective, permanent reality. Throughout the book, he makes references to specific paranormal personal and group experiences, yet he does not allow himself to become convinced of their reality apart from his perception of them. He calls this approach “model agnosticism“.
As the title suggests, the book also deals with the Bavarian Illuminati conspiracy (which Wilson neither rejects as utterly false, or embraces as true, in keeping with his theme) and other related intrigues. The work also touches on a wide range of other subjects, from Timothy Leary‘s thoughts on brain circuits, JFK’s assassination, through to Sufism and numerous occult practises.
The “fringe” physicists Jack Sarfatti and Saul-Paul Sirag are prominently featured in this book. Wilson describes Sarfatti’s early intuitions about “signal nonlocality” (see current papers of Antony Valentini http://eprintweb.org/S/authors/All/va/Valentini ) i.e. “information transfer without energy transfer”.
In January of 1954, just a year before his death, Albert Einstein wrote the following letter to philosopher Erik Gutkind after reading his book, ‘Choose Life: The Biblical Call to Revolt’. Apparently Einstein had only read the book due to repeated recommendation by their mutual friend Luitzen Egbertus Jan Brouwer. The letter was bought at auction in May 2008, for £170,000. Unsurprisingly, one of the unsuccessful bidders was Richard Dawkins.
Princeton, 3. 1. 1954
Dear Mr Gutkind,
Inspired by Brouwer’s repeated suggestion, I read a great deal in your book, and thank you very much for lending it to me … With regard to the factual attitude to life and to the human community we have a great deal in common. Your personal ideal with its striving for freedom from ego-oriented desires, for making life beautiful and noble, with an emphasis on the purely human element … unites us as having an “American Attitude.”
Still, without Brouwer’s suggestion I would never have gotten myself to engage intensively with your book because it is written in a language inaccessible to me. The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still purely primitive, legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this. … For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstition. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong … have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything “chosen” about them.
In general I find it painful that you claim a privileged position and try to defend it by two walls of pride, an external one as a man and an internal one as a Jew. As a man you claim, so to speak, a dispensation from causality otherwise accepted, as a Jew of monotheism. But a limited causality is no longer a causality at all, as our wonderful Spinoza recognized with all incision…
Now that I have quite openly stated our differences in intellectual convictions it is still clear to me that we are quite close to each other in essential things, i.e. in our evaluation of human behavior … I think that we would understand each other quite well if we talked about concrete things.
With friendly thanks and best wishes,
Letters of Note http://www.lettersofnote.com