Earlier this week, I had arthroscopic surgery on my left hip to repair an old injury that was becoming arthritic. This post is an evolving repository of and video loops that I’m creating during my downtime.
Transitions. Sometimes it feels like the holes that we have are equally -if not more- beautiful than what promises to fill them. Here, a paper owl contemplates the circuit that I designed to fit into its eyes. The addition of electronics to a static object adds more than functionality and aesthetics - it changes the identity of the object. Non-electronic things live in a physical world with thousands of years of creative history, while electronic things are very new. What was once an owl then become a robot - perhaps more robot than owl in our estimation. Does the owl stand to lose more than it gains?
Yesterday, I had a great visit to the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. They have a wonderful collection of 20th century paintings in which the artists try to express energies that are *almost* visible. Of course, I saw electricity everywhere! Especially Charles Burchfield and Vincent Van Gogh were operating on the boundary of what can be seen with the physical eyes and what can be sensed with the "third eye" of perception. I also enjoyed their "After Paul Klee" exhibit, especially artists working with ancient symbols and petroglyphs to find new languages to describe psychological, cultural, and perceptual realties that do not convey with representational painting.
Here, I have pushed the language of electronics (elements of a circuit) to adopt the tribal, ritual form of an "electricity maker." The surrounding landscape is vibrating with natural and unnatural energy.
Nostalgia, 2018. Digital photocollage
I've recently read seven of Carlos Castenada's books (about to start book eight). They're packed full of content for artists, especially Don Juan's concept of "seeing" and the nagual (as contrasted with the tonal). This image makes me think of Don Genaro and the miraculous dreaming stunts that he performed to try to awaken thick-headed Carlos. Genaro was a live wire to be sure.
The children born into recent generations have an intimate relationship with machine intelligence. Technology is not a mere instrument of mankind -- it shapes our identity, and machine intelligence is influencing consciousness like never before. Computer-mitigated experience may be artificial, but it is no less "real" to the mind than natural phenomena. Computers have infiltrated the inner sanctum of human beingness. Arguably, our sanity is more vulnerable to Grid failure than our physical survival. As for whatever legacy endures beyond this fragile time in history, imagine the incredulity of future generations. Our stories will seem as far-fetched as flying saucers in the Hindu Vedas. What ordinary Earthling would believe that humans could encode intelligence on a silicon wafer the size of a flea, let alone sculpt the genome of living organisms?
What’s sad about this image is the replacement of ancient archetypes (the sun, for example) with archetypes that will not last (the light emitting diode, for example). Every generation and even civilizations are destined to die, but the archetypes have remained for thousands of years and united us with our ancestors. Our connection to this continuum of human meaning is profoundly comforting and is the basis of human identity (i.e., Joseph Campbell). When a civilization departs from natural, timeless archetypes and adopts symbols that depend upon man’s current technologies, then the loss is infinitely greater — our symbols will perish, and there will be a break in the story of human history.