member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life

This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo

(Slideshow is of Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Liminal Spaces

In keeping with the theme of dissolving the rules of the board, turning a heavily regulated square with distinctly outlined, limited possible positions into, well, wonderland, I am here posting a few of my paintings:

Winter Queen Rides the Baku

The Baku is a mythological character, which, according to Nicholas Christopher, has a lion's head, a horse's body, and tiger's paws. He eats bad dreams. Here the queen rides him off the board, or the edge of the world.

And then there's the member of the court that never bothers with the court rules, or cultural rules:

Court Jester

This is the joker, present on three levels of life or three universes: the "normal" one; the emerging reflection from the water (i.e. the emotional realm; in dream theory, water usually represents emotions, and then supposedly every person and thing in your dream represents some aspect of you, the dreamer, and so it's as if the physical world is only a reflection of the emotional world inside you-- so actually, which jester here is the reflection?); and the distant reflection-- so far away, it's a constellation, like a macrocosm version of the pair (jester and female mask), again like in dreaming or like fractals: snowflakes, for example, are set up the same as fractals, meaning one snowflake is made up of a gazillion miniature versions of the whole snowflake-- so here, the entire universe is the same jester and his female mask or consort or presence, replicated however many times until it makes a constellation, and then the constellation is replicated however many times until it makes a universe, and so on. Like the way myths are reflections, and they have their representatives in the stars, and how the jester normally carries a mirror so he can show us our "true selves' " part in his behavior. Or the way sometimes you have to look at something a million different ways before it makes sense.

I put a few of my paintings into a video called “Liminal Spaces,” which I'll post here:

Set to Air's "Empty Houses," and guarded by Gabriel's "Dreamland Security."

liminal |limnl| adjective technical 1 of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process. 2 occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold. ...exploring the space between dreaming and waking, between universes, between "streams" of reality, between the subjective and the objective, etc....

And, According to Wikipedia:
"Liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning "a threshold") is a psychological, neurological, or metaphysical subjective, conscious state of being on the "threshold" of or between two different existential planes, as defined in neurological psychology (a "liminal state") and in the anthropological theories of ritual by such writers as Arnold van Gennep, Victor Turner, and others. In the anthropological theories, a ritual, especially a rite of passageinvolves some change to the participants, especially their social status.

The liminal state is characterized by ambiguity, openness, and indeterminacy. One's sense of identity dissolves to some extent, bringing about disorientation. Liminality is a period of transition where normal limits to thought, self-understanding, and behavior are relaxed - a situation which can lead to new perspectives.

People, places, or things may not complete a transition, or a transition between two states may not be fully possible. Those who remain in a state between two other states may become permanently liminal."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Perception and "Reality"

I am looking here for solid visual aids and powerful emotive stimuli to help my subconscious along in its attempts to accept the idea that there are many universes, and that those many universes may in fact all be overlapping, occupying the same space; that it's not immense speed that we need in order to visit other streams of reality, it's simply a more masterful application of our visual capabilities, of our awareness. My conscious mind accepts the new physics. Greedily. Now I must train the rest of me.
This is a record of that search, and also a record of my own attempt to create doorways out of walls, and windows out of mountains. Following that visual theme, I'll start with a story borrowed from “The Holographic Universe,” by Michael Talbot, in which he relates an experience with a hypnotist his father had hired to entertain some friends at his house. The hypnotist performed a variety of the usual tricks with his subject, a friend of the author's father, named Tom:
“But the highlight of the evening was when he told Tom that when he came out of trance, his teenage daughter, Laura, would be completely invisible to him. Then, after having Laura stand directly in front of the chair in which Tom was sitting, the hypnotists awakened him and asked him if he could see her.
“Tom looked around the room and his gaze appeared to pass right through his giggling daughter. 'No,' he replied. The hypnotist asked Tom if he was certain, and again, despite Laura's rising giggles, he answered no. Then the hypnotist went behind Laura so he was hidden from Tom's view and pulled an object out of his pocket. He kept the object carefully concealed so that no one in the room could see it, and pressed it against the small of Laura's back. He asked Tom to identify the object. Tom leaned forward as if staring directly through Laura's stomach and said that it was a watch. The hypnotist nodded and asked if Tom could read the watch's inscription. Tom squinted as if struggling to make out the writing and recited both the name of the watch's owner (which happened to be a person unknown to any of us in the room) and the message. The hypnotist then revealed that the object was indeed a watch and passed it around the room so that everyone could see that Tom had read its inscription correctly.
“When I talked to Tom afterward, he said that his daughter had been absolutely invisible to him. All he had seen was the hypnotist standing and holding a watch cupped in the palm of his hand. Had the hypnotist let him leave without telling him what was going on, he never would have known he wasn't perceiving normal consensus reality.” (141)

That's what I mean when I say I want to make doorways out of walls.

The part of the puzzle I feel is represented by the chess board, if I continue following the imagery of Alice in Wonderland, is the social conditioning that limits what we see. For example, there is the Bartlett Effect. The Bartlett Effect is a major problem when the only evidence you have in investigating a crime is eye-witness testimony. Numerous experiments have shown that several people all present at the same event won't see the same thing. Your average, averagely fearful white suburbanite will tell you that the perpetrator was a tall black man. Thirteen people present at the same bank robbery will all point confidently at someone different in a line up: someone who was in Germany at the time and so couldn't have been there, someone they saw on the news, one of the other victims. Anyone the police officer next to them seems keen on. This is your mind, having bracketed the world into patterns, seeing what it expects to see. People get frightened in these scenarios, and if your mind can’t grasp what it sees, it’ll do a little overdubbing--see something it can grasp. In fact, according to current neuroscience, we actually “see” very little. We take in a bit of information through our eyes, and our brain fills in the rest based on memory, past experience-- what we expect. The breakdown can be somewhere close to 50/50: fifty percent of what we think we're seeing is in fact only what we're expecting to see based on a combination of what we've seen before and our inherited cultural expectations. (And then, a lot of what we've seen before was already based on those inherited cultural expectations...)
The following section of a BBC documentary on the brain plays with this idea a bit:

Now, if all that's true, then all kinds of amazing, impossible things could be happening right in front of us all the time, and we just don't see them. Right?

Rob Gonsalves' paintings are another fantastic representation of how training yourself to see from more than one perspective at once can allow you to see more than one existence at a time. Here's hoping this becomes a talent off the canvas as well:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

On Alice in Wonderland

Because we should all take as many trips down the rabbit hole as possible...

Maggie Taylor's photography (and her website) has that mysterious, impossible feel to it that lends itself well to Alice in Wonderland. The book "Maggie Taylor's Landscape of Dreams" is also oddly fascinating.

you can see more of her work here:
and here:

Another excellent interpreter of Alice in Wonderland, but in an entirely different vein, and in black and white, is Abelardo Morell.

He also uses a technique called camera obscura, which is when a room is closed off except for a pinprick of light from the outside, and a large format camera is left with an open shutter for a long period of time. The effect is, to me, like a visualization of the modern theories in physics which suggest that many realities are occurring in the same space, that parallel universes overlap. It just takes a very intense sort of visual ability to perceive them...

That they are set in bedrooms adds a dream-like quality: if you were lying down in the bed, maybe with your eyes closed, this is what you would see...

And then, I love his photos of the Romeo and Juliet set at the Met:

You can see more of his work here:

And then, if you need more help getting past Newtonian Physics, Economic Laws, and other Useless Rules, I recommend Haruki Murakami's "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World."

You can get an impression of him here:

Also, not to make this endless, but one must have the proper chess set for this sort of event, and it has been made my Gil Bruvel:

It is the mechanical world versus the natural, organic world, and the artist makes it quite difficult to decide.