a certain kind of presence

I’ve been wondering lately how to better share the rich resource of information hiding on pages in this site. For its first decade, the awakened eye was a self-hosted website, and it seems that the content enjoyed much higher page rankings then than it does now, hosted (freely) on WordPress. I have come to understand that blog posts, being interactive, tickle the toes of the search engines in ways that static pages do not.

My new plan is to present much of the material published on static pages, as posts. These will not simply be replicated pages; they will link to the original pages but/and also contain fresh material. I hope this strategy works to introduce both old and new subscribers to more information that may be of interest, and that it throws a hook to the robots so that the artisans and writers who have contributed to the site will feature more prominently in search results.

Usually when a new artisan is added to the artisans’ gallery, a blog post is published to introduce them and their work. However there are a few who were added years ago when the site made its quiet entry into online orbit, who missed out. Let’s start with them.


Vija Celmins:

 

Vija Celmins - Night Sky 3

Night Sky, 2002

Made, invented – it is not the image experienced in life, but in another reality. – VC

Influenced by Ad Reinhardt’s Twelve Rules for a New Academy 1953, Celmins started to consciously strip away elements in her art and rejected gesture and composing. Returning again and again to ocean views, lunar surfaces and star fields she depicts vast expanses and creates depth through her investigation of the image and her chosen material. Most of her images are painted or drawn very close to the edge of the surface she is working on and seem to extend beyond the canvas and into the space occupied by the viewer.

The focal point is the small compressed image in front of you; the illusion of space from the image stays on it. As the artist describes it, the image is ‘pinned down, in your mind it wants to expand out. Reality (the art) makes it stay where it is on the wall.’

As I was working with the pencil, I got into some of the qualities of the pencil itself. That’s how the galaxies developed.

Although Celmins has been associated with several art movements during her career she seems always to have operated outside the dominant trends of the day. The rigour and the intuitive nature of her process has restricted the volume of her creative output and in turn limited displays of her work. Celmins works at her own pace and has likened herself to the spider for its precise and industrious constructions.

Maybe I identify with the spider. I’m the kind of person who works on something forever and then works on the same image again the next day. 

 

Vija Celmins - Web #1

Web #1, 1999

Tedious [work] for some; for me it’s kinda like being there. 

For Celmins a work of art doesn’t represent anything but itself. Through the photographic source material of oceans, night skies and deserts she relentlessly explores the image and the richness of its variation. As subjects they are united by their depiction of boundless nature and suggestion of the infinite.

I’m not a very confessional artist, you know. I don’t ever reveal what I’m feeling in my work, or what I think about the President. I use nature. I use found images.

In Celmins’ work however, the subject matter is secondary – her primary interest is that of making.

Sometimes I’m convinced that there is nothing else but the physical act of making the art.

The reason I think I do images that require so much time is that I feel the physical work itself lets some other thing that came through, letting something unconsciously seep through, some subtlety that my brain was not capable of figuring out…

 

 

I do like kind of impossible images. I mean images that are hard to pin down. That aren’t like a tabletop and an apple, but images that are really almost like mind images. Images that are space but they’re hard to grasp. But then they’re very graspable here, I mean, I make them accessible through another way, through manipulating the paint.

And from the video, a comment that will strike deep into the heart of those engaged in a contemplative art practice:

I really do like a lot of solitude. It’s impossible to do anything without it.

More: Vija Celmins at the artisans’ gallery

 


Sources: PBS Website and National Galleries Scotland
More information at Wikipedia and Here

Images © copyright Vija Celmins


artisans

artisans’ gallery


 

the art of nondual nonfinito

A review by Jonathan Jones recently posted at The Guardian – The definition of artistic greatness: Unfinished … Works from the Courtauld Gallery – has prompted me to reblog this post from wonderingmind studio First the post, then some tasters from the review.


 

Cézanne and the art of nondual nonfinito.

Or – getting emptiness exactly right

 

Paul Cézanne - La Montagne Sainte Victoire, vue des Lauves

La Montagne Sainte Victoire vue des Lauves, 1901 – 06, Paul Cézanne

 

As Cézanne aged, his paintings became filled by more and more naked canvas, what he eloquently called nonfinito. No one had ever done this before. The painting was clearly incomplete. How could it be art? But Cézanne was unfazed by his critics. He knew that his paintings were only literally blank. Their incompleteness was really a metaphor for the process of sight. In these unfinished canvases, Cézanne was trying to figure out what the brain would finish for him. As a result, his ambiguities are exceedingly deliberate, his vagueness predicated on precision. If Cézanne wanted us to fill in his empty spaces, then he had to get his emptiness exactly right.

For example, look at Cézanne’s watercolors of Mont Sainte-Victoire. In his final years, Cézanne walked every morning to the crest of Les Lauves, where an expansive view of the Provençal plains opened up before him. He would paint in the shade of a linden tree. From there, Cézanne said, he could see the land’s hidden patterns, the way the river and vineyards were arranged in overlapping planes. In the background was always the mountain; that jagged isosceles of rock that seemed to connect the dry land with the infinite sky….

And yet the mountain does not disappear. It is there, an implacable and adamant presence. The mind easily invents the form that Cézanne’s paint barely insinuates. Although the mountain is almost literally invisible – Cézanne has only implied its presence – its looming gravity anchors the painting. We don’t know where the painting ends and we begin…

– Jonah Lehrer: Proust Was a Neuroscientist

 


 

Michelangelo - The Awakening Slave ca 1520 - 1523

The Awakening Slave, 1520 – 23, Michelangelo

 

The greatest works of art in the world are unfinished. This is not a provocation. Leonardo da Vinci’s dreamlike, infinitely suggestive sketch of a painting The Adoration of the Magi, Michelangelo’s tortured Prisoners struggling to attain human form from blocks of rough-hewn marble, Cézanne’s fragmentary, unending studies of Montagne Sainte-Victoire – for me these unfinished masterpieces literally are the definition of artistic greatness.

 

Leonardo da Vinci - Adoration of the Magi

Adoration of the Magi, 1481, Leonardo da Vinci

 

When artists like Cézanne, Monet and Degas started leaving their paintings in an ambiguous and aleatory state in the late 19th century the bourgeoisie were shocked. Where were the immaculately detailed meadows full of identifiable flowers, the clinically exact nudes and historically accurate costumes they had come to expect?

 

Claude Monet - The Roses, 1925 - 26

The Roses, 1925 – 26, Claude Monet

 

Why is the unfinished such a powerful thing in art? The answer is in our minds. A brightly complete work of art leaves nothing for our brains to do. Unfinished art on the other hand provokes the imagination. It invites the onlooker to collaborate with it. Our relationship with the artist is suddenly much more intimate – Michelangelo’s chisel marks left on his incomplete statues are breathtakingly personal.

Less is more, and it is genius.

– Jonathan Jones

Unfinished … Works from the Courtauld Gallery, 18 June–20 September 2015


The absence invites the Presence. “It is there, an implacable and adamant presence.” The forms are barely insinuated, implied, yet they “anchor” the work, and the mind easily participates in the act of co-creation.

Where does the painter end and the painting begin?  Where does the painting end and the viewer begin?  Who can say?  This, as Jones observes, is the real genius of great art.


 

what does the poet see?

Visual language is poetry in its own right, yet when a poet with the capacity to view a painting without bringing the common interpretation of its language to bear, other, deeper and wider dimensions of perception can arise.  Poets sometimes employ another – usually visual – work of art as an entry point to their own creative expression and there’s a name for this form: ekphrasis.  Often the resulting poems convey a deeper symbolism than is obvious; they can open up a surprising new dimension of meaning.  (I wrote more about ekphrasis in this post about Howard Nemerov‘s poem, Vermeer.)

The work of haiku poet Gabriel Rosenstock has been featured on this site several times – he’s almost our unofficial poet-in-residence. (You’ll find links to his other pages below.) Well-known for his collaborative haiga with photographer Ron Rosenstock, Gabriel recently sent me these examples of his ekphrastic haiku. He includes three versions of his haiku – Irish, English and Japanese. (The latter are translations by Mariko Sumikura.)

The artworks are by Marc Chagall and Rene Magritte – details are included at the foot of the post.

 

Chagall-Rosenstock haiku 1

 


 

Chagall-Rosenstock haiku 2

 


 

Magritte-Rosenstock haiku 1

 


 

Magritte-Rosenstock haiku 2

 


 

Magritte-Rosenstock haiku 3

 


 

Magritte-Rosenstock haiku 4

 


 

Magritte-Rosenstock haiku 5

 


From top:
Marc Chagall, Le Violoniste Bleu,1929
Marc Chagall, Cover, Souvenir Program for Ballet Russe, ca 1945
Rene Magritte, Le Mal du Pays (Homesickness), 1940
Rene Magritte, Golconda, 1953
Rene Magritte, L’Inondation (The Flood), 1928
Rene Magritte, The Pleasure Principle, 1937


Books by Gabriel Rosenstock

Blog: roghagabriel.blogspot.ie


disappearing in the haiku moment

a glimpse of a god

rosenstock & rosenstock

being in love with light


 

pop goes the perceiver…

For those of us whose interest in the mechanics of perception and the arising of visual experience runs deep, contemporary Dzogchen teacher Jackson Peterson offers a pithy lay summary. What are the implications for us as ‘artists’? What are we actually attempting to express? Are we furthering the illusion of a solid-state world or are we inquiring into its genesis? What can we express about the ubiquitous “knowing sentience”? And where does this leave us as viewers of both art and the world we feel is so unquestionably ‘real’? Fasten your seat belts!

Perception is an acquired phenomenon.
– E H Gombrich


 

Understanding our visionary world experience of ordinary perception as being a mental or brain/mind construction arising instantaneously, from moment to moment, is a profound insight. The Source creates visionary experience through a human brain. Having a human brain is the only way to have uniquely human experience.

 

Glass Brain Project visualises brain activity in 3D

 

Perceptions, as neurological, electro-chemical signals, are processed and immediately appear as virtual 3D images like a movie. Along with that arising of a movie-like experience is the arising of a perceiver. It’s not that there exists a pre-existing observer that ‘views’ the various movie-like perceptual images, but rather the ‘perceiver’ perceiving arises with the perceptual vision, as a part of the projection.  The perceiver is imagined.

This is identical to what occurs when we dream at night. The dreamed self-identity is not a pre-existing entity that then ‘views’ the separate dream scenery, rather the perceiver of the dream scenery is equally a simultaneous projection of a subconscious creativity. The ‘perceiver perceiving’ is a mental projection. The same is true in the waking state. There is no actual separate ‘perceiver of perceptions’ other than an imagined one. The ‘me’ is merely a projection of karmic propensities. There is no actual aware entity within that milieu of projected me-thoughts, me-sensations and me-beliefs. What that ‘me’ does or intends is purely determined by karmic or brain conditioning. So free will loses all meaning. There is no ‘me’ entity that chooses or decides anything.

 

Human Connectome Project

 

There is no stable and objective universe ‘out there’. There is only the world and universe manufactured by your brain/mind at any, and every, given moment. There is however a vast and infinite quantum electro-magnetic informational field that moves or waves through the body’s perceptual organs, which becomes the basis for the 3D movie that appears in consciousness. And actually the movie doesn’t appear ‘in’ consciousness, but consciousness appears as the 3D virtual movie along with its artificial ‘viewer’. All events are occurring only within the brain.

 

Human Connectome Project

 

Light is not bright nor colorful. Light is invisible. The brightness and colors we see in our ordinary vision only exist in the brain/mind. Brightness is a brain manufactured phenomena, along with all the objects we seem to see. Again the perceiver of objects, brightness and colors is also a mentally manufactured entity made up of neural conditioning and conceptual designation. There is no actual entity that ‘sees’. When we fall asleep at night that entity disappears and is replaced by a new dreamed entity that also thinks it’s seeing pre-existing dream scenery. It’s constructed to think that, the same as our waking state ‘self’ thinks that it is seeing a pre-existing world.

 

Human Connectome Project

 

Sound only exists in a brain. The universe is silent. Movements of molecules cause the ear drum to vibrate, which creates electro-chemical signals from which the brain creates the inner neurological experience called sound.

We think we smell the fragrance of a flower, but instead no “scent” enters our nostrils, only odorless molecules. The brain then creates the fragrance as a neurological experience from odorless molecules.

Taste is the same. Foods contain no flavours; only brains do.

Sensations of pressure and heat and cold are the same as well.

Seeing that the experience and substance of our dream visionary experiences is identical to our day time ‘waking state’ visionary experience, in that both are both equally 3D brain/mind manufactured projections, is a profound insight. Neither the viewing subject nor the scenery viewed are other than subconscious projections occurring in the brain/mind. There is no real person ‘in there’ having experiences. That whole ‘me’ story is also just a projection of electro-chemical neural activity. The entire notion of being a real individual person, an autonomous self, is pure, brain generated fantasy.

 

Human Connectome Project

 

But a quality of knowing sentience pervades all experience equally. It’s not viewing the dream, but rather the dream or experience is what ‘knowingness’ is. It’s like the reflections that appear in a mirror. The brain and its functioning are also reflections appearing in the mirror of knowingness. But the mirror is never a person with an identity or personal story. That entity is merely a holographic reflection that appears and disappears completely from moment to moment with no continuity. There is no personal self except as an assemblage of neurological signals arising in the holographic, 3D movie that we call ‘our life in the universe’.

By noticing the inherent presence of knowing sentience to be within and AS all experience equally, that ‘noticer’ itself will dissolve into its changeless mirror-like, transparent awareness without border or center.

No one realized anything. No state became stable. That ‘me’ as a seeker just disappeared, dissolved, like a foggy mist that naturally evaporates in the morning sun.

– Jackson Peterson


See Jackson Peterson’s website – The Way of Light

He is also very active on Facebook, which is where I sourced this article. It has received only minor editing. Thank you Jax!


The top image is from the Glass Brain Project.

“This 3D brain is not a model — it’s a real human brain, firing electric signals as it thinks. “We are not just recording brain activity in real time, but also visualising it for people to experience how the brain functions,” says neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley of the University of California San Francisco, who built the Glass Brain project along with the Swartz Centre at UC San Diego.”

Visit the link to play with the model – it’s a wonder in every sense of the word.

The remaining images are from the gallery at the Human Connectome Project.

“Navigate the brain in a way that was never before possible; fly through major brain pathways, compare essential circuits, zoom into a region to explore the cells that comprise it, and the functions that depend on it.

The Human Connectome Project aims to provide an unparalleled compilation of neural data, an interface to graphically navigate this data and the opportunity to achieve never before realized conclusions about the living human brain.”

You will never think of so-called grey matter in quite the same way again. Or, indeed, your world.

The only thing worth expressing is the inexpressible.
– Frederick Franck


the Face of faces

seeing without shadows


tethering art to truth

 

I’m delighted to have added a new page to this website’s educational resources:
Contemplative Fellowships offered by the Hemera Foundation

 

Hemera Foundation Fellowships

 

Can art serve to help the world, and, if so, what does that require of the artist? It is our belief that there are certain practices for the artist that help address this question, such as contemplation, meditation, retreat, listening, and discipline. As a result, we are providing a context for artists to investigate those elements on their own and within community.

We believe that art has the capacity to genuinely help our world, to instill it with sanity, awareness, joy, and beauty. This does not mean that art has to look a certain way or achieve a standard aesthetic or tone, nor is it an endorsement of a “love and light” approach to art. It does mean that art needs to be tethered to truth, according to the logic of the process undertaken or the piece being created.

How does one cultivate this tether to truth? Our inspiration has been through slowing down, making friends with oneself through meditation and contemplation, spending the time to develop one’s craft, know one’s materials, and fine-tune the senses as tools for communication. Most of all, we are interested in supporting artists in genuinely finding their way.

– Text and graphic sourced from the Hemera Foundation website


The Hemera Contemplative Fellowship programs were created to make the unique benefits of contemplative practice in a retreat context more widely available. Find more information on this page:

fellowships for contemplative artists