Freestyle, by Iona Miller
Science-artist Iona Miller on the changing face of artistic production and aesthetic philosophies. If we are going to make art, what motivates us and what media should we choose to pursue into the frontier of human technology?
By Iona Miller, 10/2004
“...to behave is to choose one pattern among many.” ~ Professor Jose Delgado, Yale
"meaning is not something that is attached to or floats between or behind things that can parade before one's mind but something that connects with something deeply embodied in our being." ~Wittgenstein (1973/1958)
"There was a passionate craving among all ... [intelligentsia] ... for a means to express their new concepts. They longed for philosophy, for synthesis. The erstwhile happiness of pure withdrawal each into his own discipline was now felt to be inadequate. Here and there a scholar broke through the barriers of his specialty and tried to advance into the terrain of universality. Some dreamed of a new alphabet, a new language of symbols through which they could formulate and exchange their new intellectual experiences."
~ Hesse, The Glass Bead Game
R. Buckminster Fuller pointed out that rulers in the past made it virtually mandatory through the rules of academic advancement that the smartest minds became specialists, thus missing the Big Picture. In this way they sought to suppress their own overthrow by those more intelligent than themselves by containing their thought-processes. This system creates stricture in scientific and artistic freedom. Hermann Hesse not only wrote the classic introspective novels Siddhartha and Steppenwolf, but won the Nobel prize in Literature (1946) for his final masterwork published under two titles in English: The Glass Bead Game or Magister Ludi. This work (set in the 23rd Century) describes a cadre of individuals and their headmaster -- the Magister Ludi -- engrossed in interdisciplinary play engineering cultural values from behind the scenes. Hesse never forthrightly explained just how the game is played, but gave many hints to its structure for future aspirants seeking solutions to the critical predicament of mankind through Global Architectronics. The Glass Bead Game requires that its players synthesize aesthetics and philosophy. The name Castaglia, the place of knowledge, is the Italian form of the Latin Castalia, which was the Roman name for the spring on Mount Parnassus where dwelt the mythical Muses. Castalia was also the name for the abstract realm of the intelligentsia. Let the game begin.
Free Style is an improvisational aesthetic that uses one’s realtime local surroundings and (synthetic) synchronicities and virtualities from which to create new expressions in any medium or discipline. We can deal with and use “what comes up” in a creative and therapeutic manner; we can intuit, invent, and concoct from the nonlocal information that is at hand if we simply open to that, living artfully from that spontaneous place.
Free style is an intuitive act that is at once intentionally connective with source and presence, thus freeing and directing that which is inside desiring to emerge ~ meta-creativity. Freestyle breaks free from the vault of derivative, corporate, or audience-driven formula production. After all, it takes risk to either succeed or fail.
This is the source of artistic and scientific freedom. We must trust the process; trust our own vision ~ the womb of our subconscious that gives birth to full-blown ideas and inspirations. Freedom of expression means each artist is free to create their own style, weaving into the existing genres of expression, combining, contrasting and injecting their own unique rhythms, modulations, and vision by working at their dynamic edge.
Free style results may be concrete or ephemeral, but the drive comes from a commited perspective on the fundamental nature of reality and our nature. It seeks and sometimes embodies a new way of being, an ethic and aesthetic that is open and psychophysically transformational -- morphogenic. The art of survival equals the survival of art.
Ideally, it is the harmonization of cognitive awareness with empathic and compassionate emotional sensitivity to the zeitgeist of the day. It implies a global conscious awareness "getting the Big Picture" and perhaps doing something about it.
Creativity is a local embodiment, an essentially holistic process of a spontaneous non-local field of influence that can permeate the globe. The creative process, like a hologram encapsultes the entire gestalt at several levels of observation; each part reflects the whole if at lower resolution. In this way we find meaning in an idea, a piece of art, a performance, or a culturally revolutionary invention.
The thrust and dynamics of the creative process are such that intentionality encompasses multiple threads of creation simultaneously rhapsodies of multi-tasking without drudgery. Therefore, there can be no “failure”, for a lost project is easily replaced by another project or process another thread to weave, another melody to play.
“Free-styling” is a spontaneous eruption of the ever-renewing geyser of creativity. It means embodying the process of inspirational flow in each moment ~ artful living. This form of creativity can originate in the sciences/technology or the arts or any combination thereof (i.e., Hypermedia; Science-Art; Poetry Science; Nonlocal Healing; Global Architectronics). It describes the mutual interpenetration of life and art, a recurrent theme in contemporary art.
This negentropic energy leads to the embodiment of something intrinsically valuable and emotionally meaningful from essentially nothing. Therefore, free style is always breaking news; it cannot be anything but fresh.
Characterized mainly by deep feelings and heartfelt authenticity and intensity, freestyling creates a hyperreal random movement that nevertheless has its own tempo and internal cohesion, even when it moves in quantum leaps. A good example is an incredibly stimulating and cross-pollinating conversation or interview, where real rapport is established with context and depth allowed to emerge. It springs from an open-minded perspective based in authentic emergence rather than contrived product.
The medium may be people, behind-the-scenes influence, mentoring, cross-pollination, dreaming out loud, brainstorming, contributing to global dialogue on topical issues, technological shift, process-oriented therapies, Socratic method, or immersive experiences that transform those who experience them. There are many more.
The often unrecognized modalities are virtually infinite and range from formal to informal, academic and highly technical to “street”. All are means of influencing people and environments, through revealing meaning with little or no commercial or corporate interests. Freestyling tells it like it is. It is art that reveals Truth.
The significance or meaning of life is a central topic in philosophy, art, religion, medicine and psychology though any definitive answer remains elusive. Ethics or morals (personal accountability) should help us cooperate with one another. But there is no moral super-principle that undergirds us all besides humankind’s survival. It is clear, however, if humanity should cease to exist, it all becomes moot. We may be throwing away the entire arc of evolution through poor choices.
If we have values, we have to stand up and be counted and speak out for them. Moral agency and status are relative. Meta-ethics examines our notions about what constitutes ethics or morality relative to the position of others. Related issues are lifestyle choices, decisions, respect, impartiality, responsibility, identity, duty, principles, empathy, compassion, and conscience or consciousness.
The flattening of affect or emotional neutrality is the enemy the aspect that conditions poor choices and ethical erosion as the acceleration or speed of cognition increases in our mindnumbing modern lives and we become dulled to the field of perception (Damasio 2004). Its been called information overload and future shock.
Ethics is Aesthetic
How can we rectify our guilt and shame for living so heavily on the planet? We are born and die consuming non-renewable resources, at least under current technological conditions. If there is any ‘original sin’, arguably the necessary evil of consumption is it. This fact of life has led our world into ecolo-nomic crisis, which has spawned multidimensional sociopolitical crisis where no one problem can be solved in isolation and change can wreak havoc in other domains.
Ethics relates to intentionality which means more than self-serving, so-called “good intentions,” individually and collectively. It means living deliberately, with global intentionality, which is an artform in itself ~ living with awareness and acting from that center. It is an aesthetic choice for ‘artful living’, living life in an artful manner in harmony with flow and creativity, choosing enriching experiences over consumerism. Art, which has its roots in primal shamanic culture, has traditionally been associated with the optimistic ‘Bohemian’ ethos rooted in Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Love.
The question of what makes for a human life that is good for the person living it has been at the heart of ethics since the Greek philosophers enquired into eudaimonia (‘happiness’) (see Aristotle; Eudaimonia; Happiness; Life, meaning of; Plato; Socrates). Once again, aphilosopher’s theory of the good will almost always be closely bound upwith their views on other central matters (see Good, theories of the). For example, some of those who put weight on sense experience in our understanding of the world have been tempted by the view that the good consists entirely in a particular kind of experience, pleasure (see Empiricism; Pleasure). Others have claimed that there is more to life than mere pleasure, and that the good life consists in fulfilling ourcomplex human nature (see Perfectionism; Self-realization). Nor have philosophers forgotten ‘the bad’ (see Evil; Suffering; Suffering, Buddhist views of origination of). Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Our philosophical ethics are tied to our aesthetic sense and metaphysics, to our worldview ~ especially for artists and scientists. The mechanistic view is one of greed-creating scarcity, a sense of there not being enough of whatever resources to go around (Fuller). The worldview provides the ground for our beliefs, ideas and lifestyle choices about what is right and what is wrong.
This paradigm is tied to our health, both logistically (through the locked-down healthcare delivery system) and biologically. Healing is the biological form of creativity, and it is both a science and an art, which is why it is practiced. In a mechanistic view our bodies are machines which get worked upon by experts, rather than holistically healed by compassionate providers who cooperate with us in our healing process. For much of the planet, none of this is even an option.
Everyday we witness the reckless extinction of species after species, culture after culture. We live at their expense, and some even find that acceptable. The planet has degraded and its fundamental resources such as water and soils depleted and mined out. Meanwhile the human population has bloomed like algae. Who is to say how long it is before human existence becomes untenable?
This is not a new topic, obviously. It has been the subject of earnest speculation for some time, even before public awareness of the global population bomb (see ZPG). In 1968, the Club of Rome formed a multidisciplinarian team to analyze the precarious predicament of mankind. As an experiment, this endeavor gets mixed reviews as the results have been used to justify another round of Western imperialism.
Recognizing the complex interactions, scientists, educators, economists, humanists, industrialists, and national and international civil servants from ten countries began to think and act globally. Their stated aims were to bring new understanding to policy-makers and the public, and to promote new global policy initiatives and action. This benign-seeming program got twisted into the agenda of the neo-con(servative) parties, and came under the umbrella known as New World Order, who’s hallmark is that absolute power corrupts absolutely. But they only have the power we give them by denying our own.
Predicament of Mankind
The institutions and patterns of thought of the (military/industrial/academic) World-Machine have created an interconnecting set of world-wide problems of an ecological, economic and political nature. Machine-minded think tanks, even if they are thinking globally, can only see entropic decay through their own worldview. They cannot think out of the box, unless there is a fundamental paradigm shift that is reflected in the sciences, and likely foreseen in the arts.
The energy shortage, rise of food prices, scandals in government, and unwinable wars against ideas like idiologies and ‘terrorism’ are the first harbingers of the approaching crisis. There are two routes from here: The route of stagnation and eventual total collapse, and the route of flexibility and growth, which could lead to a golden age. Chaos Theory reveals both catastrophe (bifurcation) and renewal are likely inevitable.
Rather than the obsolete paradigm of a ‘world machine’, we need to think in more organic terms of holistic self-organization ~ reorganization at a higher level -- as revealed in Chaos Theory, which demonstrates nature’s own creative way of evolutionary assembly. All things are simply connected.
Order emerges spontaneously and unpredictably from the creative edge of chaos ~ it emerges suddenly from disorder: from the unconscious chaos the concept finally forms, the artistic inspiration is captured, the photographic composition suddenly appears in the frame with just the proper atmosphere. Aesthetic principles of multisensory harmony reflect similar structuring.
With a change in paradigms that is fundamental not merely conceptual, the dangers and the possibilities are as great for us in this 21st century as they were for those in the sixteenth century. In chaos theory, the old system typically undergoes a catastrophic collapse before the new order emerges. The “new order” cannot be imposed on the old system by will nor intentionality.
When all the available world's arable land is required to feed the world's population , even with perfect world-wide systems of land use and distribution of food, there will inevitably be mass famine. Even if productivity is quadrupled it only gives us roughly 50 more years. Once all the land is used to full capacity and the soil mined-out, there is simply no more land. Once the non-renewable resources are gone, that's it. The geological processes that created those resources took hundreds of millions of years.
We are using them all up while simultaneously polluting the ecosphere for decades. The ecosphere is flexible, but not infinitely. We have made massive assaults on it (including such Frankensteinian experiments in ionospheric heating such as HAARP in Alaska and Pine Gap, Australia) with little understanding of the ultimate effect. Sudden increases in the temperature of the earth and melting of ice caps, death of the oceans and rainforests that produce our oxygen are horrible possibilities that such worldwide pollution produces if exponentially continued long enough.
The shut down of the vast oceanic pump from melting fresh water near Greenland would usher in a new Ice Age. Other unpredictable catastrophes include collisions with meteors or comets, pole shifts, or the collapse of the ionosphere with solar scorching of the biosphere. With all this and more to fight against, you’d think we could just get along on our small blue planet, but such is not human nature.
With these scenarios in mind, the human race has a mandate to reinvent entropic technology and revision our existence with an ethically based negentropic technology, based in the proven notion of a virtually infinite universe of potential. Only in this way can we (all) become part of the solution, rather than the problem.
There are many psychic prophecies down through the centuries of a great worldwide war ending this period of history. When social groups become about equally powerful and equally dangerous to each other, some conclude it is time to put them under a common government, and a synthesized civilization. Yet, this process cannot be forced nor engineered.
We must avoid the specialized way of thinking that blindly leads toward these frightful collisions of ideology. We must have a tolerant humanist government - the democratic ideal we inherited from the Greeks whose philosophical culture and aesthetics was based on geometrical harmonies.
This dynamic existential aesthetic is what has come to be known lately as the “DaVinci Code”, that was foundational in the emergence of the Renaissance flowering.
The democratic ideal shelters and even fosters idiosyncratic processes and thinking along the spectrum of potentiality that lead toward creative emergence ~ at the fringes of society and research.
"Western civilization of the World-Machine has lost its direction and vitality in the Twentieth Century. There are numerous symptoms of this, ranging from crime in the streets, to the ugly unlivability of modern cities, to political corruption, to the pandering tendencies of the information/entertainment industries, to the thickening rigidity and irrelevance of schools and universities. There is no longer any higher center in Western civilization, not religiously, aesthetically, or politically. Christian religion ceased to be vital in the 17th Century; Faustian consciousness has produced a fragmentation of 'higher' cultural worlds and Practical consciousness gives us the total impoverishment of the ordinary aesthetic environment that is one of the chief reasons for the boredom and alienation that most people feel in our cities. The first sign of rigidity in the schools and universities probably came with their reaction to psychical research in the twenties and thirties. Today, swollen hierarchies of administrators absorb half the budget and contribute nothing but obstruction and useless regulation for faculty and students. No alternatives to the World-Machine materialism/Christianity nor to its specialism nor to its teacherism can be explored. Humanist, empirical religionist, open learning schools are actually illegal most places.One of the symptoms of the corruption of Western civilization is that no one feels any higher responsibility anymore. This is especially evident in the publishing industry and in the information/entertainment industry. The importance of an idea for mankind is of no relevance at all in determining if a book or article is published or reviewed. Things are judged from a very narrowly (and in the long run stupidly) commercial viewpoint. Thus, what is published and made famous are trashy, trivial, intellectually flyweight books about future schlock, massaging the media, Dr. Blank's new fad diet, or some white specialist's universalization of his latest rat studies (or studies of human sexual plumbing)." ~Limits of Power
”The Glass Bead Game is thus a mode of playing with the total contents and values of our culture; it plays with them as, say, in the great age of the arts a painter might have played with the colors on his palette. All the insights, noble thoughts, and works of art that the human race has produced in its creative eras, all that subsequent periods of scholarly study have reduced to concepts and converted into intellectual values the Glass Bead Game player plays like the organist on an organ. And this organ has attained an almost unimaginable perfection; its manuals and pedals range over the entire intellectual cosmos; its stops are almost beyond number. Theoretically this instrument is capable of reproducing in the Game the entire intellectual content of the universe.” ~Hesse
We are so used to having our cake and eating it too that we assume there are technological solutions to all these entropic problems. One early sign that this is not so is the collision of pollution control requirements and energy conservation in the design of automobiles. It is possible to reduce pollution technologically, but each further improvement is exponentially more expensive in non-renewable resources (such as platinum for catalysts), and in gasoline used, and in performance and cost of the automobile.
Commercial pandering is typical of industry which first does motivation research, then invents and sells a product, not because there is any prior desire or any real need for such a thing, but simply because it is something people can be manipulated into believing they want. Such pandering produces degraded tastes. Image is everything and triumphs over substance. The final result of entropic capitalism and democracy is the same decadence suffered by late Hellenic (Roman) civilization.
”The method of value science is to judge things not by whether they are approved by a majority (as in democracy), but by whether they are of genuine value to all in the group. How do we know something is of genuine value? By the test of life, by experience. The laboratory of the value scientist is the intentional community. The value scientist (experimental) is an active participant, committed to the trial community. The eleven theorems of value science all deal with community action, where a community can be as small as a village and as large as the universe. In analyzing any particular problem, of morality, of aesthetics, or of politics, the first thing is to see exactly what action, by whom, to whom, under what circumstances, is in question. Not all ordinary value talk is directly related to action, but the value scientist does so confine himself. He is also mainly concerned with obligations, orders, directions, instructions, etc. The community's action may result in the creation of obligations, orders, instructions or whatever, and create a social situation which motivates them being followed. But what is directly justified is always an action of value.The justification is always relative to a particular actor (an actor may be a particular group). Values are guides to actions, not properties of things or situations. Thus, you always need to specify the actor, and must be aware of the possibility that a particular sort of action may be justified for one actor but not for another.
This is the principle of relativity of values. As mentioned, the theorems are concerned with community action. A group action must be of value to every member of that group. This is the group value axiom, and essentially defines the meaning of "community." In order for such justification to be possible, there must be some common value all members of the community share. There are only a few universal personal values, such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and all the theorems are based on them.” ~Limits of Power
Entropic agendas can arguably be called “diabolical” based on their essential nature: they are death-oriented, self-fulfilling prophecies ~ “No Exit” nightmarish futures. There is philosophical precedence for this position condemning closed-system paradigms. Applied ethics is of immediate importance not only in public policy but in science, art and medicine where it relates to best practice.
Public policy must therefore support best practice in all the arts and sciences, including the healing arts. It is our undeniable responsibility to the future, to our progeny. It is our legacy, for good or evil. It will in fact determine whether we actually remain human beings, or not ~ and even whether humanity survives at all. Institutions founded on entropic principles cannot engage, therefore, in best practice, and shortchange future generations at every level of cultural enrichment and sustainability.
Sound geometrical principles have been linked to the emergence of scientific thought. They are also fundamental in the formation of geopolitical and secret societies, where “secret” knowledge of these verities undergird technologies of human development and applied wisdom.
For Immanuel Kant, (paradigmatic philosopher of the European Enlightenment), Euclidean geometry characterized that ‘pure form of our sensible intuition’ which is space, a condition imposed by the mind upon the experience of the outer sensible world and thus a condition of the possibility of experience of this world.
Kant joined the key ideas of earlier rationalism and empiricism into a powerful model of the subjective origins of the fundamental principles of both science and morality, and laid the ground for much in the philosophy of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Above all, Kant was the philosopher of human autonomy. But once Descarte got ahold of rationalism we were plunge into an era of rational enlightenment, which may come to be seen as the second Dark Ages by future generations.
”Kant held that both the laws of nature and the laws offree human conduct must be compatible because they are bothproducts of human thought imposed by us on the data of ourexperience by the exercise of our own powers. This was clearly stated in his last book, The Conflict of the Faculties (1798):Philosophy is not some sort of science of representations, concepts, and ideas, or a science of all sciences, or anything else of this sort; rather, it is a science of the human being, of itsrepresenting, thinking, and acting - it should present the human being in all of its components, as it is and ought to be, that is, inaccordance with its natural determinations as well as itsrelationship of morality and freedom. Ancient philosophy adopted an entirely inappropriate standpoint towards thehuman being in the world, for it made it into a machine in it,which as such had to be entirely dependent on the world or on external things and circumstances; it thus made the human being into an all but merely passive part of the world. Now the critiqueof reason has appeared and determined the human being to a thoroughly active place in the world. The human being itself isthe original creator of all its representations and concepts and ought to be the sole author of all its actions.” (7: 69-70)
Kant’s view was that by the use of our own reason in its broadest sense human beings can discover and live up to the basic principles of knowledge and action without outside assistance, above all without divine support or intervention. Geometry’s demonstrable truths led directly to scientific hypotheses and the experimental method of inquiry. Euclidean geometry began as the science of space and non-Euclidean geometry is now that of spacetime and complexity.
This same fundamental geometrical wisdom forms the basis of sacred sciences as expressed for example in kabbalism, fen shui, Islamic art, Renaissance and Gothic architecture and great monuments. It is the basis of Masonry, and formed an underlying matrix for the philosophy of the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution with its democratic principles. It reveals the harmonies of nature, God and man ~ and we have applied it as an ideal model and technological basis for our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual lives.
”The earliest records of activity in geometry come from Babylon. Whatwe know as Pythagoras’ theorem appears in cuneiform texts of around 2600 BC, where it is given an empirical and approximate verification. Asthe name indicates, the subject of geometry originated in the practical pursuits of land measurement and surveying (though probably not firstamong the Egyptians, as Herodotus famously reports). Although the Greeks did not originate geometry, it is to them that we owe the conception of geometry as an exact demonstrative science as against anempirical and practical discipline. While anecdotal evidence identifies Thales of Miletus as the originator of the idea that geometric statementsare to be proved, it is generally accepted that the Pythagoreans had transformed mathematics into a deductive science by around 500 BC.Pythagoras himself is said to have conferred upon geometry the standing of theoria, the manner of contemplative knowledge alone worthy of afree and not a slave people; and to have propounded the belief that its true subject matter pertained to intelligible objects rather than to senseexperience. Later, in Plato, geometric figures - circles, triangles, theregular solids - became archetypal ideal forms: perfect, universal,absolute, eternal and harmonious; whereas their sensible instantiations inmatter were seen as inexact, particular, relative, temporal and discordant. While such methods were suitable to the discovery of simple arithmeticand geometric facts, they were not as conclusive as the deductive methods canonically compiled in Euclid’s Elements of Geometry (c.300bc). Through its influence, the idea of a demonstrative science wasestablished and geometry became the paradigm of systematicpresentation of a body of knowledge in terms of logical deductions from axioms, whose truth was antecedently recognized. Routledge.”
R. Buckminster Fuller and E.J. Applewhite made brilliant new geomerical discoveries about the process of natural transformations in the atomic nucleus and nature’s own means of assembly. They applied Synergetic or tetrahedrally based geometries, rather than the crude Cartesian coordinate system, which is never employed by nature.
As Fuller pointed out, there are no right angles in nature and she uses great circle economies. This is Nature’s aesthetic expressed geometrically and fractally in all Her creations. 21st century science and arts is still trying to absorb this revelation as more than a concept. It may lead to negentropic technologies that save mankind as a species from itself, from its entropic shadow.
Aesthetics and Ethics
Aesthetics is a kind of interest in certain things, expressed in a kind of judgment, which is concerned with things quite apart from their utilitarian use. Kant even declares aeshetic interest independent of whether they actually exist. Aesthetics is an interest and valuing which is without interest, in the common sense. We are caught imagistically somewhere between the infinitly repeatable with variations and the truly infinite.
Kant drew a sharp difference between an aesthetic and utilitarian interest in things, which is as relevant today in the context of the sciences as in the arts and humanities. He considered this distinction urgent, and it remains so, in that artists are often at the spearhead of human culture (Miller, 2004), and the engineering of that culture through consensus and contagion (fads; memes; mind control). Issues include uniqueness, taste, evaluation, discrimination, virtuosity; objects of devotion and absorption, if not de facto ‘worship’.
Leading edge ideas often emerge in the arts before science or technology catches up with its symbolic yet prescient vision. New technologies now commonly appear as art installations, followed by their ubiquitous appearance in the mainstream. In Kant’s era, aesthetics appeared with the emergence of a merchant class and related to what was desirable to possess or consume. In today’s global economy, formerly isolated parts of the world are newly faced with this dilemma, as are the nouveau riche.
What is intrinsically desirable, individually and by consensus? Kant reduced it to “the Beautiful”~ but in today’s world this can be superficially dismissed by confusing it with “the pretty.” Contrived beauty often fails to deliver on its promise, being somewhat akin to rule by committee. To be truly beautiful, technology must reflect nature’s creativity by springing from a negentropic paradigm or worldview. It must add to our well being in some fundamental and sustainable way.
Aesthetic experience is directly related to evaluation of all other kinds of experience, including ethics and politics. Aesthetics is seamlessly woven into our cultural and biological existence. Aesthetic sensibility underlies both the arts and nature, and therefore we find beauty and harmonies in nature experiences, mathematics and science, just as we do in the arts. Artists and scientists are earnestly involved in creative expression in the now as well as hunting the future.
Aesthetics implies sense abilities and we call it sensibilities. When we agree artistically, what we share is an aesthetic sensibility. A certain rhythm and harmony can also express our emotional rhythms, tone, hue, value, intensity, clarity, etc. Symbolization and signification are also relevant.
KNOW BROW ART
Neither High-brow nor Low-Brow, the Electronic Arts are "KNOW-Brow Art" born of our fusion with technology. In the middle of the forehead, neither high nor low brow, is the Third Eye of inner or visionary sight. It transcends the usual dichotomy by going hyperdimensional, hyperreal. TecGnosis is the antidote to TechNarcosis.
Electronic arts, by their very nature, require a great deal of technical knowledge to interface with computer-assisted media. Know Brow art respects and draws from both classical art and that of the underground or street. Digital Media include still frames, Flash, and desktop digital movies, often incorporated with other media, installation, and performance.
The artistic life is a chaotic arc of inspiration upon inspiration, following the Muse. Artists walk what for others is ‘the road not taken’ (chaos theory’s bifurcation or forking), sometimes going ‘where angels fear to tread.’ Their charismatic influence pulls others into their orbits, and the small effect of one personality potentially spreads its influence over the world (butterfly effect), sometimes over history. The history of art is one of the richest threads of our cultural heritage.
Artists magnetically draw the attention of others to their creations, to their vision, into the imagination, into the collective future. We might think of them as the ‘indicator species’ of the social ecology, the evolving cultural landscape. Orbiting far from the norm, they provide a negentropic counter-balance, an evolutionary burst, social innovation -- to conservative forms and institutions, which tend to ossify leading to stasis and decay.
Art changes the way people perceive reality, how they see life and their place in it. These negentropic innovations become embedded in social structure. Realizations, insight, empathy are implicit. They show us windows of prescient emotions and impulses, their unframed works rending the veil of the human unconscious.
There are two kinds of freedom: ‘freedom from’ and ‘freedom to’. Once we are free of the shackles of limitation, the burden is on us to exercise that liberty in a creative way, recognizing our own limitations. There is no progress in mere boundary-breaking. We have to have somewhere to go. Purpose must underlie pain, or it is pointless. There is no creative spirit in complete anarchy, yet there is in Chaos.
The relationship of control and freedom is very much like that between order and chaos. Science has shown that order emerges from the creative edge of chaos. The creative process is similar in that one must use both reins of constraint and freedom: technical mastery and understanding of the medium and forces at work plus the counterpoint of imaginal freedom can produce something truly unique.
Processes that appear to be quite chaotic can actually produce their own optimal boundary conditions. The same is true in art, so rather than endless failed attempts to describe meaningful experience, the true artist can explore beyond limits to produce a flowing fount of fully rendered images that have maturity, clarity, radiance, luminescence or works that simply shine forth and will not be denied.
Similar dynamics apply to the place of the leading edge or extreme artist in society: as shaman, as pathfinder, as seer of the future, as one who dares to go where the timid but voyeuristic would love to peek. When our senses become overwhelmed by rhythm, flux, and color we can enter altered states that open us to new experiences, new ways of thinking, new ways of being, new ways of seeing. This fresh point of view reflects a fundamental psychic shift.
The artist’s actual medium is the psyches of the public, which are massaged, aroused to curiosity, piqued, fascinated, infatuated, and sometimes emotionally terrorized by this pseudo-intimacy. The artist mounts more than his image: the viewer is intellectually and emotionally ridden at his or her pleasure. Curiously, it is not a substitute for sex, but arguably its very creative evolution. Reflective observation is more than passive voyeurism. One is changed by the experience, seeded within the dark virtuality of the unseen dimension.
Our culture’s preoccupation with sex is undeniable as expressed in advertising media, so why shouldn’t it continue appearing in our galleries, museums, music venues, and screening rooms in ever-renewing forms? Surrealism bent and stretched our notions of physical embodiment with a bizarre, dreamlike qualities. Low brow art has proven that all that implies beauty and truth is not necessarily beautiful to look at in its stark reality, but worthwhile to consciously examine, nevertheless.
Today’s “Know Brow” art fearlessly stares at it all, if not in the face, where it clearly counts. Perhaps the Third Eye really lies below the waist. Why not realize that “many of the masterpieces of modern art depend on perversion to make their dramatic point”? (Kuspit) Robert Bak suggests, “Fetishism is the model for all perversions.” Still, the seductiveness of the bodies is subsumed in the seductiveness of the overall image or scene. In this context, one’s oeuvre means more than one’s fleshy meat.
Contemporary sexual identity is in flux, creating new sexual types and titillations by actively changing our psychology and sexuality. The future of reconfigured sex is pangendered -- a liquification not only of the organs, but also of all the formerly presumed limitations of our biology. Visual, theatrical and biological experimentation in this area has been happening at the fringes and in the dungeons of contemporary society at least for a few decades, as people play imaginatively with their bodies and sexual personae.
We are transhuman, already fusing with our communication and biomedical technology. Soon, we won't be human at all, but Posthuman. Artists will lead the way in this techno-revolution designing new bodies and synthetic environments for us to inhabit.
AESTHETIC ARREST vs. SOFA ART
Mythologist, Joseph Campbell was one of those thinkers who constantly asked himself, "What is the meaning of this?" In books, lectures and interviews, he made frequent skirmishes into the field of art. And like a lot of those who never took brush to hand, his thoughts were idealized and sometimes muddled. Campbell had attitudes about what was "proper" art and what was not. He thought the personal was dangerous in art. "When an artist's images are purely personal this finally is slop and you know it when you see it," he stated. He didn't often say what "slop" was. He was particularly hard on portraiture--he thought portraits were hobbled by the need to be what they represented.
At the same time, many of Campbell's insights are valuable. Campbell saw everything through a lens of myth, metaphor and the metaphysical. He saw "proper" artists as exalted mystics.
"The way of the mystic and the way of the artist," he said, "are very much alike--except that the mystic does not have a craft." In admiration, he realized that through studio disciplines, artists deal with universals. He named a lot of these universals--from rhythmic patterns to a sense of wonder.
He felt that proper art had to be an art that performs a function. When this function is added to the concept of kinesis (movement), then you have what he called "aesthetic arrest." By this he meant that the innocent viewer is stopped dead in his
tracks and has no choice but to stare in awe.
It is in his understanding of St. Thomas Aquinas that we see the Campbell mind at work. Aquinas thought that proper art had three modes: Integritas, Convenientia, and Claritas.
Integritas means wholeness. Campbell demonstrated this in his lectures by putting a picture frame up to a chair and isolating it from its surroundings--making it a thing in itself.
Convenientia is the way the chair is arranged within the frame: creatively, sensitively, thoughtfully cropped or monumentalized.
Claritas is the "aha" quality that puts meaning into the chair, its significant "chairness." Campbell called this "the tricky part," and noted that only then "are you are held in aesthetic arrest." This is not just "viewfinder thinking," but what he considers the top level of creativity. In his view it is a profound application of aesthetic arrangement and metaphorical thought that squeezes out the real meaning and value of the things of our experience.