Iona's art has jumped the canvas; healing has jumped the consulting room; science has made the quantum leap.
Neither High-brow nor Low-Brow,
the Electronic Arts are
Find Io's Art Updates at http://ionamiller.50megs.com
Random Order Revisited:
Collage Jumps the Canvas to Multimedia Art
The Multimedia Art of Iona Miller
By Iona Miller, 5/2004
Let us imagine the Anima Mundi neither above the world encircling it as a divine and remote emanation of spirit, a world of powers, archetypes, and principles transcendent to things, nor within the material world as its unifying panpsychic life-principle. Rather let us imagine the anima mundi as that particular soul-spark, the seminal image, which offers itself through each thing in its visible form. Then anima mundi indicates the animated possibilities presented by each event, as it is, its sensuous presentation as face bespeaking its interior image--in short, its availability to imagination, its presence as a psychic reality. Not only animals and plants ensouled as in the Romantic vision, but soul is given with each thing; God-given things of nature and man-made things of the street. ~ James Hillman
Robert Rauschenberg originally legitimized collage as a valid artform with his curatorial manifestos, The Art of Assemblage (1961) and Random Order (1963). He revisioned many presuppositions about art and older notions of the avant-garde in his own non-nihilistic oppositional strain. In fact, his notion of “random order” prophetically prefigures the scientific discovery of Chaos Theory by decades.
At his most ambitious, Rauschenberg hoped technology would allow him to create a machine to integrate spectators into its functioning, reactions setting it in motion transforming the participants. This is multimedia interactivity, with feedback and feedforward loops. He wanted to educate the predictable public to risk, including in the realm of sexuality. He wanted to reflect and modify the desires of the viewer.
Many of the goals of today’s multimedia “Know-Brow” artists are similar, aiming at embodied experience and pushing those insights further as CG images become more compelling. The larger question remains, “What does it mean to be human?” American film and video critic Gene Youngblood once wrote that “all art is experimental, or it isn’t art.” Innovation brings radically new frames of reference or discards frames entirely.
“Indeed the new materials artists use today have radically transformed art, and our globally-linked planet has brought the plurality of artistic forms, the diversity of styles, the ways in which statements about art can be formed and framed to the surface. Within this we find that the wide array of technical practices, this virtual reality theatre being one example, now make it easy to see that technology has had a tremendous impact on how we engage with art, how we engage with the question of what art is, and how we view the many ways artists exploit technology in our time.“
New tools, of course, have always resulted in new forms and, in the largest sense, we can say that technological innovations add imaginative possibilities to the artistic toolbox. When we place the results into a mix that includes social, cultural, political, and scientific contributions we find the enlarged vantage points new technologies offer are even more intriguing.
“Perhaps as striking as the number of ways in which artists use technology is that forms of experimentation, like artistic goals, vary widely today. Given this it is not surprising that, sometimes, technologically informed work simply excites our senses and, at other times, even an educated viewer may wonder how best to address a work he or she simply does not understand. There is also the challenge of engaging with work that invites us to be participants rather than passive spectators. And, of course, work presented in more traditional ways, so to speak, continues to raise traditional questions about what art is.
“One might ask: Is it the visceral quality of a work that excites us or will we more fully experience an artist’s intention if we read the work as a text and interpret the levels of meaning embedded in the project? Then, again, perhaps an interpretation based on ferreting out meaning compromises key elements that might be optically-centered or intended to emotionally-charge our experience?” ~Amy Ione, 2000, http://users.lmi.net/ione/sf3.html
Philosophically defined concepts such as ideology, aesthetics, meaning, emotion, embodied or situated cognition, complexity, anticipation, inspiration, signification, psychophysical coordination, emergentism, depiction, focal-point conflict, and other elusive models fit into the well-honed categories, bracketing themes such as picture organization and gestalt, metaphor, interpretation, subjectivity, enculturation, neural processing, language and history.
They depend crucially on our psychophysical constraints (compensation, accentuation, contrast, occlusion, dissonance, blur, grain, codes, projection, distortion, denotation, etc.) and enabling of our sensorimotor apparatus. They also depend on the ecological and sociocultural environment in which our apprehending and productive capacities come into being. Rhythm perception and production involve a complex, whole-body experience.
The avant-garde attempted to break down the false division between “art” and “life.” This medium has morphed again, and the message of the art and science of depiction morphs with it. The generative approach is multidisciplinary. Insightful connections and correlaries are described, not truths or explanations. Collage, montage, and assemblage have gone digital -- jumped the juxtaposed canvas into graffiti, into digital fine art, into art music as sampling and into animation, which draws from the entirety of art history stringing together its pastiche.
Early digital films of the1990’s such as “The Mind’s Eye,” “Beyond the Mind’s Eye,” and “The Gate,” are good examples of the later. Some of these vignettes draw explicitely from art history, using works of Picasso, allusions to Dali, Magritte, etc. They also draw on the genre of science-art. Their immediate predecesors were computer-generated dynamics, such as “Fractal Fantasy”, and a host of other mathematically driven animations like “Voyage To the Planets”.
Multimedia with its efficiency of rendering takes us beyond the aesthetic block of static art that hangs on the wall and becomes p(art) of our lives. Home studios and user-friendly programs and interfaces now allow individual digital fine artists, such as Laurence Gartel and filmmaker Bob Judd, to produce their own audio-visual visions on DVD. Trial and error process focus the artist’s eye on the current state of he image and his/her reactions to it. Trained image makers know what they need and choose the relevant tool.
Art history language is translative and descriptive, not generative. Validity has standards, but they become outmoded periodically, and must be revisioned to prefigure inevitable transformations. The aesthetics of juxtaposition is fundamental; it is a primary modality of simultaneous display that can either 1) temporarily shock, negate, or scandalize, (cultural value); or 2) lead toward lasting aesthetic and symbolic tensions (aesthetic and psychological value).
Juxtaposition can shock, surprise or inform. However, once the shock circuit [artifact of the DaDa era] is closed, the effect will not repeat again in the same individual. There is a world of difference between threat and shock or lasting aesthetic effect. Primary tropes tend to characterize the creations of those who work in this assemblage modality, revealing their mental shorthand, their private symbolic and iconographic lexicons.
The second form ignites the potential of disparate elements in a new ‘force field.’ It becomes a ‘strange attractor’ around which our eye and consciousness can circulate and recirculate. This is one form of the iconography of high art, Rauschenberg effectively argued. His was a challenging balance between aesthetic signification and spectatorial reception.
Collage can seem random or purposeful, assembling symbols or elements that “want to live with one another.” Some artists just ‘know’ what wants to live together, what is aesthetically pleasing and psychologically congruent or challenging, what juxtaposition still has something to say beyond simple pattern saturation. Minimalism, or classical juxtapositions of opposites, is too sparse for such rich, complex vision.
Rauschenberg continually rejected an aesthetic of nihilism, shock and negation through his whole career preferring complete esthetic freedom, eschewing art and historical battles already waged by predecesors. His works changed focus, evoked multiplicity, and multiple perspectives. He preferred the unresolved.
Neo-dada attitudes of the pre- and post WWII era have carried over into post Postmodern underground art with multimedia performance artists, who are socially disengaged or culturally and politically frustrated. Even this seemingly negative response to pain seeks to engage with “process” and “life” which is not separate from “art.” But, by definition, much of this “art”, often identified with the Fluxus movement, is not lasting, frequently consisting of artifacts or ephemera.
These edge and extreme artists are idiosyncratic and narcissistic, but generally not socially toxic, anarchistic or apolitical, but quite political and often spiritual in their statements, rhetoric, and performances. They have broken free of the museum and the artworld and found their own validation. But provocation can’t last indefinitely.
The history of the avant garde is discontinuous, turbulent, nonlinear, chaotic, just like its art. All of its metaphors strongly suggest the randomly punctuated rhythms of Chaos Theory. Its reference points reinforce this description, reiterating complex feedback loops, strange attractors, and producing big effects [such as radical cultural and political effects] from minor perturbations.
Iona Miller’s Psychogenesis: Updates:
In the 1990’s, Iona Miller created 400 posters, 24 x 36, from the most prevalent form of trash available: discarded magazines, the base of the garbage pyramid. While they are commonly used, she found a unique means of doing so. Of course, the strongest constraint of this medium is availability, listening to one’s inner voice on where to go when to find the raw materials. If you listen closely enough, knowing what to save and discard, they call to you.
Miller recycled this ‘found’ imagery into a series of self-therapeutic works, which she later discovered contained a virtual encyclopedia of psychological archetypes, the “strange attractors” of the psyche. She compiled the more symbolic, rather than merely aesthetic, of these process art works in Psychogenesis: A Journey through Inner Realms of Wonder and Imagination via Modern Iconography and Recycled Imagery, at the turn of the Millennium.
The avant garde alleged the praxis of life is to be renewed and renewal was the unrelated therapeutic purpose of this project. But this ‘art’ was uncontrived, claiming no commercial purpose or drive. It has nothing to do with the institutionalization of art nor discursive rules, nor social criticism, nor overarching historical frameworks.
Nor is it expressing the avant garde strategy of using shocking assault on the division of art and life. It had to do with getting what was inside out. It is life in motion and its strategy is to take the commonest most discarded thing, appropriate it and activate its healing talismanic potential, turn lead into gold, giving it a new potency beyond the transgressive power, a force that comes from the emergent power of the one true thing.
These works reappropriate the ordinary, the mundane and recontextualize it within a meaningful whole of which the viewer is an integral part. It is motivated by the urge to connect with the life stream, the flow of psychophysical energy or libido that animates us. It is driven by jealousy of time to fulfill its expressive goal before death finds another unreleasable hostage, for even as I am writing this I hear about the sudden death of a friend of 25 years. Now, I have gone digital and begun merging myself in this series, particularizing the images even further.
The Psychogenesis preface begins:
“Welcome to my world--a world ensouled and enlivened by imagery. A world of the seemingly familiar, yet peculiarly mysterious: the vast landscape of consciousness, fluid temporal movement, the undivided flux of creation. Many people have allowed me to tap into their dreams, their inner streams of realities, their nether realms. I conclude that our local existence is nested in a vast collective domain, abode of symbols, guiding archetypes, and myths. We contain and are contained by Universe, and we are not different from that. This eternal world outside spacetime is the contact point for sacred time and space, the container for that which never was but is always happening. Since its source is complex, its coding is intense. Archetypal images enfold multiple meanings, modes, potentials, dimensions.
The human psyche is inherently polytheistic, polymorphous, continually in motion.We are experiencing not just the revival of ancient images, but also the harvest of all the world's cultures, belief systems, ways of knowing, seeing, doing, being. Gradually we discover that these stories are our own stories, that they drive the amplified rhythms of our own lives, depending on and enhancing us, filling us with a sense of the fractal resonance of the mythic life within our own.In our modern culture every image, mundane or divine, has been used and abused.
In the Postmodern Era there is no new iconography. In imagery and art, there is nothing new under the Sun. Everything, which can be used from religion, myth and symbolism, has been used and can only be recycled -- recycled like these collaged images from the trash-heap of society. The material for these images was literally someone's garbage. My task was therefore, as usual whether doing art or therapy, trying to turn alchemical lead into gold."
Here, in this animated world, images are lovingly juxtaposed with their complements and contrasts in naturally corresponding clusters of symbolism. They share the same metaphysical essence. Some images just want to "live together." Symbols held in the subtle net of a visual field become particularized imagery; they become personal, unique. The familiar is combined with the mysterious, reflecting a singular surrealistic vision. It embodies a truth rather than providing meaning.
The familiar becomes unfamiliar or “unknown” once again in the juxtaposed context. It helps us confront mystery, to stand in the Mystery. Reflectaphors, or reflective metaphors, repeat themselves in each image or poster, as well as jump from image to image--i.e., they echo themes among the various pieces as the series unfolds itself in self-similar fashion, like the iterations and reiterations of fractals.
So, Anima Mundi bids you welcome and acts as our tour-guide or hostess. She coaxes us deeper into the labyrinth of desire and fulfillment, where each of us finds our own resonance, the imagery, which speaks the loudest or clearest, or beguiles with the mere whisper.
To experience psychic reality means to be in soul, in the realm of the imagination, as if interacting with its inhabitants and locales. Inner visionary experience, be it wrathful or beatific, is an expression of soul. Through images the unconscious affects our worldview, health and relationships. Imagination not only conditions our reality; it is our reality. Soul is the middle world between gross materiality and the spiritual world.
Matter, spirit, and ego fight over the soul. Yet soul is a primary experience, virtually our only way of being. Each wants its unique fantasy to reign uppermost. So, the first task is to distinguish soul from spirit, so the body may unite with and be enlivened by both.
This is a psychological approach to art and life--giving voice to soul, living life as art. It means the return of a subjective feminine eye on reality. It means the enlivening of our bodies and the world of nature with imagination. When we see soul as the background of all phenomena, we become aware of the animating principle and develop a relationship with Her.
All images arise either from body processes (instinct) or psychic forms (spirit). Whether instinct-controlled or spirit-controlled, images are related to physiological processes. They appear psychologically as images, but work physiologically. They produce emotional or visceral manifestations, but not in any causal way. The images don't produce reactions. The image is the entire psychophysical gestalt.
The soul generates images unceasingly. Artists are able to capture and express some of that ceaseless flow. The soul lives on images and metaphor, especially epistemological metaphors--how we know what we know. These images form the basis of our consciousness. All we can know comes through images, through our multi-sensory perceptions. So, this soul always stays close to the body, close to corporeality, to what "matters."
Let the images come into your body. Embrace the image. This is art that is not separate from life.
Physical reality becomes psychic, and psyche becomes real--it "matters." The difference between soul and external things no longer matters. Inner and outer world are both real and in fact One World.
Image, metaphor and symbol bridge the abyss between matter and spirit. Images are the subtle net that unites symbols. They are integrated with feeling, mind and imagination. We can see soul in all natural objects. We can notice our fantasies constantly conditioning our experience of reality. Knowledge of spirit doesn't come from ideas, even revelations, but through a reflective process.
I began this series of collages shortly after the death of both of my parents three days apart from one another. Though I painted years earlier, I am not a trained artist, but a clinical hypnotherapist with a strong Jungian background in symbolism. Realizing I could use this for processing my own pain and grief, I began them as Art Therapy. I had originally made a few as examples of process work for my students in a college class I taught, called "An Introduction to Depth Psychology."
I found in my therapy practice a tendency for clients to present certain recurrent motifs, such as black holes, "blacker than black," tunnels, images of chaotic breakdown, etc. Prior, I had been writing a book called Dreamhealing, about Asklepian dream healing, a technique developed around the metaphors of the then-new science of Chaos Theory which is now known as Complexity. In this deepening process, the client becomes each element the imagination presents in turn. Immersed in this process imagery, I sought to create some visual images, which might intimate this experiential material.
So, my posters are gestalts: waking dreams, where all elements are co-temporaneous, existing in time holographically--presented together even though they image a dynamic process. Each of them constitutes a shamanic dream journey--a full immersion in the inner world. They are postcards from the inner journey, snapshots of milestones along the Way.
None of them are contrived beforehand -- all were emergent experiences of just letting the images work themselves. No theme was determined in advance. The posters themselves dictate some of what must happen on them. In order for them to appear seamless, I had to hide or disguise the seams in various fashions. Yes, sometimes "less is more," but most often more was needed to insure a seamless quality. This was not a project where minimalism could ever prevail.
Part of the burden and joy of working in this medium is using what one has, or can find, what is spontaneously available. Jungian psychology uses the notion of the bricoleur, the craftsman who works with that which is at hand, including self-imposed rules. This includes the psychological situation as well as the materials. My grief work accentuated the death-rebirth motif, which is ubiquitous in therapy in any case.
In their formative stages, the elements were not fixed on the canvas, and sometimes due to electrostatics, heat, and gravity "things moved of their own accord." Almost invariably, this was an improvement over any intuitive or deliberate placement I might have made. So, it was a process of flowing with the animating process, rather than dictating the process.
Later, they organized themselves into larger groups. There were obvious thematic connections for some of them, but others were not so obvious until there were hundreds of them. Their order has no relationship to the time of assembly. I have never re-sorted them, but for some reason the over-all story of the text for each leads seamlessly into the next, providing a narrative stream. The text for each piece suggested itself long after completion through a recognition process, or sometimes immediately by synchronicity. They assembled themselves and with one another by a process I can only describe as "synarchy."
The awesome pandaemonium of imagery flowed forth spontaneously and my ego could not fight its way free. Rather, I had to surrender to the forces that often crossed my subjective will. I was a slave to the process for some time, producing several pieces a week for long periods of time, and sometimes even doing more than one per day.
The mystery images are a compelling source of transformation and healing, and it worked! The physician healed herself, or rather opened to the inner healer and let time take care of the rest.
HUNTING THE FUTUREThe Hidden Curriculum; Today’s Art and Media Technical Education;
In ‘Know Brow’ Art and Ars Electronica
Tomorrow’s Core Curriculum; Give Me Liberty or Give Me Art History
Iona Miller, 4/2004
“The world is but a canvas to the imagination.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
“Creativity is a type of learning process where
the teacher and pupil are located in the same individual.” ~ Arthur Koestler
"Art is simply a right method of doing things. The test of the artist does not lie in the will
with which he goes to work, but in the excellence of the work he produces." ~ Thomas Aquinas
“Getting swamped by new information that you have difficulty handling may predispose you to a mental disorder, but if you have high intelligence and a good working memory, you are more likely to be able to combine bits of new information in creative ways.” ~ Shelly Carson, Harvard psychologist
‘Know Brow’ art is the product of new media, ars electronica -- that transcends the dichotomies of high and low brow. It implies the knowledge, attitudes and skill sets necessary to produce art with highly technical processes, but also the visionary capacity to see multiple layers of meaning through direct experience. This knowing is a discovery process, a seeking, a gnosis that cuts a path through the mindscape of the ‘now’ toward the future that remains perpetually undefined.
We commune with the past to inform our present, not just as a homage, but to gain initiation to that transtemporal way of knowing and honoring our cultural roots. Defining the ‘hidden curriculum’ makes a strong statement about the missing element in art education, and the silent blocks in the system to its fulfillment. Institutions have been just as remiss in honoring the future, the rightful place of digital fine art, as they have been in passing on the legacy of the past.
‘Know brow’ art, as a movement, encourages the active, constructivist acquisition of artistic knowledge and openness to new forms and media, as well as technical capacities. We want to inspire more than digital “factory workers” or proficient craftspeople.
We want to enable the student to make, shape or organize with a telos, a meaningful purpose that has deep psychic rootedness: one who invents, not adopts; who shapes not copys; who builds not assembles; who is capable not merely competent; who is efficacious not just efficient; who experiments not just conceptualizes. There is a bliss that comes from within one that energizes the human desire to enact, to enable, to engage, to outwork it, i.e. to transform oneself and the world (bizarre and grandiose as this may sound).
* * *
The Hidden Curriculum in Art Education
Today’s fine arts, graphics, or multimedia artist is likely to be very technically proficient in his specialty but unlikely to have a fluent working knowledge of the history of art. Why? Because it is hardly taught taught in art school beyond simple art appreciation. Why? Because the pressures of an already highly technical and crowded curriculum leave no room.
As a by-product of neglecting the past, a general art education also does nothing to emphasize the obvious importance of the future -- new modalities, such as digital fine art, computer generated imagery, or interactive media. This attitude needs to be inculcated and reinforced in artists, curators, and directors. Artists will use more and more technology as time goes on, though traditional media will always have their aficionados. We need to be both pro- and post-active about our active experimentation: thinking, designing, doing, and reflecting.
Soon we will have Virtual Reality installations with interactive full immersion experiences and simulations that rival so-called “real life.” The next century will see electronic artistic possibilities we can’t even imagine. But is the art world, with its biases and prejudices ready to embrace such interactive art? Is its importance being reinforced anywhere in the system? Is there any historical precedent for such a quantum leap in the content and delivery of an artistic expression?
In terms of art history or appreciation, what more do we need to know than that most of the artistic genius seems to have been born in Italy? Plenty! We need to hunt the rest of the story. We need to 1). define the Hidden Curriculum, 2). Discuss how it affects learning and creativity, and the acceptance of digital art forms, 3). Describe how to find it, 4). Provide an example of how we are addressing it in the educational setting, particularly in highly technical artforms, such as new media.
Educational events are complex with many variables and dynamic changes, dependent on their context. Each educational opportunity is different whether structured or self-taught. For learning and applying any new knowledge, attitude is much more important than the knowledge itself. We must translate knowledge into practice by also changing the attitudes that motivate the learning and application of any new knowledge.
There are three types of curricula:
1). Formal, the stated, intended, and formally offered and endorsed curriculum. This is what the system offers; what we now do.
2). Informal, unscripted, mostly ad hoc, interpersonal forms of teaching and learning.
3). Hidden curriculum, a set of influences that operate at the level of organizational structure and culture. It can perpetuate bias, create confusion with mixed messages, idealize the normative, foster relative cynicism, and create inconsistency between education and reality.
We should care about the implicit programming of our art students regarding the later discrepancy, especially as it relates to art history, because we want to: 1) communicate consistency between objectives and outcomes; 2) optimize the learning environment; 3) and, inform the process of curricular reform while documenting the outcome for efficient use of resources.
Where do students learn the things we don’t teach them, both enriching and stultifying? Where do they learn the culture of the college, university, business, organization or profession? Where do students learn other than in organized environments?
What is encouraged and discouraged or disparaged in the academic and media school setting? Art, as perhaps no other discipline, is molded by a magnetic draw from the future. It calls to the artist crying out for manifestation, often a precursor of things to come in society in general. Some artists can intuitively sense the ‘next’ moment, the next milestone of art history. Some of them become it, while others toil in obscurity.
The art education system revolves around policy decisions, student admissions, faculty recruitment and its evaluation, recognition/awards, tenure/promotion, grant awards, faculty bonuses/raises, distribution of space, institutional slang or ‘jargon’, and resource allocation. That leaves little time or incentive for funding the emotional side of artistic enrichment, which feeds creativity and creates lifelong learners and those who learn by doing, by experimenting with new forms and media.
We need to be willing and able to step back and assess just what messages are being created by and within the very structures we have developed and are responsible for. Once we find the areas that are blocking the total educational process, we can 1). Do nothing. 2). Change our practices, procedures, environments, rules, etc. 3). Start over from scratch. 4). Or, embrace the Hidden Curriculum, becoming aware of outdated attitudes and prejudices that limit our palettes.
In the world of art, this hidden curriculum is embedded in the entire history of art and all that it can tell us about fostering (and discouraging) the creative process. The Academies have always been resistant to new modalities and struggled actively against them, refusing to even show work that did not conform. Academic art is a term applied to any kind of art that stresses the use of accepted rules for technique and form organization. It represents the exact opposite of the creative approach, which results in a vital, individualistic style of expression.
The old guard in all institutions has a vested interest they jealously guard. Change and revolution for them means their reign has come to an end, so they are resistant to new ideas, including the authenticity of new media such as ars electronica.
Today’s Art and Media Technical Education
We can examine the full range of influences, restructure the learning environment instead of just modifying the curricula, create opportunities for reflection, seek non-traditional students and teachers, focusing on the teachers in addition to the students. The three areas affected by the hidden curriculum are attitudes, knowledge, and skills. All directly affect execution, beginning with inspiration and passion informed by a deep understanding of the artistic heritage, and crowned by state-of-the-art technical virtuosity.
We should try to define what we are changing, why we are changing it, and with what intended outcome, anticipating and modifying unintended consequences. For example, an unforeseen consequence of the electronic art revolution is a generation of technically proficient but uninspired practitioners and amateurs. It seems anyone with a Photoshop program can now consider himself or herself “an artist,” but then it is not necessarily for them to say. There is art that hangs on the refrigerator and art that hangs in the Louvre.
The hidden curriculum affects teaching and learning; it can be identified and addressed in your own educational environment. Institutions have a responsibility to facilitate students not only in critical thinking skills and artistic technique, but in the ability to be self normative and self reflecting, to be aware of the distinctions between self and the roles one occupies in the realm of art, and how structural factors, social situations and cultural contexts affect their work.
Tomorrow’s Core Curriculum
The whole culture of art is due for a revolution in electronic arts; it has already begun. Content refers to the sensory, subjective, psychological, or emotional properties we feel in a work of art, as opposed to our perception of its descriptive aspects alone. The content of art, the expression, essential meaning, significance, or aesthetic value of a work of art, may remain the same, but the means of execution and delivery will shortly be unbound.
Culture is a set of learned ways of thinking and acting that characterizes a decision-making human group. A progressive curriculum should include core values of lifelong learning, not so much in the content of formal lectures, but as a recognized and cultivated core facet of the artistic personality, fostering changes from the inside out.
If the system is flawed, the system should be examined and overhauled. We need to teach aesthetics (a compound of the philosophy, psychology, and sociology of art having to do with the nature of beauty and its relation to human beings) and motivation as inspiration flows forth from there.
More than passive, active or experimental learning, our ethos should be attitudinal and aspirational, as well as inspirational. We want deliberate, participative, effective artificers, not simply dreamers or designers. Intentionality combines all three with good personal business sense. Practical knowledge leads to deliberation, disclosure, collaboration, implementation.
To produce well-rounded artists, not just conventional craftspeople, a holistic educational system might include the following critical design dimensions: inner/outer; left/right brain; horizontal/vertical; intentional/futures; small/big picture; design/enactional; efficacious; performative (Wildman, 2003). We need to provide the tools for constantly reformulating both our Personal Achievement Plans and Business Achievement Plans, as both are essential to artistic success in today’s competitive markets, especially in the area of intense active experimentation.
1. Lifestyle: [inner/outer balance dimension] (intension--vertical, consciousness; extension, breadth, application) Bringing the Personal Achievement Plan and Business Achievement Plan together.
2. Self-Awareness: Knowing what is inside oneself, i.e. who you are and what makes you pump. Authenticity, calling, integrity, and ethicality. Personal Achievement Plan. [Living from ones Core].
3. Worldliness: Knowing what is out there. Sophisticated or cosmopolitan understanding of the diverse world we live in both empirically, what is out there, as well as ecologically and morally; how we should then live Political savvy. Here one’s integrity and system ethicality come into play, as key priorities for action. Macrostructural awareness. Art is always political, but some is moreso. [Living for Gaia’s core]
4. Self-Systems Balance: allowing for agency while recognizing the huge influence of structures and institutionalized processes; comprehending what is within our domain to change and what is dictated by the system, (maintaining the 20/80 balance). There are characteristic ways art is produced, acquired, displayed, exhibited, recognized, and honored.
5. Pragmatism: Business focus. Self doing/artificing a Project/Enterprise focus (extension). Business Achievement Plan. Communicative action. In this dimension, it is the customer that is being produced (museum, patron, dealer, gallery, collector, audience, etc.). The dealer system is a means of sale and distribution usually from galleries. Prestigious international dealers contract artists and provide salaries in exchange for promotion and exhibitions. Its main effect is to provide art to wealthy collectors and public galleries, however a side effect is to keep artists and general public apart, and raise prices.
6. Design: for pragmatic shaping of functionality, e.g., potter rather than sculpturer (concept->design->enactment->learning->concept). This same pattern can be enacted within the art career arc time and again to redesign the career. Design is a framework or scheme of construction on which artists base the nature of their total work. In a broader sense, design may be considered synonymous with the term form.
7. Balance: between and respect for analysis and synthesis, part and pattern, Yin and Yang [Left Brain/Right Brain dimension]
8. Creativity: true originality, even if only in your original business.
9. Innovation: (organizational innovation process, continuous improvement) including social analysis, synthesis, and innovation based on complex feedback from the environment.
10. Capability focused: Attitudes, skills, knowledge; competence plus values; experience, creativity and citizenship in the art community and at large. Includes affective and effective, i.e. emotional intelligence within artificer intelligence.
11. Performative: active experimenter. Enactment capability dimension, not abstract conceptualisers, reflective observers or concrete experiencers.
12. Telos: i.e. awareness of the link between present action and the big picture, in particular, the future which is drawing us forward. Teleology relates to the study of ultimate causes/ends/designs/intent immanent in action in nature/society or of actions in relation to their ends or utility.
13. Philosophical: links to discourse of phenomenology as it relates to perception, art, image formation and production; esoteric and exoteric dimensions.
14. Poietic: productive, formative: (1) poetic - imaginative. (2) performative; intentionality a step away from self formative, i.e. autopoiesis - from hermeneutics and chaos theory - self organizing also linked to fructified and efficaciousness.
15. Pangogical: artificer-learning interfaces Androgogical and Pedagogical without destroying either. Both self-teaching and formal education are encouraged. Learning happens in the complex environment.
16. Artifactual: An element of utility. The artifact may be useful in day to day life though not used that way, yet the artifact is more than technically correct or even well designed; it is imbued with wisdom. Efficacy is ‘sureness to produce’ the desired final effect. This means integration of process from the final end i.e., the user not producer. Interface integration maximizes design from the point of view of the final user and thus requires waste reduction or elimination; interactive art.
17. Informal: or third sector focused, without excluding private and public but transformative of this conventional dichotomy, i.e. art that is intimate or private yet still recognizable, rather than only idiosyncratic. Art not created for solely narcissistic (self-indulgent) or commercial purposes, but with individual as well as societal value.
We can prioritize this project sufficiently with a ‘statement of intent.’ Communicative action is about achieving through deliberation common criteria and meaning with which to direct actions in those regards. The aspects of communicative action include:
*Freedom of thought and expression that comes from moral autonomy, including nonhierarchical, non domination, communicative competency, transparency, integrity (internal constitution) and ethics (external constitution)
*Generalisable or universal applicability - not just for an elite through applying the tests: “what is good for the goose - and, “Do unto others.”
*Shared priority clarity.
*Individually, collectively, and organizationally role modeling the sort of world we seek to artifice.
*So in this sense, artificing a progressive curriculum includes a component of CART, Communicative Action Research Team, i.e. concept through design and deliberation to action.
We can remember that art is basically a communicative action, designed to convey (or enact) our subjective vision to another’s perceptions. There are virtually infinite ways of doing so for those whose imaginations are unbound. It was not through the search for safe or comfortable art that a work such as “A Starry Night” came about.
Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Art History
A Short Course in the Digital Revolution
Art is the most fundamental activity that characterizes modern man. Knowledge of the rich history of art adds depth to our perception, heightens awareness, and provides a sense of our place in the world. It is the foundation on which to build a relationship to the panoply of iconography, symbolism, and archetypes that art draws from continually. Art is a discipline of consciousness, whose ecology is to recycle itself.
The Postmodern era ushered in a hodge-podge of styles harking back to bygone eras. Postmodernism began in the 1970's, when the dominant styles of art - Minimalism and Conceptualism - seemed to no longer fit in a world struggling with a myriad of social problems. As a result, a plurality of styles developed. Some Post-modernists forcefully expressed a desire to do away with art that seemed to have no meaningful content, and began to turn back to figurative art and the establishment of meaning.
Other Post-modernists attempted to extend modern art in new ways by appropriating earlier styles, which they modified. Due to the sheer variety of sources and styles it is difficult to catergorize Post-modern artists with the same ease of earlier styles or movements. The post Postmodern era saw the development of new media, such as digital fine art, digital animation, multimedia, holography, computer generated imagery (CGI), interactive gaming, even virtual reality, etc., with styles all their own.
Computer enhanced images are produced with a stage of manipulation in digital language using computer software. It can be applied to other media, such as photographs or scans of traditional media, or 3-D objects. This awesome technology is used by photographers, filmmakers, the advertising industry, web designers, graphic designers and increasingly available to fine artists.
Museum quality prints can be made by the enhanced giclee or other processes. (Giclee; literally means little squirt in French. It is the latest digital printing technique enabling "print on demand". Originally it was a term used by Iris printers but rapidly became the generic term for top quality digital prints using archival quality inks on heavy weight paper or canvas.)
Suddenly, the entire history of art became fodder for a raw-image-hungry medium that gobbled up, digested, and spat out a pot pourri of historical, fantastic, and futuristic iconography in the digital vernacular. Rapid cut clips are the visual equivalent of ‘sound bites.’ We see the familiar old images, here a Michelangelo reference, a Van Gogh homage, or a Duchamp pun -- but they have become virtually meaningless in the new context a fractal blur.
There is nothing new under the sun, the saying goes. In art, it means there is rarely anything truly innovative, and that most imagery is a rehash of previous work, in which the statement was perhaps more succinctly embodied. Virtually any work can be considered derivative or deconstructed by its critics. The exceptions are works of genius, milestones in the history of art. They foresee the future, hunting it down in the forest of kaleidoscopic potential creations.
To ignore or fail to meaningfully incorporate the broad and delicate strokes of the arc of art’s evolution over the centuries means impoverishment of the spirit. One’s artistic soul remains starved for the lavish feast that is still spread before us, so close yet so far away. Knowledge of art history, experience of historic art, helps develop conceptual perception...creative vision that derives from the imagination.
Each and every artist needs to claim this legacy anew, whether in the academic setting or on his own. The visionary gift is an activity of the soul that draws not only on the collective unconscious, but also on collective consciousness, on what has gone before. How else can we hunt the future but with our vision?
As educators, we need to instill a love of art in students, not merely technical prowess, so that the technical media do not dictate the creation through mere programming. The world is full of hacks in every profession who know their craft but lack that vital spark of originality, of boldness. Artifice and artistry are different qualities. Exercise of talent is a different faculty from imagination, let alone genius.
Artistic drive comes from a love affair with the imaginal, the procreative urge to externalize and manifest one’s vision, to embody meaning, to express the authentic self. It comes in a rapid-fire series of emotional impulses which we act upon with intentionality, yet open to the intrusion on our will of the creative process. It is not only the history of art, but also the passion of that journey that should be conveyed.
We live fully immersed in a stream of imagery, originating both internally and externally. Images come in from the outside through the senses, and are also produced autonomously from the unconscious as an ongoing visual narrative, often metaphorical in nature, of our experience. In fact, this imaginal dimension is our experience. Everything we perceive of ourselves, others and world is filtered through it. Those images we seek to express are born within it and emerge from it through the creative process.
Art helps us remember who we were, truly are, and who we will become both individually and as a society. Information is infused by resonance through direct experience, evoking creative ideas, feelings, and motivated behavior. Interactive art functions in a similar way as dynamic experience.
It unpredictably seduces and surprises, shattering pre-existent notions. Each image emerges from the creative context that links all events, real and imaginal, the underlying destructured phenomenal field, the meaningful void of the transcendent imagination.
Art, like science, is a vocation or calling, a path toward truth and self-realization, for both maker and spectator. Revolutionary art and visionary physics are both investigations into the nature of reality, and the organization of our perceptions. Gauguin said, “There are only two kinds of artists -- revolutionaries and plagiarists.”
Revolutionary work marks a transition in a civilization’s worldview. The digital revolution marked such a transition. Arguably, today the marriage of art and science is embodied in new media: digital and electronic arts. Highly technical media have made new images possible through programs that render images virtually as fast as we can think them up. But it requires a lifelong learning curve that is daunting and unrelenting. It requires we continuously update our skill and knowledge base to realize our creative dreams.
Independent of either high or low brow dichotomies, ‘Know Brow’ art doesn’t value art history to create an artificial hierarchy of works that are intrinsically better than others, but to maintain the thread of continuity that informs the world of imagery. We commune with the past to inform our present. It is not to contrive a homage to an older reference, but to gain initiation into the visceral and experiential state from which it was created. Direct experience of that imaginal reality that is the essence of knowing - a gnosis.
The artist who recognizes upon reflection the influence of the past in his own works perceives a level of meaning that may not be obvious to the casual spectator. This level of metanarrative has everything to do with the vast panoply of art history.
Historical art can inspire and give us impressions that morph in our own deep subconscious taking on the geist of the present. It is intrinsic in the moment of conception that a work of art - that elemental vision - will be brought forth in the chosen medium, in a symphony of attitudes, skills, and knowledge.
Planned or unplanned, a work embodies the meaningful moment even if comes from a fortunate technical ‘accident’. The intentionality to create is always there when we interface with our cyber allies. Often any resemblance to past historical works is discovered upon reflection rather than during the inspirational or execution phase, which is likely to be spontaneous and somewhat unconscious.
The electronic arts are so complex that today’s digital fine artist or filmmaker is almost as much of a scientist as an artist. Still, it is incumbent on him or her to maintain a deep root in art, not just mining the archive of historical imagery for base material. This will only become more so as digital rendering programs take over much of the drudgery of execution.
Experimentation with new compositional programs can yield surprising results moving artists into heretofore-unexplored territories in their work. Still, even new media’s novel appearance can echo the iconography, moods and textures of past eras and their styles. It is the same in fashion where looks and eras are recycled deliberately but interpreted in today’s fabrics and cuts. It all depends on how you accessorize it.
Innovation requires more than sampling and restyling. It requires a personal archaeology that means digging up that unique portion of our human depths that wants to come to birth through you, that which comes to be through a conspiracy of necessity and coalescence.
One must commit to the image and let it speak for itself in the now, with little or no thought to the past or future. When one opens to the moment, to the process, a flow emerges. Serendipity and synchronicities require fluidity of imagination, an inner eye for what could be important to incorporate, as well as fluency in technical procedures.
Style emerges as the result of habitually reiterating creative choices and recycling favored elements. The same ideas roll around over and over, evolving into variations on a theme. Some artists stake their career on this rather uncourageous course instead of evolving further. It may be less a desire to maintain commerciality or please their public than simply lack of fresh inspiration. That inspiration can be rekindled by immersion in new exciting fields of imagery, new mindscapes, new places, new media, great art.
[The Psychogenesis poster originals are 24 x 36, and are assembled completely by hand. No computer enhancement has been used on any of them, except as I have later done (2000--) combining them with my Digital Diva “Faux-tos”. All were done between 1994 and 1999.]