BIOSPIRITUAL: The term comes to me from the cosmologist Brian Swimme, and I apply it, as he did, to the Sun/Earth relationship. My sense of the spiritual is similar to this quote by Michael Shermer from a piece in The Skeptic. "….I define the spirit as the pattern of information of which we are made - our genes, proteins, memories, and personalities. In this sense, spirituality is the quest to know the place of our spirit within the deep time of evolution and the deep space of the cosmos. I believe that science gives us the deepest possible sense of grandeur and wonder about our place in time and space." In this regard I am attempting to relate, through these site-specific installations, to our creative place on the planet. Life, fueled by the sun, has become conscious of itself and the cosmos.
THE GARDEN: We have this idea that we are just recently born. We see ourselves as coming into being as the sperm and egg unite to form a unit that begins to divide at a cellular level, and we grow a child. Our parents, our families and our community celebrate a new being, a new entity. Me, you and us…we. And so we are 'x' many years old from that birthday. We count that time; I am presently 65.
But there is another way to look at this living, this line of life. This sperm and egg are just the miniscule ends of a hugely complicated and unimaginably massive ball of gravid twine. This living entity is only the present form of a long connection of livingness that stretches back, how far? To the very beginning of emergent life. If we were to answer the question as of old we are, the answer would be something like 3.4 billion years old - or more (13.7 billion), considering the age of the Universe. From emergence day one, there has never been a break in this line of living for you, for me or for anything alive at this very moment, otherwise, we would not be here sharing Planet Earth. Our genetic heritage is that of countless beings before us, arisen from the primal material of the Earth/Universe and nurtured in the liquid womb, bathed by the sun's energy.
This is the meditation that I see expressed by the nature of 'the garden'. The embodiment of time through our intimate connection to, microbes, bacteria, plants, insects, lichens, animals, nutrients, who all share our genome and our common emergence. We celebrate the living entity that constantly renews itself, constant metamorphosis unfolding to self-educate to evolving demands and demanding conditions. The garden, as the prayer wheel, is a metaphor for the larger whole, a microcosm of growth and change, a place where the sacred is noticed.
In closing: The contemporary art aesthetic is often shy about embracing the sacred. There seems to be some hesitation and red flags tend to go up when an artist begins to acknowledge that his or her creative impulse includes a 'sacred dimension'. I know this hesitation myself. However, when I look to the history of our species, I come to view the emergence of our self-awareness as identical to, part and parcel of, the totality of emergent creativity. One could not exist without the other, and both are a component of the energy born from the initial seed of potential, that 'something special' of great systems that self-organize. Our species did not just 'pop' into existence - we carry the genetic lineage of 4 billion years of life educating itself to the conditions of planet Earth.
"……try to imagine the mysterious movement across the black waters of pre-creation, of the spirit of God. Imagine a quickening that pierces the Pacific-the entire ocean suddenly invested with being, suddenly restless, inhaling and exhaling the moon-coaxed breaths called tides. Limn this vast being with glaciers in the north, volcanic fissures in its depths. Imbue it with the same blue, gray and green surfaces and glass-smooth-to-mountainous textures as the Pacific; same molten-to-frozen temperature ranges; same unknowable, 36,000-foot depths; same power to produce wonder, terror, beauty, death and life. Imagine this being is your biological mother--because in a very real sense, she is. Imagine the Sun is your biological father--because in equally real, life-giving ways, he is. Imagine that after the spirit of God touched them, your distant but brilliant father and 70-million-square-mile mother not only fell in love, but began making love: Imagine Ocean and Sun; in coitus for eternity--because they are. Imagine your Ocean mother's wombs are countless, that her fecundity is infinitely varied, and that her endless slow lovemaking with Sun brings blue whales and great white sharks; endless living castles of coral; vast phalanxes of fishes; incalculable flocks of birds; gigantic typhoons; weather patterns the size of continents--because it does.
(David James Duncan, from A Prayer for Salmon's Second Coming).
The vast amount of creative energy throughout traceable human history that has been devoted to honoring the sacred, to erecting shrines, to scientific research, painting caves, philosophical meditations, building pyramids, cathedrals, and entire cities and cultures, poems, songs, symphonies and compositions of all sorts; gardens, ritual objects, paintings, sculptures, astronomical complexes, telescopes, and spaceships….is very telling. There is the deepest desire to know about our origins, the origin of life, of the mind, of the cosmos. It comes with the territory of self-aware curiosity and has found expression through our participation as the creative creatures that are giving expression to natural process that we are. It should be said that on a microscopic level we are the Earth becoming aware of itself, and on the macroscopic plane, because we have emerged from this greater whole, we are the Universe discovering itself.
Many contemporary artists are reflecting upon the most recent scientific discoveries and bringing these revelatory concepts into the creative language of our time. We need to embrace the expanse of the Universe as we engender an art form that participates with the processes that are meaningful to emergent consciousness. We have at our fingertips a wealth of information that can fuel creative enterprise. As artists, we have an opportunity to engage these dynamic themes and to reflect upon where humanity has come from and to envision where humanity might be headed. We need to envision a deeply centering cosmology and bring this forward as an artistic expression of creative consciousness.
"There is no deeper source of meaning for human beings than to experience our own lives as reflecting the nature and origin of the universe"
(Joel Primack/Nancy Ellen Abrams The View from the Center of the Universe)
I have put
together a series of sketches and maquettes (models) along with some material
that I have written regarding my motivation for embarking on this pursuit.
In addition, I have begun collecting writings from poets, writers, theorists,
cosmologists, and scientists that reflect the general theme that I have outlined.
I hope to find support to build one of these installations and to publish
a manuscript with 10-15 essays.