Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Selk' nam

This work is a depiction of a Selk' nam Xo' on, or shaman, acting as the physical vessel for the spirit of a Waiyuwenh, a Selk' nam deity.
Esta obra es una representacion de un Xo'on o shaman Selk' nam, actuando como el cuerpo fisico de un Waiyuwenh, o espiritu.

The Selk' nam, also known as the Ona, lived in the Patagonian region of southern Chile and Argentina. After living relatively peacefully for thousands of years, the entire Selk' nam population was brutally enslaved, massacred, and eventually extinguished completely as an ethnic group by 1972. This work is intended as a physical mark, made in the memory of this rich and mostly unknown culture.
Los Selk' nam, tambien llamados Ona, vivieron en la region Patagonica del sur de Chile y Argentina. Tras vivir relativamente en paz por miles de anos, la poblacion entera de Selk' nam fue brutalmente esclavizada, masacrada y finalmente extinguida completamente como grupo etnico alrededor de 1972. Esta obra tiene como objetivo crear una marca fisica, en honor y memoria de esta rica y mayormente desconocida cultura.

Their existence will forever be remembered.
Su existencia sera por siempre recordada.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Island Vessel Vivarium I

This is the Island Vessel 1.

Photo Courtesy of Mihnea Vasilescu

But before it turned into the vessel it is now, it begun as a simple idea. A vessel inside a vessel. A terrarium inside an aquarium.

The idea soon turned into sketches...

And the sketches became clearer and clearer in my head (as did the potential for the vessel itself to become real, and as did my obssesion with this possibility...)

Then, I was ready. The idea was clear as glass to me, and the thought of making it a reality became a persistent fixation in my head: "I haaave to maaake iiit!!"
But having no experience in blowing glass, I had to turn to the life-saving helping-hand of the true experts...

I took the idea with me, to the Pittsburgh Glass Center. I shared my idea with a fine gentleman named Everett Hirche -a local artist and technician at the Center- and asked him if making the vesssel was possible, and if it was of interest to him. He was definitely up for the challenge and excited to help me out, and soon him and a team at the Glass Center were discussing and preparing for the making of the Island Vessel.

On Friday, March 5th of 2010, during Unblurred on Penn Av, a small team comprised of Everett Hirche, Jason Forck, Steve Stens and Chris Hofman, brought The Island Vessel into this physical world!
To see how things went down the night of the making of the Island Vessel, check this video out (music by my band Shambolish!):


Once the vessel was a full-blown, double-chambered glass piece, I begun building the little worlds inside of it. First I made the terrarium. To do this, I use special tools, some of which I have to make myself. The terrarium contains plants and mosses which I have come to feel comfortable working with, such as 2 species of star moss, violets and a couple of other specimens whose names I don't know. Also in there is a tiny spider and a centipede.
Then, I constructed the aquarium, which contains Java moss, Banana plant, gilled snails and a couple of other snails, barnacles and plants whose names I don't know. There are Ghost shrimp too, and six Zebra Danios.
I showed this piece (unfortunately only for one day) during the GAGI (Geek Arts / Green Innovators Festival) on April 2nd, 2010, along with other of my artworks.

The Island Vessel I (which I also call "my new TV"!) worked just as planned. The magnification produced by the thick concave glass and the water is simply striking. The overal effect is hard to describe or show in the images. It has a beautiful roundedness and definition. As a passionate nature lover, there is nothing more gratifying than observing this active and thriving little ecosystem as if seen through a magnifying lense. I can literally sit to watch this world in a jar for hours!
Also, my ideas as far as the moisture being transferred from one chamber to the other seem to be working great. In the images I do not have the lid on because the terrarium is still too moist to enclose, but Everett did make a special lid that has a sort of drip snout, which conducts drops of condensed water from the aquarium into the terrarium.
Overall, this vessel fascinates me, not because I put it together, but because it is a contained pocket of life; a balanced, living and ever-changing little microworld.

For a slightly closer sense of the qualities of this contained universe, check out this clip of shrimp citizens of Island Vessel:

And I am happy to say that I am not the only one to take great pleasure from the result of all this work. Otherwise, without the chance to create a bit of a sense of wonder in others, my work would be pointless.

Photo Courtesy of Mihnea Vasilescu

Thank you for your interest, which is one of the things that keep my work alive.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Stereo Drawing update

So, here is the final version of my stereoscopic drawing entitled "Outer Technology Reveals Inner Technologies". It works! Of course here you only get to see the stereo pair as it looks in 2 dimensions, but through the lenses the 3D effect is quite effective. To experience this piece in the right way, you can stop by The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination, for a show running until May 7th, themed: "Antiquated and Future (or Imaginary) Technology". Learn more about the IF Center and this show here.

As you may notice, the two sets are not exactly the same, and so some interesting interference is created, especially in the colors of the vessel and in the background symbols. I took some liberties as far as creating very differing patterns on the background, so that when seen in stereo, the peripheral elements are not always in 3D. The result is somewhat similar to a certain optical illusion or effect, where the central object is in focus, but the periphery appears to be in motion, until you look at it directly. I am pretty pleased with this effect: it reminds me of a quantum chamber where the particles are multiple and fluctuating, but as one peeks in, only one particle is seen in the center.

Anyhow, here are some images of how the piece was set at the IF. Just for the fun I made one into a wiggle set.

(I love how the canister of chemical next to my piece says FOTOFLAT!)

Finally, here is the statement as it was presented in the show. In there, I finally get to address the actual significance and concept behind the drawing itself, in addition to the descriptions of the optical mechanism (to see more of the initial process, ideation and sketchbook pages go to my previous post "stereo art").

“Outer Technology Reveals Inner Technologies”
Stereoscopic drawing: pen, berry ink, tea, water media on paper.
March 28, 2010

Among a few of its kind, this stereoscopic drawing done by hand highlights an optical technology that is both ancient and new, both internal and external, which is stereoscopic vision. This drawing is also a depiction of a concept which is both ancient and new as well (representing the inner technology) which is the alchemical notion of the Axis/Anima Mundi.

The reason for using a stereoscopic technology (other than the fact that 3d imaging is awesome) is that its mechanics reference the process that our own brain engages in when interpreting visual images. When looking at the (external) world, our two eyes create two separate flat images of reality; slightly different perspectives of the same object. It is our (internal) brain that compiles these two images into one three-dimensional sense. While this phenomenon is as old as our physiology and perception, we normally take for granted the amazing collaboration between external and internal technologies to create –real or otherwise- sensory experiences. It is only more recently that strong interest in this specific optical technology has re-emerged. Today we enjoy movies in 3D that appear to get closer and closer to the likeness of reality. Pretty soon we might come to confirm that what is real is always and only bound to our perception.

The depiction itself is of a personal combination meta-symbol which is very significant to me. It is the Axis Mundi, or “world spine”, which in this case I have fused to the Anima Mundi, or “soul of the world.” These are ideas that fascinate me, and that I have studied a bit. The world axis is a “tube” of sorts which connects realms to one another. Traditionally, the Axis Mundi connects the middle world to the heavens and to the underworld. It is a symbol that can take a large number of forms, and its use is rather universal. The Anima Mundi is the “soul of the world”, also known as God or Spirit, and it is the living force that animates matter, or the life source. Here I interpret the two as one, materialized as a vessel. The vessel is revealed as a type of vision; cloudy, undefined - yet clearly present- and fluctuating between being a solid object and a dream.

Like other of my works, this piece is an object that is broad in scope and multilayered. It is a material offering that references an inner realm or state, which can only be referred to metaphorically, and can only be received on an individual basis. The title of this piece is a direct reference to my most consistent (and at this point repetitive) definition of art, which is: Art is the conscious or spontaneous technology of manipulating physical matter, creating objects that reference non-physical ideas and emotions, that are in turn more closely connected to our transcendental self. An external technology such as art can reveal internal technologies such as knowledge, devotion and passion.

I was going to write more about the Axis/Anima Mundi concept here, but that would require a whole lot more writting that I don't feel like delivering right now. Instead you may be interested in checking out the Wikipedia definition of Axis Mundi. There is enough exciting stuff there to get a whole cosmic revolution started! I also need to catch up with my next post, about the first Island Vessel vivarium. Both this piece and the vivarium were shown during the GAGI (Geek Arts and Green Innovators festival), starting yesterday April 2, 2010.
Don't miss experiencing "Outer Technology Reveals Inner Technologies" while its up!
Thanks for hanging out...