Archive for month: January, 2016

The Bridge Between Wisdom and Madness

“Nietzsche considers the only true antidote to this existential dreariness:

‘No one can build you the bridge on which you, and only you, must cross the river of life. There may be countless trails and bridges and demigods who would gladly carry you across; but only at the price of pawning and forgoing yourself. There is one path in the world that none can walk but you. Where does it lead? Don’t ask, walk!’” [1]

Not surprisingly, he walked the hills of surrounding Eze Village in Southern France, on a regular basis while writing Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

He was a firm believer that walking was good for the brain.

There is a bridge that we must cross as artists; one that no one can else cross for us.

It is our creation.

Like dying and being reborn we battle the existential anxiety as ideas are born and if we are strong enough to endure the process they materialize in what will one day become our œuvre.

Transgression becomes our motto.

We take on the ghosts of our lives and with any luck achieve that mindlessness, that state of being where our prefrontal cortex is in mute mode and our self-criticism and self-editing are silenced.

Only then can this rebirth take place, with the materialization of a work of art. That becomes, in itself, the story of our lives, our path; a map that shows where we have been while on this planet. [2]

There are no maps to much of our path, those exist only in our memory, still as Magdalena Abakanowicz said:

“Art will remain the most astonishing activity of mankind born out of struggle between wisdom and madness, between dream and reality in our mind.” [3]

In Nietzsche’s words:

“You are treading your path to greatness. No one shall steal after you here…”

Walking that path is a gift from the gods.

It is often a painful path.

One where the focal point is blurred between rebirths, as an excess of ideas and questions battle it out in the angst of the moment between wisdom and madness, between dream and reality.

Culminating in this, our lives, our œuvre, for which we are eternally grateful.

By Boky & Blake

1.https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/09/30/nietzsche-find-yourself-schopenhauer-as-educator/

2.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iHwPfirtUg&index=7&list=PLVqHfkys5pHQraGjrulbIl0FlZkVhoMpZ

  1. http://www.azquotes.com/author/24836-Magdalena_Abakanowicz

Celluloid Ceiling

Let’s hear it for the storytellers who are making their voices heard in Hollywood!

I just watched a Bloomberg report called Celluloid Ceilings that talks about women in the film and television industry today. [1]

While the glass ceiling for women in business sometimes comes up in conversation, I hadn’t really heard of the celluloid ceiling.

Dr. Martha Lauzen calls it gender inertia and explains; “there is no evidence to suggest that women’s employment in key roles has improved over the last 16 years.” [2]

Thankfully, there are a few out there who are speaking out, and as their struggle is gaining momentum, it will be interesting to see what position the female studio executives take.

Founder of the ‘Original Six’, Victoria Hochberg, arrived in Hollywood in 1979 and was amazed to find that so few women directors were actually working, so she and five other talented female directors formed this group.

They met once a week and figured out how many women actually had jobs in the industry.

It turned out that in 1985 only half of 1% were working!

A lawsuit followed but was thrown out and the while the numbers improved all the way into the mid 90’s, things have slowly gone backwards again. [3]

These are some of the women who are stepping up to the plate and speaking out.

With the influence that the industry has on our society, wouldn’t it be good if women had the same creative opportunities that men have had?

Former DGA President (Director’s Guild of America/first and only female President) Martha Coolidge, is another of these women who has a hard time finding work, and who, is willing to risk her own professional longevity to help other women in the industry.

Remember Alice Guy Blaché?

She was the first woman to own and run her own studio from 1910 to1914.

Not only did she direct some 400 films but she also directed the first narrative film ever!

So why exactly is it that the industry takes this position with women directors?

Why is it that women can’t attain proper financing, or good distribution deals?

Director, Lexi Alexander, explains that women are pigeonholed as being either incapable of making decisions on the set or so difficult that they are impossible to work with.

In either case, they become unemployable.

She directed Punisher: War Zone, which is definitely not a chic flick, and says we should stop being shocked by the fact that women can do things because guess what, they can!

The DGA’s diversity list isn’t helping either.

This list is used to hire people of diverse ethnicities, and although some women are included, they can only be on this list if they have worked within the past 18 months. Catch 22?

Thank goodness for women directors such as Rachel Feldman, Maria Giese, Martha Coolidge, Lexi Alexander, Catherine Hardwicke and let’s not forget the head of the Institute on Gender Studies, Geena Davis.

They are out there fighting to make a difference for all women artists.

Their motto is: “If they see it, they can be it” and they are doing everything they can to see that women are not portrayed as being less important and less competent than men.

Creativity is gender neutral.

Let’s hope they can break through that celluloid ceiling and tell their stories.

Just like we all can tell ours, in benefit of the next generation.

By Boky and Blake

1.) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2015-06-19/celluloid-ceilings-women-directors-speak-out 

2.) http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/the-celluloid-ceiling-2013-the-film-industry-is-in-a-state-of-gender-inertia

3.) http://blogs.2.)indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/dga-celebrates-women-directors-but-whats-the-next-move-20140924

The Infinite in Finitude

There we are, spending our limited lives stretching, reaching for more.

We seek serenity in the promise of our potential and expect the moving target to stop, forever at infinite happiness.

Sometimes I wonder why we project ourselves that way, thinking that happiness is over there, just over that mountain.

We climb and struggle through thick and thin, in the hopes of reaching that goal.

The need to keep going is stronger than we are because we believe that the “I” in us will finally find serenity in that imagined promise of the idyllic eternal.

As if time would then suddenly stop and we could live in the bliss of that moment forever.

We probably wouldn’t even realize it because by then, the idyllic future would be another!

Could it be that in equating happiness to the future we are actually splitting ourselves in two?

Could that future be nothing more than an abstraction?

If the future is nothing more than an abstraction then our struggle for serenity is actually causing the opposite, our insecurity.

The wind keeps blowing; we will never catch up to it.

Even thinking about thinking is already creating a loss and that split causes our existential anxiety because the actual experience we are thinking of is gone.

The awareness of the thought is already behind the moment and therefore it is gone.

The “I” splits off into an imagined future while the “me” remains, feeling worthless for not getting there fast enough.

So the antidote is the now, but somehow, our ambitions, all too often, lead our present moment to go unnoticed.

I wonder how that applies to the process of creation.

While we are lost in the act of creation, we are not aware of the thoughts regarding that creation.

We just are.

Being in the flow is tantamount to experiencing an ongoing state of nirvana.

This is the place where we find the most serenity, wholeness and fulfillment.

Perhaps the reason artists create, at whatever expense and effort, is that in that space lies the finitude of time, awareness and consciousness; and as its margins blur we find infinite satisfaction.

 

By Boky & Blake

 

Polygon Power

I never thought that the polygon would really be of interest to me, but now that they have come into my life, they have changed it.

There are lots of different types of polygons, and they are really not that interesting on their own.

Yet, the far from boring little polygons, have moved the entire design world away from rectangles, revolutionizing the world of architecture, film, design and additive manufacturing.

One might not think that this is actually a big deal, but look at the buildings designed by Frank Gehry, for example.

There, is a truly brilliant use of polygons.

This wonderful world of polygons has been opened through the language of mathematics and the facility by which, our favourite tool; our computers, can manipulate them.

I have been enlightened; introduced to the power of polygons, math and geometry, through a wonderful piece of software called Zbrush.

This program, and others like it have been used to create animation for movies, as well as, computer games.

The computer’s ability to manipulate millions of polygons with ease has changed the motion picture industry allowing a lot of special effects to be created digitally.

This has saved the lives of many stunt artists, as well as providing us, with some absolutely amazing visuals.

That is all fine and good if you were a film producer, you say, but what can polygons do for a sculptor?

Until recently polygons had only existed in the 2D world.

They have now taken on the qualities of matter in 3D form.

Polygons have certainly changed my life and now are changing the way I sculpt.

They have, in fact, become my new medium!

Through the use of Zbrush and associated software, I am combining the figures that I create manually by working in wax with an interior structure that is created virtually; sculpted with Zbrush.

It is a merger between the analogue and the digital.

The result is an organic figure with a very mechanical, square edged inner structure, created by sculpting millions of polygons.

Then of course, you have to get your creation out of the computer and into the real world.

This is more difficult, but with the advances in 3D printing we are moving forward.

There are some problems such as “non-manifold edges” (don’t ask) and the limited tolerances of today’s additive manufacturing printers, but these are just technical obstacles that can and will be overcome.

I must admit that I am encouraged as I bounce along the bottom of the learning curve, as this new world slowly and sometimes painfully opens up before me.

I’ll let you know how it works out!

Until then wish me luck!

By Blake & Boky

Uncertainty

“I suppose therefore that all things I see are illusions; I believe that nothing has ever existed of everything my lying memory tells me. I think I have no senses. I believe that body, shape, extension, motion, location are functions. What is there then that can be taken as true? Perhaps only this one thing, that nothing at all is certain.”

René Descartes

Uncertainty is one of the few certain things in life that we can be sure of.

One of the principal causes of uncertainty in everyone’s life is the unpredictability of the future.

We know how the day begins, but are clueless as to how it will end.

 

We are hard wired to try to predict what is coming and have both conscious and unconscious means of creating millions of different scenarios that we hope will assist us in determining the future.

Still, the fact is that we are not very good at it and even when history should provide a clue we often repeat the same behaviours, resulting in a similar chain of events.

We react poorly to the fear caused by the threat of uncertainty by releasing the hormone cortisol, raising heart rate and sometimes coming completely undone.

 

Fear avoidance is one of the reasons that we are drawn to people who are confident and demonstrate conviction.

We want to believe people who are sure of themselves, and our brains may be set up to reflect the emotional state of this person through “mirror neurons”. [1]

This theory suggests that the self-assurance demonstrated by a person may be neurologically shared.

It is true that we gravitate to confident people, and confidence is created by both passion in what you are doing and the belief that your objectives are sound in principal and in practice.

 

One of the things that we are very good at doing is allowing our imaginations to create those scenarios that begin with “what if”.

I can go to town with all the possibilities and create real fear as a result.

So I try to remember that the obstructions that we see before us are mostly imaginary.

By Blake & Boky

1.The Mind’s Mirror, LEA WINERMAN Monitor Staff October 2005, Vol 36, No.9 http://www.apa.org/monitor/oct05/mirror.aspx

Blazing Incongruity

“There are two paths of which one may choose in the walk of life; one we are born with, and the one we consciously blaze. One is naturally true, while the other is a perceptive illusion. Choose wisely at each fork in the road.”

T.F. Hodge

Which is which?

Shall the circumstances of my birth become the path I walk? Is that the true and natural one, or is that nothing more than a “perceptive illusion”?

Is the path that I “consciously blaze” the true and natural one that I should walk? Or is that nothing more than a mere “perceptive illusion”?

Are we trapped into being and becoming through the accident of birth or can we choose?

Is it not disingenuous to advise us to take care in making our choices if we may, in fact, not have a choice?

Does my heritage define my future?

I suppose it is back to the old Plato/Aristotle issue of whether the slate is clean at birth or not!

Still, there is that irritating need to define things.

What exactly is “perceptive illusion”?

It is an untruth, a paradox!

It is an optical illusion, a mathematical system for creating space and distance, depth of field, but it is represents something that is not, and has never been there.

So what is Hodge really saying?

So intent on giving us good advice (and we all know how we love unsolicited advice!), by saying we should choose wisely, yet in the same breath he is telling us that we, in fact don’t have and never had, a choice.

If the second road, the one we consciously blaze, is a perceptive illusion, then there is no choice and we are what we are until we are no longer.

That thought just depresses me! I much prefer Robert Frost’s words from the poem, The Road not Taken:

“….Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

It gives us hope and allows us to dream, to better ourselves and reach further because as Henry Ford said, “if we think we can or we think we can’t, we are right”.

By Boky & Blake
© Copyright 2017 Blake Ward. | Atelier Blake, 5 rue des Violettes, Monte-Carlo, Monaco 98000
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