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Privilege and Surrender

When viewing a work of art for the first time, what do you see?

Does your inner voice comment?

Does it question?

Do you fall in love, respectfully accept it as a work of art, or do you shred it to pieces?

Is it reverence or complacency?

Art has such power, but like anything else, its power is limited to the importance we give it.

Is it being viewed with respect?

Are we dedicating a moment of our precious lives to understanding what is presented to us? Can we surrender to this moment?

Are we humble enough to admit that perhaps we sometimes don’t understand?

Or does our arrogance as critics allow us to simply dismiss it as a feeble attempt at art and call it ‘pathetic!’?

Jeanette Winterson, in her essay, Art Objects, explains such negative comments:

“They are statements that tell us something about the speaker. That should be obvious, but in fact, such statements are offered as criticisms of art, as evidence against, not least because the ignorant, the lazy, or the plain confused are not likely to want to admit themselves as such. We hear a lot about the arrogance of the artist but nothing about the arrogance of the audience. The audience, who have not done the work, who have not taken any risks, whose life and livelihood are not bound up at every moment with what they are making, who have given no thought to the medium or the method, will glance up, flick through, chatter over the opening chords, then snap their fingers and walk away like some monstrous Roman tyrant.” [1]

Art is intense and requires concentration, not only in its creation but in its viewing.

I truly believe that the time we give to the art; not simply the quick glance, but looking deeply into the work will reflect so much about ourselves, that perhaps this is what we fear.

As artists we bear our souls, often revealing so much more than we should, still expression is our undeniable need.

At times terrified, we project our personal identity into the work and spend most of our lives explaining ourselves to ourselves.

When the viewer perceives it as being too far from the safety of their personal experience, they will fight to keep that world from shattering around them and as a result the work is dismissed.

The tragedy, I find, is that the mirror that could have reflected back to the viewer, something new about themselves, has been shattered as well, and with it, growth.

Winterson says that “True art, when it happens to us, challenges the “I” that we are.” [2]

“Art objects to the lie against life that it is pointless and mean. The message coloured through time is not lack but abundance, Not silence but many voices. Art, all art, is the communication cord that cannot be snapped by indifference or disaster. Against the daily death it does not die.” [3]

By Boky & Blake

1.https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/10/27/jeanette-winterson-art-objects/

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid

Self Under Siege

When do we feel safe?

It’s an interesting question.

I find that in today’s society we have a tendency to be the persona we are expected to be in order to suit that particular environment.

We deny our truth in front of the audience that is the outer world and feel safe exclusively while being tucked away, safely backstage.

This role-playing may be counter-productive to our true selves as well as to artistic creation.

Louise Bourgeois was a huge fan of Picasso’s because she saw so much truth in his work.

He lived and experienced every movement and there was integrity in every brush stroke.

She believed that Dali and his ilk were theatrical, as was the New York scene where their main goal was to be fashionable.

“Never depart from the truth even though it seems banal at first…! Keep your integrity. You will only count, for yourself and in your art, to the extent that you keep your integrity.” [1]

Few of us do not doubt ourselves at times.

Still, what if we feel unsure and fear the slaughter of the nullifidians?

What then, Louise?

“Skepticism is the beginning of decadence. It’s a form of abdication and bankruptcy.” [2]

Louise leads us to the fear that fuels this bankruptcy of hope.

The fear becomes that monster within us, yet upon close rational and intuitive examination we can see that, like most of the obstacles before us, this demon is built by our imagination.

She also said:

“To be an artist is a guarantee to your fellow humans that the wear and tear of living will not let you become a murderer… Audience is bullshit, unnecessary. Communication is rare; art is a language, like the Chinese language. Who gets it? The deaf mutes in the subway.” [3]

They kept her from being lonely.

The contact with kindred spirits, the deaf mutes in the subway.

“You are born alone. You die alone. The value of the space in between is trust and love.” [4]

By Boky & Blake

  1. https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/08/17/louise-bourgeois-letters-diaries-art/
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. Ibid

We Dance

“We dance for laughter, we dance for tears, we dance for madness, we dance for fears, we dance for hopes, we dance for screams, we are the dancers, we create the dreams.” Albert Einstein [1]

While the attribution of this quote to Einstein is questionable, the sentiment is wonderful.

In doing, we discover and in discovering, we move forward.

Following a set of artistic rules, chiselled in stone would lead us to be like the others and there is very little point in that.

It is true that we are just a tiny ‘nano fleck’ in the universe, but maybe, if we avoid strict definitions and simply try doing things differently, we might just leave a tiny little mark.

There is very little point in standing still while we are alive.

The exhilaration of using our brains to create something is too good to pass up.

Jason Silva calls it being in a state of cognitive ecstasy; leaving the trivial world behind and transcending the ego; experiencing that ‘neuro storm’ of having created something; a connection to the rest of the world.

He describes it as the sharing of subjectivity and in some way uniting, as space and time warp.

These are the things that inspire and push him and his ‘Shots of Awe’ creative team. [2]

If we dream bigger and reach higher than we think we can, there is a good chance we will outdo ourselves.

We create our limitations, imagined or not, but we also create our dreams.

By Boky & Blake

  1. http://skinnyartist.com/150-amazing-quotes-to-feed-your-creative-soul/
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvi7VLbiMuk&list=PLVqHfkys5pHQraGjrulbIl0FlZkVhoMpZ&index=9

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

Phishing Fraud Warning

Dear Friends

If you have been contacted by email offering employment as a Personal Assistant PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND. They are after your personal information.

This is not a real offer.

It is a Scam.

Authorities have been notified and are working on the situation.

Thanks

Blake

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