Sunday, July 31, 2011

art as carrot

the project is nearly finished. it has been worked in organic time--no race to a finish line. part of the making is simply to look at it, turn it over like a found seashell, see what it has to say to me. i tell students that artwork needs to be out in front of their ability to understand. i'm always trying to catch up with the things i make, to see what the artist has to say to the rest of me. art as carrot: keep going.

for years i've thought about the phrase "art is an act against nature." interventions into what's given allow greater consciousness, and art is simply the best intervention I can imagine. To create worlds that swing free of imposed "realities," to intervene in the operating systems of consciousness, is the most interesting of all for me. art, whether making or actively viewing, offers the wildest, least fettered, most desirable possibility. my use of computers extends this wildness; virtual simulation extends the possibilities of consciousness. consciousness is a field in which lucia can be found.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

a short history of light

when she was a small child she could be a horse trotting or galloping around her front yard, as well as a cowboy tracking an indian, and then an indian tracking the cowboy. an uncle told her that salt on a bird's tail was the way to catch these mysterious creatures, so she ran into the woods shaking salt traps toward oblivious birds. on warm summer nights in north carolina, neighbors played no bears out tonight, a practice of hiding and finding. a few years later she became a girl detective. combing her neighborhood for clues to unknown cases, she laid out the feathers, rubber bands and scraps of paper from which a secret narrative appeared.

the most important book of her undergrad years was antonin artaud’s the theatre and its double; here she read that theater, her first art love, must signal through the flames. then she was hooked by the platonic image of reflections dancing on a wall—our only view of a reality too hot to touch and too bright to see. what she saw is that all art and interpretation of art was a RE-presentation, aimed from a source that was never quite visible but became, and continues to be, the most compelling conductor of her life.

in grad school jean baudrillard’s musing, that copies replace lost sources so that we live in a reality of copies, ushered her past walter benjamin’s 1936 essay, “the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction.” in baudrillard's writing, she had found a gate into the virtual fields of technology, where anything we can imagine may play in the light of a planetary screen.

gradually she understood that her hiding and finding were in pursuit of light itself. a few years ago she disappeared, softly dispersing into a light visible only to herself. i have not seen her since--or maybe i have in the scattered fragments of everyday things onscreen and off.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

nothing really exists in the usual way

what is art when it's made for the web?

for me, the work composed of zeroes and ones lives in the non-physical world wide web, which is its defining context. this art is meant to be seen on a computer screen by one person, generally alone. it is a private experience, as close as i can get to the interior of the viewer's own mind. is an intimate piece, not for crowds, a mystery theater piece after hesse in steppenwolf.

web art is technically ephemeral, fragile, has no weight, no physical substance, is easily stored, incurs no shipping or presentation costs, is free and available to anyone anywhere in the world who has access to high speed internet and enough RAM. the images do not exist in physical space, they are extremely public and open, but are not for sale, cannot be touched or altered by the viewer, except where this has been built into the experience. the art exists as an unnumbered multiple in a space with a forgettable address, one among trillions. while making it requires learning software or writing code, it doesn't automatically fall into "conceptual art." whatever importance it may acquire cannot be quantified in financial terms, the time duration online is uncertain; if the piece is not picked up for preservation by a cultural institution, it will decay technically and no longer be visible -- or the artist can remove it without easily found traces.

the www platform has allowed me to make a piece that is like an opera, or a novel, or a philosophical tract, or a poem, or a play, or a series of paintings, or a movie, or a drawing, or a dream -- at the same time that nothing really exists in the usual way.

this phrase, "nothing really exists in the usual way," has for awhile been the primary mantra of my life, so i'm deeply satisfied to be working in such an appropriate medium.

Monday, March 8, 2010

the king and the fool

the following was posted to a rhizome thread.

the brush up between theory and immediacy, stasis and speed, a place in the mainstream and mining the periphery is interesting as an informational cache. but theories are proving inadequate to the political/social/aesthetic moment--most clearly seen in world politics NOW.

theory is always interesting to me because it makes very conscious statements about what WAS going on a little while ago; like a museum, art theory is reified, an effort to nail down into a static template the surging aliveness of artworks flying out of nothingness faster than the speed of light. creative theory - in its bid to be part of the elite ridgeline that matters - trims, crops, and sets artworks into gated community lawns, far from the messy sites of their extraction. at best, theory is its own art form, an offering in intellectual terms taken to an auction called art history.

theorists used to hope to influence artists, and they may still in a peripheral way, but postmodernism has, i think, dissolved into a new time of looking inductively for emergent energies beneath the theoretical floor. attempts by theorists of every stripe are met by refusal from potential backers.

the theorist wants to be a ruler king, artists of interest are closer to the fool who dances sideways to evade the ruler. artistfools know that timing (not importance) is the master; spontaneity, ephemerality, giving up control to see what might arise regardless of "an artist's place in history," seems to be the only fertile ground. all the theories about art, including its economic structures, feel like history. instead of history, we want ?

some friends say that everything now is about climate change, the feeling verges on desperate, action is what counts, no more theorizing. what is "art"?

Sunday, December 27, 2009


BEAUTY. i can hardly breathe the word, but i look for it everywhere--in people, landscapes, writing, art, food, music, and in periods of bracketed time. i cannot tell you what i mean by beauty, but the longing for it, the aching need, is constant and a primary impetus in the search for lucia.

the black sun; the art and alchemy of darkness

i went to sleep and woke up this morning hearing rain in the chilly darkness. for me the best possible weather. early morning wakefulness stretched into the luxury of floating in a day and night boundary where things are not too distinct.

with a cup of tea i walk with a flashlight out the back door to the little hut that is my computer studio. my glance falls onto an open laptop where a page from the lucia web project remains from december 23rd. i see quoted there the last words from stanton marlan's the black sun: "so our journey to the black sun ends with a whisper that began and ends in darkness, a darkness no longer light's contrary but a point of possibility in which light and dark both have their invisible origin, a simulacrum of substance in a world without foundations." see particularly chapter 4: "lumen naturae; the light of darkness itself" on google books.

here is the essential core of lucia.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

neti-neti lucia

one approach to understanding or finding lucia is to image what it is not. this practice is most associated with the hindu idea of neti-neti, "not-this, not-that." one of the qualities of lucia is that it cannot be fully grasped, which means that the small self cannot contain the larger entity, which is defiantly beyond verbal or conceptual mastery.

Friday, November 20, 2009

the curtain rises slowly

only today can i begin to see the curtain rising for the online interactive lucia play. the novel feels more like a play with characters and scenes; looking at the portraits section i think of ibsen.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


virtualists live joyfully in the inherent freedom of unfettered mind.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

expectantly receptive and demandingly active

besides thinking lately about how to arrange information on my lucia site for various viewing options--slow and quick, random and linear, links to the www and my own work--i'm thinking more about my relationship to my machine collaborators.

this morning, i realize that the computers, hard drives, cameras and sound recorders are all strong, worthy opponents to push against. they push back by presenting me with a devil's grin (just prior to or after quitting) that insists on detailed attention to the way THEY are. if i'm willing to take them on, they deliver boons or gifts for our mutual projects. a lesser "otherness" would demand less and i could squirm away into my own narrow habits. the machines and i are BOTH expectantly receptive and demandingly active--a good team to look for lucia.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

deep in the digital woods

the summer of 09 is busy. time now to get cozy with saturn and edit the lumbering site into formal and svelte shape that doesn't get coughed out by www. many details, design finals in some ways harder to settle than the ever-present tech spiders that creep around pages of code. big learning curve, this stage of completing such a long project. after hours last night of no luck, found a tiny error that was wrecking my page. today i feel like an angel!

as i think about and try out alternative paths for viewers to search for lucia, i'm trying to see the overall structure. could this project be a web novel? it's certainly a fiction for the web, and it's big and thick like a novel. i wanted it to be this way, a slow-art web project that is hopefully worthy of a return. having loved novels since childhood, i think i'm making the novel that i always wanted to do. but this one is not in a book, at least not in this online version. it includes much color, many videos, sound, writing, animations, pictures, some appropriation; and it's interactive, with many choices available all the time. maybe it's an example of nicolas bourriaud's ideas around the altermodern.

this is the right format to search for lucia, a non-linear, hypertext state of mind having to do with light.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

looking for lucia: a web project and art objects

a few years ago i realized that the most comprehensive view of my diffuse lucia project would be an art piece for the web. slowly i learned software and tinkered with how to make lucia more visible. is nearly ready to upload.

there are also many physical artworks in this project that are available to be seen in galleries. much of the work is threaded across multiple media, copied and reworked with alternate processes, before being output into a stable object. the website is also in progress, and should soon be ready to view.

cave practice

i am a student of lucia, the kind who practices mostly by herself in a cave at a distance from the sangha. my formal life practice is art and writing. now it is lucia, a personal fiction, who spins out the ongoing movie, and i who follow the leader.

lightness and radiance of view inspire the lucia work. mercurius wants new forms, and so we make them.

if you meet my lucia on the road you should kill it; lucia is not a system to be joined, but an example of one artist's work. i wonder if you have a parallel interest by another name...

philosophical lucia

lucia is an example of a romantic, neo-platonic mindset that is irrational but, for some, compelling.

the clearest articulation of what i call lucia comes from years of study and a residency of ten months at the nyingma tibetan buddhist institute in berkeley, california. it was here that i encountered the self as a sort of movie, a self as luminous and translucent as a computer screen. a self you can put your hand through, as through a light or sound or ghost.

lucia is not more about contemplation than action, but it does require connection to and respect for the diverse inner lives of all beings.
for this i am indebted to the community of the c. g. jung institute of san francisco, the teachings of c. g. jung, and the community of the department of arts & consciousness, john f. kennedy university, in berkeley, california, where i have taught for many years.

lucia and "spiritual" machines

lucia could not have appeared for me without years of work on computers. i consider them to be prosthetic machines that lead us into new possibilities of being human, which includes new ways of considering "art." maybe i am deriving from technology the same kind of re-presentation, or simulation, of things that baudrillard brought into view. computers used creatively allow representations that are otherwise impossible to make, and, more to the point, are iconically representative of our culture. software and code are media, like charcoal and oil, and it seems obvious to me that art finds its way into the machines that so define our time and place. what is art for?

i will go further and say that there is something tentatively "spiritual" (the feeling of being in relationship with a numinous quality or entity more complete or omniscient than my small i) in what the machines have to teach us. this is pure intuition that i cannot back up; nor am i able to let this feeling go.

you may disagree with much of this ... i speak only for myself, and make the influences clear. i am aware of the many critical dialogues about surveillance, the deadening everyday use of computers, and my
possible projection of interior qualities onto machines.

i stand by the machine as my necessary collaborator. there is something in the electricity, the 0-1 architecture, and the light of a monitor that generate for me, physically and metaphorically, a state of mind that i continue to cultivate.

by the way, lucia time is not the same as clock time

lucia as evolutionary field

i usually think of lucia as a fictional reality that can seem more real, more conscious, and more beautiful than any other reality. paradoxically, it becomes available fully and consciously only when a sense of self within the everyday world has become stable.

maybe this state of mind is related to the work of jean baudrillard
who in the 1990s might have pointed toward lucia consciousness as a mediated [re]-presentation or copy of something. in the [re] is an absence or separation from the original, natural mind. after a time, the original is lost and the copy becomes accepted as the new REAL. in this sense lucia is related to lucifer and the time falling bodies take to light.

yes, this seems right. lucia is an energy or space or neurological fold whose creative possibilities allow alternative moves outside our more familiar patterns; change becomes possible in such a mutational field.
if lucia is derived from an archetypal human energy, then it presents in both "positive" and "negative" forms.

maybe, in fact, what i am calling lucia is a layer of the brain that is needed collectively and personally in liminal times of great transformation. it can be seen, in its breaking up of "the way things are," as an evolutionary appearance, which we can resist or accept gracefully or ecstatically. for me moments of lucia are interior, deeply quiet; if you saw me possessed by lucia, you would not know what a movie was playing behind my eyes, though you might be aware that i am following you at the same time as i am occupied by another unfolding stream. both can be present at the same time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

what is lucia mind?

like dreams and movies, lucia is a translucent and tricky state of mind that dissolves when someone tries to hold on to it.

lucia may be related to the alchemical myth of mercurius, who is a shape-shifter.

lucia as mind is both a receptive viewer and a conscious projector of its views.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

beginning lucia

many years ago, while waiting at a bus stop in the fillmore district of san francisco, i first became aware of an experience i now call lucia. behind the cracked sidewalk, a scrubby vacant lot was bordered by a heavy cyclone fence. on the other side of this fence a leggy, dark green bush struggled to survive in the parched summer ground. i looked more closely and was startled by the unexpected radiance of a single torn leaf. something in my belly turned over, as though a physical vibration from the leaf were sympathetically resonating in my body. although I had no word for the experience, the leaf entered my belly as energy and my mind as an image. the bus came and the leaf was carried away into the city and across time.