Sunday, June 29, 2014

Creatura - Songs From the Oyster Bed

Oysters on a desk-top - Digital Photo - 2014, DS

"The co-evolutionary story between rocks and life began 4 billion years or so ago, when the planet had only rocks, air and oceans to work with. The origins researchers that followed Miller and Urey’s heady success soon realised that air and oceans aren’t enough to create life, no matter how lightning-filled the sky. Only with the addition of carefully selected minerals will simple, nonliving biomolecules concentrate and combine in complex biologically useful ways.

Life arose from minerals; then minerals arose from life. The geosphere and biosphere have become complexly intertwined, with numerous feedback loops driving myriad critical natural processes in ways that are only now coming into focus."

- from an 2014 article by Robert Hazen, found at Aeon magazine.

"Mr. Gerard further states: 'Just before crossing the boundary of Ludak into Bussalier, I was exceedingly gratified by the discovery of a bed of fossil oysters, clinging to a rock as if they had been alive.'

In whatever point of view we are to consider the subject, it is sublime to think of organic remains lying at such an extraordinary altitude, and of vast cliffs of rocks formed out of them, frowning over the illimitable and desolate waters, where oceans once rolled."

- from Shells on the Snowy Mountains of Tibet, Asiatic Register,  found here.

"... the great power and human destinies are couched in the virtues of Stones and Herbs. But to know from whence these come, a higher speculation is required. Alexander the peripatetic, not going any further than his senses and qualities, is of the opinion that these proceed from Elements, and their qualities, which haply might be supposed to be true, if those were of the same species; but many of the operations of the Stones agree neither in genere nor specie. Therefore Plato and his scholars attribute these virtues to Ideas, the formers of things. But Avicen reduceth these kinds of operations to Intelligence, Hermes to the Stars, Albertus to the specifical forms of things.

...Now consequently we must discourse of Intelligences, spirits and Angels. An Intelligence is an intelligible substance, free from all gross and putrifying mass of a body, immortall, insensible, assisting all, having Influence over all; and the nature of all intelligences, spirits and Angels is the same. But I call Angels here, not those whom we usually call Devils, but spirits so called from the propriety of the word, as it were, knowing, understanding and wise."

- from De occulta philosophia libri tres (Three Books Concerning Occult Philosophy), 1530s, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa

As readers of this blog know, the moment summer arrives, one can often find a peculiar, solitary woman (me) roaming the sandbars on the Connecticut shoreline; every now and then bending down to pick up an object or two... possibly even talking to herself (or the objects) before placing them back down, or, resuming her search (if that's what it is), possibly still holding one prized object (carefully) in her sweaty little paw.

There are no "ordinary" objects at the shore... and some, like the one above (shown from various angles - click to enlarge) are to be celebrated. When I first found these three shells cemented* to a fragment of rock, however, I wasn't even sure what I'd found. Were they some form of barnacle? Had a human glued some shells onto a rock in such a pretty array?

Friday, June 20, 2014

Creatura - The Sentient Seaweed (the Extended Version)

Live scan of an unidentified seaweed - 2014, DS
Note: This scan is a product of a new flatbed scanner... which, apparently had difficulties
reading the black background, hence the weird color artifacts (unfortunately intensified online).
I've tried - and failed - to correct it. Sorry.
(click to enlarge)

creature |ˈkrē ch ər|
an animal, as distinct from a human being : night sounds of birds and other creatures.
• an animal or person : as fellow creatures on this planet, animals deserve respect.
• a fictional or imaginary being, typically a frightening one : a creature from outer space.
• archaic anything living or existing : dress, jewels, and other transitory creatures.
• a person of a specified kind, typically one viewed with pity, contempt, or desire : you heartless creature!
• a person or organization considered to be under the complete control of another : the village teacher was expected to be the creature of his employer.

ORIGIN Middle English (in the sense [something created] ): via Old French from late Latin creatura, from the verb creare (see create).

"In the philosophy of consciousness, sentience can refer to the ability of any entity to have subjective perceptual experiences, or as some philosophers refer to them, "qualia". This is distinct from other aspects of the mind and consciousness, such as creativity, intelligence, sapience, self-awareness, and intentionality (the ability to have thoughts "about" something). Sentience is a minimalistic way of defining consciousness, which is otherwise commonly used to collectively describe sentience plus other characteristics of the mind.

Some philosophers, notably Colin McGinn, believe that sentience will never be understood, a position known as "new mysterianism". They do not deny that most other aspects of consciousness are subject to scientific investigation but they argue that subjective experiences will never be explained; i.e., sentience is the only aspect of consciousness that can't be explained. Other philosophers (such as Daniel Dennett) disagree, arguing that all aspects of consciousness will eventually be explained by science."

- Excerpt from the Wiki entry on sentience.


The summer solstice (the pagan holiday of Lithia) approaches, and with it, my inevitable trips to the shore. Sometimes there's an agenda; mostly there isn't. But, when the ocean calls, it never needs to leave a message; I just get in my car - sans towels and sunblock lotion... sans beach blankets, beach balls,  beverage coolers and lounge chairs. I'm there for meditative purposes, investigative purposes, or, more generally, no purpose at all. The ocean calls, and that's enough.

Last week, however, there was a method to my madness as I plodded along the sandbars. My mission was to gather bits of seaweed for an image I was trying to rework and, hopefully, finish. Normally sea plants hold no interest for me, but, for the image, I needed the seaweed's specific organic contours...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

To Decode The Living Matrix... Featuring the Work of Cristóbal Vila

From the video: Isfahan (a detail of this detail) - 3D digital still - 2005, Cristóbal Vila

matrix |ˈmātriks|
noun ( pl. -trices |ˈmātrisēz| or -trixes )
1 an environment or material in which something develops; a surrounding medium or structure : free choices become the matrix of human life.
• a mass of fine-grained rock in which gems, crystals, or fossils are embedded.
• Biology the substance between cells or in which structures are embedded.
• fine material : the matrix of gravel paths is raked regularly.
2 a mold in which something, such as printing type or a phonograph record, is cast or shaped.
3 Mathematics a rectangular array of quantities or expressions in rows and columns that is treated as a single entity and manipulated according to particular rules.
• an organizational structure in which two or more lines of command, responsibility, or communication may run through the same individual.

ORIGIN late Middle English (in the sense [womb] ): from Latin, ‘breeding female,’ later ‘womb,’ from mater, matr - ‘mother.’

North American Wood Thrush

“As we listen we lose the sense of time—it links us with eternity…Its tones…seem like the vocal expression of the mystery of the universe, clothed in a melody so pure and ethereal that the soul still bound to its earthly tenement can neither imitate nor describe it.”
- Anonymous Twentieth Century naturalist describing the Wood Thrush

"It was dawn and as I lay there listening to the birds w/ my eyes shut I began to see a weird pattern emerging from the darkness... an almost graphic pattern similar to computer graphics... It looked like chopped meat being criss-crossed (sic) by a rapidly moving concentric ring pattern... similar to my cyclocentric* patterns but more intricate. From this emerged what seemed like another darker dimension - again filled with cyclocentric patterns but these were made of various colors of light... and some were large and whirlpooling (sic) while smaller brighter patterns emerged... all of them moving and vibrant and living and all of them revolving and forming harmonics by which even tinier glowing patterns emerged. It was as if I was delving into a series of many dimensions... but I could only glance at certain aspects (of the patterns) for milliseconds at a time (as they were) far too complex and enmeshed for human resolution...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Dog and Pony Show - "Live" from Love Street

"Horses and Hound" - digital mash-up - 2005 DS
(click to enlarge)

"Dog and pony show" is a colloquial term which has come to mean a highly promoted, often over-staged performance, presentation, or event designed to sway or convince opinion for political, or less often, commercial ends. Typically, the term is used in a pejorative sense to connote disdain, jocular lack of appreciation, or distrust of the message being presented or the efforts undertaken to present it."

Dog and Pony Show via Wiki

"Before multi-platinum recording artists and Oscar-winning films celebrated Bloomington, Indiana, the city already occupied an important position in entertainment history. Although these days the term “dog-and-pony show” is usually used ironically, in the late 1800s the Gentry brothers of Bloomington brought glory to their hometown with just such an act.

Having trained a few animals and corralled his three brothers, 17-year-old Henry B. Gentry bought a train car and got a show on the road in 1885. “Gentry’s Equine and Canine Paradox” soon came to feature 40 ponies and 80 dogs in each of two traveling units. Having bought out several of its competitors by 1900, the outfit that was then known as Gentry Brothers Famous Shows lived up to its name with four separate units boasting camels, sacred cows, monkeys, and elephants that entertained crowds as far away as Mexico City."

- via Gentry Brothers Circus, 2006, Yaël Ksander

"She lives on Love Street
Lingers long on Love Street
She has a house and garden
I would like to see what happens

She has robes and she has monkeys
Lazy diamond studded flunkies
She has wisdom and knows what to do
She has me and she has you

I see you live on Love Street
There's this store where the creatures meet
I wonder what they do in there
Summer Sunday and a year
I guess I like it fine, so far"

- from "Love Street" by The Doors, 1968 - (video)

I'd been spending a lot of time in my "black vault" a few months ago... when I first drafted this post; reacquainting myself with old documents from my previous websites: The ShadowBride (poetry), The Circle Zone (geometry), and Araqinta's Gallery of Transmutations (digital illustrations). And, it's specifically that period - from the late 90s to about 2007 - which I've come to recognize as the "good old days."

It was a time in internet history - and maybe you remember -  before the twin scourges of consumerism and commercialism grabbed the helm...  those blissfully private days before the advent of social media and "Smart" devices, when the cyberspace vista was gloriously free of NSA spooks, various trolls, hackers, blogsuckers, bullies, profilers, insidious retailers, and all the myriad other strains of cyberspace creeps. (Update: an example of a particularly virulent UK variety...)

Commerce was merely selling things in those days... now it's become a religion, a philosophy, the manufacturer of social trends... insinuating itself into your private life as a matter of course. Your retailers are now your very best friends; one is prompted to "Like" them on Facebook, waste time scanning their codes into your (Smart) phone, or text-messaging them for their latest promotional deal... all the while trying to convince you that you need them... when the reality is quite the opposite.