Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Creating Art: a Mediumistic Experience

Monochromatic Whisper (Trans-Fossil) - Digital - 2012, 2011, Dia Sobin

And, by that, I am not referring to the materials, i.e., "mediums" used by an artist... I am instead referring to something more in line with a "psychic" medium, but not in reference to communicating with dead entities - though this actually may be the case for some artists.  I am referring to art which is, in a sense, a collaboration with entities or an intelligence that very well may be a reflection of ones unconscious self but, in my experience, feel(s) somewhat "other".

I generally refer to this unseen, but felt and/or intuited, entity as my "muse". Artists traditionally have muses, of course, but these are generally women-in-the-flesh for whom a male artist is inspired by. I am referring to an incorporeal intelligence. One who informs regarding ones work, but  generally doesn't impinge on ones life otherwise. I am also referring to an experience more subtle than the paranormal exercise of "channeling", in that an actual separate human personality is not necessarily involved.

I note this interesting definition of the word "medium" in my computer's dictionary:
"the intervening substance through which impressions are conveyed to the senses or a force acts on objects at a distance" which, oddly enough - as its referring to material objects in a physical sense - might be weirdly relevant here... the muse certainly seems like a "non-local" entity.

In many ways, the attribution of something essentially of a metaphysical or spiritual nature seems incongruous with something so mechanical as a computer.... but, in my experience, as I was becoming increasingly involved in digital art, another muse seemed to increasingly emerge. While I have been an artist almost as long as I've been alive - and we're talking over 40 years - and have always been closely in touch with several muses (depending upon the project at hand), the feeling of a collaboration with an "other" was never as strong as it was when I "went digital" so to speak. It's very weird... I'd be interested to know if I am alone in this experience. Are we talking about a phenomenon that is electrically-enhanced? Are we talking perhaps about the ways in which the "psychic internet" can interact with the WWW or vice versa? Just wondering.

The image above is entitled "Monochromatic Whisper". I chose this image to illustrate this post because the "whisper" of my muse - as an "alien" intelligence - is very much prominent here. The foundation for the image was a photo of a one-celled creature I found online which I thought was rather interesting but, as I was looking for a different reference, I passed it by. My muse, however, felt differently... and, before I knew it, this one-celled creature was transforming into a fossilized version of something my muse and I have been producing a whole series of images of these past few years; that is, a number of small, artificial life forms of varying "species". Part organic, and part mechanical, the life forms originate in some imaginary future - a time and, indeed, a place, my muse understands far better than I. I had never even contemplated a fossilized ALF before, so, this one was a revelation. More ALFs will be appearing on Trans-D in the future... and I have more to say about them*. But, suffice to say now, this variety of transfiguration is an example of where my muse shines, and regardless of what anyone may see or not see, I will never question the integrity of the muse in this matter. Thematically (and, very often technically) it's word is gospel! **

Meanwhile, I did write a short essay about muses earlier this year; it will appear, following this post, in "Following the Muse - the Psychopomp". But, as always, if you are a creative and you suspect you are working with a muse, I'd be very interested in what you have to say! The subject of muses usually follows the individual artist to the grave and no one is ever the wiser. But if Transdimensionalism is ever to be understood, then I believe that all of our "others", regardless of how we experience them, must be accounted for. Science may discount subjective, anecdotal, imaginal and intuitive experience, but art wouldn't exist without it.

** ... and somewhat prescient... as in, what goes around, comes around... see the end of this 2014 post.


  1. Amazing image - It initially struck me as a piece of exquisitely detailed metalwork. Then I looked closer, and closer, drawn into a sort of fractal interaction with it.

    I have a muse though, I don't sense it as an external source. It's just there. Mostly when I draw. I'll post a bit more later.

  2. Hmmm... I wouldn't say one does sense the muse as being an external source as much as some weird inner ultra-dimensional source. Does that make sense? No, of course it doesn't!

    Thanks for the feedback in any case... as regards the image, the spherical bit with the cross bothers me in a design-sense, so that may have to change. Translated, this means the muse is correct as to the object fundamentally - but not necessarily in a two-dimensional design sense!

  3. P.S. Yes! It's during the sketching phase that the muse really shines forth! :-)

  4. I thought this piece was an actual metalwork piece when I first saw it -- amazing that it's entirely digitally has an alien "feel" to it, as though it might be circuitry of some type.

    As for muses - I have no idea if I have a muse or not. I suspect it is merely a mixture of self and medium that comes together in a synergy. Oddly enough, I have found the subject matter I depict depends on the materials used.

  5. Organic circuitry perhaps...

    Hmmm... really? A shaman without a muse?! No ravens peering over your shoulder? No mystery involved? No odd little mental glitches or slips of the hand? No "happy accidents"? No sudden glimpses that come unbidden to your middle eye? No magic?!!! I'm perplexed. Perhaps it's a control issue. ;-)

    Interesting about the relativity between medium and subject matter... reminds me of a kind of creative channel-surfing. I do think different materials representing different tactile experiences would have an influence in the end results though. Then again, digital work has very few tactile pleasures involved... but I do work on a variety of imagery, too. A type of creative schizophrenia.

  6. Drawing or writing will draw out my muse. I will usually start to sketch something and whatever i'm drawing goes off in a totally different direction, or evolves in an unexpected way. Its a moment-by-moment thing.

    Sometimes, in real physical life, when I'm traveling or whatever, I let go of my logical brain and let my "muse" guide me. It takes me to the oddest places and I end up making surprising discoveries.

    Right after I moved to KY in 2008, I had all these crazy visions about a copper star. About the same time I met a hopi man who told me about glyphs in the area (KY), and the Serpent Mound. Anyway, not really knowing what I was doing, I started making little trips around the area. I knew I was looking for something. The hopi man told me there was something hidden in the area from very early days. Something that had to do with the transition from the current age to the next. Crazy as it sounded, I believed him so I went on a sort of hunt. I did not find whatever the thing was, but I did find a copper stream in the gorge next to Petroglyph Rock. It was simply amazing. I had never seen water like that: completely orange-red like shining copper metal.

    As I reflected on this in my blog, it occurred to me that I had had a life-long connection to copper, such as the copper monster up at Lake Superior - Mishipeshu.

    After Mac's death, I stopped thinking about all of that, about the connections, the synchronicities, until recently when it dawned on me that over the course of the past year or so, I have been using copper more and more in my jewelry work. At this point, I am melting and forging pieces out of copper, applying patinas, etc. This was an unconscious evolution that I recognize now as a sort of set-up - a development / revelation over time. I blame my muse. And oh, by the way, I met another hopi person this past January - a woman who was asked to come here to set up teaching circles - she also says there is something hidden here - not too far from where I was looking. When I told her about this dang copper star I was looking for - she showed me a "dreaming blanket" she carries: embroidered on it was a 6-pointed copper star (like my vision) surrounded by 24 (12? - I forget the number) black ravens. Crazy.

    I guess my point - sorry for the long post - is that this muse thing seems to occur on many levels, in the moment (like drawing) and over the arc of a life (as I get older I start to notice this more and more), and perhaps beyond (over the course of human history?), like a kind of fractal structure (creativity / creation).

    Thats all I meant to say (from my previous post); don't know if this makes sense.

    I wish my postreason blog pictures would come back; I want to peruse some of the images the above got me to thinking about again. :-(

  7. It's weird you should mention writing - one of my most intense muses was my "poetry muse"... a faded muse in the past 10 years (yes, grief, angst and mental depression does rather shut the door on a variety of creative experiences for some time...).

    Very wonderful about the copper star and the "dreaming blanket"... the numbers 6, 12 and 24 more or less represent the perfection of creation on the physical plane and the threshold to the next dimension of experience... at least according to my studies! ;-)

    Thank you for this terrific comment - of course it makes sense! I'm glad those mysteries are coming back to you... and I hope the photos on Postreason come back, too. Perhaps their disappearance is a prompt to recreate and revitalize those things that went missing.

  8. Organic circuitry apt name for the piece.

    As for mystery -- oh, it's always glimpsed....half hidden in a maze of details and darkness - a cathedral of crows, shifting on feathered wing -- and certainly, the process shifts the end-point (i.e. happy accidents), but I am reluctant to claim a muse for fear of abandonment. All too often I find the muse runs off at the 95% completion point and leaves me staring at something I have no idea how to finish.

    And yes.....grin, it might well be a control issue.

  9. Ah hah! Then you do have a muse!

    I do know what you mean about being abandoned by the muse too early in the game... sometimes I think the muse loses interest in the actual execution and bows out after the initial idea or sketch. But the muse will return... like a force of nature they generally take the path of least resistance... when you're feeling most receptive and not worrying about what to do next... and, most importantly, relaxing while they drive! ;-)