Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Alchemy of a Found Object

Alchemy of a Found Object - triptych (details) - 2009, DS
(click to enlarge)

"Jung held that in human life we possess two sources of Gnosis, or salvific knowledge. One of these is Lumen Dei, the light proceeding from the unmanifest Godhead, the other is Lumen Naturae, the light hidden in matter and the forces of nature. While the Divine Light may be discerned and appreciated in revelation and in the mystery of the Incarnation, the Light of Nature needs to be released through alchemy before it can become fully operative. God redeems humanity, but nature needs to be redeemed by human alchemists, who are able to induce the process of transformation which alone is capable of liberating the light imprisoned in physical creation."

Stephan A. Hoeller - excerpt from: "C. G. Jung and the Alchemical Renewal" - Gnosis Magazine,1988

"Alchemy of a Found Object" (above) is the result of a "happy accident"... but, then again, "accidents" are an important part of the Transfigurative process. Accidents and synchronicity seem to be the modus operandi of the psyche... a type of subliminal, alchemical process that unites ones inner and outer worlds. Consciously, of course, we choose to plan our agendas rationally with conventional goals in mind. Unconsciously, however, the tables are turned, so to speak, and the psyche must unfold its own mysterious agenda.

An excellent online Alchemical reference can be found here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Patron Saint #2: Roberto Matta

“We should one day represent what we don’t see.”

"Visionary artist Roberto Matta (1911-2002) was arguably one of the most important artists of the 20th century. His high profile association with poet Andre Breton’s group of Surrealists only initiated his own personal evolution and style, which culminated in addressing the realm of the subconscious and the invisible. Thus, Matta is the patron saint of so-called “metaphysical art,” the graphic depiction of energies beyond the physical realities of everyday life.

“Matta – The Eye of a Surrealist” is a brilliant documentary by filmmaker Jane Crawford, which shows the artist exploring and simultaneously explaining the creative process. The film is also a cinematic retrospective of Matta’s life and his work with interview commentaries by art historians, curators and fellow artists.

Trying to explain his own personal creative process, Matta says, “If you start with a white thing [referring to a canvas or piece of paper], you are going to project things you already know. Make it dirty somehow and then you will start using hallucinations.”

These “hallucinations” are simply the power of imagination as when “people see in a cloud an elephant and begin to hallucinate to suggest something [to their mind.]” We make our own realities in other words, says Matta, and art is the expression of bringing the hidden into the visible."

- Uri Dowbenko - excerpt from “Matta – The Eye of a Surrealist: Mapping the Dimensions of Consciousness" - 2005

Chilean artist, Roberto Matta, I think, is often overlooked as a Surrealist, because his work never fit comfortably in that category. You can see in the article above that his work has been sited as "Visionary", "Metaphysical", and Surrealist. Ultimately, for the artist especially, this presents a problem. Even by my own definitions, Matta, like myself, was both a Transfigurist and Transdimensionalist. Ultimately, I think Transfigurism (and you'll note I'm reverting to the more simplified terms) and Transdimensionalism are one and the same; Transdimensionalism being the main category and Transfigurism being a subset in that category.

Matta is certainly one of the "patron saints" of this blog. I consider him one of the first true transdimensionalists. For more views of his amazing work and his hundreds of paintings, visit Tim Rock's amazing Matta gallery found here (this link also appears on the sidebar of this blog).

(Oil paintings by Matta in this post... Upper: Let All Flowers Bloom - 1952; Middle: Untitled -1959; LowerDar a la vida una luz - 1970.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Trans-figure

By definition, figurative art is defined as art representing objects or figures from the "real world". Transfigurativism could refer to just about everything else which, indeed, has form, but never can and never will be found in the corporeal world as such. In its broader aspect, I suppose, this might include any variety of fantasy art. But as I've already intimated, there's a hierarchy involved.  This does not, however, in any way, refer to the quality of the art so described.  There is an immense amount of fantasy work out there which is wonderfully crafted and beautiful to behold. But then, the figures it represents can be recognized along fairly conventional lines w/ standard varieties of perception and mental references. Drawings of unicorns, dragons, angels, for example, are fairly easy to recognize. They represent items from the collective mythos, as do the robotic humans, demonic constructs, faerie folk and three-headed dogs.

Transfigurativism in its highest state, however, is something else. That is, not only does the trans-figure represent something incorporeal, but it represents something that has never been seen before - that is, something which even falls outside of the mythological range. It has, in fact, never been visualized till the artist drew it out of the aether, and it will never be seen anywhere else again unless someone tries to replicate it. In ways, there are many similarities to visionary art, but unlike that genre, there is never a "moral" to the story, neither illustrated nor implied. Once again, in its highest state, there is never a "story" to begin with.

Transfigurative art is also closely related to varieties of Abstract art and Surrealism, and in many ways the disciplines converge. They diverge when the word "imagination" becomes the descriptive term, because the transfigurative image is not "imagined", nor can it be "imagined". It is simply the object that is, and is wholly self-referential. It defines reality on its own terms. and this "reality" is not a matter of dispute.

Of course, you're going ask me, well, if all the above is true, then where does a trans-figure come from? It comes from synchronistic accidents, trance-states, "automatic" states and any state which enables the artist to receive, retrieve or draw upon unconscious material. The trans-figure is an emergent, an original impulse, and the first and last of its kind. In a strange way, more or less, it seems as if it is drawn out of nowhere, but at the same time is wholly and authentically itself. It is often a weird, other-worldly image... alien and "other", but, in its own way faintly recognizable on a collective subliminal level... for example, it is similar to the bio-morphic ghost images that appear to unfold behind your eyes as you fall asleep, but not the recognizable images that appear in your dreams. If a trans-figure is successful, it can be felt, and felt to exist within its own trans-dimension, but, fundamentally it is not an "idea". By "felt", however, I'm not referring to emotional states in the ordinary sense. Trans-figures seem to transcend recognizable human emotional states as there is no reference to material that might cause, describe, or express an archetypal emotive reaction or response.

Incidentally, the image above is the last panel of the triptych described in the "Alchemy 1:01" post. It is a difficult process to describe; how this and its 2 sister images emerged, except to say that they did, in fact, emerge, and my role as an artist was merely to document what I was observing on a subliminal level. It's as if the original object - the mysterious bone - was, all the while, saying to me: "look at me... no, really look at me". If this all sounds rather "airy-fairy", then so be it. My guess is that many serious artists have been "called" to the craft, so to speak, for similar reasons, though, perhaps, it's not an issue they care to discuss. "Drawing from life" then, is a relative expression... there is "life", and then again, there is "life".

There is also the matter of the "muse" which might further define the transfigurative process.. But that subject will be addressed in a later post.

See Alchemy of a Found Object

Saturday, June 25, 2011


The rain has gone away - for the moment - and myself, and this very wet, green world I live in, must take a moment to welcome the sun. The image above - The Loom of Amaterasu - was created in 2009, around the same as Botticelli's Blue Egg and, in a sense, is its sister image. Both were reformatted and revised in 2010.

Taken from the New World Encyclopedia (linked above): "The idea of the sun as a goddess, instead of as a god, is rare and it may be a survival from the most archaic stage of world mythology. Amaterasu was seen as the highest manifestation of Kunitokotachi, the unseen, transcendent yet immanent, spirit of the universe. Her myths are the most important of the indigenous Japanese faith, Shinto, "the way of the gods," a set of ancient beliefs and observances which have remained comparatively unchanged over the past millennium, despite the importation of Confucianism and Buddhism."

Patron Saint #1: Wassily Kandinsky (& the Blue Rose)

"This all-important spark of inner life today is at present only a
spark. Our minds, which are even now only just awakening after
years of materialism, are infected with the despair of unbelief,
of lack of purpose and ideal. The nightmare of materialism, which
has turned the life of the universe into an evil, useless game,
is not yet past; it holds the awakening soul still in its grip.
Only a feeble light glimmers like a tiny star in a vast gulf of
darkness. This feeble light is but a presentiment, and the soul,
when it sees it, trembles in doubt whether the light is not a
dream, and the gulf of darkness reality. This doubt, and the
still harsh tyranny of the materialistic philosophy, divide our
soul sharply from that of the Primitives. Our soul rings cracked
when we seek to play upon it, as does a costly vase, long buried
in the earth, which is found to have a flaw when it is dug up
once more."

- Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, 1910

Wassily Kandinsky was born in December of 1866 in Moscow, and died in France in 1944. He was a painter and an art theorist, and is generally considered the father of Abstract art. He was also a member of The Blue Rose*, a Russian Symbolist group, and the Blue Rider, an Abstract Expressionist movement.

He was also an early influence of mine, although his style was so unlike my own. I've chosen to honor him at this time, however, because I find I'm suddenly a bit gun-shy about presenting my own ideas. At the same time I am trying to remind myself that artists like myself come from a tradition. There are several Russian artists who were also theorists - Naum Gabo and Kasimir Malevich come to mind - but I'm afraid that I can't rely on my twice-removed heritage to bolster me up. After all, Kandinsky, Gabo, Malevich were men. If they were women, chances are we would never have heard of them. And, regardless of their gender, if they were resurrected from the dead today, their words would be lost beneath a deluge of useless, pointless, gutless chatter. They'd take one look at what currently comprises the art world and the world in general and quietly shuffle off back to their graves.

It's been raining for three days straight. Bear with me.


A link to Kandinsky's work will appear on the sidebar of this blog.

Re: Video - the music heard in the background is that of Enya.


*The name, Blue Rose, was taken from a unfinished novel by the German Romanticist, Novalis (1772-1801), Heinrich von Ofterdingen, and concerned a blue flower; a flower which apparently held an important symbolic meaning for many European artists, poets and writers (among them C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald). This excerpt might interest some of you:

"I long to see the blue flower. I cant get rid of the idea, it haunts me. I never felt like this before, its as if I dreamed of it years ago, or had a vision of it in another world, for who would be so concerned about a flower in this world? and I've never heard of anyone being in love with a flower... but when I forget about the blue flower, a nameless longing takes possession of me, no one can understand this. I'd think I was mad, if it were not for the fact that my thoughts are so clear and connected, and I understand so many new things. I've heard it said that in the olden days, animals, rocks, and flowers all spoke to humans. I'm haunted by the idea that they have something to tell me, and I feel as if I could comprehend their speech." 


Further note on the blue rose: According to Wikipedia, the true blue rose does not and cannot exist in nature due to a "genetic limitation". For this reason they have generally symbolized mystery, and "a longing to attain the impossible".

Apparently, the impossible was attained, however, in 2004, by genetic engineering.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Transdimensionalist's Dream

Above is one of my first forays into a Transdimensional art form: Botticelli's Blue Egg. Without going into the mechanics, suffice to say, many odd thoughts crossed my mind as I was working and reworking this image. I confess, I have always been attracted to what many consider to be the "paranormal", but very early on I developed a deep distaste for the word "paranormal" and the varieties of skepticism it attracts. In my mind, even if only in my mind at this time, paranormal phenomena are either in part or wholly Transdimensional phenomena, and, as such, cannot be understood or described by existing (i.e., popular) scientific trends, paradigms or theories. This is not to say that there are no footprints in Transdimensional soil, so to speak. It is to say, however, that at the time of this writing, theories or experiments that in any way fall under the auspices of the paranormal will not win you a Nobel prize, nor any other award for scientific achievement.

But, in my mind I have this re-occuring vision. It is simply this: the dark, leather cover of a bound book with the words, TRANSDIMENSIONAL SCIENCE written in capital leathers in metallic type. No, I didn't write it. There are no names beneath the title. It almost looks like the photographic memory of an old textbook. Does this mean anything? No, probably not... but, then again, I can't really say. The nature of dreams and visions might, likewise, fall under the heading of transdimensional.

Meanwhile, as far my own initial musings regarding the Transdimensional as it applies to life more than art, well, I started writing an essay last year which, in the interests of Transdimensional art, might provide a clue or two. Unless I suddenly decide otherwise, it will follow at some point in the near future.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ode To Orfeo - Annotated

Ode to Orfeo was another one of my intitial Transfigurist images, in memory of a tropical fish I knew for a few days whom I named Orfeo. He was a variety known as the "Coral Beauty" and he really was an exquisite little fish... more charming and intelligent than any little fish has the right to be; that is, trapped in a tank and dependent on a fairly stupid human who hasn't much of a clue as to its needs. He used to watch TV with me and listen to music - at least it seemed as if he was -  and play hide and seek in this huge whelk shell I'd placed in the tank. He'd hide in the depths of the shell for awhile, then peek out of the side of the opening till I called: "Oh, Orfeo..." in a sing-song sort of voice... and out he'd come, dash around for awhile and then hide in the shell again.

Then, one night Orfeo's gills became tangled in a "decorative" (deadly, apparently) sea weed, and, despite frantic efforts, he could not be saved. I was devastated. I buried him in the family burial plot next to my brother's gravestone.  A few nights later I had a dream... just a snippet really... a vision of this little clown-like man peering at me from around the corner of a wall with huge smile on its face, and then vanishing. I woke up immediately and thought of Orfeo. I imagined he was saying good-bye.

The foundation for this image was an x-ray of a human skull. Overall, it can be categorized as surrealist, except for its one, genuine Transfigurative element - which might also be seen as the defining Transdimensional element - and that is the enigmatic, gold area between the mirror-imaged fish and the "bowl". A number of elements and strange patterns found themselves within this area, and in the image overall. Consciously, I'm not quite sure what I meant by the image to this day, but, my muse informs me on an unconscious level that it is exactly correct.

Ode to Orfeo was basically completed in 2008, then reformatted and re-realized in 2010. I envision it printed on a silk scroll, edged in gold thread, with some odd variety of gold tassels hanging from it.

Ode to Orfeo detail - added 5/28/2014
(click to enlarge)

Ode to Orfeo detail - added 5/28/2014
(click to enlarge)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On Digital Art

Digital Circles (click to enlarge)

I have yet to read a good description of digital art, and for everyone, apart from the digital artists themselves, there are a number of misconceptions surrounding the actual production of a digital image that must be overcome if digitally created art is ever to be given the respect and recognition it deserves. Problems arise because there isn't any one single approach to producing a digital image - the actual utilization of a computer to produce art rests - regarding actual technique - with the individual artists themselves. Which is not to say formal instruction is not possible - there are indeed sources for a basic digital image education - but, in the end, what goes into creating authentic digital art is the same set of elements that go into creating any meaningful art: a sense of design, a fundamental knowledge of tone and color, an almost preternatural sensitivity to shape, form and pattern, and the overwhelming desire to create art in spite of all obstacles. It also helps to be somewhat insane... that is, perhaps a bit too much in touch with ones unconscious. (For an excellent article about this subject click here. My special thanks to Mary over at MOCA!)

The first misconception is that somehow digital art is not created "hands-on". Alas, I have the carpal tunnel syndrome to prove that this is not so. There might, indeed, be ways of creating a digital image without digitally drawing and painting and cutting and pasting with a computer mouse - my method - but even if the artist's method depends upon a specific program and a series of codes, fingers - or shall we say, digits - are still necessary to the actual production of an image.

The second misconception is that creating a digital image is somehow "easier" than other crafts. Well, it certainly is less messy... and you won't need a loft-size space in which to work. But to create an image digitally takes as much time and skill as by any other method. To create an image digitally one merely employs an additional set of skills - using a machine, for one, and often a frustrating business entirely - and, inevitably, a great deal more time because - and this is either the blessing or the bane of using a computer - perfection is possible. When you have an image on file in your computer, there is no end to what you can do with it. You never have to accept a mistake... you never have to worry about spilling anything on it, or having some outside circumstantial presence and/or force inadvertently destroying your work. You can change and rearrange things till they're absolutely the way you want them to be. Muddy colors? Can't happen. And, best of all, no one can accuse you of "overworking" your image. In the digital world there is no such thing.

Of course, using a machine to create art presents another set of challenges, often overlooked by the uninitiated. There is for, instance, the matter of a curved line. Your average craftsperson will have no idea what I could possibly be referring to, but, if you are a sucker for a clean line, then you're going to be less than happy faced with the digital tools. Time and again, I just wish all I had to do was draw my curves like I used to in the past... but alas, clean curves on a computer - regardless of your technique, abilities or resolution, will never be truly clean... they will be pixelated (see graphic above). So, ultimately, one is fighting at all times with a computer monitor and its cubic convolutions. If pixels were hexagonal on a hexagonal grid, we would be happier. Alas, they are not. They are tiny squares.

The last misconception I want to address is the matter of originality. There are those that imagine all digital art is the result of some cheap "photoshopping" - a computer-generated hocus-pocus. To some small degree this is understandable because, in the early days, this was one of the few example of digital art around. Furthermore, any artist who eventually chooses to work digitally, has most likely initially learned their craft by doing just that to some degree: manipulating images by "photoshopping". Less than serious artists generally stop at that point. The authentic artist, however, has discovered a whole new discipline... and one that has no boundaries. For those artists for whom the skill "drawing from life" holds little attraction - the digital world opens up new artistic possibilities - specifically in the realm of surrealism -  and new forms of synthesis and assemblage are possible. So yes, I've created "still lives", portraits, etc. entirely from my imagination. At the same time I am able to use any element I choose in my constructions. I can scan actual objects into my computer during my sketch phase - and a computer sketch is often quite elaborate - or I can use scavenged bits of photographs (my own and/or something found in an old National Geographic) to compose the eventual image. One might say, that I use an assemblage method to design my images, but this is hardly a reflection of something less than original. Nor is it a technique limited to the digital artists. Many artists using a variety of mediums rely on photographic references and "swipe" files. Artifice? Yes, I suppose there is some degree of artifice present in some digital techniques... but. once again, artifice is present in the creation of every two-dimesnional image, regardless of how it is created.

Lastly, no art is "computer-generated". There simply is no such thing as "computer-generated" art. The computer is a tool, a medium... and whatever art lands in a computer file and is eventually printed, has been created, generated, and crafted by an artist. The computer is the tool; its medium is comprised of electronically-produced light pixels - that is, color in it's purest form. Digital artists "paint" with light. That is what we do. Digital technology has opened many doors and there really is no end to the possibilities, nor the varieties of artists who take advantage of them.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Alchemy 1:01: Definitions of Terms

Above is detail from what I now consider to be my first digitally produced transfigurative image, from a three-panel triptych entitled: Alchemy of a Found Object.


The text which originally appeared here was removed. I have replaced it with definitions of terms that previously were posted on the sidebar of this blog.

Definitions of terms found within this blog:

In trying to describe my work, I am often dismayed to find that there are no word definitions from any source which are adequate for my purposes. Ultimately, it becomes necessary to create my own terms. These are not intended to be my personal "trademarks", however, merely definitions that I am throwing out there for consideration. They - and subsequent term definitions - will appear here, and are (tentatively) as follows:

trans-dimension - noun - a dimension without (apparent) physical mass that cannot be measured by use of conventional instruments and/or the mathematical co-ordinates used to define ordinary physical space.

This includes higher or lower dimensions beyond those already excepted as scientific fact, varieties of interstitial space, and negative, or "black"space.

transdimensional - adj. - That which relates to or can be described by a trans-dimension.

Can also pertain to phenomena that might exist within such a dimension and/or phenomena which have the ability to cross dimensions.

Transdimensionalism - noun - that which alludes to and/or is described by the term transdimensional.

In art - An artistic movement which is representative of the transdimensional, i.e., abstractions that either dispense with formal alignments of positive and negative space, or those which illuminate the relativity and/or symmetries ultimately binding them. Also pertains to that art which attempts to transcend boundaries of space and time, as in certain examples of abstract art and surrealism.

trans-figure - noun - In art, a figure which is not representative of an actual, corporeal figure and/or object. Also, a figure which is not necessarily metaphorical for any known object or ideology, existing wholly by and as itself and, as such, not necessarily obeying the physical laws of space. See transdimensional.

In digitally produced art, the trans-figure is often a transformed or a "morphed" figure. On the lower end of the hierarchy we have the simple "photo-shopped" figure, intentionally created to amuse and entertain. The genuine trans-figure, however, is generally more complex. See transfigurativism.

transfigurative - adj - defines art which is figurative, but not representative of actual existent figures or objects in 3-dimensional space. (See trans-figure). Very often, but not always, "space" is represented as transdimensional, whereby the "object" is rendered as an emergent.

Transfigurativism - noun - In art: that variety of art which employs the use of tranfigurative elements or the trans-figure. Transfigurativism, in its pure state, has no symbolic, theological, sociological and or political analogies or meaning. It, and the objects (trans-figures) it represents are ultimately and essentially a product of the unconscious mind and/or the inspired imagination, and that which might relate to incorporeal, often intangible, metaphysical experience(s).

Transfigurist, Transfigural, Transfigurism - variations on Transfigurativist, Transfigurative, Transfigurativism.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Welcome to Trans-D!

Digital art - as a medium and a discipline  - is still in its infancy, and while it's impossible to describe or predict all the many styles, directions and permutations that presently exist or will evolve, one has to start somewhere. And I think it's important that the artists who use a digital medium take that initial step and attempt to describe for themselves and others what is actually occurring before the critics, spin-doctors, and art historians have the last word.

Granted, formulas and formulations, descriptive criticism, etc., are already out there (I have yet to read them), but, in this day and age, with oceans of information continuously lapping at one's door via the latest technology, it's difficult for an artist to find the time and/or patience to navigate and assimilate all the information floating around. Individual, solitary artists, like myself, who do not presently live in cosmopolitan areas, find themselves in a type of vacuum. I think this is especially true for digital artists, because it so easy to fall under the spell of a medium which does not require or involve a great deal of interaction with the world at large. The digital artist does not need to go out in the field to paint landscapes or portraits. .. and there is not even a necessity to go out of the door to accrue supplies. Gone are the days of the great salons, the great exhibits, the tiny smoke-filed cafes, the glaring rivalry.

So, the purpose of this blog is not merely to carve my own niche in the digital world, but to establish a spring board and a forum, so that digital artists - and those creatives interested in either digital art, art in general, or art theory -  might begin to discuss and develop their own theories and descriptions of what they do. Multi-media is implied. It is never too early to begin to place oneself and ones work in a more or less historical perspective. I would also like to interface with artists who work in a similar vein as myself, that is, digital artists whose work might fall under the category of Transdimensional or Transfigurative, but this does not exclude artists in other mediums or those who may find these terms of broader interest, specifically those in "paranormal" fields and other fields to which Transdimensionalism, and theories thereof, might apply.

I will be posting links, and in some cases, representational information on this blog showcasing related digital artists, and eventually related artists and or theorists in different fields. Presently, however, if you are or know of an artist whose work might be related to the work shown on this blog or work that my fall under the headings of Transdimensional or Transfigurative, please inform me and/or introduce us.

Also, I would also like to post a series of digital art resource links on the sidebar that will be helpful to other artists, so, once again, either contact me or leave links in the comment section. As of now, the link section on the sidebar of this blog is a work in progress.

Meanwhile, I began writing small, random essays late last year, which will also appear on this blog as well as more detailed descriptions of Transdimensionalism and Transfigurativism. It should go without saying, that my ideas are as yet not fully formed - nothing is, shall we say, carved in stone -  and all feedback and suggestions are welcome.

As for myself, I would probably fall under the category of a Transfigurativist, or Transfigurist (a descriptive term I invented for my work in 2007) , however, it is one of my Transdimensional - definitions of these terms are on the sidebar of this blog* - offerings I have posted above. My approach to Transdimensionalism is through the use of patterns and symmetries, but I imagine there are as many approaches as there are artists who are drawn to this concept. Certain fractal art, for instance, might also be included within this category. In the end, I believe "categories", ultimately depend upon the individual artist's intent.


(Important: Include the word "Trans-D" in the subject line.)

* As of this writing, the only related word I could find in Wiktionary is this definition of "Transdimensional". (This is perhaps not altogether too far off!) ;-)