Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Doors of Perception

Doors of Perception - digital - Copyright, 2011, Dia Sobin

"If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite."

- William Blake, from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1793


“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.”

"To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and the inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with survival or to a human being obsessed with words and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large - this is an experience of inestimable value... The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less cocksure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable Mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend."

"The various “other worlds,” with which human beings erratically make contact are so many elements in the totality of the awareness belonging to Mind at Large. Most people, most of the time, know only what comes through the reducing valve and is consecrated as genuinely real by the local language. Certain persons, however, seem to be born with a kind of by-pass that circumvents the reducing valve. In others temporary by-passes may be acquired either spontaneously, or as the result of deliberate “spiritual exercises,” or through hypnosis, or by means of drugs. Through these permanent or temporary by-passes there flows, not indeed the perception “of everything that is happening everywhere in the universe” (for the by-pass does not abolish the reducing valve, which still excludes the total content of Mind at Large), but something more than, and above all something different from, the carefully selected utilitarian material which our narrowed, individual minds regard as a complete, or at least sufficient, picture of reality.”

- three excerpts from The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley, 1954


Trade winds find Galleons lost in the sea 
I know where treasure is waiting for me 
Silver and gold in the mountains of Spain 
I have to see you again and again 
Take me, Spanish Caravan 
Yes, I know you can."

- Spanish Caravan - The Doors*, 1968, from Waiting for the Sun 


I had a semi-eureka moment the other night. I was reading the posthumously published book of a friend (mentioned in previously posts), Mac Tonnies - the first volume of an edited transcription of his Posthuman Blues blog - when I came across a 2003 discussion of anomalous arial phenomena (UFOs), and his speculative proposition (inspired by Rudy Rucker's Spaceland) suggesting they may be cross-sections of 4-dimensional objects moving through 3-dimensional space. He compares this hypothetical 4-D world with the idea of a vast "multiverse", but its phenomena would only be visible to we 3-D "Flatlanders" at points of intersection... sort of a complex version of the "tip of the iceberg" appearing on the surface of the ocean - it's what we can't see that defines it in totality.

He goes on to say that, it stands to reason, we might theoretically coexist with the generators of these "aerial phenomena" - assuming some variety of intelligence is involved. 

As it happened, I had recently posted a quotation from Michio Kaku, a String-Theory physicist, on my memorial blog, Post-Mac Blues, which intimated a similar idea in the form of possible parallel worlds, in which we theoretically might co-exist with a range of probable realities populated with a whole host of "others", up to and including loved ones who have died, and other versions of ourselves, as well. And, keep in mind, String Theory proposes as many as eleven dimensions to play with!

Seemingly, transdimensional reality comes off like science fiction, but, in a sense, we experience a form of it on a continual basis; co-existing with the seemingly dimension-less phenomena of our own unconscious minds. Dreams, for instance, fall into this arena, They, too, may intimate experiences we are forced to translate using the limited language of three dimensions, with our equally as limited "official" set of senses. The experience of levitating or flying, for example, which, in my own dreams, initially entails allowing oneself to fall - albeit at an oblique angle - into space, might be describing a more complex manifestation on another plane, or, for that matter, the vestiges of a race memory wholly outside of the conventional range of spacetime... you might say, an inner-dimensional** reality. Some dreams, then, may represent those same "tips of the iceberg", with their true breadth extending in a whole range of enfolded directions.

Ghosts, and other anomalous visual phenomena might also find their origin in a transdimensional reality whereas, once again, our experience is partially obscured by the nuts and bolts of our 3-dimensional range. We see what (to some of us) is apparently visible... but only to a certain degree... and possibly only at certain angles in what one can reluctantly refer to as a moment in spacetime. True perception is thereby incremental... like tuning in a station on a radio; our window for experiencing certain phenomena is, apparently, extremely small.

Of course, in the light of the brick wall effect of corporeal reality, all of this seems fairly moot. Which is probably what I meant when I created "Doors of Perception". Look, but don't see. On the other hand, I sense an underlying mystery about this image... as if its facade was created by an extra-terrestrial race. At the same time, during the process of its creation, a key phrase emerged in my mind -"false doors" - possibly referring to those which decorated Egyptian tombs. The "Ka" doors (an example is pictured above, left) were more than embellishments, however, they were the means by which the dead might re-enter the earthly plane and communicate with the living. The enigmatic Nabatean race included similar doors, and windows - referred to as "god blocks" - on the surface of their tombs at Petra (above, right). When you think about it, these solid, physically impenetrable "openings" are very strange. Obviously, their dead could walk through walls - and our enterprising ancients designated exactly where these portals should exist.

For Aldous Huxley, (July 26,1894 – November 22,1963), the "doors of perception" were thrown open via certain altered states of consciousness, either natural and spontaneous, or artificially "manufactured". His 1954 extended essay, The Doors of Perception was a chronicle of his experience with mescaline. He, in turn, borrowed that title from the inspired ravings of William Blake, a visionary artist and poet who was born in the previous century (November 28, 1757 – August 12, 1827).

Huxley's doors were the doors of inner-dimensions, the "Mind at Large", but one suspects the doors might swing both ways, from microcosmic to macrocosmic, from personal to transpersonal, from universal to multiversal.

It was Huxley's doors, in turn, which inspired the name of the 1960's rock band, The Doors. They, according to legend, were no strangers to psychedelic enhancement. As a teenager, it was the latter Doors who introduced me to both Blake and Huxley. Pop culture does have it's beneficial side-effects. Which, I suppose, is my excuse for indulging myself with the Doors video at the bottom of the post.

"Spanish Caravan" does relate in a weird way though... in that. it initially seems like no more than a beguiling, substance-drenched ditty - or an ode to a favorite vacation spot - set to the Doors' standard Disneyland-in-Hell - or, better even, Carnival of Souls - orchestral sound. But, to the discerning traveller, "Spain" and "Andalusia" are not corporeal destinations. Translated by the sultry voice of Jim Morrison,  (December 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971) - the Sidewinder Shaman, and self-proclaimed Lizard King - the lyrics transform into an alchemical cryptogram, intimating a subliminal dimension which houses the proverbial philosopher's stone - the mystical El Dorado of the spiritual realm - which must be experienced "again and again". In the grainy "Live in Europe" clip below, this song takes no prisoners.

What is the "Spanish Caravan"? A "Magic Bus" ? The mother of all mother-ships? Death? Who cares. Morrison assured us that it could "take" him. We assumed we were welcome to come along for the ride... if we dared.

* The lyrics to Spanish Caravan were actually penned by Doors guitarist, Robby Krieger.

** "Interdimensional" is a word in use, coined by Jacques Vallee, which he used to describe UFO phenomena, but is not exactly what I'm referring to here. On the other hand, these cosmic portals might be the macrocosmic expression of what I'm attempting to describe.

Note: For those interested in a mash-up of ideas referred to in this post plus, you might try familiarizing yourself with the writings of Clifford Pickover, his website or blog.

(Another note: For those of you familiar with this blog, you actually have seen a portion of my image "Doors of Perception" in a past post.)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Time for a Change

Well, it's been over a year since Trans-D came into being, and while I liked the original graphic scheme (a snippet can be found here) - which seemed to be compatible, color-wise, with my own work, I was beginning to get turned off by the predominant shades of brown. I am always happiest with black! I'll still be tweaking it as time goes by, but, unless a whole lot of people inform me that they HATE it  - and really, you're allowed - and prefer the original, this... is... it!

(Later...) Okay, I guess I sort of worked out the bugs in this design, so hopefully it appears okay, regardless of varying monitor screens. Of course, depending upon what sort of gadget you're viewing this blog on, the background might not appear at all, but I just added the screen shot above for reference.

I also learned something new: .png files, regardless of the dimensions, do not change much in actual byte size. Which is kind of cool.

By the way, the background is the result of scanning some round glass cabochons with a scrap of black fabric laid over them. Interestingly, the cabochons were laid flat on the screen, but somehow took on a perspective in the  scan... a happy accident related to optics I hadn't foreseen.

But, no, the fabric is not velvet - thank you very much! ;-)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Patron Saint #9: Kay Sage - "I Walk Without Echo"

The Instant - Oil on canvas - Kay Sage, 1949 - Mattatuck Museum, CT

“I can’t tell you what it would mean to most people, but I do know what it means to me. It’s a sort of showing what’s inside - things half mechanical, half alive. The mountain itself can represent almost anything - a human being, life, the world, any fundamental thing.” 

- Kay Sage, Time magazine, March 13, 1950, on her painting "The Instant"

"Consider Kay Sage (1898-1963) the anti-Thomas Kinkade. She was America’s great painter of menace, dread, and the post-apocalyptic future. Her trademark was “the sulphurous light before a thunderstorm,” observed biographer Régine Tessier. Like a thunderstorm, Sage’s art could be depressing and exhilarating. A true contrarian might nominate Sage as the best of all the Western Hemisphere surrealists."

- excerpt from Kay Sage, Painter of an Odd Future - William Poundstone
via an April 30, 2012 Art Info article

"And what's in it for me my pretty young thing?
Why should I whistle, when the caged bird sings?
If you lose a wager with the king of the sea
You'll spend the rest of forever in the cage with me"

- Verse from "Soul Cages" - Sting - 1991


The "anti-Thomas Kinkade" is an apt description for Kay Sage, American Surrealist, who found her artistic voice in Paris in the late 1930's, at the age of 44. Counterpoint to Kincaide's illustrations of lush, kitschy cottages in idealized, antiquated country settings, we have Sage's silent and spare views of some timeless, alien stratosphere. Then again, in comparison to the veritable cottage industry (pun intended) generated by Thomas Kincade (January 19, 1958 – April 6, 2012) Sage's subliminal messages on canvas are relatively obscure.

"! Walk Without Echo" was the title of the posthumous exhibit of Sage's collection in Mattatuck Museum, Connecticut, 2007. I'm not sure if this line was taken from one of her poems, a journal entry, or the creation of the curator, but it, too, is an apt description of Sage's work, and, perhaps, an ironic illusion to her legacy as an artist. (Regarding all images which follow - click on for a larger view.)

In the Third Sleep - Oil on Canvas - Kay Sage,1944 - The Art Institute of Chicago

Despite having been associated with the coveted circle of artists that surrounded Andre Breton, the founder of Surrealism, in the early half of the 20th century, Sage was a peripheral figure, never to know the encouragement and acceptance afforded to male members of that regime. Of course, the Surrealist movement was famous for its inherent misogynistic stance, but Sage was especially unpopular. To begin with, she hailed from the upper-crust  bourgeoisie, and had been married previously to an Italian nobleman. Her presence in Paris was only made possible by an inheritance from her deceased father. As it so happened, she was intensely disliked as a matter of course by the other artists and their wives, especially when she married Yves Tanguy, a Surrealist illuminary. Their alliance apparently enraged Breton to such a degree that his deep friendship with Tanguy eventually evaporated in 1949. All of this, in spite of the fact, that it was, albeit indirectly, through Sage that Breton, and a number of other Surrealists, were able to flee Paris at the beginning of World War II, and relocate to New York. Apparently, even as guests to the Tanguy's eventual home in Woodbury, Connecticut, Kay Sage would not win any lasting friendships within the Surrealist cabal. As late as 1974, and more than a decade after Sage's death, Enrico Donati still found it necessary to remark:
"Tanguy was the painter. I mean, we were the friends of Tanguy because he was the painter, the master. She was his wife, but we went there, to Woodbury, to see Tanguy. She was Mrs. Tanguy so she was there, too, but he was our friend. She was the friend of nobody." * 

The journalists of the day were no better. After a Sage painting  had won 1st prize in the Eastern States Exposition - in which Tanguy had also exhibited -  in Connecticut in 1951, the Hartford Times reported the news under the headline: "Housewife Wins Art Exhibition".

Danger, Construction Ahead- Oil on canvas - Kay Sage, 194o - Yale University Art Gallery

As tragic a figure as Kay Sage was in many respects, I think in the last analysis, her work resonates more with the 21st century zeitgeist than most of her more celebrated peers. And, unlike them - with the exception of Tanguy and Matta - her paintings portray an inner reality witnessed, and masterfully documented, as opposed to a number of Surrealistic creations which were contrived primarily to shock and/or entertain. We may not be able to name the world in which Kay Sage's psyche wandered, but that she wandered there is something we immediately accept. We may not, for that matter, find her observations of this enigmatic world altogether pleasant - few have; often describing her images as dismal and devoid of life - but we never question their validity. My personal interpretation, however, is that "life", or its metaphor, is certainly apparent in her work. It is organic life which is represented by the swathes of wind-blown, or, preternaturally suspended fabric, undulating silently and phantom-like within each of her eerie linear vistas. Presented as a life-form in this way, the fabric takes on an immortal aspect - an almost sentient presence - while, at the same time, transcends the limits imposed by both gender and species. Often, Sage's vistas have the ambience of seascapes receding to a blank, ocean-like horizon. Upon closer inspection, however, the backgrounds are not comprised of water at all, but are of a static substance, engraved with geometric abstractions.  This is especially true in the painting "In the Third Sleep" (second image from the top), a strange image which brings to mind a landing strip on an almost Martian-like planet.**

  As for it, and the image "Danger, Construction Ahead" (directly above), both are examples of paintings that may have spawned half a dozen contemporary Sci-Fi illustrators, despite having been painted in the 1940's.

On the First of March, Crows Begin to Search - Oil on canvas - Kay Sage,1947 - Wellesley College, MA

That being said, most of Sage's contemporaries describe her as being introverted, distant, and somewhat chilly in comparison to Tanguy, the proverbial life of the party. And comparing the work of the two artists, one might find evidence of this. Both artists drew their inspiration from inner  - almost paranormal - dimensions (see this description of Tanguy's work), and both artists, to some degree, were influenced by the early work of de Chirico. But, whereas Tanguy's biomorphic shapes (see "Phantoms" below) are somewhat whimsical, Sage's strange figures generally are not (with the possible exception of the image above). Later in her career, she developed an attraction to a variety of latticework (see detail below), solemn structures, in which her biomorphic fabrics are trapped within... veritable "Soul Cages" looming over a murky, slack water.

(Left) Phantoms - Oil on Canvas - YvesTanguy, 1928
(Center) Photo of Kay Sage with her painting, Suspension Bridge for Swallows, 1957 
(Right) Detail of Tomorrow is Never - Oil on canvas - Kay Sage, 1955 - Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

As it stands, had I written this post 20 years ago, Patron Saint # 9 would've probably been Kay Sage's husband, Yves Tanguy - who, incidentally, was both friend and mentor to Matta, Patron Saint #2 - the more celebrated Surrealist. I hadn't even known about Kay Sage 20 years ago. Why is this? Well, for the same reason I hadn't known about Surrealist painter, Leonora Carrington***, the lover of the Surrealist, Max Ernst, 20 years ago... nor, for that matter, Surrealist artist and designer, Dorothy Tanning, Ernst's second wife. Female artists who bonded with male artists in the 20th Century did so at the risk of anonymity, most especially in the Surrealist community, where women may have been idealized as muses and objets d'art in themselves, but thoroughly dismissed as intellectual and creative equals. Another case in point, the Surrealist, Gerrie von Pribosic Gutmann, wife of the photographer and painter, John Gutmann. Ever hear of her? I'm willing to bet you haven't. She has a handful of paintings in cyberspace and no Wiki entry. A number of links to Imogen Cunninghams's photographic portrait of Gerri Gutmann is what you're most likely to find in a search.

Photo of John and Gerri Gutmann found here

Not all Surrealists in the dual role of Surrealist wife/Surrealist artist fell into obscurity, however. Frida Kahlo (deservedly) was to eventually outshine her husband, Diego Rivera, as the world slipped into the 21st century. Then again, if it means anything, both Carrington and Tanning out-lived Max Ernst by decades - Carrington passing away in 2011 at the age of 94, and Tanning, earlier this year at the age of 101 - both artists remaining prolific and relevant till their very last dance. Sage and Gutmann, however, did not fare so well. Eight years after the death of Tanguy in 1955 (due to a cerebral hemorrhage), Kay Sage, despondent, and in ill health, fatally shot herself through the heart, January, 1963. As for Gerrie Gutmann, her suicide is currently no more than a mere caption to one of her husband's photographs online.

And, once again, referring to the "enlightenment" one is likely to find in cyberspace, we only have to look at the roster of artists included in Wiki's definitive collection: WikiPaintings, Visual Art Encyclopedia. Neither Sage, Carrington, Tanning (nor, for that matter, my previous female "Patron Saints":  Alice Pelton, Louise Nevelson, Vali Meyers, and Sakiko Ide) are included. (Note: Thomas Kincaide, on the other hand, is.)

Below is a video featuring a collection of Kay Sage's work. The video, along with a content description and short biography of Sage can be found here.

For those who might be interested, Kay Sage's posthumously published memoirs - "China Eggs" - covering the period from 1910-1935 can be found for sale in limited form on the net. Apparently this is a paperback edition published in 1996. However, I note that a mysterious hardcover edition does exist, supposedly published in 1955. Very curious.

* My major source of reference for this post, and, for which I am grateful, is Judith D. Souther's biography of Sage, A House of Her Own, Kay Sage, Solitary Surrealist.

** (Footnote added 12/10/12) Regarding Sage's "static substance, engraved with geometric abstractions", it occurs to me now that they might also appear as the detritus in the foreground of the first image "The Instant"... in this case, appearing as the dismantled platform. The word which first came to my mind, however, was "deconstructed", which has an interesting definition which may or may not be relative, but, I'll copy it here anyway: "to analyze (a text or a linguistic or conceptual system) by deconstruction, typically in order to expose its hidden internal assumptions and contradictions and subvert its apparent significance or unity."

*** Leonora Carrington - Patron Saint # 8  Note: The post linked to here has been updated with videos for both Carrington and Patron Saint #7, Remedios Varo.

Here are individual links for examples of the following artist's works: Kay SageLeonora Carrington, Dorothy Tanning, and Gerrie Gutmann.

For other listings of Surrealist women, try here, and here.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Quantum Esoterica: Metastructures

"To sum up, then, we have used the computer as an example of how it is possible to have an objective kind of process of soma- significance, and we have expressed this mathematically in terms of symmetric and unsymmetric matrices. Through the fact that in the quantum theory both the state of existence of matter and the law of how it moves and transforms itself are expressed in terms of similar symmetric and unsymmetric matrices, we showed how our notion of the universality of soma- significant and signa- somatic activity may be seen as contained at the very basis of modern physics. But (as shown elsewhere) this use of matrices is also a typical way of mathematically formulating what is meant by the implicate order. It follows that the latter provides a general mode of description that covers the activity of human consciousness, of computers which are a product of this consciousness, and of nature in general which exists beyond this consciousness."

- David Bohm, excerpt from Soma- Significance: A New Notion of the Relationship Between the Physical and the Mental


"Yes. Physics is more like quantum organism than quantum mechanics. I think physicists have a tremendous reluctance to admit this. There is a long history of belief in quantum mechanics, and people have faith in it. And they don't like having this faith challenged."

- David Bohm via an interview with F. David Peat, found here


"Quantum mysticism is a term that has been used to refer to a set of metaphysical beliefs and associated practices that seek to relate consciousness, intelligence, or mystical world-views to the ideas of quantum mechanics and its interpretations. An example is the idea that consciousness causes collapse (e.g. the act of observation affects reality directly). Many ideas associated with "quantum mysticism" have been criticized as either misinterpretations of quantum mechanics or as pseudoscience.

... (In) the 1980 book Wholeness and the Implicate Order, David Bohm portrays reality as a unity which can be understood in terms of implicate and explicate orders. The latter book was strongly criticised by Steven Weinberg, a leading campaigner against the introduction of paradigms and ideas involving or suggesting the substantiality of mind, quasi-spiritual interpretations and other such concepts drawn from outside the purview of physics, in the so-called "Science wars"."

- excerpt via the Wiki entry for "Quantum Mysticism"


"David Bohm was widely considered one of the best quantum physicists of all time."

- via the Wiki entry for David Bohm


"Organic geometry... the idea of energy distributing itself... the concept of energy having consciousness, and consciousness being the fabric, the means upon which - and through which - energy distributes itself... acts... and, that action - through the event of idea and creative impulse - takes form... and, within a certain framework, must take form... and depending upon the conditions of its dimension, is forced to take form in specific ways.

In this dimension (sic)... perhaps in all, to some degree, the determining law of structure might be akin to both music and mathematics... the idea of rhythm, frequency, wave, fluctuation, sequence. In this way, "reality" - the physical world - cannot be as rigid as we perceive it visually. It is always in a state of flux, vitality, movement. A fluid fabric of color, pattern, sound. The law of this dimension (sic) may be seen (also) as akin to time... an imaginary structure... a symbolic structure composed of units and cycles..."

-  excerpt from the second "Temp L" notebook - Dia Sobin - 8/4/83 - NYC

I wrote the above in 1983 - almost 30 years ago, which is cause for pause - but then, I've been coming across a lot of ancient memorabilia recently, as I begin to rummage through the detritus of my life in an effort to relocate myself. As for the quote above, from a trilogy of notebooks chronicling the progress of my Metastructures project (previously mentioned here), interestingly, my "belief systems" have changed very little in those intervening years. The only word I might question is "dimension" as, obviously we do not live in a singular one, but a series of them - the actual number being a matter of opinion.

Originally referred to as Temp L, or the Temple Drawings - an enigmatic series of drawings executed in blue pencil - the images which comprise Metastructures evolved (or devolved) into a deck of cards. As it was, during the '70s - my "occult" years - I initially assumed my first sketches of the 4 symbols - which emerged at that time - were my interpretations of  Tarot deck, or playing card suits. Ten years later, however, and picking up where I left off - which I would do intermittently until the late 90's - the card deck became wholly a geometric abstraction... similar to the lesser arcana of the Tarot, but seemingly in an essentially different language - an alien tongue which, to my mind, seemed ultimately more universal. 

Initially, I had no plans for Metastructures beyond a series of abstract paintings - the 8 images below were created with the first small oil paintings I created of my enigmatic "subjects" in 1986 - but, after simultaneously creating a working deck of sketched images, I reverted to my "occult" tendencies, and began to see them as a possible oracle. Below, then are the card mock-ups and their "meanings", which have, as well as the images, evolved over time. (one later version can be found here. Though this idea was eventually scrapped, I was still happiest with mono-tones as the known spectrum of color felt inadequate.)

Esoteric overview of : Unit One - Force/Entity
Unit of Energy - Life-force dynamic - an Intelligence - the Prime-mover - the ordering force/organizing center - subatomic particle -  identity/self-reference - Creatura - the sentient entity - the conscious collective

Pictured (above, left): the Aggregate (process structure) of Unit One, numeral 6.
Practical meaning: Self-expresssion. The process of recovery and discovery. The idea of a family, or close personal ties in a work environment.

Pictured (above, right): the Radiant (dynamic structure) of Unit One, numeral 6.
Practical meaning: The integration of forces. The symbol of the spouse or intimate partner. Possibly the numerological idea of a #6 personality.

Esoteric overview of : Unit Two - Motion/Emotion
Unit of Activity - Fluid - Flow - Fluctuation - Rhythm - Magnetism - Gravity/Acceleration - Reflection -  Relationship - chemistry - Pulse/Impulse - spin

Pictured (above, left): the Aggregate (process structure) of Unit Two, numeral 6.
Practical meaning: Re-stabilization after discord. Emotional recovery, support.

Pictured above, right): the Radiant (dynamic structure) of Unit Two, numeral 6.
Practical meaning: Love affair - an essential bonding. Fusion. Regeneration.

Esoteric overview of : Unit 3 - Dimension
Unit of Consciousness - Psi - psyche - Energy's path - Frequency - Wave - Code - communication - Network - Matrix - Idea (unformed) - "aether" - synchronicity - transference of thought 

Pictured (above, left):the Aggregate (process structure) of Unit 3, numeral 6.
Practical meaning: Solving a problem; communication processes. Psychological dependency. Seeking/finding help. Something known but not consciously excepted.

Pictured above, right): the Radiant (dynamic structure) of Unit 3, numeral 6.
Practical meaning: A successful idea, plan, concept. An affirmation, an agreement, an important communication.

Esoteric overview of : Unit 4 - Form
Unit of Structure - finite matter & the material - crystallization, manifestation, synthesis - the physical body - the corporeal world

Pictured (above, left): the Aggregate (process structure) of Unit Four, numeral 6.
Practical meaning: Stabilization of resources, finances. A family-run business, or working from the home; productivity in said environment. To build. To heal. To repair.

Pictured above, right): the Radiant (dynamic structure) of Unit Four, numeral 6.
Practical meaning: A successful product. Physical health; to conquer a disease. Merging of business enterprises. Sometimes, a sexual relationship. Marriage in a legal sense.


Inevitably, I became very perplexed with the deck in the end... not sure what their real significance was, what I really was supposed to do with them, and whether or not my interpretations were on the mark. So, I'm afraid there's no "big reveal" here, just another portion of the record of this artist's journey.

Originally, the title of this post was "The Artist as Quantum Mystic", which was then changed to "The Quantum Occultist: Loving the Alien". In both cases, however, there was too much room for misinterpretation... and the internet, being what it is, generally, the rule of thumb is: the less said the better.

The word "Quantum", of course, immediately lends itself to a number of interpretations because its definition is vague. Is it a unit of matter, or is it a unit of energy? And, if the two are one in the same, well then, really, let the philosophical games begin! So, while there are physicists who cringe at "quantum mysticism," I dare say it's due to a decided lack of imagination and inspiration on their part... which is generally what separates a true genius from a mere practitioner. in his own way, Einstein was a "quantum mystic", as well as Wolfgang Pauli and Jung. And, while there are some who'd go ballistic at even marginally including names like  Crowley and Robert Anton Wilson - "quantum occultists" - in the same paragraph... well, there, it's done. ;-)


One further note: regarding the four images at the top of this post, which represent the four "Field" cards of the symbols - their monads (in shades of grey) can be found here - if one looks closely, the relationship between the four becomes apparent; in fact the "fields" are almost one in the same, so that, both on a metaphorical and demonstrative level, the fields are, indeed, "unified". Below is a group of "tiles" that might be used to create the field cards. Keeping in mind that the Unit 1 field represents the coordinate points of the remaining 3 units, one only needs to rotate the Unit 2 tile and flip Unit 4, and voila - the designs are almost identical. Incidentally, it was working with this hexagonal lattice or grid pattern - which, in turn, is fundamentally based on the vesica piscis and the "flower of life", that I discovered the cyclohedra. More interesting still, the way in which the cyclodhedra "emerge" from that field is reminiscent of David Bohm's implicate and explicate orders.

Note (7/23/13): For a further exploration of this topic, see the latest Trans-D post, A Cosmic Nest.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Just A Little Witchery...

Painting by Remedios Varo

... in celebration of Halloween, Samhain and the Celtic New Year.

Painting by Leonora Carrington

Originally, I had planned to do an in-depth Halloween exploration of two important artists, and favorite Surrealists of mine, Patron Saint #7: Remedios Varos, and Patron Saint #8: Leonora Carrington. Fate intervened in the form of Hurricane Sandy, however, and power returned to my neck of the woods only about an hour ago. It could be worse - last I knew, New Jersey was still under water, and NYC was still in the dark.

Best I could do.

Blessed Be.


Note: More links regarding Leonora Carrington can be found in Patron Saint #9: Kay Sage - "I Walk Without Echo"

Regarding Remedios Varo, Patron Saint #7: of all the Patron Saints on this blog, she is the only woman to be included in WikiPaintings. (Correction! As of this note, November 2013, Carrington has found her place on Wikpaintings, as well.)

In view of my regretfully truncated post for these two phenomenal artists, I am including YouTube videos for both of them here. My advice is view them full-screen.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Remembering Mac V: Somewhere, Under a Rainbow

Somewhere, Under a Rainbow -- digital - 2012, DS
First in a series of glass abstractions... for Mac, from Dia

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Remembering Mac IV: The Dragon and the Pearl

The Dragon & The Pearl (detail) - Digital - 2011, DS

"Reed's real name was Princess Tatiana Dracorin. At least, that was how she was formerly known, when there existed a family Dracorin who resided in a castle by that name. But, of that existence, Reed chose not to speak, recounting, instead, an earlier history.

The Dracorins were the first and the last of the Dragon Makyrr, a noble family, who traditionally emerged from the mysterious wastelands of the Far East; a territory that no respectable person in Elidon Wold would've even heard of, let alone mention.

The Dracorins were not merely the Makyrr of reptiles, however, but blood relations to the original primordial worms, which rose from a distant ocean, and to which they'd eventually return; leaving in their wake a brood of lizard-skinned mutations. It was from these first mutants that the Dracorin line evolved.

Their mistake was their decision to move west, specifically in a northerly direction, where the climate was cool and moist, and kinder to their skin, and where the bulk of humanoid civilization was reported to be thriving. What they could not know was that reptilians were not welcome in Elidon Wold; nor would they ever be."

- Dia Sobin, excerpt of Chapter 8, The Pearl, Book 2 of The Last Chronicle of Elidon Wold - Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved.


You know her as Tatiana, the Dragon Princess, previously blogged about here and here in 2011. And, if you've read those posts, I needn't explain (again) her relationship to Mac Tonnies. She was the one illustration I had started for Mac before his death in 2009, but never finished till two years later.

I had decided, after she was finished, to add her as a character to a languishing story of mine... another children's story tentatively entitled "The Shadow Bride" or "The Moth Maid's Daughter". But, with the addition of Tatiana - and really she was an almost alchemical ingredient -  it became rapidly clear that the story had gained in complexity, and was really meant for adolescent readers... Encouraged by a comment of ToB's, made on the Trans-D post, the story grew by leaps and bounds till a first draft was finally finished earlier this year.

Previous: Remembering Mac III: One Day With Mr. Tone

Next: Remembering Mac V: Somewhere, Under a Rainbow

Remembering Mac III: One Day With Mr. Tone

One Day With Mr. Tone - Proposed Cover Illustration - Digital - 2012, DS

"Now, when I see birds," he said,
"I think it's time to fly...
Even cats and turtles
Like to take to the sky.
For, one thing we've found,
When getting around:
It's more fun in the air,
Than it is on the ground!"

- Excerpt from One Day With Mr. Tone, a children's story in verse, 2010, revised 2012, DS


"You might try visiting in the summer... then you'll probably find Crazy chasing butterflies. And, if you look very carefully and slightly askance, you might notice two other cats watching from a distance... One of whom looks suspiciously like it might be Crazy's twin.
And, if you're really lucky, you just might find a tall young man in a black fedora standing nearby. He's just passing through, too, you understand... for a chance meeting with some friends."

- via a Post-Mac Blues post from November, 2009 - The Kauffman Memorial Garden


I first posted on Post-Mac Blues about Mr. Tone in 2010, under the erroneous assumption that my early draft was ready to fly - a "done deal", or so I thought at the time - but, it's always a mistake when it comes to written material to make any such declarations... As a matter of fact, it's naive to assume that anything is finished! Like it or not, each and every creative endeavor is a process... what appears to be a "done deal" is invariably unfolding.

And, that goes for the Mr. Tone cover illustration, too, which, as a few of you may notice, has changed quite a bit from the original. The first Mr. Tone finally appeared to my eyes - and, to my horror - like some sort of psychotic predator, black clothing and all, Not the stuff of little kid's books - well, certainly not today's group. Actually, I'm getting the impression that maybe Mr. Tone, as benign and innocuous of a ghost as he may be (because, of course, that's what he is, though I'm not sure he knows it), is not at all the variety of story being published today in our present paranoid world - most especially for young children -  and most especially because I'm not an established celebrity. (Can't you just wait for a kid's book by the Kardashians? I could.) Which is not to say I didn't try. I sent a book proposal to two publishers months and months ago. Result: no joy.

I still think the story is a fine one, and Mr. Tone - inspired by Mac, of course and/or my speculation of a similar personality as all-spirit - and all his ghostly animal companions - 2 cats, a fish and a box turtle* presently, but his menagerie may expand - continues to resonate with me. Perhaps the story might fly for older children... provided I nix the verse form. Then I can get more cutting edge - which I think Mac would appreciate - and make further changes... The fish in Tone's balloon, for instance, is actually a tribute to my deceased "coral beauty" (see Orfeo), but if Mac is really in this story somewhere, well, you know and I know, that what's really in that balloon is a jellyfish!

* About that box turtle... some time after I had completed my first draft of the story, I learned that Mac, as a child, used to rescue box turtles from the road which passed by his MO home. And I named the turtle Rocky, only to find out later (once again) that the original - and departed -  park cat at Kauffman Garden was named "Rocky". Go figure.

PreviousRemembering Mac II: Metamorphosis Interrupted

NextRemembering Mac IV: The Dragon and the Pearl

Monday, October 15, 2012

Remembering Mac II: Metamorphosis Interrupted - w/ Update

Worm's Last Memory - Digital - 2009, Dia Sobin
(Click to enlarge.)

The image above was originally entitled "Metamorphosis Interrupted"; but was eventually changed to "Worm's Last Memory". The above version was completed in 2009, and created especially for Mac, but, as it was, it never did make it onto Posthuman Blues. Most likely because it represented the antithesis of the biotechnology he held in high esteem.

I don't think this particular worm is in the process of metamorphosis. I doubt it ever had a chance. But, I'm not sure what sort of process is taking place, or if this process is taking place on earth - note the odd tag on the bell-shaped apparatus.

I do have a soft spot for insects that transmute. Specifically butterflies, moths and the cicada. And so, by the way, did Mac.  Below are some photos I took in 1991 of a brood of Monarch butterflies I raised while living on Long Island. Mac never saw these, but something tells me he would've liked them a lot better than my digital worm. (Click on image-bars for enlargements)

(Added note 2/6/2013: Just in case you might've thought the above image too over the top, here's a reality check for you...)

Worm Oroborous - The Hanging Worm (about to transform) - The Capsule Beneath the Skin

The Capsule Revealed - Capsule Filled with Liquid - The Capsule Changes

The Capsule Grows Dark - A Door Opens - The Imago* Emerges...

3 New Creatures Hang to Dry...

Behold! They can fly!

* Do click on the Wiki "imago" link... a very cool .gif of an emerging cicada is shown!

Previous post in this series: Remembering Mac: The Stars Are Falling
Note: This post has been deleted. The image for the post - The Stars Are Falling - can now be found here.

Next post: Remembering Mac III: One Day With Mr. Tone

Friday, October 12, 2012

Casey Kotas... Amid the Streams of Consciousness

Leitmotif Number Four - Digital -  Casey Kotas

"When man (and woman) first picked up a charred piece of wood to make a mark on a cave wall, the idea of artistic expression came into being. Some time later, the sister concept of philosophy materialized and humanity sped off into what we call civilization and culture. The reason I consider philosophy a sister to artistic expression is that they both deal with the expansion of consciousness and the illumination of spirit, through self-expression and self-awareness. These are probably the two most transcendent attributes exhibited by Homo sapiens and, to a large extent, have been responsible for the progress that we have demonstrated as a species."

- Casey Kotas, excerpt from his essay Analog versus Digital Art, 9/7/2009


I've been off on a tangent for the past few months - half a dozen of them (months and tangents), actually - to the degree that the original purpose of this blog, i.e., to explore Transdimensionalism and Transfigurativism in digital art, has been almost completely compromised. A large part of the problem, and it should be fairly obvious by now, is that I have something I refer to as Multiple Muse Disorder (MMD). One can flatter me and refer to me as a "Renaissance woman". Detractors may describe my modus operandi as a bad case of dilettantism, but, essentially it comes down to this: despite how disparate the forms of ones output seem to be, they all originate from the same integrated source, and often reflect an ability to express the same essential "message" in a variety of different ways. (And, keep in mind, "dilettante" originated from an Italian word meaning nothing more than "loving the arts".)  Ultimately, I'm of the opinion that if one can't translate ones expressions into varied disciplines, it represents more of a deficit than a virtue.

It was In an effort to get back on the track, however, and having little new work of my own to exhibit, that I came upon the work of Casey Kotas - via this MOCA page -  a digital artist working out of Chicago, Illinois. Interestingly enough, Casey notes in his biographical sketch, that after some formal art training, he left school to become a musician, before returning to the visual arts via the computer; and it may very well be that his work as a musician enabled him to express himself so eloquently, so harmonically, in the visual arts.

Doctrinal Entrapment - Digital - Casey Kotas

Kotas describes his images as "stream of consciousness", which, if you've read the term definitions on the sidebar of this blog, falls under "Transfigurativism". It was also the favored "automatic" technique of the Surrealists. His use of fractals, on the other hand, automatically defines his work as Transdimensional as well, because while fractals describe phenomena in the natural 3-dimensional world, they do so by interpreting the relationship between the microcosm and the macrocosm - that is to say, they describe how one dimension is enfolded in the other. So fractals are a type of "magical wand" for the Transdimensionalist, whereby many dimensions, both mathematical abstractions and the rarefied dimensions of the psyche are able to interweave, creating an homogenous, holistic fabric, an electronic tissue which, in itself, can reflect all and anything to the observer.

Dream Journey - digital - Casey Kotas

I've included a few examples of Kotas' work here, but these merely partially represent the magnitude of his abilities to translate the multi-dimesnsional reality of the psyche into two dimensions. There are hundreds of images in his galleries. But. all of them do have one thing in common, and I think this is represented by the images here; that is, there is refined intricacy of line and form, as delicate and pure as Mother Nature's finest works.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Autumn Leaf Eye Candy

Apart from the size - blown-up 200% - these scans are the real deal - no color enhancement was employed. With their amazing colors - blood reds, acid yellows, and florescent greens - the dying maple leaf can rival those of the more exotic, tropical plants.

Re: scanning. In the last analysis, it's a type of photography... with the major exception being that the subject is placed/designed/arranged from behind, with no clue as to what the obverse result will be. It's kind of like a crap-shoot.  But, when it works, it works!

Note: even lighting is a factor in the scanned image. The first was positioned poorly on the scanner bed, and faced the scanner light in a less-than-ideal direction. You can see how much the surface detail is improved in the second scan (directly above), which was shot on a different angle.

(Click images for original size.)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sacred Geometry, Chirality and the Cyclohedra

Tetracyclohedron on a mirror - cast figure - DS 1988

"We live on a planet which is essentially a rotating sphere, in a system comprised of other rotating spheres. These revolve around a rotating ball of burning gases in orbits that roughly describe a series of concentric rings. This system, in turn, is rotating within a spiral galaxy, which, in itself is also rotating with a host of other spiral and spherical galaxies in what some hypothosize to be a circular universe. In view of this, how else can the "phenomena of life" behave? How could it possibly extricate itself from the "spiral urge"? Worlds turn, cells divide, and flowers bloom using rhythmic processes not wholly deciphered by mechanistic equations. Physical laws and physical life must, by necessity, share a common ground, and this "ground", this mysterious omphalos, appears to be round."


"In the end one cannot help but sympathize with old Archimedes who, while drawing circles in the sand, allegedly remarked to a passing Roman soldier - and, presumably these were his Famous Last Words - 'Don't step on my circles!'"

- two excerpts from the intro to Cyclosymmetrics, The Implicate Geometry of the Circle - 1993, Dia Sobin


Geometry confounds, but it never lies. And, when the going gets tough, the tough draw circles. Which is why I'm posting geometry today, despite its obvious departure from recent material.

Above is what almost seems like a Brancusian structure. What it really is, however, is a photograph of my first casting of a cyclohedron - specifically, a tetrahedron -  sitting on a mirror.  As for Constantine Brancusi, I discovered today he was Romanian, born in a similar place in the vicinity of the Carpathian mountains as both sets of my grandparents. He was a very spiritual man, and I find it interesting that geometry and the spiritual seem to intertwine in so many respects. Geometry is so subliminally present in so many aspects of life, it's not unusual that it was always, an still is, a "sacred" discipline. 

Re: cyclohedron. You won't find the word in Wiki, or anywhere else for that matter (but here, presently)*, because it's one I coined to describe a set - specifically, the Platonic cyclodhedra - which describe a regularly convoluted set of polyhedra - I inadvertently discovered in the 1980's during the course of a design project. I've tried to document them myself - the quotes above come from its introduction - but, as I have had no intensive mathematical training, I never attempted to publish my "treatise". I did have a web-site several years ago - "The Circle Zone"  (I've just up-loaded its home page graphic here...) -  but apart from one Chinese teacher (and new media artist) Zhang Yanxiang - and Petral, if you're out there, I am eternally grateful - it didn't attract a great deal of attention. Why those from the East might find the cyclohedra attractive, is not unusual. The figures emerge from the circle and its infinite symmetries, and the East has an intimate relationship with the circle, in ways the cruciform-fixated West could never quite comprehend. (see Mandala)

Page 65 from Contemporary Art of Science and Technology - Science Press - 2007
Funded by: China Association for Science and Technology, and the
National Philosophy & Social Innovation Base for Sci-Tech History & Sci-Tech Civilization

Specifically the figures literally enfold from an expansion of an ancient pattern called the "Flower of Life", or, as sacred geometer, Charles Gilchrist, refers to it: "Natures First Pattern."  There a number of correlations that are drawn - either metaphorically or demonstrably -  to this pattern and the natural world... but, allow me to add another one: quantum entanglement

Chirality, on the other hand, is a word most often used in physics and chemistry to describe symmetries that are applicable to those disciplines. But, chirality also describes what differentiates the cyclohedra from their rectilinear counterparts - the regular polyhedra - in that, two orientations of the planes are possible... a left-handed twist, and a right-handed one. The two "pinwheels" I created from the tetrahedron photo, for instance, are "spinning" in opposite directions. They're admittedly odd formations...almost alien really... and I often muse about an intelligent alien race - or perhaps just a parallel one - which developed along the devious, organic lines of a cyclohedron as opposed to those static, antiseptic rectilinear planes of the regular polyhedra, or Platonic solids, we know so well.

Rotational symmetry - (top) 6-fold - (bottom) 8-fold - DS 2012

Fractals, of course, are a visual example of organic geometry... the cyclohedra are another. Demonstrably, the circle is the mother of all geometrical figures, organic or inorganic - the dynamic of the material world... and whether you are an artist or a scientist, your inquiries inevitably resolve themselves in her domain. My geometrical muse is adamant about this, and I trust this muse implicitly. As I said, geometry never lies.

A second set of Platonic Cyclohedra cast in 1993 - DS

Cast tetracyclohedron & octacyclohedron (using 120 degree arcs) on a mirror
1993, DS

Vesica Piscis

*  Recently (2/28/14) I found this entry for the word "cyclohedron" on Wolfram. I have no idea when it appeared, when the word was coined, or, in fact, what it's referring to... however, I am continuing to use the word regarding the solids depicted here.