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.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Our Lady of the Wood

Detail of the assemblage "Our Lady of the Wood" - 1976 Dia Sobin

"...Now the stark elders have an anorexic look; there is not much in the autumn wood to make you smile but it is not yet, not quite yet, the saddest time of the year. Only, there is a haunting sense of the imminent cessation of being; the year, in turning, turns in on itself. Introspective weather, a sickroom hush.

The woods enclose. You step between the first trees and then you are no longer in the open air; the wood swallows you up. There is no way through the wood any more, this wood has reverted to its original privacy. Once you are inside it, you must stay there until it lets you out again for there is no clue to guide you through in perfect safety; grass grew over the track years ago and now the rabbits and the foxes make their own runs in the subtle labyrinth and nobody comes. The trees stir with a noise like taffeta skirts of women who have lost themselves in the woods and hunt round hopelessly for the way out. Tumbling crows play tag in the branches of the elms they clotted with their nests, now and then raucously cawing. A little stream with soft margins of marsh runs through the wood but it has grown sullen with the time of the year; the silent, blackish water thickens, now, to ice. All will fall still, all lapse...

The woods enclose and then enclose again, like a system of Chinese boxes opening one into another; the intimate perspectives of the wood changed endlessly around the interloper, the imaginary traveller walking towards an invented distance that perpetually receded before me. lt is easy to lose yourself in these woods."

- excerpt from the The Erl-King, a short story by Angela Carter * - from The Bloody Chamber and other Stories - 1981, Penguin Books

Detail of the assemblage "Our Lady of the Wood" - 1976 Dia Sobin

Detail of the assemblage "Our Lady of the Wood" - 1976 Dia Sobin


In the continuing saga of The Forest (see Phoebe post), we arrive at "Our Lady of the Wood", an assemblage (or "collage", as they were once referred to) I painstakingly put together in the 1970's when I was just starting out on my fool's journey.

I had it hanging on my bedroom wall for years... (I now think) to remind myself just where I had "come" from. But, I didn't remember, of course, until I was in the process of taking it down... ostensibly to pack up in the event I relocate anytime soon. (This remains to be seen). For whatever reason, it slipped out of its frame, and so I thought I might scan some of it into this machine as a kind of punctuation mark to the general drift these days... that old black magic sort of drift which Angela Carter (see quote above) seemed to know so well.

"Our Lady of the Wood" was fashioned with all sorts of pretty things... beads and fabrics and hand-made paper... photographs of a favorite graveyard statue... and lots of organic material (the sort of stuff I like to "live-scan" now). You might say I'm still making assemblages, only now they're all digital. At least for the moment... but, really, I could never be fully content with 2 dimensions - I want to work with all of them! ;-)

In any case, have a thoroughly haunting October - I know I will!  And, while you're at, stop on by Histories of Things To Come - ToB does Halloween countdowns (oh) so well!

Our Lady of the Wood - 8X10 Xerox of the 15X20 original
(click on to enlarge)

* Note on Angela Carter. For those unfamiliar with this feminist author, she wrote the 1969 cult Sc-Fi classic Heroes & Villains, which is on my personal top ten list of transformational fiction.