Accidental Artist

Stephen Calhoun, artist

My one man show is hung and ready for the public to ‘have experiences’ at The Gallery at Gray’s, 10717 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio. Yes, there will be an opening, and an associated catalog, an online gallery, and, some other initiatives. Fortunately for me, I am greatly benefitted by the enthusiasm of Deba Jean Gray, the gallery owner and the person who saw I was up to something artistically intriguing.

In crucial ways–and besides my being in the sociology of artists’ sense, a naive, and outsider, and untrained, artist–I am an accidental artist. Ms. Gray discovered me when she pulled a generative piece off the wall by the stairway in my step mother’s house in 2014. Later, after she toured my private gallery, she invited me to provide two pieces for an auction in May 2015. Those pieces were in a catalog amidst stellar company, such as Frankenthaler, Calder, and Stella. One of the pieces sold.

(It was only late in 2014 that it became possible for me to imagine that thirty years of private visual experimenting, begun first as a designer, then done as a painter, then starting in 2003, done as photographic/generative image-maker, might find my work engage a public.)

Four months later, I was prepared to show Deba and her associates my growing book. My visual experiments were rapidly evolving to become more ambitious. Also, I was learning in leaps and bounds, while dialing in much more technical control. I was spending all my time doing visual experiments, while trying to guide the most successful experiments up and out of the laboratory!

Nowadays, I work in photography or generative modes which integrate essential elements of serendipity. So, I see myself as an auteur of image-making–who dials in a delicate harmonization of the intentional with the fortuitous. Painstaking technical processes are involved in my, in effect, over-enlarging high resolution photographs, and doing the same with low resolution generative pieces.

My art reflects my life long interest in experiential development and a more recent interest in serendipity and contingency. My visual art is also of a piece with my musical experimentation; and it occurs to me I am bringing forth visual potentials which yield to a kind of visual equivalent of the deep listening developed as a holistic conception of sound experience by one of my main creative influences, composer Pauline Oliveros.

Ironically, 2015 was the year I steered my creative energies toward visual art, and away from music and sound design. Nevertheless, my creative process remains deeply musical.

Diver's Dilemma (2016)

Diver’s Dilemma (2016)

“What do you see hidden in the image?”

Each piece, by design, aims to support the viewer going into its complexity and tiny details to discover patterns, objects, symbols, faces, figures, etc. The artist does not program every discoverable feature. Far from it: the experience of each unique viewer, reveals sightings about which the artist is unaware of.

The pieces are intended to be experiential, and, are driven by my own conjoined experiential and experimental creative process. The primary process is a conduction drawn through phases: (1) capture, (2) cut, (3) create, (4) consummate. The last phase introduces the engaged viewer and realizes the culmination of the experiment in the unique experience of this viewer, this deep see’r.

I’m focused on providing experiences for viewers who freely choose to have an experience. For me, this completes the virtuous circle implicit in my substantiating such opportunities. My own creative purpose consequentially relies on the engaged viewer’s projective capacity. These pieces are primarily about enacting discovery.

 

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Evan Thompson, Presentation May 2015

a CONTEXT

According to [Francisco] Varela, an autonomous system can be precisely defined as a system that has organizational closure and operational closure (Varela 1979, pp. 55-60). The term ‘closure’ does not mean that the system is materially and energetically closed to the outside world (which of course is impossible). On the contrary, autonomous systems are thermodynamically far from equilibrium systems, which incessantly exchange matter and energy with their surroundings. ‘Organizational closure’ describes the self-referential (circular and recursive) network of relations that defines the system as a unity. At any given instant or moment, this self-referential network must be maintained, otherwise the system is no longer autonomous and no longer viable in whatever domain it exists. ‘Operational closure’ describes the recursive, re-entrant, and recurrent dynamics of the system. The system changes state on the basis of its self-organizing dynamics (in coupling with an environment), and the product of its activity is always further self-organized activity within the system (unless its operational closure is disrupted and it disintegrates).7 Biological examples abound—single cells, microbial communities, nervous systems, immune systems, multicellular organisms, ecosystems, and so on. Such systems need to be seen as sources of their own activity, and as specifying their own informational or cognitive domains, not as transducers or functions for converting input instructions into output products. In other words, the autonomous nature of these systems needs to be recognized.

Neurophenomenology: An Introduction for Neurophilosophers (pdf)
Evan Thompson, Antoine Lutz, and Diego Cosmelli

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Magical Inflation of the Pick-up King

If you regard honesty and humility as virtues, which I think most Iowans do, his ridiculous boasts demand derision. He’s the business genius who brags about screwing his investors and who has declared bankruptcy as often as some people overdraw their checking account. He sports the world’s silliest comb-over and makes fun of other people’s looks. He’s the tough guy who never served in the military, never risked his life or his interests for anyone other than himself, and disparaged the service of a decorated veteran.

He promises to make America great again and rejects the ideals and decency that made us great in the first place. Trump isn’t a fascist. He just says stupid, offensive things, seems unaware we have a Bill of Rights, and surrounds himself with aides who appear to have graduated first in their class at the Baghdad Bob School of Awesome Ass Kissing. Fascism is an ideology. Self-aggrandizement isn’t. -Mark Salter, Esquire

(Psychologist Howard) Gardner said, “For me, the compelling question is the psychological state of his supporters. They are unable or unwilling to make a connection between the challenges faced by any president and the knowledge and behavior of Donald Trump. In a democracy, that is disastrous.” (from Is Donald Trump Actually a Narcissist? Therapists Weigh In! Henry Alford, Vanity Fair)

Trump is a masterful pitchman on behalf of his own self-interest because of the way he helps his supporters unconsciously understand that their own self-interests are impotent. I attribute his ability then to seal the deal with slabs of (Girardian) scapegoating to his insecurity, especially his sexual insecurity.

(Trump from the perspective of my own sense of cultural complexes represents the realization of the shadow of the so-called neoreaction.)

Logos domination can lead to a degree of detsruction only hinted at by chthonic phallos behavior. The highest potential of masculine solar consciousness–spirituality, intellectual and institutional leadership–can tyrannize whatever is considered to be in error, whoever cannot “measure up” (an oblique reference to the interest males have in phallic size.) The tyranny is all the more devastating due to the cultural admiration of solar masculine attributes, behind which the shadow qualities fester. (Eugene Monick, Phallos, Sacred Image of the Masculine, Inner City Books)

It’s worth noting that in the psychological sense, given somewhat old fashioned ways of framing such phenomena, there is a strong cultural complex at work in our society that has to do with the unconscious restoration of phallic power. For the purpose of observing this we can look to Trump’s ‘priapic’ approach as being the natural attractor for the unconscious projections of the contemporary wilted masculine, and, the impotence of its various white-skinned tribes.

For me, it seems obvious that Trump is carrying the projection that makes of him the greatest vigilante possible: one issued by and sprung from tired pale loins. Revenge, finally revenge! Trump is the daddy who solves the problem and never asks question later; or, as Trump has put it, “People won’t like what it is necessary to do.”

As Dr. Carl Jung noted, ‘if you stack enough rifles in a warehouse they will go off all by themselves.’

The fantasy of the good guy shooting the bad guy is, obviously in these terms, a sexual fantasy, and the only possible result in the collective sense is the eventual orgy of badly aimed money shots; shots hopelessly exploded for the unconscious sake of gaining a moment of tumescent identity.

As I like to put it: the dream of being an effective vigilante requires a great deal of unconsciousness, and, a ‘swollen head.’

priapic

Then there are the urgings of the holler:

If there is more risky intrapsychic group attitude than that which attaches to another person’s parental persona, I’m unaware of it. This group’s ideational scaffolding to get to the point of supporting Trump is, in a word, frightening.

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Art Meets Science & Spirituality in a Changing Economy

1990 Amsterdam

Published on Nov 26, 2013
Part 1: “FROM FRAGMENTATION TO WHOLENESS” This film features the Dalai Lama speaking on the nature of mind and on his personal feelings as leader of the Tibetans in exile, the physicist David Bohm, who explains his theory of the “implicate order”; and interviews with artist Robert Rauschenberg and Russian economist Stanislav Menshikov. Artists, scientists, spiritual leaders and economists gathered in Amsterdam in 1990 to explore the emerging paradigm of a holistic world view and the implications for a global economy. The five day confernce was inspired by the artists Joseph Beuys and Robert Filliou, and manifested by Louwrien Wijers, who called it a “mental sculpture.”
Part 1/5: “FROM FRAGMENTATION TO WHOLENESS” (Dalai Lama, David Bohm, Robert Rauschenberg)
Part 2/5: “THE CHAOTIC UNIVERSE” (Ilya Prigogine, John Cage, Huston Smith)
Part 3/5: “CRISIS OF PERCEPTION” (Francisco Varela, Mother Tessa Bielecki)
Part 4/5: “THE TRANSORMING WORLD” (Rupert Sheldrake, Sogyal Rinpoche, Lawrence Weiner)
Part 5/5: “THE SHIFTING PARADIGM” (Marina Abramovic, Fritjof Capra, Raimon Panikkar)
PLAYLIST “Art Meets Science & Spirituality in a Changing Economy”

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Don’t Follow the Directions

Stephen Calhoun, artist

Jack’s New Scheme (2015)


Pagan Kennedy’s New York Times feature, How to Cultivate the Art of Serendipity, is apparently drawn from her new book, due January 26, Inventology. Her article is a very good read.

inventology

In the article Kennedy mentions a researcher, Sanda Erdelez. A little digging brought her paper Information Encountering, A Conceptual Framework for Accidental Information Discovery to light. At the end of the paper her summary inspired me to reflect on the status of “pre-direction” in search routines.

From this it seems worthwhile to muse on a adirectional learning, and directionless directing.

Meanwhile, Kennedy wrote:

That’s why we need to develop a new, interdisciplinary field — call it serendipity studies — that can help us create a taxonomy of discoveries in the chemistry lab, the newsroom, the forest, the classroom, the particle accelerator and the hospital. By observing and documenting the many different “species” of super-encounterers, we might begin to understand their minds.

A number of pioneering scholars have already begun this work, but they seem to be doing so in their own silos and without much cross-talk.

What could these researchers discover if they came together for one big conversation?

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Cube-O-Probe: How to Work With a New Team

Cube-O-Probe

Classic four square CoP roll. The so-called heavenly quadrants are above the center, and the hellish quadrants are below.

This is a very clear and direct roll of the Cube-O-Probe, framed by the intention,

Give me crucial hints about working with the new team.

My reflections on it clarified for me the necessity of allowing the wise ones to have their say and impact, trusting their wisdom for the sake of my own development, understanding that the project aims for my own stability–but that it is not yet an obvious possibility–and, my sense that I need to mediate my own inquisitiveness.

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Co-Incidence? experiential learning Cycle and Adventist Theology

Kairos devo

As I understand it, the most simple definition of a contemporary Kairos moment is: the moment at which the inborn Christological consciousness is instantiated as an active essential commission.

In adventist theology, the two perfect instances of Kairos were the birth of Christ, and, his resurrection.

graph-of-time

(See: Myth, Faith, and History in the New Testament
Author(s): Paul L. Hammer
Journal of Bible and Religion, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Apr., 1961), pp. 113-118)

Kolb-Model

Meanwhile, it is notable that my colleague David A. Kolb’s constuctivist-cognitivist learning cycle echoes the schema of the Kairos moment.

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Nora Bateson: Between generations: gaps, links and learning

Università degli Studi di Milano – Bicocca

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Eat or Be Eaten

World Surf League Pe’ahi Challenge

These waves are over 25 feet, with most of them in the 30-40 foot range. If you wipe out and end up under the break, you can be driven 30+ feet under the surface. Big wave surfing is, it is said, at once extremely dangerous and exhilarating.

The two summers I surfed, first in 1968 (mostly off Honolulu Oahu, or Barber’s Point,) Hawaii, and the next summer, 1969, in South Carolina and Virginia, the biggest wave I tried to ride was a 10+ piece of hurricane surf off of Hilton Head. I crashed and was so impressed by the burn that I swam to shore, waited for my big old Hobie board to wash ashore, and, literally, called it a summer. Oddly, the closest call I ever had was on a tender little five footer at a spot off of Honolulu called Ones and Twos. A soldier on R&R from Viet Nam, who had rented a board probably to go surf for the first time, kicked it my way while missing his take off. I spotted it zeroing in on my head, dove away and crashed into the coral reef.

My pal Teddy had already warned me that there were a lot of servicemen out on the breaks convinced surfing wasn’t so hard that it couldn’t be mastered in a day.

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Teaching Cartoons: Structure and Shifting

freewillor

shift-happens

bonus:

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Slow, Steady, and Permanent

Your half hour will be well spent in a close engagement with the thought of Mr. Varela.

Recovering Common Sense
The tacit assumption behind the varieties of cognitive realism (cognitivism, emergence, and the society of mind) has been that the world can be divided into regions of discrete elements and tasks. Cognition consists in problem solving, which must, if it is to be successful, respect the elements, properties, and relations within these pre-given regions.

This approach to cognition as problem solving works to some degree for task domains in which it is relatively easy to specify all possible states. Consider for example the game of chess. It is relatively easy to define the constituents of the “space of chess”: there are positions on the board, rules for movements, turns that are taken, and so on. The limits of this space are clearly defined; in fact, it is an almost crystalline world. It is not surprising, then, that chess playing by computer is an advanced art.

For less circumscribed or well-defined task domains, however, this approach has proved to be considerably less productive. Consider, for example, a mobile robot that is supposed to drive a car within a city. One can still single out in this “driving space” discrete items, such as wheels and windows, red lights, and other cars. But unlike the world of chessplaying, movement among objects is not a space that can be said to end neatly at some point. Should the robot pay attention to pedestrians or not? Should it take weather conditions into account? Or the country in which the city is located and its unique driving customs? Such a list of questions could go on forever. The driving world does not end at some point; it has the structure of ever-receding levels of detail that blend into a nonspecific back- ground. Indeed, successfully directed movement such as driving de- pends upon acquired motor skills and the continuous use of common sense or background know-how. (Chapter 8, The Embodied Mind)

Varela passed away in 2001. What would he think about self-driving cars, and self-navigating drones? On one hand, he would no doubt be impressed by the effective programming underlying the operational flexibility in such robotic machines. On the other hand he would have every reason to remind us about the inherent uncertainty in particular task domains.

Embodied Cognition Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Archive.org full text Francisco J. Varela, Evan T. Thompson, Eleanor Rosch The Embodied Mind Cognitive Science And Human Experience MIT Press (1993)

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Working Class or Just Playing

Stephen Calhoun, artist
Title: Working Class – workshop version

Workshop version is my term designating specific pieces to be ongoing, incomplete, in progress. The term is borrowed from Charles Mingus, who characterized his ensembles in the fifties to be The Charles Mingus Workshop because he wanted to highlight the ongoing process of collaborative creation.

My blogging tenacity is waning while I prepare pieces for an art show here in Cleveland early next year. None of my pieces, since they are digital art, are finished until they are produced at full size. The full size specification is realized when the pieces are printed to aluminum or archival acrylic on giant flatbed UV curable ink jet printers, (by my finisher VistaImage here in Cleveland.)

Before a piece is finalized and finished it goes from being a workshop piece to being the final piece in a closed edition.

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Syria, Remember Me

photo: Addison Independent

photo: Addison Independent

Deborah Felmeth married a Syrian man and lived a life with one foot in Vermont and another foot in Damascus, Syria. She taught music and movement and yoga in both places. Then, all hell broke loose. I don’t know the status of her husband’s family in Damascus three years into the terrible civil war.

A gifted photographer, she took pictures over the twenty or so years she lived in Syria half of every year. Her documentation provides an affirming gift of spirit amidst the tragedy of pride-induced violence, criminality, and nihilism.

Deborah’s video trailer (on Facebook) for the book is heart rending.

Syria, Remember Me (web site) | Facebook

Interview Coyote Network News

November 4, 2015 interview iTunes with Mike Smith (Vt. WDEV)

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Free Play Fan of the Year

David A. Kolb founder of Free Play Softball league

The votes are in: Dave’s mom wins the Free Play Softball League’s Fan of the Year Award for the first year in a row.

She is coming out to Field #11 late in the season to see us bolt together games with nine to twelve players. With the reduced forces, we play what we term ‘half field.’ Everybody gets a lot of plate appearances. Dave’s mom has seen it all by now. I wonder what she thinks?

The Free Play Softball League has been greatly advantaged by the new diamond and the fact that the conversion of the main Forest Hills open field to four diamonds has kept the pee wee footballers and soccer players off the turf. The weather has been great too: two rainouts, 27 games played, and only the specter of snow next Sunday threatening to keep Dave’s mom cozy in her home.

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Contexting

DIFFUSION from Kouhei Nakama on Vimeo.

Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy,
absentminded. Someone sober
will worry about things going badly.
Let the lover be.

version of Rumi by Coleman Barks

Years ago at a workshop South African composer and instrumentalist Abdullah Ibrahim asked the class,

What makes the music?

Nobody had a ready answer in a classroom full of musicians. Dr. Ibrahim went on to challenge the class about the nature of the so-called instrument. What is it, really?

I also recall Alan Watts asserting:

What the planet earth does is: people. It peoples.

For my own part, I’m all over the idea that what we do in making partial sense of what we are doing with where we are at, is neatly addressed by the conception of:

interfacing contexting


Stephen Nachmanovitch’s Youtube channel

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Mindscapes

Learning to Dance In Bali from Fabio Peres on Vimeo.

heterogenistics | Professor Magoroh Maruyama

Endogeneous research::Research done by “objective” researchers coming from the outside suffers from several problem such as epistemological, cultural and social prejudices, misunderstanding due to different background and experiences etc. Endogeneous reseach on the other hand is research conducted by “people on the inside” i.e. people with an understanding of the social and cultural codes that exist in the community studied.

Mindscapes::A structure of reasoning, cognition, perception, conceptualization. design, planning, and decision making that may vary from one individual, profession, culture or social group to another.

Mindscapes (Epistemological Types)

H-type I-type S-type G-type
homogenist heterogenist heterogenist heterogenist
hierarchial independent interactive interactive
classificational random pattern-maintaining pattern-generating
copetitive uniquing cooperative cogenerative
zero-sum negative-sum positive-sum positive-sum
opposition separation absorbtion outbreeding
one truth subjective poly-ocular poly-ocular
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Transcendental Semiosis

clearedup

“In many respects, this trinity agrees with the Christian trinity: indeed I am nor aware that there are many points of disagreement. The interpretant is evidently the Divine Logos or word; and if our former guess that a Reference to an interpretant is Paternity be right, this would also be the Son of God. The ground, being that partaking of which is requisite to any communication with the Symbol, corresponds in its function to the Holy Spirit.”

(C.S. Peirce, Lowell Lecture XI, 1866, 503, The Essential C.S. Peirce)

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Free Play Spears

Can Free Play Softball League outlast The World Series?

Can Free Play Softball League outlast The World Series?

But full of fire and greedy hardiment,
The youthfull knight could not for ought be staide,
But forth unto the darksome hole he went,
And looked in: his glistring armor made
A litle glooming light, much like a shade,
By which he saw the ugly monster plaine,
Halfe like a serpent horribly displaide,
But th’other halfe did womans shape retaine,
Most lothsom, filthie, foule, and full of vile disdaine.

excerpt, Spenser. The Faerie Queene Book 1

Larry, 78, brought (I think) his grandson, eight grader Spencer to join us today.

He flailed away in batting practice and in his first at bat. I suppose he discovered his hardball game didn’t automatically translate to our more mild field.

But when she saw the knight his speare advaunce, 120
She soone left off her mirth and wanton play,
And bade her knight addresse him to the fray:
His foe was nigh at hand.

Then he kept his head down, held his spear more lightly, and slew a bunch of dragons.

It still turned into another, yawn, one run game 13-12 for one of the teams, or the other team. Somebody won.

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Lin Batsheva Kahn – Attach and Leap

I met Lin at a party in 1999. It was one of those moments where a kind of mini mind-meld took place. She, like me, isn’t much for small talk, and, we both share the ability to small talk our way into more fascinating conversations. We did so.

We’ve been in dialog ever since, nowadays speaking every few weeks over Facetime. We discuss together psychology, creativity, and (what I term) the exigencies of moral relations.

She’s a great, deeply humanist, adjunct professor of dance at DePaul University. In 2014, Lin was named Jewish Chicagoan of the Year. She founded and is the director of the Tikvah Company, her dance outfit in Chicago.

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Hey, I Felt That!

23 Emotions People Feel But Can't Explain

At first, I didn’t check out the origins of this list. It is, for me, a curious collection of folk psychological notions. It includes radically non-normative associations between a conjured term, and, several varieties of explanatory material. I looked up the last term and discovered the source, a literary project roosting on Tumblr.

The definitions include many that are aspirational, and this echoes Antonio Damasio below, when he says: “…exercising that prerogative” and goes on to describe the focal consciousness of concentrated human performance.

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