Category Archives: visual experiments, my art

Questioned, Again

Stephen Calhoun, cleveland ohio photographer artist

Oh Good Party has published this month an interview with yours truly, artist Stephen Calhoun.

(Oh Good Party is art advisory and art concierge providing services to their private group of asian collectors, some in Canada, most in China. They invited me to be the second American artist to join their roster of artists.)

On my own website there is an extensive Q&A too.

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One Life to Live

artist Stephen Calhoun

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

by Mary Oliver

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Legacy Art Works #11 Sleep / Falling Away / In the Dream Territory

Stephen Cal

(2011) Sleep / Falling Away / In the Dream Territory

Legacy Art Works 1993-2012

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Lesson Ideas

Every day is a god, each day is a god, and holiness holds forth in time. I worship each god, I praise each day splintered down, and wrapped in time like a husk, a husk of many colors spreading, at dawn fast over the mountains split. (Annie Dillard)

The fundamental premise of alchemy is that there are precise correspondences between the visible and invisible worlds, the worlds of matter and spirit, inner and outer, heaven and earth.

Stephen Calhoun artist cleveland ohio

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Fission and Fusion

Stephen Calhoun Cleveland Ohio USA photographer

Cleveland artist Gary Dumm noted that I’m engaged with infinite possibilities, and this is true enough, especially in that I allow an expansive ‘ecology’ to contribute mightily to my creative process. ‘Allow’ and ‘Contribute’ conceal aspects of process which are not under my control.

All three of these pieces use an identical Mandelbrot fractal filtered into a tessellation, or, sparked into an “interesting phenomena.”

TW-Manual-Soul-Massager,-Horizontal-&-Vertical-Axis(1200px)2017-Stephen-CAlhoun

Gregory Bateson: What has happened is that the use of a system of geometric met­ aphor has enormously facilitated understanding of how the mechanical trick comes to be a rule or regularity. More important, the student has been made aware of the contrast between applying a trick and under­standing the necessity of truth behind the trick. And still more impor­tant, the student has, perhaps unwittingly, had the experience of the leap from talking arithmetic to talking about arithmetic. Not numbers but numbers of numbers.

TW-ROLLING-&-TUMBLING-48x48(2017)Stephen-Calhoun-Cleveland-Ohio-USA

Gregory Bateson: “We are searching for criteria whereby we can recognize those traits that are appropriate candidates for ongoing truth in the hurly­ burly of evolutionary process.”

. . .cybernetic inflection of aesthetics?

Gregory Bateson: “Interesting phenomena occur when two or more rhythmic pat­terns are combined, and these phenomena illustrate very aptly the en­richment of information that occurs when one description is combined with another. In the case of rhythmic patterns, the combination of two such patterns will generate a third. Therefore, it becomes possible to in­vestigate an unfamiliar pattern by combining it with a known second pattern and inspecting the third pattern which they together generate.” both excerpts from Mind and Nature. A Sacred Unity.

artiststephencalhoun.com

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Legacy Art Works #9 Graph

Graph13.5x10
GRAPH 14×11″ Digital Art

fortuitous (adj.) via etymonline
1650s, from Latin fortuitus “happening by chance, casual, accidental,” from forte “by chance,” ablative of fors “chance” (related to fortuna; see fortune). It means “accidental, undesigned” not “fortunate.” Earlier in this sense was fortuit (late 14c.), from French. Related: Fortuitously; fortuitousness.

There’s no explaining why a possibility pops up in the head, so-to-speak. This art work from 2012 was created by my deciding to follow an idea. But the idea itself just came from following another idea: I got to looking at raw generative images at very extreme close-up. In a sense I wondered, What is down there?

In 2012, I was using built-in video screen recording to capture generative streams, and, then, inspecting the frames of the recording. I would save frames that seemed interesting. But, I rarely inspected the frames closely. One day I zoomed in on a 72dpi frame. I realized that parts of frames might be interesting in their own right.

I also understood that this presented an endless possibility because there might be interesting areas in otherwise rejected screens. I decided to do an experiment and just take one interesting clip of a frame and take it through the creative process.

To do this I enlarged the clip by resampling it and increasing the pixels-per-inch. But then I did something not in the experimental workflow. I zoomed into the denser, resampled image. What I saw was the raw bones of Graph.

I took the clip of a clip and did some manipulating for the sake of accentuating its painterly qualities. This was the last zoom and resample image I ever produced.

More Legacy Art works 1993-2013

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A Magic Trick: Explain By Creating

In trickster’s case, how did mental fakery come to replace incarnate fakery?

It is one thing for trypanosomes to change their skins; another for Raven to become a leaf floating in spring water; another still for storytellers to have imagined Raven in the first place, or for one of us to reimagine him. Before picking these strands apart, however, we should remember that the mythology itself asks us to confuse them. Coyote stories point to coyotes teaching about the mind, the stories themselves look to predator-prey relationships for the birth of cunning. These myths suggest that blending natural history and mental phenomena is not an unthinkable conflation, but on the contrary, an accurate description of the way things are. To learn about intelligence from Coyote the meat thief is to know that we are embodied thinkers. If the brain has cunning, it has it as a consequence of appetite; the blood that lights the mind gets its sugars from the gut.
-Lewis Hyde, Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art.

Creating Is Explaining

in Jonas, see (*) below

The subject becomes a game that hides through and in his cause from his cause, the (external) precondition laying bare the (internal) foundation. – Julie Kristeva

FB-Wild-Dialog

The tracking that any [image] instrumentalizes is an adventure that is always immediate, happening now, registering the dynamics of belief.

(adapted, substituting |image| for |text|) via, -Elaine Jahner, “Trickster Discourse and Postmodern Strategies.”)

Stephen Calhoun, Cleveland artist experimental photographer

The Jester (2016) Stephen Calhoun

“Play around with it, intentionally.” That would be the clue. I’m wandering around the following: participation, experience of art, play, cleverest trick.

If you could give up tricks and cleverness, this would be the cleverest trick! (version of Rumi, John LeMoyne)

An example of a clever trick in the experience of art is any expert critical opinion that is by (socially-constructed) necessity blinded to, unbounded from, the actuality of the embodied knowing which emerges from consciousness being aware and present as a matter of experiencing art, or, experiencing any ‘scene,’ so-to-speak.

Opinions like this are like standing at the end of the diving board and not wanting to dive in.


Do playful systems know that they play? [pdf]
Michael Straeubig, Plymouth University
The Philosophy of Computer Games Conference, Malta 2016

From autopoiesis to neurophenomenology: Francisco Varela’s exploration of the biophysics of being [pdf]
Antoine Lutz, et al 2003

Toward a neurophenomenology as an account of generative passages: A first empirical case study [pdf]
Antoine Lutz
LENA – Neurosciences Cognitives et Imagerie Cérébrale 2002

(*) A cybernetic model of design research: Towards a trans-domain 1 of knowing
Wolfgang Jonas, The Routledge Companion to Design Research 2014

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Working Away From the Center


Family Synergy Mandala(Stephen Calhoun)

Virgins with T-squares
and compasses, guarding
the heavenly blackboards.

And the angel of numbers
reflective, flying
from the 1 to the 2, from the 2
to the 3, from 3 to the 4.

Dead chalk and sponges
rule and erase
the light of the heavens.

Not the sun, moon or stars,
not the sudden green flash
of the lines and the lightning,
nor the air. Only haze.

Virgins without T-squares,
without compasses, weeping.

And on the dead blackboards,
the angel of numbers,
lifeless, laid out
on the 1 and the 2
on the 3, and the 4…

(The Angel of Numbers, Rafael Alberti, translated by Jerome Rothenberg)

The First Snow, Ever(Stephen Calhoun)

Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is: Formation, Transformation, Eternal Mind’s eternal recreation. And that is the self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious, but which cannot tolerate self-deceptions. (Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams and Reflections)

FB-Quiet-Window-Mandala-Film

So you see, in a moment during a patient’s treatment when there is a great disorder and chaos in a man’s mind, the symbol can appear, as in the form of a mandala in a dream, or when he makes imaginary and fantastical drawings, or something of the sort. (Carl Jung)

TW-Loosening-Mandla-I-Stephen-Calhoun

A mandala spontaneously appears as a compensatory archetype during times of disorder. (Carl Jung) [h/t carljungdepthpsychology.wordpress.com]

There are four notes, (suppose these to be notes-to-self,) that come all the way up and to the center when I reflect on why it is that the mandala has taken over my creative practice.

These are simple notes too, and these represent the starkest capture.

(1) Depressed at the rise of Trump and nihilist Trumpism.

(2) Demoralized at the failure to satisfactorily meet my worldly obligations.

(3) Understand the inner order reflected in the enthusiasm for manifesting mandalas is only a potential reordering, and the proof of this is in the outer disorder.

(4) Unhappy and tired in the wake of the sharp arrivals due to the constant processes of death and loss that have struck over the past years.

I wear my depression very lightly. Optimistic. Youthful outlook.

My contemplative practice is the first balancing act. I note my creative agency is powerful too, yet, I haven’t a clue as to what is going on, except to distrust to a niggling degree that I am on the right track. I have to suppose this distrust of my own creativity is something to work through at this rather early yet auspicious juncture. This has nothing to do with my personal qualification of my creative product, it has to do with what this feels like in the context of outer disorder. It comes as no surprise that powerful inner motives are working me over a bit at the expense of outer order.

There is in this a fraught paradox: betwixt the rush and rushing forward of inspiration and ideas, and, the yet to be shaped command to, in actuality, set this aside for the purpose of getting the house in order.

FB-Mandala-Five-One-Fifty---ExLg-Urban-install-(Stephen-Calhoun)

The energetic aspect is clear enough to me. After all, I am not painting mandalas or setting fine grains of sand to a blueprint. Once the mathematics clicked for me, the opportunity presented itself fully: there are all sorts of archival photographs which may lend themselves to manipulation. These photos now come up again to be resuscitated.

(One image in this post presents how this is done.)

Still, am I creating mandalas? What is coming up and out seem to me reductions too, and also pieces symbolize eyes and sphincters. The images that consist of patterns of concentric circles nevertheless are unitary objects. Also, the direction of experimentation already is disrupting the simple concentricity.

Severity Mandala

Yes, creating mandalas is soothing. It occurs to me also that this is of a piece with my artistic mission, and, this also puts in 2nd order cybernetic relations a deeper aspect of the kitschy facile gimmicks I am employing as propositions in various visual experiments. Those relations are about learning.

As for my own psyche, I’m waiting for the dream. The only dream that recently arrived was optimistic, and this seemed to me its fault.

A magical, sacred, and perfected environment of the Buddha, which
denotes the order and harmony of an enlightened mind, and built on their
perfect wisdom. The purified circle of an enlightened being, an environment
wherein the endless compassion of the enlightened one is expressed.”
(C.G. Jung: ‘Mandala Symbolism’)

Oh, there’s this–see its opening and conclusion:

Theoretical Foundation for Jung’s “Mandala Symbolism”
Based on Discrete Chaotic Dynamics of Interacting Neurons
Vladimir Gontar (International Group for Chaos Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel)

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Legacy Art Post #4 – Why I Am Not Camping Tonight

Why I'm Not Camping Tonight

That this piece jumped out of the generative stream and its title was discovered immediately makes it a fitting post on the cusp of halloween.

My non-mirror symmetry Legacy Art in the old artist’s blog are having their links archived at the Legacy Art Page.

My curation of my current catalogue of finished symmetry pieces is available at artiststephencalhoun.com.

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Legacy Art Post #3 – A Green Man

A-Green-Man-12x12

A Green Man 12×12″ Stephen Calhoun 2013

A Green Man (2013)

The journey of Moses with his servant Joshua is a life­journey (it lasted eighty years). They grow old together and lose the life-force, i.e., the fish, which “in wondrous wise took its way to the sea” (setting of the sun). When the two notice their loss, they discover at the place where the source of life is found (where the dead fish revived and sprang into the sea) Khidr wrapped in his mantle,48 sitting on the ground. In another version he was sitting on an island in the midst of the sea, “in the wettest place on earth,” which means that he had just been born from the maternal depths. Where the fish van­ished Khidr, the Verdant One, was born as a “son of the watery deep,” his head veiled, proclaiming divine wisdom, like the Babylonian Oannes-Ea (cf. fig. 18), who was represented in form and daily came out of the sea as a fish to teach the people wisdom. (pp 197-198, C.G.Jung, Symbols of Transformation)

CF 18 p199

CF 18 p199

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Success & the Infinite

Stephen-Calhoun--work-under-inspection

SUCCESS AND THE INFINITE
(originally published on LinkedIn)

The following question was pitched my way recently: how long does it take you to produce a finished piece of art?

Obviously there can only be a generalized answer to this question. On average. . .

The query motivated me to consider how long different steps take, to break the total time down, even if the exercise ends up a matter of estimating an average or mean time.

But, soon enough, being a systems’ thinker, my reflection wandered toward more vague territories, and then into territories where concepts such as interval, or beginning-and-end, come to be defeated close to the outset.

Back up from the moment of one of your own greatest successes. If someone asked you, ‘how long did it take you to produce this success?’ what would go into your answer?

My own reflection on this question-and, for me, a produced art work is always a moment of great success–wandered soon into intriguing considerations which take into account crucial aspects that tend to break apart mere regard for the time interval mechanical elements required.

I’m going to mention a few aspects. Before I do so, my hope is you’ll do a short exercise and reconsider an example in your own life under the light of the following different lenses.

An aspect of any success clearly is defined by all the learning from experience, and, learning from mistakes. If asked how long something took, do we usually sever from our consideration all most necessary but unplanned prior preparations?

Similarly, how much of a time factor in a great success is all of our formal and informal training?

When I turn to the fact of inspiration, and so turn to the genesis of a great success, and consider its origin and the starting point given long before this success was assured, I cannot help but be impressed by how discrete time is inadequate to the task of measuring inspiration.

My brightest ideas emerged from an unfolding story and its colorful conditions. This becomes doubly impressive if we then regard the nature of inspiration to have been a collaborative effort and see, then, a streaming of stories, and, conditions about conditions, all unfolding through a kind of mysterious coordination until these flex and fulminate together into the emergent a-ha, and, up and out comes the bright idea. Tell me, how long did this take?

I next bring into resolution the aspect of the spontaneously fortuitous contingency, what we of course better know as serendipity, and instantly the inadequacy of even the concept of intervalic time, is defeated. At this point our greatest success is seen to be an aspect of an almost cosmic element of lucky timing, of not only being in the right time and place in the concrete sense, but in the right time and place in the sense of an ecology of timing and various places, and, grooved by precedents both planned and unplanned.

Finally, look at the relational genealogy of a success. This is what is meant by the trope, standing on the shoulders of giants. This element is woven into serendipity too, because if we track a success backward in time to where its eventual subject is founded in the past by our: interest, or obsession, or mission, or capability, it is inevitable that we will see these centering commitments to have themselves a founding story. Very often the creation story in the background of our future devotion starts with the happiest of accidents. Those accidents land us: in the right community, around the right people, bring us to our mentors/teachers/guides, with the supporting partner, living amidst the most terrific, and helpful, neighbors, colleagues.

We also see that we can no more separate out from our current success, any of these required prior successes, and failures, and, any small yet required learning, and any chance yet required encounter or precedent.

So it is a web of relationships comes to the front and center, in our regard of what was required for this small or major success. The genealogical current defies both time itself and timing. It provides the awesome “just so” in the deep background of every success.

Yes, one should count themselves a little bit lucky, or maybe, a lot lucky, to stand at the apex of a great success. You and your great success are at the summit of an iceberg, whereas the hidden, necessary, contingent assembly of elements cannot be temporally measured.

To rephrase a Zen aphorism for my purposes here:

the infinite is in the finite of every success

– – – – – – – – – –

|| Stephen Calhoun’s creative successes are being exhibited in a one man show of his photographic and generative art work, The Grasp of Order, at The Gallery At Gray’s, 10717 Detroit Ave – through September 30. open 9/24 noon-4pm – open during the work week, call 216-226-3300 for hours.

galleryatgrays.com
artiststephencalhoun.com

 

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Observers

FB-Stephen-Calhoun-African Alchemy Totem #3-48x72

All of us are watchers–of television, of time clocks, of traffic on the freeway–but few are observers. Everybody is looking, not many are seeing. P.M. Leschak)

The Gallery At Gray’s is located on the west side about 30 minutes from where I live in Cleveland Heights. Over the past five months my one man show, The Grasp of Order, has been installed, I haven’t spent very much time hanging out at the gallery. Yet, I did so on Saturday.

I knew some friends were going to stop in, and, I hoped some complete strangers would also drop in too. Several of this latter type did indeed stop in and the encounters were both gratifying and edifying.

Certainly, I like to talk about my work and creative processes, but I much more enjoy hearing people tell me about their experience with my experiential art work.

My art works, by intention and by design, provide open ended opportunities for experiencing their effect, rather than for deciphering their import. My work doesn’t enjoin any authoritative import at all.

Laura and Gary Dumm are longtime, well known, Cleveland artists; and their collaboration includes being married. I didn’t know them. However, in a rather audacious act of social media hunting and gathering I started to request connections to artists and others–for which Facebook reported to me numerous mutual friends.

As a consequence, the Dumms showed up at the gallery. This affirmed my social media move was worthwhile. What great people, what a pair!

Gary Dumm wrote this later on FB:

Today Laura and I stopped by Grey’s Auction House to view the large digitally enhanced photographic works of Stephen Calhoun. They are, in general, mind-blowing: a symphonic collection of the debris and detritus of nature and civilization restructured by the artist in such a way that these supposedly dead things dance energetically. Simpler designs are mandala-like. Some (like the attached image) appear as Bosch and Bruegel inspired dreams while others vibrate, figures destroying and reforming themselves as in the “Matrix” movies. To me they are pictures of the dancing Wu Li masters, where physics meets mysticism: all is energy, and nothing is ever lost.

Dummart

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Artist Stephen Calhoun

artiststephencalhoun

My new web site features my art, art based in symmetries and surprise. It’s live today!

ARTISTSTEPHENCALHOUN.COM

I’ll be highlighting some of its features over the next few days and on twitter.

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One Sided Dream

Sea dream by Stephen Calhoun

Sea Dream (Stephen Calhoun)

There is so much of theoretical and practical interest in supposing that art, artistry, and the artistic experience, transcend most, if not all, the closely defended normative socio-cultural-philosophical perspectives about WHAT IS ART? that what I would term “platform issues” become hidden away almost from the get-go.

Google’s Deep Dream platform embeds bizarre animalistic features in uploaded images. Because Google rolls out Deep Dream with a lot of cultural force, the new creative platform receives a huge amount of attention.

Meanwhile, Leonardo Solaas’s Dreamlines (2005-2014) and Doodl (2010-2016), neither of which are one-tricksters like Deep Dream, received almost no attention. Except, there is a creative sub-culture concerned with computer-generated and computer-assisted art. It has been around for fifty years. The first computer-generated art dates back to the sixties. This came to be a movement but, such so-called machine art remains a sub-culture as against what is termed New Media. And, oddly, Digital Art has come to be the catch-all term for anything that is unacceptably ‘facile;’ and so it is that an absurd dividing line has been etched.

gate dream

Gate Dream (Stephen Calhoun) 2016

Can Google’s Deep Dream become an art machine?

“Deep Dream was never about the aesthetics for me,” says Akten, a fine artist and PhD candidate at Goldsmiths University in London. Instead he was impressed by the way the machine learning manages to mimic and interact with human visual perception.

“It might look like Deep Dream is generating say, sparrow’s faces in clouds, but what it is actually doing is generating patterned noise, which our brains try to find meaning in.” Akten. “It creates just enough of a sparrow’s head in a cloud, so that our brains find the rest. Visually, our minds and Deep Dream are doing exactly the same thing. It’s such a perfect mirror. I love that conceptual aspect.”

“which our brains try to find meaning in.”
Palm slap! But, our brains aren’t finding, our brains are composing.

law dream

The Law Dream (Stephen Calhoun) 2016

Because Google Deep Dream traffics in its single trick, and the results are almost always grotesque, it isn’t an appealing tool. Where there is zero control, the end product is not one I really want to see! Still, the above piece intrigues me and likely will be my last creative word, or image, using the GDD facility.

Setting aside the usual prejudices of artists who think any manipulation of pixels is, (for lack of a better all-encompassing term,) decadent, the fundamental expansion of facility provided by processing power, whether it is a Photoshop plug-in or a one-trick neural network, or, advanced repainting as is the case with Processing apps, and Python/Java driven search and manipulation, plus all the other “facile” application platforms, at a minimum reveals possibilities which are not otherwise available.

Add to this elements of trial-and-error, serendipity, and under-determination, and new media techniques put a ton of pressure on, for example, the social and hermeneutic theories, theories which are concerned with masterful individual artistic projections of intentionality within social-historical contexts. I have a lot to assert about all of this from the perspective of a creative person leveraging other person’s programming innovation for the sake of producing visual experiences, and, producing art.

Ironically, Google’s Deep Dream is a play-toy when it is compared with software, the brilliant browser interfaces of Leonardo Solaas, Dreamlines, and the Doodl dashboard (2010-2016,) and, a handful of unique iPad apps. I used the Doodl dashboard to help me create most of my generative art work between 2014-2015.  See: Sun Ra In Heaven (2015).

 

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Chaotic Fringe

Stephen Calhoun, artist, Cleveland Heights Ohio

Musical Fugue State (2016) 24×15

The first piece for which it became clear to me that my preoccupation with turning complex disordered scenes into orderly presentations of overt and covert patterns could echo, in a striking way, the renaissance paintings of the Family Brueghel, was working through cuts of the photograph that became the basis for Paired Observations. This dates from June 2015.

The Battle of Carnival of Lent, Pieter Bruegel the Younger, is a favorite of mine.

The Battle of Carnival and Lent

Hustle and bustle unfolded in the streaming of life. . . Carnival v. Lent! Chaos v. Order!

The Bruegel Collection at
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

List of Pieter the Older/the Younger paintings:
(more…)

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Heck of a Trip

heck 48x36" (2016)

Heck 48×36″ (2016)

Hieronymus Bosch, The Garden of Earthly Delights – interactive tour

Noah Charney’s Salon article, Why Bosch’s Hell feels so real: The answers lie in Freud, Jung and the humble cronut. On the 500th anniversary of the painter’s death, we examine why this specific vision of eternal damnation endures, is too much a jumble to be very sharp, especially given the subject matter, nevertheless, he presents much that is of interest.

As an artist with one foot in the psychedelic/surreal and the other in the phenomenology/psychology of experience, his most personally pertinent point is:

Liminal zones or beings occupy the narrow space between two opposites, a bit of both, wholly neither.

Or beings! For me, there is a lot of pointed, and necessary, wordplay wrapped up in what for Howard was likely an innocent comment.

Be in is the most prominent play. The meeting of being also comes to mind.

Charney:

What people most remember (so vividly that a toned-down version featured in a children’s book, “Pish Posh Said Hieronymus Bosch”) are his hybrid creatures in which he linked two animals, or an animal and a human: a fish with legs, a dog with an armadillo’s back, a leopard with a rhinoceros horn, a rabbit with porcupine quills. These figures, often peripheral to the main subject of the painting, are what ingrain in the mind: disturbing, haunting, but with a childlike macabre playfulness. They embody the uncanny, which is defined as “strange or mysterious, especially in an unsettling way.” They can make you smile and send a shiver down your spine. These are uncanny, liminal creatures.

Bosch’s universe strikes us that much more deeply because we recognize the otherworldly tableaux that he paints. It is the world of our dreams: part nightmare, part fantasy. Our dreams are, themselves, liminal (our mind is awake and wanders while our body sleeps) and are full of Freud’s unheimlich. Dreams can be fantastic (but feel real) or realistic with interjecting unreal fantasy elements. Thus the dream state, and its contents, are both liminal.

It is crucial to add: “embody the uncanny” is necessarily a two-way operation of consciousness. This ‘twoness’ engages the liminal dichotomy. This instantiates the fourness which reveals a crossing between the poles of the uncanny liminal opposites and the uncanny revelation provided by psyche becoming wed to its depiction outside of its embodied self.

Unfortunately, Charney makes a hash of the projective operations of psyche in his serial deployment of Freud, Jung, Klein, and Lacan, for the sake of psychologizing this, in my terms, fourness. Heck, Bosch existed in his own explicit context, a context prior to psychology yet completely enveloped by Christianity!

Bosch’s originality must be traced back to its own questions of “origins.” Bosch himself thematized creativity on the grisaille exterior (fig. 2) of the Garden of Earthly Delights triptych, where he shows the original creation ex nihilo, as described in Genesis, by the Creator himself. Those scholars, including myself, who see Bosch’s painted demons as an innovative watershed in the history of Netherlandish painting note that they remain his signal inventions, especially connected to his recurring novel visions of the afterlife.

Yet this particular originality of Bosch derives from ultimate origins: God’s Creation and the Garden of Eden. Bosch was motivated by the problem of evil, particularly the origins of evil in the world; therefore, in order to trace his own originality, we must go still farther back in time, even to the moment before the advent of humanity, Adam and then Eve, to examine his frequent fascination with the Fall of the Rebel Angels. For Bosch the problems of humanity began with the origin of evil, and his representations show clearly and consistently that evil already exists in the Garden of Eden, to provide temptation for Adam and Eve. Therefore, to get a proper sense of Bosch’s creative impetus, we must first look directly into the face of Satan, by tracing his own origin: his fall from grace and divine favor in heaven, transforming him from his former angelic identity as Lucifer (or light-bearer.) (2009) Larry Silver, Jheronimus Bosch and the Issue of Origins, Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art (v1.1)

The Esoteric Bosch – The Garden of Earthly Delights commentaries by Lee van Laer

One of my first series of visual experiments using mirror symmetries subjected Bosch and the Flemish Breughels to remixing.

garden-music

More recently, came a sort-of, hommage to Bosch.

Bosch In the Orient (2016) 16x16

Bosch In the Orient (2016) 16×16

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Feeling It With Integrity

Practically the theory of effort amounts to nothing. When a child feels that his work is a task, it is only under compulsion that he gives himself to it. At the least let-up of external pressure we find his attention at once directed to what interests him. The child brought up on the basis of the theory of effort simply acquires marvelous skill in appearing to be occupied with an uninteresting subject, while the real heart and core of his energies are otherwise engaged. Indeed, the theory contradicts itself, (it is psychologically impossible to call forth any activity without some interest. ) The theory of effort simply substitutes one interest for another. It substitutes the impure interest of fear of the teacher or hope of future reward for pure interest in the material presented. The type of character induced is that illustrated by Emerson at the beginning of his essay on Compensation, where he holds up the current doctrine of compensation as virtually implying that, if you only sacrifice yourself enough now, you will get to indulge yourself a great deal more in the future ; or, if you are only good now (goodness consisting in attention to what uninteresting,) you will have, at some future time, a great many more pleasing interests — that is, may then be bad. -John Dewey, Interest As Related to Will, 1895

Art and Aesthetics – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Art As Experience – Having An experience pdf (John Dewey)
Dewey and Everyday Aesthetics – A New Look (Kalle Puolakka)

Second hand observations suggest that some people do walk up to my art and try to figure out what it going on, (as I have described this,) in its folds.

This is by design. The design method is straight-forward. I cut into an original photograph or generative image that pictures a heap of small abstract, or mostly abstract, multivarious details, and, through the simple transformations provided by throwing half the cut out, doubling or quadrupling the remaining part, and then matching the identical edges together, I capture order and set this into the new picture.

What is produced is a vertical, or horizontal, or quadruple, mirror symmetry, and, order. My hope is there come to face a piece a viewer able to experience the piece in integrity.

. . .esthetic experience is experience in its integrity. Had not the term “pure” been so often abused in philosophic literature, had it not been so often employed to suggest that there is something alloyed, impure, in the very nature of experience and to denote something beyond experience, we might say that esthetic experience is pure experience. For it is experience freed from the forces that impede and confuse its development as experience; freed, that is, from factors that subordinate an experience as it is directly had to something beyond itself. -John Dewey, Art As Experience (hat tip to Daniel Green, The Reading Experience)

If I’m standing with you, facing a piece, the possibility of having a pure experience will be fouled up! For me, now by both design and artistic intention, the best outcome for my experiments is a viewer’s dosie-doe, first is the pure experience, then comes the unique capture, or grasp of order.

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Standing Alone

Staring Down the Old Problem (2016)

Staring Down the Old Problem (2016)

A Human Circuit (2015)

A Human Circuit (2015)

While I develop and refine my artistic style based in mirror symmetries, I also (more casually) produce creative works which fall outside the outsider’s symmetry box. I stash these pieces in a folder: [STANDALONE] I produce a handful every year–most reflect happy accidents.

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Double Rolls

artist.stephen.calhoun

artist.stephen.calhoun on Instagram features pieces characterized by their not being in either of my catalogues.

CubeOProbe2

The above Cube-O-Probe reflects the reverse side of the Cube-O-Probe rolled December 31, 2015. The latter probe was used as novel data for a contemplation about How Best to Work With a New Team. The reverse sides given in a single roll are, potentially, no less valuable. However, I don’t use this so-called double roll often because of the challenge posed by too much random data.

I usually get around to the double roll. In this case I waited sixty days. The roll reminds me of a Sufi hot tip: keep it clean.

The Grasp of Order – Stephen Calhoun
recent photographic and generative art

The Gallery at Gray’s Auctioneers
10717 Detroit Ave
Cleveland, Ohio
M-F 10-5p
otherwise open by appointment
216 226-3300

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Remedios Varo

In the previous post I mentioned my being turned, by a serendipitous contact’s suggestion, toward the artistry of Remedios Varo. It was my good fortune to find the two most important books of her work at The Cleveland Public Library.

The Magic of Remedios Varo – Luis-Martin Lozano (2000) – National Museum of Women In the Arts
Remedios Varo: The Mexican Years – Masayo Nonaka (2012) – Editorial RM

Remedios Varo (December 16, 1908 – October 8, 1963) was a Spanish-Mexican surrealist painter. She was born in Anglés Cataluña, Spain in 1908 and died from a heart-attack in Mexico City in 1963. During the Spanish Civil War she fled to Paris where she was largely influenced by the surrealist movement. She met in Barcelona the french surrealist poet Benjamin Péret and became his wife. She was forced into exile from Paris during the Nazi occupation of France and moved to Mexico City at the end of 1941. She initially considered Mexico a temporary haven, but would remain in Latin America for the rest of her life.

In Mexico she met native artists such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. However, her strongest ties would be to other exiles and expatriates, and especially her extraordinary friendship with the English painter Leonora Carrington. Her last major relationship would be with Walter Gruen, an Austrian who had endured concentration camps before escaping Europe. Gruen believed fiercely in Varo, and gave her the support that allowed her to fully concentrate on her painting.

After 1949 Varo developed into her mature and remarkable style, which remains beautifully enigmatic and instantly recognizable. She often worked in oil on masonite panels she prepared herself. Although her colors have the blended resonance of the oil medium, her brushwork often involved many fine strokes of paint laid closely together – a technique more reminiscent of egg tempera. She died at the height of her career.

Her work continues to achieve successful retrospectives at major sites in Mexico and the United States. (Wikipedia)

Well worth your time:

REMEDIOS VARO: Round Table Discussion Part 1 – Hosted by Frey Norris Contemporary & Modern, San Francisco from Gallery Wendi Norris on Vimeo.

(My own art is sometimes very surreal, but, my artistic outlook is not intentionally surrealistic. The surrealism sometimes evident in some of my pieces results from the meta-aesthetic given by my creative aspiration, in its aim to provide a praxis for the viewer. This experience is instantiated by a combination of chance visual elements, underdetermination, symmetry, complexity, and, the aspect that most supports ‘surreality,’ occulted patterns/forms/symbols/shapes/faces/masks/beings. However, this occultation is, overwhelmingly, not a matter of my choosing what is to be hidden.)

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