Monthly Archives: May 2012

Cosmological


“Cosmological” is one of
several collaborative multimedia works, I’ve been doing with Pery Burge, who is
working as artist in residence in the Thermofluids Lab in the College of
Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, at the University of Exeter in
the UK. We have been sharing files over the Net and building the works through
a series of file transfers and Internet communications.

Working this way,
collaboratively on the Net, offers new opportunities for transcendence, which
is one reason for making art and also one of the things that helps
to make life worth living. When artists move beyond the boundaries of familiar aesthetic
practice and experience a larger sense of unity and identity, by means of
collaborative aesthetic work, the spirit of transcendence and the exhilaration
of new creation becomes a palpable part of the experience.

For me, working with
sound and music as art material is exhilarating in itself. It was even more
fulfilling to see Pery interpret the soundscape into her own evocative imagery.
Her visualization of the pacing and narrative structure of the piece gave me a
new way of experiencing my own work.

I think Pery says it
very well in her Chronoscapes blog:
‘Cosmological’
is a new collaborative piece by Tullio DeSantis and myself. The music is by
Tullio – its mood and atmosphere, characterised by an underlying raw energy,
influencing my choice of imagery, where formative elemental processes are seen
at work. The inexorable quality to the music put me in mind of witnessing a
slice of cosmic events, of actually being there. Assembly and disassembly …
matter forming into planets and then fragmenting into particles; fluctuating
between the two processes – zooming in and out again; also alternating between
the whole and parts of it; diving into the planets to see what lies beneath
their surface.

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Create Life

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I am republishing this here, by request, with a new image, a new title, and some changes to the text.

*Creativity occurs in the present

moment. Living creatively, your life becomes a work of art – a consciously
crafted movement of aesthetic energy in which you are guided by a positive
feeling of inspiration, rather than by impulses intended to negate a sense of
inadequacy. Acting in the present is, by definition, acting creatively. The
present moment is itself an act of creation. Without the limitations of the
past, your full human potential is available.

What you notice when you observe
your thoughts is that they are disordered, random, often negative
and defeatist. This is the result of years of conditioning in which you have
been told you do not measure up to external standards imposed upon you by
others – family, peers, cultural institutions, and mass media.

You have been told many times that you are somehow deficient and that you lack some
necessary qualities without which you cannot succeed. This fiction has become
so much a part of your self-image that you do not think to question it.
Instead, you find evidence all around you to prove your flawed nature.
Everywhere you assess others to be better and more successful than yourself.

Advertisers strive to inculcate
further negative self-image messages in order to create desire for products.
You are led to believe you are not beautiful enough, not strong enough, and not
well enough to be happy without possessing the things that are marketed to you.
You fall prey to these messages because you feel insecure and have come to
identify with a flawed self-image.

But you are not who you think you
are. You are not a flawed creature filled with self-doubt and conditioned by
years of negative messages. That is not a person – it is a manufactured
identity. It exists because you have succumbed to it and believe it to be a
description of your essential self.

*

However, now that you have
experienced the real you, the space of silent witnessing awareness within you
is a familiar experience in your life. With practice, you have become able to
easily experience your inner self as a zone apart from the welter of the world
and the world-wound thoughts spinning endlessly within you.

This inner sanctuary is available
anytime you need the strength and power that comes from being clear and feeling
centered, focused, and calm. From this sense of your truest self, arises a
wellspring of creativity which can serve you well for the rest of your life.

*

Image: “Mindful” by Tullio, digital image, 2012.

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Map and Mind – Field Notes

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“If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple
that we couldn’t.” 
– Emerson M. Pugh, As quoted in The Biological Origin of Human Values

What
is the mind? No one knows. Theories of mind abound. Theories frame our experience
and insights in terms of the most useful current metaphors. Current theories of
mind build upon earlier, more mechanistic paradigms. They emphasize openness
and adaptation, while previous theories were built upon deterministic
foundations.

Today,
we can say that the mind is a network of relationships, some of which involve
the environment and others of which are maps of internal relationships within
the body. One of the primary functions of this network is to generate a sense
of embodied identity and a coherent experience of an external world.

Referred
to as “the observer” in scientific literature, the mind is increasingly
integrated into theory, research, and experiment in fields of study that involve
human participation. The precise location of the observer is, by definition,
relativistic. The general location can be related to the mind’s ability to
frame universes of discourse and the location will be related to the location
of the ideal or specific observer for a particular frame of reference.

This
is a way of stating the matter that acknowledges current research in both
quantum physics and cognitive science. It also reduces in significance reductionist
paradigms which have dominated research in artificial intelligence, genetics,
and the pharmacology of consciousness. These biases – the physicalist,
internalist, and radical materialist views, which either attempt to deny the
existence of mind or to see it as something not different in kind from physical
objects, are not sufficiently powerful to eliminate the pivotal position of the
observer in all phenomena from the sub-atomic realm outward.

To
indicate significant aspects of the mind are external to the body is to
acknowledge that we are inextricably connected to and part of a complex evolving
system of interpenetrating networks in time and space, our environment,
experience, and action. This
straightforward acknowledgement of the specific nature of the way we experience
our existence also includes the notion that observed experience consists of
series of relationships, which are networked in ways that can be referred to as
“mapped.” A corollary of this process is that the specific physical medium
containing the map is not central to its nature, as remapping the relationships
necessary to perceptual experience has been demonstrated in significant studies
of human perception.

Neuroscience
research which tends to reinforce the existing, heavily funded and most
profitable paradigms (reductionist, physicalist, genetic, and pharmacological) focuses
on ascertaining specific locations for specific brain/cognitive functions.

While
evolution has found it useful to broadly dedicate, in a generalized way,
physical correlates for psychological events, there is much current research in
small and large-scale neural remapping that indicates localized function is
changeable and only one aspect of how the entire cognitive system operates. Current
research indicates these specific locations vary among individuals and their
“dedicated” or “hard-wired” functions can continue to be available even when
the specific brain regions, in question, are removed.

For
example, in the perceptual realm, the work of Paul Bach-y-Rita,
among others demonstrates how the visual system can been remapped from the eyes of blind
subjects on to sections of skin. These subjects report details of specifically
visual experiences with the newly remapped sense organs. Sensory substitution
is an indication of the plasticity of neuronal networks.

The
“phantom limb” syndrome, studied extensively by V. S. Ramachandran, et al., describes
patients who have lost a limb but continue to experience specifically detailed
and verifiable sensation. This work demonstrates how the brain is able to remap
several areas of tactile responsiveness – the cognitive and sensory experience
of having an actual limb – upon various body parts.

Generally,
in matters of cognition, it is often observed that patients who lose functioning
in specific brain regions can regain those same functions in different regions once
the brain has remapped the original relationships onto other physical
locations.

This
is the basis for “neuroplasticity,” a property of the cognitive system, which
is demonstrated by strong experimental evidence.

Rather
than mechanically replicating neural structure and striving to recreate an exact
connectome of the human brain (no two of which are alike), artificial
intelligence research must extend toward including aspects of consciousness
which are distributed, networked,
and able to be on- and off-loaded in an instant. Pattern recognition and
information mapping, the dynamical behavior and interaction of waves and fields,
chaotic attractors, and indeterminacy – these more open-ended ways of
envisioning phenomenal and relational experience enhance earlier models without
completely replacing them.

We are on the threshold of a new
era in our understanding of ourselves. Our brains are more, very much more,
than machines. They are mind fields.

*
Image: “Mind and Map” by Tullio DeSantis, altered ink drawing, 2012.

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Antumbral

“Antumbral”
- a Multimedia Collaboration by Pery Burge and Tullio DeSantis

Music by Tullio DeSantis, Imagery by Pery Burge, 2012

There is
something freeing about working collaboratively. Giving up old notions of
complete aesthetic control and working toward a unified vision is always
rewarding. When things go well, this is a definition of transcendent experience
– to rise above one’s limits. Also, composing music is, for me, a wonderfully
abstract way to make art. It is liberating to have another artist create the
visualizations.

Pery
Burge is artist in residence in the Thermofluids lab in the College of
Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the University of Exeter, in
the UK. After completing our three-part text, sound, and image project, “Cosmology,”
“Astronomy,” and “Biology,” Pery and I decided to work on some multimedia
pieces utilizing my music and her imagery. Working on collaborative multimedia projects provides novel ways to experience art and life and inspire new aesthetic evolution.

Here is what
Pery has to say about “Antumbral” on her site,

“The
meditative atmosphere of the music inspires my choice of imagery, together with
ideas to do with eclipse effects – shadow, disclosure, revelation and textural
layering. The video makes use of long transitions to reveal new textures and
shapes, and the images themselves often contain superimpositions; smoke over
objects and bubbles moving across coloured surfaces. There is a relaxed, retro
mood to the whole piece…”*

The title, “Antumbral,”
is derived from the astronomical term, antumbra, which is that portion of a
shadowed area where there is no light from any source. The music has both contemplative and emotional wave
forms, textures, tones, and harmonies. *TwitterFacebookGoogle+

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