Friday, 5 January 2018

You are not just a sponge, they say. You are a prism.

The paintings carry messages. They're communications, rather than 'things I made', because I didn't decide or concoct them. The different elements that appear in them are residues of sense impressions that arrived into the field of my awareness at some point in my historical experiencing, and now these residues are pushing and dancing and saying that they want to come out and breathe a new air. You are not just a sponge, they say. You are a prism.

A human is a point of living, breathing awareness in a vast sea of elemental forces and objects. All living creatures are this kind of point, many of them with probably exactly same kind of awareness. Awareness is not cognition. It is not thinking, concocting, analysing, deciding. These are particular functions of mind that can be interesting, and that can be tools. But they can also be distractions from the reality of awareness, the actual reality of being. We can use our minds to know the reality of being, but we are programmed away from this, for some reason.

I see the right use of my mind as being to bring my awareness into focus, my existence into awareness.

My task as a maker of images is not to invent or arrange or in any way actively seek to produce. It is a process of encouraging the intentional, willing part of my mind to give up, to stop trying, to back off, to shut up.

This has meant days and weeks and months of 'not producing'. Leaving be. Trying to form spaces into which accumulated  or accumulating image forms are free to slide out onto paper, to sneak themselves into vision through flowing ink or shades of colour. They want to live and breathe, but they can't do so if there's any kind of ego intentionality getting in their way. Ego intentionality is a dam to their pressing flow, they hit up against it and simply flow back into the darkness that contains them; as a wave of energy that has no direction or desires they are not bothered to be seen or formed or known or articulated.

But I am bothered to see them. Some part of my mind that watches everything wants them to be free to move out into the parts of the field where energies and impressions can take form, reflect light, absorb it and become colour.

The less I have any sense of the possibilities for form the better. I notice this over and over, that when I free myself from the image forms mattering, the pent up forms that want to live beyond my conscious intention are free to emerge. There's a momentary slit in the quantum experience experiment and they find their way out.

Then they speak, using symbols, dream shapes, allegories, allusions. And I cannot understand them, although I try. I never know how they will come or what language they will be speaking. Sometimes the unknowing unhinges me and I feel that I should go back and look at them all, 'do something' with them. You know... artist things.... work them into bigger images, plan something, use my mind. But very quickly when I try this, I become overwhelmed with the sheer multitude of their messages and the complexity of their talk. They speak in so many tongues, all at once, and I become paralysed.

When this happens I retreat. I give up the task of sitting with the myriad forms that have peeled their way through the slit, and try to remember to go back to the calm peace of the empty page. I give up everything and attempt to summon up just enough intentionality to remember to cut off the distractions of daily life and put a mark maker in my hand. And then I let the marker touch the empty page.

Everything seems to be trying to teach me about this moment, the return to the unborn/birthing instant as I breathe and see my hand holding the paper still. And then the hand starts to move, the ink begins to flow, and though I am empty of any kind of forming, any kind of knowing, something begins to live.

The hand of the sculptor on the rough sandstone block that forms one piece in the construction of the temple at Halebid is there; the stories that he grew up with of gods and kings and strange forces that fed his dreams and dared him to defy the rules and make an impish cat strike a yogic pose at Mahabalipuram are there;  the first sculptor becomes the second, separated by hundreds of years, moving from the North West to the South East in this merging of all time, all experience.

Chronological and cultural impositions fall away, like old lichen dropping off an overwintering tree. The tree notices nothing, only lets the sap flow from the roots up through the trunk, waiting to arrive into the branches and make leaves.


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