As part of Alyce Santoro’s current exhibition at Gasser-Grunert Gallery, I will be joining Eve Andree Laramee and Dehlia Hannah to explore the application of “Green Hermeticism” to contemporary environmental concerns.
Christopher Bamford explains Green Hermeticism in terms of a sequence of mysteries: First is the mystery of matter. Second is the mystery of metamorphosis. Third is the mystery of intelligence that is capable of discerning patterns within this apparent chaos. It is the recognition of pattern that enables humans to connect with all forms of life, light, geology, and distant planets, and thereby become nurturing stewards of the planet.
The human act of penetrating far beyond the earth’s crust is the common theme between Marina Zurkow’s powerful new video entitled “NeoGeo I-IV”, 2012 (in collaboration with Daniel Shiffman) and Walter de Maria’s “Vertical Earth Kilometer”, 1977. Both feature technological feats of drilling. Based on other works of art by these artists, it is safe to say that the attitudes conveyed by theses works are antithetical to each other. Although they are separated by decades, both attitudes still prevail throughout our culture.
Despite the daily gun violence plaguing American cities like Philadelphia, Chicago or New Orleans, it’s the mass shootings at a school or a theater or a public event — like the tragedies in Newtown, Aurora and Tucson — that trigger outrage and preventive action. Pedro Reyes is not merely one of many concerned citizens. Instead of bemoaning the many children and law enforecement officers whose names appear, sorrowfully, on the lists of victims, and instead of relying on government solutions, Reyes orchestrated a multi-faceted project to address the problem.
President Obama would be well-served by studying his approach. The President, responding to the terrible massacre of youngsters and teachers in a Connecticut elementary school, created a task force to develop “concrete proposals” for dealing with gun violence.
The glory of the skies over Manhattan was featured in Tomas Saraceno‘s sprawling installation on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art last summer. Visitors climbed a maze of stairways, made their way across criss-crossing platforms, and encountered 12 ‘pods’ along the way. Each was configured out of hexigons in which the panels continually presented sky-views.
Overhead, sections were vacant, opening to the vast blue vista overhead. Others were filled with mirrors, directing this gorgeous territory of clouds and sun to the area beneath the feet of the visitors. Gravity may not have been surmounted, but the visual experience of free floating in the atmosphere was emotionally transcendent.
Gelitin materialized ‘oneness with nature’ by eroding the physical barriers when they created a decomposing sculpture. The group then dissolved mental barricades when they spoofed the hallowed practice of meditation. Andy Gracie, on the other hand, erased the divisions between artificial intelligence, botanical life, and an aquatic organism.
Eliminating entrenched borders is the overriding principle in each instance. The artists derived this principle from the manner in which natural systems evolve and maintain themselves.
Currently, architecture is another cultural phenomenon (added to biological sciences, religious practice, and robotics) that is dissolving borders! Complex architectural forms and functions are being achieved through advanced manufacturing of ‘smart’ materials and processes. These innovative designs generate active structures and responsive environments.
Enrique Ruiz-Geli of CLOUD 9 provides one compelling example.
In the current issue of Orion Magazine, Charles C. Mann recalls watching Lynn Margulis, show a time-lapse video to students at the University of Massachusetts. It featured Proteus vulgaris, a bacterium that lives in the gastrointestinal tract of humans.
The video showed a small, wobbly P. vulgaris in a shallow, circular glass petri dish. Remarkably, the bacterium is capable of dividing every fifteen minutes!
Mann reports, “The class gasped. The cells in the time-lapse video seemed to shiver and boil, doubling in number every few seconds, colonies exploding out until the mass of bacteria filled the screen.” Margulis stated that in just thirty-six hours this single bacterium could cover the entire planet in a foot-deep layer of single-celled ooze. Twelve hours after that, it would create a living ball of bacteria the size of the earth.
Most of us sleep in a rectangular bed, located in a rectangular room, within a rectangular building, situated on a rectangular grid of streets. Corners that form such rectangles dominate our lives – from crib to coffin. Geometricians may describe a corner simply as the joining of two flat planes. Their appreciation of this form would be enriched by highlighting the multifaceted role of corners in constructing our aesthetic and emotional environment.
Consider this – a corner is the minimum construction needed to produce a three-dimensional space. It is also a minimal spatial relationship affecting our behavior and our mood. Thus, corners introduce such fundamental forms of human awareness as contrast and similarity, such elemental aesthetic conditions as harmony and tension, and such basic emotions as surprise and expectation.
“I will never forget the moment when I first held her in my arms, in Jouy-en-Josas, France, on April 29, 2000. My apprehensive anticipation was replaced by joy and excitement. Alba — the name given her by my wife, my daughter, and I — was lovable and affectionate and an absolute delight to play with. As I cradled her, she playfully tucked her head between my body and my left arm, finding at last a comfortable position to rest and enjoy my gentle strokes. She immediately awoke in me a strong and urgent sense of responsibility for her well-being.”
These paternal sentiments, spoken by Eduardo Kac, were inspired by a baby, but the baby was not human. Alba is a live green fluorescent bunny
Bonnie Ora Sherk invented a term ‘Funcshuional Art’ to describe her art practice. It is a hybrid formed out of two words that represent contrasting approaches for ensuring good fortune. They originated in opposite sides of the globe.
The description of the very special holiday gift I received from Brandon Ballengee is my gift to you. While it is regrettable that you cannot hold the tiny glass flask in your hands and observe the beautiful biological specimen it contains, the story that accompanies this gift may inform, disturb, and inspire you, as it did me.
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