Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Singularity

If your not following this... you probably have never seen it.

Space collective is a commonwealth of digital transcendentalists looking for humanity's next step into the future, be it through outer space, cyber space, or spacetime: a group of the most intelligent and most imaginative on the web. Spacecollective asks the big questions of self, freedom, and intelligence. The content is made up of anything from philosophical arguments to design models of lunar housing.

Check it out; your evolution depends on it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Homeric Journey Through the Collective Conscious of Thoreau

From whatever afterlife meets us at our demise, Henry David Thoreau made clear his opinion of this blog to me today by way of organic vegetable vendors, Bjork, Larry King, and an impossibly hideous Chevrolet that I couldn't even find on the internet (thats how ugly) but could easily be substituted for such vehicles as the Lumina or the SSR Push. My journey began, as many do, upon an instance of stupidity; waking up from a long nap, I walked over to my bookshelf and imagined that I'd find Harry Stephen Keeler's The Riddle or the Traveling Skull waiting for me, but was hit by something blunt before I could get there: the realization that I did not, nor did I ever, own the book. Whatsthebigdeal? The Keeler book was assigned to me by Ed Park for his "Only Connect: Strategies for Writing" course. So, without much problem, I reserved the book at Barnes and Nobel in Union Square and walked downtown.
Why, you may be asking, would a professor ever assign a Harry Stephen Keeler novel? Isn't, you may be remembering, he the one who has been dubbed the worst mystery writer of all time? Wouldn't, you may be thinking, a writing professor assign a piece with substance and literary value? The answer: pending.
Did I just pick up and walk downtown right after reserving the book as I have said? No, not really. Anyone who has used the Barnes and Nobel book-pick-up-from-local-store system knows that it takes them an hour to send you a confirmation e-mail. So why do I say I reserved the book and started walking downtown? My meandering through the world wide web seemed irrelevant for most of my walk. I realized the importance of the Larry King debate between Anthony Bourdian and Jonathan Safran Foer in retrospect. They were debating the importance of meat in our diets. Jonathan Safran Foer's new book is called Eating Animals. Being one of my greatest literary heros, the announcement of this new book struck me as fuckingannoying, to say the least. Everything nutritionally biological in me sided with the chef, but the scene at Union Square, culminating in a paranormal connection between me and the late, great naturalist, shook my foundation.
You may be thinking, but what about that peta video I saw at my weed dealer's house or that chick grinding video or the effect of cattle production on the environment or the deadliness of e. coli or heart disease, and you are right, but did you ever take the livestock's intentions into consideration? What do these quasi conscious beings really want out of life? The answer, says Darwin, is to pass on their genetic makeup as far and wide as they can. Is it any mistake that meat cattle have evolved to fit our every need? Is it any mistake that we have wiped out practically every other species of cow on the planet to spread the genes of the ones that help us out for the things we want? Shake Shack Burgers? Our livestock have been outsmarting us into slaughtering them for food and, perhaps you're right, they need to be punished by shutting down factory farms and showing the livestock who's boss of this planet. (but seriously, can't we just keep on engineering? Couldn't we just adapt like we always do? Isn't that, like, our thing?)
Upon Union Square, Flying Lotus's mix of Bjork's 'All is Full Love' came on the ipod and I started getting that profound feeling that good music often puts on a person. This, Henry David Thoreau, was a dirty trick. Bjork is one of the most influential electronic artists of our time and should be out of your scope. There was construction going on in the park and, before I could realize, I was walking through a organic farmers market with all the staples of contemporary, anti-foodie banality: fresh fish vendors with long beards and long triton-like hair; fruit pushers with short, blonde dreads; zucchini peddlers with thick rimmed glasses, ponytails, and paint on their overalls. This is where the retrospective importance of the Larry King special hit me. This was kind of nice. This was the way farming was supposed to be: vegetables in the street. The song picks up and Bjork really starts to belt it out, "All is full of love, all is full of love, all is full of love," and I turn into the elevated area of the park to better orient myself and, like a scene from a disney princess movie circa 1969, squirrels, sparrows, larger unidentifiable birds and other (likely projected) woodland creatures came running out toward a woman with breadcrumbs.
"ALL IS FULL OF LOVE" (I'm trying to recreate this madness for you).
I picked up the book from Barnes and Noble and made my way home. I passed by the unnamed, hideous Chevy and thought, damn Henry, you got me. Maybe there's something to all this nature stuff that we keep fucking up.. Then I passed the United Cerebal Palsy of New York City building and thought, no, I've been right all along. I picked up some street meat on the same block and got back to my
apartment. My naturalist experience sat in my head like the eggplant on my lamb and rice. I didn't know what to do with it.
The first sentence of the Keeler book justified all my fears an arduously bad read:

I knew full well, when the Chinaman stopped me in the street that night and coolly asked me for a light for his cigarette, that a light for his cigarette was the last thing in the world he really wanted!

Isn't the nature of nature to die? Why was Thoreau haunting me with these images and feelings of transcendence (the bad kind). Thoreau and his ideas occupy the collective consciousness of our human world. That's his afterlife. That's all our chances at afterlife. Thoreau succeeded. He transcends his death. Our goals aren't too different. He called it spirituality; I call we call it a collective conscious. We have recently made amends. I just thought you should know.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fantastic Planet and Jonas Burgert

Fantastic Planet is a french film from the 70's based on the Stefan Wul Novel, Oms en Série. It is a visual and conceptual journey about the power of knowledge. It is a thought provoking, psychedelic allegory that is as timely as it is aesthetically relevant. I would love to see this remade today.

(Watch the entire piece on youtube).

The images reminded me immediately of the Berlin artist, Jonas Burgert.

Burgert is likely one of the most talented painters around today. His work is mystifying, beautiful and inspiring (Fever Ray's 'If I Had a Heart' video?). His current show is "Hitting Every Head," at the Haunch of Venison in London. Maybe he could take a crack at the Fantastic Planet remake?

Seriously though; am I right?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are, Freedom, Descartes and Kant

It is likely that anyone who has gone to see Where the Wild Things Are has had the similar revelation that at no point was Spike Jones interested in making a kids movie. There is something awe inspiring about this film that goes beyond the Urban Outfitters publicity, the bus ads, and the billboards. Where the Wild Things Are is a film that, like many before it, redefines our parameters for imagination.

Kant says this of our capacity for experience:

The I THINK must BE ABLE to accompany all my representations; for otherwise something would be represented in me that could not be thought at all, which is as much as to say that the representation would either be impossible or else at least would be nothing for me.
-Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Pure Reason

As I looked over this today, I found something curious about his suggestion. If it were so that the I think (concepts) did not accompany a representation, we would not experience it. Could it be that some things exist in the world that we cannot see or experience because they do not fit our concepts of the world? This reminded me of Descartes and his famous argument for skepticism. Descartes had dreams, he claimed, that felt as though they could be real and of his waking life. This, therefore, meant that he could not be certain whether he was dreaming or not... ever. But did Descartes have dreams that were as surreal as some of ours tend to be now, in light of such perceptual stimuli as Where the Wild Thins Are and its visually stimulating predecessors? Could he have?

The realism of this film makes me believe that Descartes could not have had the imagination I have, or any of us have. A film like Where the Wild Things Are allows us to conceptualize the impossible. Our experience is able to lay outside the confines of the laws of nature. Our deterministic loop is synthesized with something Descartes or Kant could have never imaged. The predictions we make and, in turn, the decisions we make are constituent upon more than our experience of the natural world. In this way, even our freedom exceeds that of people existing just a few hundred years ago. Where our memories and experiences inform our patterns and predictions, a plane of meta-experience (experience beyond that of the natural world) affords us an avenue of freedom never experienced before.

As film production technology advances, and the experiences we are able to cognize expand, the things that make us conscious humans change. Was this Spike Jones's plan all along? Probably not, but it is the nature of art to expand our consciousness in whatever way it can. This film, to me, was a life-altering step in the right direction. If for no other reason than that, Where the Wild Things Are is one of the most important films of our time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nature After 'After Nature'

Maybe there's some kind of evolutionary cause, or some kind of genetic tick –- or side effect –-, but the human desire to recreate the complex, unintentional patterns of nature is astounding.

Tara Donovan
is a brooklyn based artist who works with staples of human design, i.e. pencils, drinking straws, styrofoam cups, assembling natural landscapes that invoke images bacteria beneath a microscope or a mossy field.

Non-format'sinnovative "Peroxide" campaign is just one of the many digital invocations of nature. Combining photography and digital images, the result is a kind of interstellar milkshake: the natural kind.

Likely the purest and most digitally transcendental example of the manifestation of nature in digital art is that of Commonwealth Design Studio. With their lard series, Commonwealth not only captures the idiosyncrasies of nature in a digital schematic, but were able to reproduce these beautiful pieces in the physical world.

These brooklyn based designers reek of innovation. Their work is both beautiful and inspiring in way that convinces me I am living in an age where Rembrandt is a furniture designer.

If their work looks familiar, you may recognize the masks from Timothy Saccenti's show, The Garden of Unearthly delights (just a few posts down).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tauba Auerbach

Besides the obvious aesthetic beauty that Auerbach produces in her captivatingly deadpan works, what makes her so mystifyingly fascinating? I am reminded of Rainer Maria Rilke and his invention of the 'thing-poem.' He, working closely under the influence of Rodan, thought that a poet could produce a poem that was a kind of thing that you could hold and examine. Auerbach turns that on its head by reaching into our most geometrical constructs for perception and pulling out... things.

Her art, like that of Rilke's, is a move from the metaphysical to the physical. Her paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs all embody the a priori places in us that lack a place in our material world. Her work on the digital world is the same. Auerbach takes the intangible world of waves and distortions and captures them in a way that demands contemplation.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sayonara Film

Was it Jean Cocteau who said that film would never be an art form until it was as cheap as paint and brushes? The day is steadily approaching. Deal with the results America!

This is the work of artist Ryan Trecatrin. If your terrified, don't be terrified; its terrifying and is meant to be. Being one of the more ugly things I've seen, there is something hypnotizing about it. The process of watching says as much about what make us a society as the content.

This piece is in the same vein but longer and slightly more narrative. Give it a chance. By the end, you sort of feel like you've been punched in the face... in a good way. and don't forget, as the great Diderot said, "There's no one who doesn't put the existing order on trial, without noticing he's renouncing his own existence."

Apologies for the links

The Garden of Unearthly Delights and Kant

"The mind could not possibly think of the identity of itself in the manifoldness of its representations, and indeed think this a priori, if it did not have before its eyes the identity of its action, which subjects all synthesis of apprehension (which is empirical) to a transcendental unity, and first makes possible their connection in accordance with a priori rules"
-Immanuel Kant The Critique of Pure Reason

You tell'em Kant! The consciousness of self is constituent upon the consciousness of the unity of apperception (the unity of objects all around the world FOREVER!!) and vise versa.

This idea is insanely compelling and (as many things are with Kant and traditional philosophy) so common sensical. A few months back, I wrote a piece for Timothy Saccenti's show, The Garden of Unearthly Delights, where this idea is manifested in a story of creation. The original story and concept belong to Tim. He is a genius down many avenues, creating images for the show that are surreal and beautiful.

DIESEL DENIM GALLERY ART EXHIBITION #9, Garden of Unearthly Delights, Timothy Saccenti from Caroline Celis on Vimeo.

This is the piece.

Of the Singularity and the Improbability of Existence

In three opposite and indifferent dimensions, black expanses unfold and encompass all matter, potential and otherwise, shattering silence and a tactile emptiness in all directions. There is nothingness, tangible as the paradox implies, in every corner of the non-existent verities of the particular universe – no eyes to see nor fingers to touch. Directionless and without a center, the lacuna is a possible universe void of possibility and rapt with patience. Change, given the great virtue of patience, is both impossible and inevitable in this cold, isolated reality.
Time is a direction and a space. The terrific darkness of this possible world explodes and reaches towards and through this vector, intertwining with the oldest and the newest of space in a thick fabric of black dimensions. Beneath the flat darkness is a deep and tumbling labyrinth of dimensional throughways that is beyond perception – blackness within blackness within blackness. Whatever would be is intangible and suffocated like sunshine drowned in oil.
The place is an impossibility. Nothing is material, only weak potential: empty glass containers beginning to learn the art of reflecting light. Tall, smooth pendulums of clear glass support bubbled domes of more nothing. Segmented and parallel, emptiness becomes the common denominator and from nothing – and only nothing ¬– comes something.

Of Existence and The Possible Universe

In a plane of existence where time is absolute, the potential for anything sparks a causal and deterministic chain of events where any possibility becomes a necessary reality. Under one glass roof is a paradise – under another, a desert. Each is as fragile as the frequency of the glass in which it occupies.
The particular dome retains mostly nothingness. Darkness surrounds and invades it. Energy is consumed by wanderlust. Bouncing and reflecting off the probable glass surface in the possible universe, a space was created with the aesthetic of curiosity. The trait is carried through inanimate masses and into complex life.

Of The Possible Universe and Its Inhabitants

A pulsating glow emanates in vibrant, bountiful waves before all encompassing black negates it and smothers the light to nothing. Again and again, the light billows like the smoke from a fire then dies like a bittersweet memory: a figment of some idealistic imagination. As the pale, pink light waxes and wanes, the borders of the darkness become spacious then narrow. Like hungry fingers, luminance reaches out around a pale figure to explore and feel the space around it. The light radiates in a chord protruding from the creature’s stomach, wrapped loosely around the body like a cumbersome article of clothing. Headless, though upright on slender legs below a torso with delicate arms, the creature wades through the darkness with only a feeble blink of perspective, lost, mostly, in uncertainty, comprehending only the feel and shape of its own form. The creature moves listlessly through the void, allowing one step to thoughtlessly beget the next. Like a non-existent strong force of gravity, the tall, slender creature is pulled along the glossy ground like the gears of a clock. Its slivery skin slices through space with determined precision. One foot touches down, then the next.
The creature’s is a form to contemplate. Of what stretch of existence does it occupy – for what reason does it walk?
“The ground,” it might say, given the capacity or will to communicate, “It comes up at me with each and every stride I take towards the darkness.”
But it does not communicate nor recognize matter outside of itself and therefore knows no conscious action, purposeful or not. There is no language to frame its thoughts, nor understanding of any spatial counterpart, denying the internal exchange of a conscious being. The particular mechanics of this possible creature places the being nowhere and everywhere. Time neither exists for the creature or for its universe. Each step is identical to the next in each and every calculable way. The creature’s spatial position is a quantum possibility at any given moment on an elliptical timeline of unseen dimensions.

Of The Inhabitants and Their Life Cycle

It is born and dies in the light. The long and vibrant umbilical grows longer and brighter as the creature continues through life – wrapping again and again about the body, fighting against the force that pulls it toward the ground. Eventually, the weight and the blinding light overcome the creature. A being emerges from the white space that is identical to the organism before it in all measurable and calculable ways besides the chord of light. The new being has a flat stomach where a new chord will grow.

Of a Particular Creature in a Particular Moment

An eternity or a moment ends in a flash as the light of its belly is reflected off an object in the distance. In this life shattering instant, the creature understands its special relationship with the void around it and the object in the distance (perhaps ten paces away). It freezes in a state of solidarity and minuteness that it has neither the capacity nor the physical means to articulate in any way but silence. Time begins rapturously as the creature realizes a moment that is different from the last.
Faced with a stimulus to which it has no natural or behavioral response, the creature walks in the direction of the reflected light with purpose and intrigue. Aware and connected to the space around it in a way that has never been experienced before, the creature gains a capacity for the intelligent gift of irrationality. For no other reason but curiosity, the creature, on hands and knees, approaches the object in the distance.
Upon the object, the creature kneels down and handles the reflected light as if it were just that. Its hands feel a surface that is similar to its own. The object is hard and opaque, but moveable. With its curious and awkward hands, the creature lifts the object and handles all of its intricate curves and textures. The touch is different than the creature’s own. It is harder. Coarse, dry strands of a completely different texture hang from the base of the object like hair. The creature understands a feeling of uniqueness less dramatic and more precise than before. There was before, it thought wordlessly, and there is now.
The spatial anomaly was shaped like an elongated face with large, distended eye sockets and a wide, symmetrical jaw from which the hair like strands protruded. The face immediately became a part of the creature, as it had never experienced anything so similar to itself. The creature lifts the face upwards and fixes it to the void between its shoulders. The creature suddenly is able to see in a way it never could before. It sees the hot light from the cord in its stomach glowing in all directions. This new face catches the light so precisely, that the creature is able to consider the dimensions of its own body without the aid of touch. It looks down at its hands and sees light reflecting differently than from the rest of its body. The coarse, hairy strands sweeping across its chest reflect yet a different way with momentously similar yet deeply distinguishable imperfections in its reflectivity. The new sensation is natural and familiar, as though it was a part of the creature all along.
Two objects, both following separate and parallel paths, realize an extended place. They meet and the experience of two roads is synthesized in one being.

Of The Particular Creature in The Garden

Standing still, the creature looks out into the void and notices a light shining high in the sky. The light holds shape and the creature stares at it blankly. Against the tenacious darkness, it sees the light in the sky and its own light. The familiar sensation of uniqueness changes and reconstitutes itself resiliently. With pensive eyes, the creature can no longer distinguish where one light begins and the other ends. A long path cuts through the blackness beginning at the creature and ending at the symbol in the sky. It follows the light in wonderment and awe. The light becomes brighter and reaches farther and farther into the darkness until it stops and the creature finds itself in a circle of light not its own.
At the center of the circle is an object standing upright and still. A thin trunk grows from the ground and breaks into thinner and thinner braches holding flat leaves similar to the texture of the creatures face. Hanging off of the structure is a round and spiny orb that seems to have grown from the branches. The creature is transfixed by the pod and feels a strange affinity towards it. It smells the sweet scent of life.
The circle is bright. Reflected light enters the creature’s sensory apparatus and dazzles its being with colors and shapes. It walks awkwardly about the tree, looking intensely in all directions. The creature’s legs seem to intertwine beyond the complexity of only two appendages. The creature trips and falls only to get up without noticing.

Of The Garden and Meaning

Amidst the creature’s awe, and out of the darkness, a second creature walks into the light. The second humanoid creature is of the same type as the first with more dramatic angles and a distended stomach. There is a similar object resting between the creature’s shoulders that she moves about as an appendage. The texture of the facial object is similar to that of the first creature’s, but the shape is not the same. The angles are softer and curve in unison with the voluptuous body. The hair-like material fans from the mouth and over the chest.
They look at each other passionately, as though projecting wonder and curiosity onto their counterpart. The creature develops a feeling of relation with its counterpart. Both organisms feel the warmth of life in the other. They recognize a shape that is shared.
Looking back at the tree, the creatures see the majestic, spiny pod and reach towards it. The first creature pulls it from the tree and hands it to the second. The pregnant creature squeezes the pod until the spines break skin and secrete and clear, stringy liquid. It hands the pod back to the first creature who does the same. They reach out their hands and feel the congruency in the other’s. Clear liquid oozes from the creature’s hands and is spread about their bodies in passionate strokes. The second creature rubs it’s pregnant belly, thickly glossing the vessel. As they touched, the color of their facial apparatuses changed. Speaking to each other and to themselves, they communicated and found consciousness.
From the belly of the second creature, a child is born. A cool, breezy force comes over the creatures. Leaves on the tree, ripped from their branches, fly past them. After the endless meander through the darkness, meaning has entered their lives. Weightlessness overcomes them and gravity is suspended, but it is all right.

Thanks To Timothy Saccenti

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Transcendental Aesthetic

Is there something metaphysical about our dreams? Is it fair to say that there is something metaphysical about something, that is, some...thing. Is it fair to say there is nothing metaphysical about something while saying anything at all? Digital media brings life to the meta-nature of our dreams. Youtube videos bring light to our deepest, darkest meta-natured dreams. As apparatuses between our mind and the physical word get smaller, we see more and more of what we're really made of.

Until then, portraying the true otherworldlyness of our dreams and subconscious relies on the digital world.

And thank goodness.

Why Digital Transcendentalism?

Mute, and slip on your favorite SIgur Ros song. Take that Ralf Waldo Emerson!