This installation, still in development, combines paintings and sculptures in an integrated perspectival space. It is intended to provide for the viewer the experience of a kind of “dreamscape”: a connected series of images that float together in the psyche in the way that we might remember a dream from the night before. The general theme revolves around certain conflicts I have felt between the perspective of different cultural viewpoints that nonetheless all seem true or at least partially true. I think that the main conflict could be summarised as the tension between “doing” and “being”, where “doing” means taking action to improve one’s situation or the world generally, while “being” refers to intense conscious experience of the kind that is celebrated in theology and the arts as a valuable end in itself.
Perspective is here both the visual perspective of space (a topic that has long fascinated me) and the idea of the human mind being able to hold multiple perspectives that might appear to be mutually exclusive. The viewer looks through faux VR headset that fixes a rotating station point, from which all the panels appear perfectly square on to the viewer - all except for the orthogonal panel that reaches towards the viewer, but has its image foreshortened to correct proportions from that one viewpoint. The sculptures, while at a different scale to those in the paintings, overlay exactly on their 2D counterparts, again, from the station point.
Consciousness and perspective seem closely interwoven to me - the unique viewpoint of the conscious observer is perspective. I want to use certain simple elements of perspective to give the viewer a fascinating and fun visual experience, that also stretches the mind - and to tie this stretching to the overwhelming and conflicted feelings I have about the trajectory of our point in history, its relationship to universal or timeless human experiences, and the implications for what to value and hence what to do.
The subjects depicted do not have a literal narrative, but instead are symbolic in my mind (and I suspect in the mind of many other people) to certain value structures, ie ways to choose what to do. Here are some of the subjects depicted: Chauvet Cave (oldest known cave painting), Plato’s cave, the Simulation Hypothesis (via the character in straight jacket with the VR headset), St Francis of Assisi, Laughing Buddha, my Singularity Koan sculpture, Elon Musk as adult and as child, a child humanoid robot with an electric motor for brain and desk lamp arm for elbow, Yoky Matsuoka (Roboticist - here working on an anatomically correct robot hand her lab developed), VS Ramachandran (Neuroscientist, here working with a soldier with phantom limb pain), the mind-bendingly weird proposition of wormholes in space, and the strange symmetry of the orbit of fundamental particles in atoms to the orbit of planets and galaxies, a Sufi whirling dervish, and a contemporary ballet dancer in the same pose (sculpture still in development).
3D model of sculpture uploaded to sketchfab - click to rotate/zoom
With this project I asked myself "What would I do if I could do anything at all? If I was not taking into account constraints about physical saleability, competitions and public digestibility?"
I have had a long interest in science and technology - I completed a Bachelor of Science (majoring in Genetics) in 2005, and although I directed my attention towards art since then, have continued to follow the news in this and other fields. I tend to agree with the argument that these areas, particularly the application of science to human life through technology, exert a stronger effect in shaping the human story than most other factors. However, the external conditions of peace, health and abundance that can be increased via technological means - that most people would presumably like to see increase in the world - are not necessarily tied to the subjective experience of wellbeing and/or meaning. There is an inner world, accessible through contemplation, that involves a different kind of wellbeing - in some cases at odds with physical wellbeing - and this is the territory of many great mystical traditions (such as Sufism), poetry and other apparently impractical endeavours (including making paintings and sculpture).
An enormous amount of work remains to resolve the paintings and complete the final sculpture, but I am excited about the direction of this piece and hope that in the future it can go out into a museum or other appropriate space to quietly bend the minds of some sympathetic audiences!