Friday, January 29, 2010

"David" and the Shepherd

"David" heard a shepherd on the road praying, "God, where are you? I want to help you, to fix your shoes andcomb your hair. I want to wash your clothes and pick th lice off. I want to bring you milk and kiss your little hands and feet when it's time for you to go to bed. I want to sweep your room and keep it neat. God, my sheep and goats are yours. All I can say remembering you is aaaayyyyyyyyy and aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh." "David" could stand it no longer. "Who are you talking to?" "The one who made us and made the earth and made the sky." "Don't talk about shoes and socks with God! And what's this with your little hands? Such blasphemous familiarity sounds like you're chatting with your uncles. Only something that grows needs milk. Only someone with feet needs shoes. Not God!" The shepherd repented and tore his clothes and wandered out into the desert. A sudden revelation came then to "David": You have seperated me from on of my own. Did you come as a prophet to unite or to sever? I have given each being a seperate and unique way of seeing and knowing and saying that knowledge. What seems wrong to you is right for him. What is poison to one is honey to someone else. Purity and impurity, sloth and diligence in worship, these mean nothing to me. I am apart from all that. Ways of worshipping are not to be ranked as better or worse. Hindus do Hindu things. The Dravidian Muslims in India do what they do. It's all praise, and it's all right. I am not glorified in acts of worship. It's the worshipers! I don't hear the words they say. I look inside at the humility. That broken-open lowliness is the reality. Forget phraseology! I want burning, burning. Be friends with your burning. Those who pay attention to ways of behaving and speaking are one sort. Lovers who burn are another. Don't impose a property tax on a burned-out village. Don't scold the lover. The "wrong" way he talks is better than a hundred "right" ways of others. Inside the Kaaba it doesn't matter which way you point your prayer rug! The ocean diver doesn't need snowshoes! The love-religion has no code or doctrine. Only God. So the ruby has nothing engrave on it! I doesn't need markings. God began speaking deeper mysteries to Moses, vision and words, which cannot be recorded here. "David" left himself and came back. He went to eternity and came back here. Many times this happened. It is foolish of me to try and say this. If I did say it, it would uproot human intelligence. "David" ran after the shepherd, following the bewildered footprints, in one place moving like a castle across a chessboard. In another, sideways, like a bishop. Now surging like a wave cresting, now sliding down like a fish, with always his feet making geomancy symbols in the sand, recording his wandering state. "David" finally caught up with him. "I was wrong. God has revealed to me that there are no rules for worship. Say whatever and however your loving tells you to. Your sweetest blasphemy is the truest devotion. Through you a whole world is freed. Loosen your tongue and don't worry what comes out. It's all the light of the spirit." The shepherd replied, ""David","David" I've gone beyond even that. You applied the whip, and my horse shie and jumped out of itself. The divine nature and my human nature come together. Bless your scolding hand. I can't say what has happened. What I'm saying now is not my real condition. It can't be said." The shepherd grew quiet. When you look in a mirror, you see yourself, not the state of the mirror. The flute player gives breath into a flute, and who makes the music? The flute player! Whenever you speak praise or thanksgiving to God, it's always like this dear shepherd's simplicity.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

lil' Marcel

Marcel Proust was born in 1871 and died in 1922. 'A' la recherhe du temps perdu' (In Search of Lost Time) was published in seven volumes and was immediately recognized as a revolutionary work of literature. Seamlessly weaving contemporary ideas of Darwin, Freud, and Einstein with skills of analysis and sharp wit, Proust created such an extraordinary novel, that many claim that it is the greatest fiction to date.

In Search of Lost Time is a fictional autobiography by a man named Marcel. The first forty pages describe his sleeplessness as a young boy anxious for his mother's goodnite kiss. It is here that the Proustian Experience is introduced. As a man, Marcel, takes a madeliene cookie and dips it in his tea and suddenly recalls in vivid detail his memories at Combray where his aunt would give him a madeliene dunked in tea as a boy. The association, unadultered by any recurrance in his life since, bring forth memories potent and clear. He realizes that experiences remain eternally present in the unconscious and discovers his vocation to write In Search of Lost Time.

The novel blurs the discovery to tell the discovery. It is a work of art about one who becomes one who makes art. To attempt to read In Search of Lost Time without help may prove futile. I found How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton and The Magic Lantern of Marcel Proust by Howard Moss both to be invaluable introductions to entering Proust's masterwork.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

papiers de tapisserie

For the householders of modest requirements, there was a great need for some kind of mitigating wall coverings. Labour-intensive and costly fabric hangings were impractical. An atmosphere that was warm and livable, inexpensive yet decorative was fulfilled by paper.

The oldest fragments of European wallpaper were produced as small single sheets. There is no verifiable origin. The first appearances trace to Germany, Northern Italy, and the Netherlands, where graphic arts were most prominent. Wood-grain ceiling papers date through the 16th century as well as marbled paper. In 1481, Louis XI made purchase of 50 'grand rouleaux" paper blue. Richard III passed statute in 1483 that prohibited the importation of cheap foreign manufactured goods including 'painted paper'. In 1688 a popular shop at the sign of the Butterfly was 'dominotier' Jean Papillon, creator of 'papiers de tapisserie' or dominoes, repeated designs across multiple sheets using woodblock and stencil techniques.

Notable artists that have produced wallpapers include: Raoul Dufy, Koloman Moser, Alphonse Mucha, William Morris, Marie Laurencin, Walter Crane, Kate Greenaway, Will Owen, and Andy Warhol. Thomas Couture's masterpiece "Les Prodigues" is one of my favorites.

I enjoy the influence of wallpaper in my research for it's varied uses of panoramic scenes, repeated patterns, border friezes, and remarkable use of the "Grammar of Ornament".

French design on tile

This is an image of a tile I painted of a design that I found in a book of French wallpapers from 1800-1850

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

le jardin anglais

'They gradually ascended for half a mile, and the found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound.'
Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Jane Austen

British landscape design is rich in history and legacy. The diliberate arrangement of nature served a course of various functions. Walls, hedges, and ha-has enclosed areas to allow spaces to become orchards, picturesque, and gardens for pleasure and contemplation so as to express the relationship between humankind and nature. The endeavour of the English landscape garden is a well-textured array of debates in taste and function. Manifestos of intelligence and imagination, garden literature deserves its own regard: "As is the Gardener, so is the Garden"-Thomas Fuller (1732).

Of course I have my favourites, Horace Walpole (1717-97), Capability Brown (1716-83), and Humphry Repton (1752-1818). Published in 1780, Walpole's 'History of the Modern Taste in Gardening' stressed literary inspiration. Brown's radical emphasis was on the form of the landscape itself, eliminating the identity of a specific garden for place of a sublime poetic composition. Famous for his book-bound surveys, Repton was a master of the English formal garden. His "Red Books" left no detail without consideration. He divided up the plan into sections that included Character, the Approach, the House, the View From the House, etc. to create maximum effect for the eminence of his clients. Repton included fantastic drawings of great detail before and after.

The secrets of success in landscape design are an inspiration to my approach to a project. I ask myself about the function and context of the space, dissecting it into parts according to common vantage points and oppurtunity to include theme or themes of import. I can only hope that the results are as timeless and pleasant... that each thought becomes a 'loggie delle muse', the Elysian Groves, or a secluded place for young lovers.

further reading:

The Genius of Place (1975)
Edited by Hunt & Willis

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Can I Be The Missing Link?

I make no apology for being esoteric or frank.

For the purposes of knowing what art is let us define it in two ways:

1. Art is an experience

(a) the experience of the viewer- what the viewer brings to the experience (knowledge or not; taste...) and what they walk away with

(b) the experience of the art object- where it is experienced and it's context, it's lifespan and preservation, it's provenance

(c) the experience of the creator- intent, process, and should take into account all three experiences

2. Philosophically art can be defined as the content and it's means of representation and the appropriateness or inappropriateness of content to representation and vice versa.

With our terms defined, can we stop supporting bad taste. There are wrong experiences to art. If your reaction to Carl Andre or is that a 5-year old could do it, then that is wrong. That reaction is nowhere near the intent of the artist and not worth your time in the experience. Learn something and come back. Kehinde Wiley... now a 5-year could have thought of THAT! Who told this guy he should stop thinking before he started painting? Don't let technical proficiency cover up the lack of thought he puts into his work.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hand-made tile installation

These images are taken of a project I worked on for a client. They are stoneware tile that were formed from slabs of raw clay and hand-cut for the design. The slabs were allowed to dry and then fired at 4 to bisque at which point I painted them by hand with brush and underglazes. They were refired at 06 to finish. As you can see a truly custom and unique piece.

I researched the design thoroughly. The out come is 9 ft of a formal Italian garden landscape that includes the Villa Borghese and approx. 6 ft of an Italian countryside (campagna) including Villa Capra (Villa Rotunda).

The clients, Sherry Hayslip and Cole Smith, are very pleased.

Beginning the process

Who am I? Who needs to know? Why do they need to know? How will they find out? How do I want them to respond?

These are the initial questions of branding. Branding is a "trustmark". It's shorthand. It's a sorting device. It's part of the competition for share of mind.

Once branding is established, part of the followthrough is authenticity. Authenticity refers to self-knowledge and making decisions that are congruent with that self-knowledge. The actions are to be aligned with heritage and value proposition.

These are the questions I am mulling, distilling.