III. The Sleep, or, the Transformation
Hopefully the "meaning" of my work is starting to become a bit more clear. Through an approach to ontology and how that interacts with making things (be they paintings, sculptures, or the basement stairs I just rebuilt) and living in the world and ecosystem, I have found archetypal cycles. Obviously, these cycles have been thought about and written about for years. Some of my extracurricular research interests have to do with Gamelan, a Southeast Asian orchestral music that is written in cycles based on the particular tone of each instrument; Borobudur is an example of Buddhist architecture that is meant for the visitor to experience the motion of the cycle which is also a parallel experience (through carved stone panels throughout the monument illustrating the Buddha's journey) to Siddhartha achieving enlightenment. Mircae Eliade and others have written and explored the idea of the eternal return. Eliade's writings often refer to a doubling of action and existence are repeated archetypes of myth. The same is true for ancient architecture, art, and dance, though modern personhood denies the mythological meaning and doubling of history for its preference of fragmented time and experience.
What becomes important for me to address now though is the idea of poetics and transcendence, specifically how my view of poetics changes and adds to the meaning present in my work (and, to some extent, things that are made and crafted by human hands). My interpretation of the word poetics certainly has a basis in poetry, but I think it is worth it to define what I see as the important part of poetry and its function. The beauty of poetry is that the writer can put together two or more words, each with their own distinct meaning(s), and create a new, transcendent meaning by putting them together. In Auden's poem Funeral Blues he writes the words 'dismantle the sun' as a manifestation of grief and sorrow. I think it is obvious that dismantling is typically though of as applying to something that is made of components, like a machine, a clock, or something else that can be disassembled. The sun, in all of its physical and metaphorical glory, would not be our first object proposed for a dismantling. Somehow Auden puts this phrase together (along with the rest of the poem, of course) to make a transcendent statement of the dramatic thought process of grieving and accepting death.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling in the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
I strongly believe that this is an aim for art making: putting together different and disparate ideas, objects, symbols, elements, etc to form new and transcendent meaning. It is transcendent at its best points, and transcendent in the sense that, while it still maintains the ideas original meanings, it also creates something new, something that can contribute to the history of the idea as it stands.
Poetics, therefore, are an absolutely essential part of my studio practice. There is no direct route to poetics, however. Poetics comes from making and creating things, it is not something that can be planned in my mind. I think that it is necessary for artists to form studio practices that allow for mistakes, exploration, and impulsive decision-making.