The calling of art affords the creative artist an opportunity to journey through the full spectrum of creation and destruction, joy and suffering in the microcosm of her creative process. This interplay of light and dark, fullness and emptiness, synthesis and chaos lends a richness and dimension to my life that I would have never thought to ask for were it not for an unrelenting passion for Art.
This week, I'll get to experience this process up-close-and-personal by way of engaging in the durational meditation performance, Luminous Objects, which is presented by TWO RAMS at the SPRING/BREAK Art Show in New York from the 6th through the 9th of March. I'll be performing from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for the full span of the fair.
In this ongoing investigation I utilize prolonged theta-state meditation, which is known in neuroscience as a state of relaxed alertness in which a person experiences vibrant mental imagery, inspiration and insight. In this state I'm able to empirically study the radiant aesthetics of the inner optical realm and capture the precise moment of the creative spark. I will collect and share this effulgence that can be observed only when the eyes are closed and the mind is intently focused. Throughout the performance, I harvest my visions and share them in real time through a variety of virtual channels including the social media platforms Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.
I have received loads of interesting questions about this performance, the most practical being, "Won't you get hungry?" and "Won't you have to go to the bathroom?" It would seem that sitting for 8 hours without eating or relieving oneself would be a recipe for torture, but thankfully, it's not. I've prepared for this process over the past several weeks by training my body's rhythms through a carefully-timed intake of food and drink. The body loves routine and enthusiastically responds to mindful, controlled periods of fasting with joy and healing. Affording it repose from reacting to the demands of frenetic consumption provides a direct way of "making peace with the body," (to quote the Zen master and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh.) To put it in visual art terminology, such moderation provides an effective way of utilizing the body as a lens to focus the light which pours through the self.
Another provocative question I've received is, "What does it feel like to sit and meditate for that long?" This process, which I've been exploring for a while now, has revealed to me an explicit experience of time's plasticity. I find that time behaves very differently when I spend several hours roaming through the light-filled interior realm. For example, what I might perceive to be a three-hour long meditation is likely to be eight hours in length. If there is one lesson I have learned throughout this process, it's that time travel is accomplished by becoming very still.
Likewise, my perception of space becomes an entirely different experience while observing visions of light penetrating the murk of a seemingly infinite black plane. I will experience visions of lightening bolts, stroboscopic thunderheads, funnel clouds, aurorae huddling around seemingly endless horizons and even encounter the palpable warmth of what I can best describe as "invisible light." The relationship between physical outer space and nonphysical interior space is endlessly intriguing to me.
Another fascinating aspect of this process is the correlation between meditation, the vividness of dreams and a more intensified connection to the subconscious mind, in general. To quote the experimental dancer and choreographer Yvonne Rainer, "the mind is a muscle." While engaged in this performance, my dreams become far more dazzling and loaded with meaning than usual. The clarity of mind coupled with the increased vivacity of my dreams precipitates in a complete or near-complete ability to recall them. You might say that meditation coaxes the gate of the subconscious ajar, enabling its vast resources to steadily flow. I shall be keeping a dream journal throughout the performance and if I encounter anything truly extraordinary, it might just turn up in future artwork.
As a visual artist, I have high hopes for what vision can become in the 21st century. Our century is still a teenager in its formative years and our creative actions today are the tiny seeds of Art's robust future. May ours be century in which the eye is a vessel of light, vision is granted as a gift and the gaze becomes an ambassador of wonder.