The Healing Power of Nature

Although the body has the ability to heal itself without necessarily having any outside intervention, really one of the best remedies is the great outdoors. Nature has tremendous capacity to heal, the earth provides noninvasive treatments and harmony of health through natural processes. Simply being in the restorative environment amongst nature can sooth the mind and allow one to slow down and step out of the chaotic rush of city living. The prevalence today of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, obesity, and factors related to over-stimulation by the ever-present electronic environment can be directly related to an absence of time spent enjoying nature.  The article I was assigned to illustrate even goes to say that even just simply seeing the grass grow can greatly help reduce stress and promote over all well being.


The Allegory of Plato's Condo

I was initially assigned to collaborate with Jeremy Andersen, Tara Miche and Tracy Olson on an installation work. The only thing certain upon beginning our project was that we wanted our sculpture to cast interactive shadows onto figurative drawings on the wall. With the nature of collaborative design, that is losing the self driven decisions to a collective consciousness, we were left with identity theft to be a subject of top interest. Our sculpture was thus then designed to have a nondescript figure positioned so that they could be read as either running in fear or as if chasing a prey.

The piece is titled Plato's Condo is reference to Plato's cave. Plato's cave is an allegorical commentary on the human race in relations to education, perception and all of reality. Within Plato's cave inhabits prisoners staring at a blank cave wall watching shadows cast by their unseen captors and the illumination of fire. The illusion of shadow puppets as created by the captors are believed to be real things by the prisoner. Plato furthermore introduces a scenario where if the captors were to see the objects casting the shadows that they would not believe them to be "real" as the shadows are.

The ego is perhaps the greatest example of Plato's cave and of identity theft. The illusive ego which can never quite be pin-pointed lives in the past. Looking behind us we will see our shadow, the past, to which the ego may claim "this is what I am" and chain itself to this belief when this is at most a new perception of what was. The shadow of our ego is only a shadow on the wall, one must simply turn around to see the light.

Conception, Benjamin Wuest, 2010

The energy sculpture as explored in my previous blog entry brought up discussion of like minded energy artists such as Travis Freeman whom experimented with creating spaces for meditative realization as explored in his piece "The Meaning of Being" the energy of one hundred meditators. Freeman created a space for meditative concentration and realization as is achieved through the meditative practice of art performance whether it be painting, dripping, cutting acrobatics or simply working with chance by giving up control and allowing movement beyond the conventional laws of the self consciousness through the practice of finding harmony beyond dualism of artist and art, subject and object, being and non-being, emptiness and all forms. Freeman also played with creating spaces for group meet-ups and organizations to gather. Freeman also addresses social structure sculpture and even bridges into the healing power of art through his work "you may lay your head in my lap" which allowed any participator to lay their head in the lap of a complete stranger. This played into the exploration of social sculpture as pioneered by Joseph Bueys whom had concepts concerning the social, cultural and political function of art. Buey believed the power of human creativity and potential for art to bring about revolutionary change.

In 1962 Buey became one of the fist members of the eclectic artist group Fluxus. Fluxus is a global network of primarily minimalist composers and artists that made a switch on what an artist produces to more of a focus on the artists personality, actions and opinion as well as playing an emphasize on the connections of everyday objects and art. They played with these concepts through small pieces or "Happenings" to involving actions in large political rally's.

Happenings as explained by Allan Kaprow, the assembly artist attributed with conducting the first happenings, are "not a new style, but a moral act, a human stand of great urgency, whose professional status as art is less critical than their certainty as an ultimate existential commitment." Kaprow is commenting on conforming to the confinement of catering to a crowd and particularly with respects to monetary gain. Happenings pursued the immaterial as a fun counter to the seriousness of modern Art.

Happenings are events consisting of minimal vague instruction, opening the events to accidents and unintended effects. The audience shifts from spectator into performer, replacing criticism with support, and contributes to the randomness of events as achieved through integrating chance factors which supports Duchamp's notion of the viewer completing the art work. When chaos determines the path the performance will follow, there is no room for failure. When something goes 'wrong', something far more 'right,' more revelatory, has many times emerged. Thus every Happening is fresh, cannot be reproduced and is a priceless work of art blurring the separation between life, art, artist, and audience.


Do Not Mistake the Finger Pointing to the Balloon to be the Balloon Itself.

I was delighted to be assigned to create a work based off the everyday as I in my work I regularly attempt to manifest a sense of everyday nature (Yugen) with what is right here and now (sabi) through immediate experiential aesthetic apprehension of transcending the traditional world through bridging the phenomenal with reality. The ultimate intention of my work is that the viewer may experience the same realization I experienced and realized in the process of performing the art whether it be painting, acrobatics or working with chance and allowing movement beyond conventional laws of the self consciousness and thus finding harmony beyond the dualism of subject and object, artist and art, internal and external, being and non-being and of form and emptiness.

For this project I initially wanted to do an Acroyoga performance with the BrentlyShow at Station 4 night club and turn in a video recording to those whom could not make it but I was immediately shot down and told I needed to perform in class. I shrugged that off and figured I'd fly our teacher Katinka Galanos if she must insist but than also figured I should have a back-up plan jus' in case and thus I also collaborated with Chris Lyle on a video documentary about yoga as well as made some digital imagery of Brandon Wharton and Stephanie Vilendrer performing AcroYoga. I came into class confident and hit a wall of criticism. Katinka had severe back injuries and could not fly, my video doc was apparently not considered to be a "work of art" and my images were in the wrong format. I was told to try again.

Katinka was right, though I thought my documentary was an everyday way to portray my every day, it simply did not demand the participation of the viewer and thus allow them to detach of their ego so they may remove the self and experience a pure connection to my work and an unaltered state of their being. This was the same dilemma as Studying Zen vs. Practicing Zen. I thus came to the realization that I needed to introduce my class to the Energy Art Qi Gong and build an energy sculpture. Your participation is requested, please stand and do as I do.