Tuesday, December 29, 2009
(click image to enlarge. print out, cut along dotted line, and fold to make a small book)
at the turn of the millennium, i tried to muster up interest in a global meditation in the form of a world-wide OM chant. i made this publicity flier before access to the internet was so ubiquitous. i still feel just as strongly about the power of sound to harmonize the world...anyone up for joining me in howling some good vibes at the moon for 5 minutes starting at 11:55pm on thursday, wherever you may be?
Thursday, May 14, 2009
In 2002 I traveled to the Peruvian rainforest to meet with an “ayahuascero” – a shaman who works in particular with ayahuasca, a very powerful vision-enhancing elixir. For me, the plant medicine provided a range of extremely intense experiences. During one “journey” in particular, I travelled to another planet where Jesus was debarking from a spacecraft wearing a white sparkly Elvis costume. He was also wearing sunglasses with an extra lens for the third eye. I said, “Nice glasses!” and Jesus replied, “Alyce, these are for you.” Since this experience I have been collecting old pairs of glasses from thrift shops with the intent to recreate the glasses in my vision. I’ve finally gotten around to assembling a few pairs – this is one of my favorites.
Monday, February 16, 2009
EVERYONE IS AN ARTIST
As our society collectively awakens to the realization that it must devise ways to stem the hemorrhaging caused by years of denial and excess, and as the DIY (do-it-yourself) movement becomes proportionally more popular, I am constantly reminded of Joseph Beuys’ words “Everyone Is An Artist”. Beuys believed strongly, not that everyone should make (so-called) fine art, but that everyone can live a richer and more meaningful life by infusing any vocation or action with his or her own personal creativity.
Beuys believed that personal creativity could be cultivated and honed by reconnecting with nature, and by developing a more intimate relationship with it. He believed that individuals, as well as our entire culture could be healed by returning to a simpler way of life, and by becoming more attuned to the subtle, ineffable forces of the ecosystem we inhabit
EVERYONE IS A SHAMAN
Some call one who consciously connects to, communicates with, and elaborates on the intangible a shaman. Some called Joseph Beuys that. Most just called him an artist. Shamans, artists, cooks, gardeners, scientists, inventors and all others who bring imaginary things out of the realm of the intangible to help give them form could benefit from enhanced access to the mysterious force of inspiration. In this sense, everyone is a shaman as well.
And as people begin to seek ways to “do it themselves” they are exercising a form of personal creativity that has been largely neglected in our culture for far too long. A basic fact of existence that has been all but forgotten is that human happiness and the sense of freedom (the pursuits of which are among our so-called inalienable rights) depend largely on the ability to express personal creativity (Beuys also famously said, “To make people free is the aim of art. Therefore art for me is the science of freedom”).
THE JOY OF FLUXUS
I believe that the reshuffling of our collective deck, while discomfiting at times, will ultimately result in an overall increase in happiness as people come to realize that we were misguided in relating the ravenous, mindless accumulation of stuff to personal joy, and as we begin to experience instead the sense of simple, profound satisfaction that comes from planting a seed, sewing on a button, or cooking a meal from scratch.
AUTONOMY AS RADICAL ACT
Consciously creative types (“makers” as they have come to be known) are returning to the sort of DIY approach to the creating and sharing of their work that the fluxus artists of the 1960’s and 70’s pioneered – only now we have the internet. Websites, blogs, and social networks have made the white box/velvet rope gallery mentality virtually obsolete - now everyone has the same access to the same art and artists, from the comfort and privacy of their own homes. Sculptors can create installations in a basement, musicians can give concerts in their living rooms, writers can publish in an instant – and everything can be shared with millions of people across the planet.
For many years, I have been interested in the internet as a by-product of the fundamental human longing to connect. The telegraph, telephone, and television are all apparatus devised to facilitate communication. The internet takes it all a step further – now we are able to pool resources, share information, and create tangible links. In 1998 I read a brilliant article on the subject by Howard Rheingold, an early internet researcher and pioneer, in the Institute of Noetic Sciences newsletter. In the article, called Thinking About Thinking About Technology
Mr. Rheingold posits that for new technology to develop into tools for enhancement of creativity and “mind amplification” as opposed to becoming merely a source of “disinfotainment” we must develop a philosophical framework within which it can evolve. That was 11 years ago. Now we know that technology has become everything that we are - enriching and distracting, elegant and dangerous, brilliant and ridiculous.
Shortly after reading Mr. Rheingold’s article, I became a member of “Brainstorms” a private experimental virtual community he was starting. I wanted to be among the early pioneers of cyberspace as a cultural phenomenon. The platform Brainstorms has run on since its inception acts very much like a modern blog. I was extremely excited and intrigued by the prospect that a written essay, much like this one, could have links, sound, and image files built right in.
Technology has arrived at a point in its evolution when it is exceptionally easy for the maker to direct all aspects of his or her own creation, from inception to publication, marketing, and dissemination. From Facebook, MySpace, and Flickr to Ebay and YouTube, it is an exciting moment for the DIY innovator.
INTERNET AS CAVE WALL
Technologies for the amplification and enhancement of imagination and conscious intent have existed in every aspect of human culture at least since the first cave painting was created. The development of modern western civilization’s fanatic rejection of the unquantifiable has, in many ways, done us a great disservice. I believe that a reenchantment with the intangible and an open minded acceptance of alternative modes of perception will make it possible for humanity to emerge from this period of economic, environmental, and social reevaluation into a more peaceful and contented era.
WHERE YOU CAN FIND ME
Electronic Shamanism at InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Center in Toronto ‘til March 7
New Videos on Youtube:
How to Explain Quantum Physics to a Dead Hare
Alyce's artwork on Flickr
Improbable Projects on MySpace
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
back in 1997, i produced an edition of letterpress posters reading "CENTER for the OBVIOUS CAMPAIGN to REPLACE the DIAL-TONE with OM". i guess one day i just picked up the phone, and started humming along with the dial tone, and all of a sudden, it turned into a sort of meditation. "replacing the dial-tone with OM" is really just requires a mental shift - it's a matter of perception.
later i learned that laurie anderson used to tune her violin to the dial tone - turns out that the dial tone is almost a perfect A 440. whereas, from what i can gather, the syllable OM is traditionally considered to be a C# (554.37 Hz).
since nearly all of the original posters have been sold or given away, i've decided to do an inexpensive reprinting in high-quality 11"x 17" color xerox on heavy stock, currently available at the PHILOSOPROP SHOP.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Way back in 1996, I lived in a factory building loft space in Providence, RI. By day I was working as a research assistant at the University of Rhode Island, and at night I was attending graduate classes in scientific illustration at RI School of Design – I felt overwhelmingly compelled to make art about the great mysteries of science – but I was feeling a little like an impostor in both worlds. My coworkers thought of me as an artist who happened to have a day gig at the lab, and at RISD I felt like the other students could tell that I was really a scientist. In the end, it was, of course, all in my (bi-hemispherical) head.
At some point during the summer of 1996, the information that was to become “Evolution of an Artist” began to emerge. It began with “A Vital Discipline”, an insight I’d had regarding the creative process, letterpress printed onto a cocktail napkin. I later came to realize that “A Vital Discipline” was really just a paraphrase of something I’d heard Allen Ginsberg say at a reading years earlier: “When the Muse calls, answer”.
The other parts of “How to Become a Successful Artist” (later titled “Evolution of an Artist”) formed all at once over the course of a few weeks while I was peering for hours a day through a microscope. Of course I knew next to nothing about becoming a successful artist. The information just seemed to arrive, and it was my job to turn it into some sort of booklet. I was just following Mr. Ginsberg’s advice, answering the Muse when it called.
I decided to write Mr. Ginsberg a letter of thanks for his inspiration. I sent him a copy of the first incarnation of the completed booklet, including a live lottery ticket with another chapter, “ODDS”, rubber stamped on the back. I’d purchased two Powerball tickets with the same number, figuring that if the number came up, we’d have to split the prize. This in itself would get me a little closer to becoming a successful artist...
Copies of “Evolution of an Artist” in its current incarnation are available thru supermarket.
Monday, October 6, 2008
the idea to create these remedies occurred to me shortly after 9/11/2001. it began with "violence" - based on the notion that "like cures like" (similia similibus curentur), i felt that perhaps an antidote could be concocted by making a tincture by soaking a bullet in distilled water.
VIOLENCE: dilution made from bullet soaked in distilled water.
CONSUMERISM: diluted bottled water from wal-mart.
DETACHMENT: miniscule dose of superglue.
ALIENATION: empty. CAUTION: extremely potent!
GREED: dilution made from coins soaked in distilled water.
with all the news of late, it seems that these remedies are needed now more than ever.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
i made this piece (letterpress and litho, 15"x 11", ed. of 4) way back in 2000. with all the excitement around the firing-up of the new CERN particle accelerator (there's a nice article on it in the ny times by brian greene), i dug it out of the archives.
we humans feel compelled to delve into the deepest mysteries of the universe in so many different ways.
i'm not sure if it will be science, art, philosophy, spirituality, or a combination of all of these, that will provide definitive proof that we're all made out of the same ONE THING...
but i do believe that a discovery of this magnitude has the capacity to transform humanity in much the same way that the wielding of fire transformed it millennia ago...it will provide us with a tool, a key to connecting with the intangible...it will enable us to interact and communicate more efficiently with the mysterious thing within us and without us from whence our thoughts, passions, and inspirations emerge.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
several years ago during an artists' residency at acadia national park in maine, i took a walk each day to an island that could only be accessed at low tide. at the time, i was obsessively sketching jellyfish, though i had few live specimens to work from. one afternoon as i began my walk i noticed a dead lion's mane jellyfish stranded on the rocks. just as i was contemplating how best to transport the beautiful yet slightly decaying blob of gelatinous, stinging goo, i noticed several others. the more i looked, the more appeared. i gazed out into the outgoing tide. there were twenty or more jellyfish all poised for a similar fate: planktonic creatures, unable to maneuver with directional intention, the strangely elegant, garnet-colored cnidarians were trapped. the wind was driving them onto the rocks as the water was being sucked out from under them.
i was moved by this tragic situation which, to me, seemed to be the perfect metaphor for life in general, and for my "CHOOSE DETERMINISM" philosophy: at sea, the jellyfish has the sensation of free will...it floats and drifts without awareness of the edges of the container in which it exists...until the wind and tide together create conditions which washes it ashore.
i ran back to my cabin to grab my super 8 film camera, and ran back to document this rare and bizarre phenomenon.
a few months later, i visited the texan high desert near big bend national park for the first time. the landscape reminded me of the sea floor...in fact, it IS the sea floor, several million years after the water receded. i thought of the jellyfish, and when i edited the film, i decided to create a soundtrack that evoked both water and desert earth and star-filled night sky at the same time.
haeckel's dream is available on dvd in an edition of 50. please contact me if you would like to acquire a high resolution copy.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
My dad was a philosophy major in college. When I was a kid, we used to have lengthy discussions about free will versus determinism. For a long time I considered myself an existentialist…I surmised that we are condemned to be free, that we are each individually responsible for every detail of the unfolding of our lives. But as I got older, more and more seemed inherently out of my control. I began to sense that free will and determinism must be operating simultaneously, but my father insisted that you can’t have intermittent free will…it’s either all clockwork or all chaos, but not a little of each.
Then I learned about quantum physics, and about how the particles of everything around us are ultimately made up of mostly empty space held together by mysterious forces…forces that do not abide by the physical laws that govern large things. For all intents and purposes, quantum physics and classical physics cannot coexist…and yet they do. In fact, physicists are working around the clock to come up with a “grand unification theory”, a way to reconcile them.
To me, the free will/determinism dilemma is identical: determinism = classical physics, things abiding by predictable laws, and free will = renegade waves and particles appearing in two places at once, having non-local relationships, and otherwise working behind the scenes to make our reality appear to be made of something solid.
For me, “CHOOSE DETERMINISM” is a sort of grand unification theory for philosophy. Maybe we can have a little of both. Maybe we have no choice…
The "philosoprop" I have developed to demonstrate these principles is a pair of dice that have three dots embossed on all sides. The roller has the sensation of free will, but the number will always come up on two 3's. There's also an accompanying small propaganda-style booklet/questionnaire entitled "Are You a DETERMINIST? YOU DECIDE!"
Please contact me for details if you'd like a set (booklet + 2 dice) of your own.