24 April 2017

THE CREATIVE PROCESS OF XELASOMA II


As an accompaniment to my first entry about the creative process found here, I will now describe the precise sequence of stages that constituted the final process.  As a preliminary measure, I would address the conditioning of my conscious states before committing any mark upon the surface of the page.




STAGE I: TRANSMISSION

The mind is the primary medium of all artists.  It is the vehicle through which we generate and appreciate works of creation.  Most artists create their work from within the habitual ranges that typify our waking lives; they are exercising their worth from the same conscious states that inform the work of the engineer, the schoolmaster and the laboratory technician.  One might say that our conscious states are the platform of our action; it is the consistency that determines the quality of our activity in the world.  We would not expect a man to be able to sprint as well on sand as he might on concrete; likewise, we cannot expect the same quality of output from a man who is trying to paint whilst angry to one that is calm.  There is obviously a line of causality between the conscious states we experience and the quality of action committed whilst under their influence.  So what might be possible if we had access to states beyond the normal ranges that typify our waking life?  Would our styles of action remain the same?  

It is completely within our means to find out if we possessed the methods of escaping the horizons of our typical calibration.  Indeed, the outer spheres of mentation such as dreams, visions and trance states are a source of untapped potential for artists if they would only realise the opportunity that lies beyond the range of the habitual gates.  We have evolved into the most dynamic organism in nature, and by adulthood, we will have surely migrated through enough alternate experiences to acknowledge the variance of our conscious states.  Yet, despite our exposure to the mind's complexity, we will still remain nested within the habitual ranges as if it were the only option we ever had available.  By recognising the mutability of our mental states, we can begin to uncover a region of untapped potential within ourselves that we may harness for the realisation of a new creative result.It was the acknowledgement of these matters that inspired me to develop a simple, yet effective creative process for the gestation of my craft.  For the benefit of those who might not have read the initial entry to this two-part set, I will briefly go over that my initial intent was to influence the result of my linework by using meditational techniques that condition the mind through the automatic nervous system into alternative states beyond the standard waking ranges.  These alternate states mitigate the attachment to random thoughts and have a consequence of 'tunnelling' conscious attention into singular action.  By affecting the ambient quality of my mind, I would, by extension of that result, alter the way that I moved with the medium, thereby generating algorithms of linework that were the products of spontaneous and obsessive process and less constrained by the filters of conscious activity normally present within the creative process.  This was partially a symbolic imitation of various qualities that were associated with my prior psycho-transformative experience, and an attempt to introduce these qualities as a psychic filter by invoking them within the mind prior to any creative action under the rationale that it would influence the result beyond any pre-realised limits.  This exercise was not about removing filters, it was about remaking them in the image of the past.  The experience that had birthed me into a new life tract, would supply the psycho-symbolic values that would usher in these new creative lifeforms.

The way that I achieved this altered state of consciousness was through deep and prolonged breathing exercises called 'pranayama' in the eastern traditions that originally formulated them.  Pranayama places conscious control over the breathing patterns of the body, translating into various physical and psychological benefits to the user.  The result of this activity, if practised in conformity with the proper instruction and with due diligence, will stem changes in both physical and brain activity, thus delivering the human from the standard ranges of his conscious flux into a new configuration.  When we draw from our own life experience and consider that the quality of our perspectives and actions will alter in response to conditions such as anger or fear (which are still within the readily accessible range of mental states) it is more than reasonable to imagine that by initiating techniques that place exquisite emphasis on physical conditioning to achieve an alternative mental state, that the results of  artistic activity might also be modified.

Now let us address the physiological systems that relate to the practice of breath regulation.  When we apply conditioning exercises that propel us into an altered state of consciousness, we typically interpret the result at the mental level of action, however, what we are actually affecting at the primary level in this process is the physical body.  Pranayama is a technique that takes advantage of the human ability to modulate the conditions of our own organism via its own organic functions, specifically, in this case, the human nervous system.

Breathing is part of a set of bodily functions associated with the automatic nervous system (ANS), a range of physical activities that occur below the conscious level; that is to say, without the need of conscious control.  However, breathing is different from other ANS systems such as heart function and food digestion in that its function can perform both automatically and be modulated voluntarily by conscious control.  The ANS is divided into two sub-systems that for simplicities sake are best thought of as regulators of excitatory or inhibitory control within the bodily systems that they are related to.  Due to its unique offerings for direct influence, control over our breathing rates allows us to likewise, excite or inhibit these systems, translating into a noticeable effect at the conscious level of experience.

The ability to directly influence the dynamics of the human nervous system consequently corresponds to an alteration in the brain wave state.  Pranayama practice can send us from a beta wave state (our active, alert conscious state; 12-30Hz) into an alpha brain state (8-12Hz).  Being in an alpha brain state places inhibition on our sensory drives and increased disassociation gathers between our conscious mind and the attachment to distractive thoughts, producing an effect complimentary to what I have previously stated: a focused and narrowed state of consciousness that would aid in the transmission of a raw, automatic and less disrupted style of transmission.

In an attempt to further influence the result of the pranayama practice, sensory deprivation was introduced.  External stimuli, if it is especially obnoxious and ever-changing, will thwart concentration and the ability to engage with a practice that demands great concentration and consistency to achieve its effect.  Whilst technically, the pranayama practice can be enacted with the eyes open or closed, due to the practical considerations and my desire for pronounced effect, I attempted to augment the process with the aid of an eye-mask.  This aid shut out ambient light more effectively, and perhaps, carried me into the activity at a more immersive level.

I would practice the technique until I had achieved a satisfactory deep state from the pranayama practice; then, with my vision still obstructed, I would reach for a pre-placed pencil and begin to automatically express upon the prepared surface, the medium flowing and moving without critical interference until I felt the state gradually began to wane, whereby I would naturally return back into the flux of the brains' beta frequencies.  Sometimes, the state would only maintain itself for under a few minutes, so I would then hold off for several hours before returning back to the practice in order to generate more linework over what I had previously produced.  This process would continue until I was satisfied that there was enough raw deposit to justify moving on to the next stage, whereby a process of active association would begin.


STAGE II: ASSOCIATION





This would now become an exercise in quality refinement.  With the raw linework secured through automatic drawing, I would now enter into a less psychologically demanding stage of the creative process constituting an activity of analysis and association.  The intent was to associate positive structures out of the chaotic mess of lines, refine their edges and erase the unnecessary mullock.  I was, however, still conscientious of certain aspects of brain activity in order to harness a positive result.

To understand this stage of the creative process, we will need to say something about the relationship between visual subjects and the brain, and most importantly, surrounding some of the bi-hemispheric processes of brain function.

When we perceive a phenomenal subject, be it organic or artificial, we are caught up in a dynamic relationship with that subject.  We might interpret a subject as being remote and dissociated from our organic structure, but in reality, there is an umbilical and intimate relationship between the subject and the sensitivities of the flesh.  Whilst this may seem like a natural statement to those who are intuitive to their powers of organism, it is vitally important to address this fundamental characteristic of vision for the benefit of this treatment on the creative process, because commonly, due to our cultural/hemispheric bias for atomised thinking, the dynamics and consequences of visual activity can become abstracted into a state of alienation from their appropriate language and context.
This stage of the creative process was predicated on the acknowledgement of that deep relationship between the visual brain and the phenomenal subject; not just that, it was the very amplification of it.  When vision and subject become intertwined through the activity of immersive analysis, the boundaries between the two parties become merged, peripheral vision mutes and the brain interiorises its subject at a far deeper level of analysis than at the casual level.  With the visual subject given to the brains' undivided attentions, we no longer relate to the subject as a remote item of phenomenal circumstance, but as an intimate extension and collaborator with our own sensitive physical and mental activity.  This level of immersive activity was absolutely necessary to extract from the transmitted result, the most prominent features of subject refinement that would underlay the application of the final aesthetic overlay.

As I said, my intent at this stage of the process was to flesh out some parameters around the transmitted linework that would establish the major forms in preparation for the subsequent overlay of an aesthetic surface.  We might better say, that my motive was to discern some semblance of order out of chaos.  When we observe the form of a consciously captured subject, let us say in this instance a snake, we did not immediately arrive at that positive conclusion even though it may have felt like it within our personal appreciation of time.  Despite the speed of our acquisition, there was still an underlying process within the fields of our brain activity that engendered the final conclusion.  Firstly, the regions of our visual cortex responsible for movement recognition would ascertain that a travelling subject had presented itself at the peripheral range.  Then, the hemispheric powers concerned with association and discrimination could ascertain that something 'snake-like;' potentially animal, was there.  Only after this positive association to the general can the specific details of the subject emerge, the initial figures of ambiguity leading the way for the subsequent left hemispheric powers of isolation and categorisation to follow; and both, operating in unison to beget the conclusion that the figure was a) moving b)alive c)an animal d)an animal-specific to several characteristics that qualified its unique identity.  Thanks to years of rigorous study into visual dynamics and the deep fields of brain activity, we can now understand the range of processes that are informing the sensory experiences of our waking lives.  The fact that this occurs so quickly prevents many from recognising its composition, yet in every typical case of a visuosensory relationship, this activity is in process.



Interestingly, cases concerning subjects with acute damage to certain regions of the visual cortex responsible for specific tasks confirms this sequence.  An individual with damage to the regions of the visual cortex responsible for subject association might still be able to detect movement well, but not be able to discern the exact nature of the subject in sequence.  Sometimes it is necessary for these patients to bring in other senses such as touch to compliment the tasks that the damaged cortex cannot manage on its own.  By combing the brains' agencies of movement recognition and touch together, they can detect that the subject was, for instance, a cat all along.  Association always precedes the specifics of left hemispheric description, and this chapter in the creative process was predicated heavily upon this understanding.

The exercise gets very interesting when the mind is confronted with the aesthetics of chaos: with form-life that is structured disobediently to the positively acquired associations and figures that standardise the phenomenal world.  After the initial transmission of base material, the page certainly did depict a field of chaotic linework, with no discernable shape or character obedient to any organic form, yet significantly possessed with the potential to be so.  It was at this stage that I relied upon these powers of association to impart novelty structure from the disordered linework.  Even when confronted with chaotic systems of sensory information, the brain still attempts to discern the same semblance of reliability from its unreliable pathways in exactly the same manner that it would try to discern any other range of sense data.  The brains' powers of positive association and acute categorisation are still in play with chaotic forms no matter how disorderly or confusing the configuration.


I would scan the surface of the page until something reached out to me from the web of tangled lines to indicate a remote familiarity, then hone in on that specific region, and if affirmative enough, capitalise on that result by highlighting and refining the linework around that area into the impression that was associated.  Sometimes, the forms did not immediately associate to any specific motif such as a hand or tooth, but rather they captured enough affirmative feature out of which such attributes could potentially be developed.  Success in one area gave rise to further strata of association, and in this way, the physicality of the creative subject came gradually into focus.  Due to the flexible nature of this method, any disparities between the various elements in different regions of the page was not really an issue.  Due to the organic nature of the aesthetic, it was not difficult to construct ways of bridging their structures together in post-editing until the whole emerged out of the many, securing the complete anatomy of the art-form in its multitudinous emergence out of disorder.


STAGE III: SYNTHESIS


With the skeletal underpinnings of automatic drawing committed via meditative trance, and with the various distinctions of anatomy called out of the organic spread, what followed was a more free-form post-production process where micro details were added in, linework and compositional structure were refined to a higher standard and coatings of colouration were applied to seal the subject in its final synthesis.

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This has been the entire account of how I formed both the conception and realisation of the creative process that generated the early artworks of the XELASOMA project.  This is still the primary system through which I continue to generate all of my major fine art works into the present day.

I would like to remind the reader that this creative process was originally conceived out of a desire to seek reconciliation with the power of a past experiences, leading to an intellectual inquiry into the nature of the mind and the human organism and then ultimately towards the crystallisation of these informers into a practical system that fostered the first art forms, the symbolic embodiments of this entire process.  Through understanding the power of the past we can capture the positive associations that secure the identity for the art that will stand as its ambassador in the present.

I also find it necessary to reiterate in my final conclusion what I stated in the first entry of this account: that I believe it is in the best interest of all artists to discover a way of generating and talking about their work that is complimentary to their own idiosyncracies and nature, and that through this assessment, one can confidently realise the apex of their creative evolution.  Technical refinements and the acquisition of new skills, an understanding of business and commerce to proliferate the work effectively and a solid intellectual education regarding the interests that motivate the individual creator are all catalysts in the professional maturation of a contemporary artist.  Yet, I maintain that is beyond these interests and into the deep personal wellsprings of the inner life that we must descend in order to excavate the conditions of our true maturation.  When we create in the image of the signals captured and realised at the private level of the Self, we will retransmit them as potent reflections of our own flesh and psychology.  From the dark reservoirs of the human body spring the raw materials primed for transformation into designs that are the creative emanations of that deep body memory, something that stems from the very core of our energetic life, and when filtered through the unique calibration of our own creative process, produces the visions of artefact worthy of the greater cultural body of the world.

▲▲▲Watch a video on the XELASOMA channel detailing this process, here:▲▲▲


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