Darcy and I have decided to move forward with the image she called “Mapping Manhattan.” From the beginning of our collaboration, I told Darcy that I would like to create something that would represent the synthesis of the field of neuroscience and the context of New York. Initially, I sent her a sketch that I made a couple months before beginning this residency. As before, it was only meant to help me get an idea down on paper, not necessarily being representative of the end product. I wanted to use it as an opportunity to merge several elements that I recently came across. I will give some examples below.
In the beginning of this summer, I took my daughter to the Children’s Museum of the Arts in New York City. Going in, I expected to spend some time with her, guiding her through some simple drawing or sculpting hands-on activities that the museum provides for the kids. I was in for a big surprise. In one of the rooms, I saw the work of Sally Curcio and was completely blown away. Under a large glass bubble, there was a bright reconstruction of the Central Park Reservoir made out of beads. Next to it, another bubble showed a depiction of Miami Beach, also out of beads. And then there was a large fictional landscape. I remember thinking that it has been a really long time since I last felt so mesmerized and excited about something. I was hooked on this beadwork.
In August, my family went on vacation to California and while walking through Chinatown in San Francisco, I stumbled upon a gallery featuring works by Joel Amit. Most of his works were mosaics made of miniature butterflies, birds or fish. These elements were handcrafted to be similar in shape, yet all of them were uniquely different. They were protruding to various heights from the surface, creating 3-dimensional images that could be related or completely different from the individual components. On the way home, I was deep in thought about how I could incorporate something similar in my work.
Given Darcy’s creation of “Mapping Manhattan,” I am currently playing around with how I could merge these elements and marry them to my medium of beadwork.
Time to Focus
Yana and my discussions and posts are focusing on a collaborative artwork stemming from Mapping Manhattan (below). As I talked about in the last post, this is Yana’s confocal microscopy image of neurons that was not useful for science but became a playground for artistic ideas for both of us. I now need to come up with my next step in our collaboration. The problem is that I have so many ideas and possible approaches that I feel myself shutting down. This is a universal difficulty with creativity. How to home in on the exact approach and media for an artwork, to the exclusion of others. Because I’m a hoarder of ideas and possibilities in art, it is even more difficult.
Here are the questions I am absorbed by right now: Are there more insights and expressions available in this image for me? It will require a certain amount of deconstruction so that some space is created to reenter the work. I didn't realize it would be this problematic. I want to have some idea of both the steps and the outcome so I can relax into the work. Otherwise, the process is aimless and goes down a blind alley very quickly.
So, as artists and scientists how do we decide or choose the specific method to answer a question? Well, I suppose we first need to refine the question. What am I trying to communicate? What problem am I trying to solve? What insight am I trying to uncover? Can I answer these questions in a conscious rational way or do I need to allow my subconscious mind to hit on a solution? Either way, I’m stuck. I enjoy the image the way it is. Is there any room to move beyond what it is now? Is that what we mean by “finished”... no more possibilities... complete and self-contained? It’s like a small death.
I turn to the section of Lenard Shlain’s, Leonardo's Brain on creativity and insight. The right hemisphere goes on processing long after our conscious, logical left hemisphere has moved on to more immediate pressures. According to current neuroscience, this explains the sudden flash of insight that happens after we stop thinking about a problem consciously and rationally. The solution bubbles up later into consciousness sometime while our left hemisphere is otherwise occupied. The theory is that there are times we need to shut off the language and linear processing such a logical evaluation in our dominant left hemisphere to let the right hemisphere to come up with more creative solutions.
So, I went to my studio today to prepare a large wooden cradle for something… not sure what yet. Then I came back to my computer and played with Mapping Manhattan layered on the wood surface in Photoshop. Here are some results.
Waiting for insight….