"The New Unconscious"
Sigmund Freud understood the unconscious as a place of libidinal repression. Art in turn found inspiration in psychoanalysis—surrealism took as its manifesto Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams (1913), and later abstract expressionism explored the irrational desires of the Freudian unconscious. With new technologies of the 21st century, science exposed a deeper mental reality and proved that human behavior is the product of an endless stream of perceptions, feelings, and thoughts, at both the conscious and unconscious levels. Even with technologies today that allow for an empirical observation of the mind, reality itself is still debated. As in gestalt theory, the brain completes external imagery the eye cannot produce—all done at an unconscious level. If a central function of the unconscious is to fill in the blanks in order to construct a useful picture of reality, how does this affect our understanding of the world? “The New Unconscious” explores how human behavior is dually dictated by the conscious and unconscious mind.
- Curated by Danielle Kalamaras
- Curated by Danielle Kalamaras
Pop-up exhibit at Creations Gallery, New York NY (October 2015):
Painting for me, is an act to uncover my root, and trace what is beneath in many different level, buried as memories, dreams, or flashes of images and ideas. My work is a combination of drawing, painting, dripping, splashing and pouring. Drawing allows me to dig deeper, guided by intuition. Painting gives fluid layers which creates various colors and shades. It is pure abstraction with no figurative reference. My work is a bridge between physical process and mental or spiritual state, and between individual and collective consciousness.
My work centers on my attempt to pay attention to signage in the natural world. Through mark making, I am attempting to capture singular instances of temporary phenomenon, consciously and unconsciously transcribing patterns. I research and aesthetically study murmurations, swarms and flocks and attempt to mimic the movements and flow through meticulous and labored marks. I have named my most recent collection of paintings "Prodromes" in relation to an internal, structural and organizational system of signage and warnings. Through paint, I am attempting to capture these instances of signs as symptoms: fleeting, a speck, a circumstance, a neural, biological, philosophical, sensory occasion.
What do neuroscience and surrealism have in common? Scientific knowledge has made significant advances since the Freudian studies on irrationality and the unconscious through psychoanalysis (fundamental pillars in the manifestos of this artistic movement). These works discuss the conceptual excesses, the melancholy, the wonder, the reflection and the sensitive violence. This labor arises from the pursuit of scientific objectivity, but expressed figuratively through experiential subjectivity. This work proposes a reinterpretation-actualization of the surrealist movement through the contemporary knowledge about the human mind.
As an artist I am interested in what has proven to be the most complex puzzle, the epitome of emergence, the deepest well our sciences have examined; the brain. The instantiation of form and function united, from the molecular to the level of neuroscience as a discipline, my work seeks to address the beliefs, theories and findings of the biological phenomenon of consciousness. Beginning with biological form or data, my work departs into the world of aesthetics as I manipulate the idea through the use of scale, metaphor, material and form. Unlike articles and raw data, scientific ideas in the form of art inherently demand subjective judgment and interpretation, and my goal as a science-based artist is to provide my viewer an alternative way to understand the wonders of biology we have discovered in ourselves.
"Neighborhoods" explores the architecture of the brain and the city, and "Brodmann's Subways" compares the mapping of the cortical surface to the mapping of the subway system.
“You Need To Get A Life” explores the obstacles to contact between the head and the heart from obsessive thoughts in the mind creating tensions which prevent the contact.
"You Need To Get A Life"
My works are formed around measurable physical occurrences - diagrams of worldwide airflows, digital pixilation, the patterns of cultural expression - which configure together in strange and unexpected ways. I incorporate genetic issues and climatic diagramming, convolution techniques, biological boundaries, and cultural experience such as language, cluster patterns, and migratory histories, as influenced by technology and recent research.
Setting the physicality of our exterior and inner worlds layered with the more invisible language though which we experience this Thing called Life, I begin with the more concrete life-source materials. Starting with large or medium format film, with the series “T For Transition,” I make direct photographic imagery of these essential materials, using the substances that make up our root makeup such as my own blood or reconstituted hemoglobin, chlorophyllin, medicine, or dust. It’s a basis on which to build an understanding and appreciation of the one world we have, our ‘pale blue dot’ – and everything within it. I love this contrast between the world of the anatomical, and that of the emotional/spiritual/psychological - the world of our daily experience. We all seem to have an unspoken agreement to almost ignore this duality, because to bring it to the forefront might be to shatter our reality.
This work is a result of experimental methodologies in which complexity arises out of simplicity in process and which generate outcomes, transforming the initial input, without limit or end. Coming from a background in drawing and painting I recognize a lot of my work to be an extension to observational drawing. Technologies have innovated the physical pallet and have introduced unconventional methods to art making and research. The digital transcription of the handmade mark, a dot on a piece of paper, can now be amplified into hundreds or thousands of pixels on a screen, bringing us closer to the bits and pieces, and the geometries which are fundamental to time, motion, form, and space. As a result, the questions surrounding the nature of our existence have also evolved and have given birth to new ideas and focus of inquiry.
Video: Choreography for the Scanner, animation, scanner and print, HD (1920X1080) (2015)
I explore the implicit nature of visual language via deliberate meditation. Ego, intentionality and controlled mark-making are replaced with the notion that allowing the inherent nature of materials to be what they are can shape the artist’s mind. I am interested in watching the uncensored mind at work, decoding the behaviors of the elemental, and witnessing narratives as they arise. It is a way to heighten sensory systems while developing a comprehension of the self. My "Unfolding Terrain" series describes an inquiry into mind as process. Explorations of neurophysiological systems, yogic and meditative disciplines, and lucid dreaming are braided in the work.
I make art as a response to living in the Information Age and it's visual language that leads us by the nose. What concerns me most is how people form their belief systems around the seemingly open source of information. My work calls into question a number of accepted truths including sense of self, perception of space and time, and the role of the artist.This contemporary grid of candy colored dots is madeup of traditional arcade buttons that are completely non-functional, and thus can act as objects of fetish. An art-goer can repress this piece by passing it by completely, which would be an act of the unconscious. However, if they engage with it by walking up close, a small parametric speaker will beam a seductive voice seemingly into their head, saying “press a button”. At the same time, a small sign or a security guard will warn the viewer that they should not touch the art. The viewer now will have to make a conscious choice of either suppressing the voice and the urge to touch it, or act upon their impulse and break a rule. This work also plays upon the tension between traditional art spectatorship and the current trend of interactive art.
My artwork is map collage that offers the viewer a combination of imaginary landscapes with mystical, biblical, scientific and ecological themes. The visual description of a three-dimensional world on a flat plane is conjoined with the depiction of the metaphysical.
Working with precisely defined concepts alongside subconscious thinking might appear to be a paradoxical situation, yet I find that through this paradox new discoveries are made. Organizing my multimedia installations based on the structure and function of certain biological systems, I follow the initial guidance provided by the chosen concept. Once the plan is laid out, the journey is continued through interpretation, experimentation, use of chance, and intuition. There are moments when concept is almost forgotten and what is left is emotion, play, imagination, and instinctive trust in the faculties of mind that are hard to pin down and verbalize. This process is a mystical experience, during which I build installations and produce photographs. Eventually, inside what seems to be a place of the unconscious or of 'irrational' reasoning, the rational mind starts to connect the dots of what previously seemed to be intuitive or disconnected, recognizing the traces of the initial concept that is being found anew, rediscovered.
Nonrepresentational shapes, colors, lines and light coalesce and repel inside of self-referential systems to generate context and present underlying means. Materials are fully exploited and relationships are repeatedly built and broken to reveal reoccurring patterns and common threads. In the attempt to create systems in which every part relates to the whole and vice versa, I am able to investigate the grandest closed system of all – our perceived world.
During the past several years I have been creating work that focuses upon and investigates the confluence between perceptions, cognitive responses, and the latent creative immanent level of our being. The spontaneous approach I take to creating art quite naturally emanates from an intuitive process that has an undercurrent within my unconscious, which is further shaped by conscious reflection and analyses. I often utilize biomorphic forms in my artwork that imply flux or perpetual change that is indicative of our transient existence. Within the work, I strive to sustain simplicity of form while maintaining the material’s integrity; this enables me to reflect upon and investigate how the material is a crucially important component in the way our philosophies become reflected in the trilateral intersection between our visual experience, cognition, and the unconscious.
I have always been attracted to the substrate structures of tissues, scientific compounds and biological matrices. When I draw, my marks are highly analytical with the purpose of dissecting the underlying substrates that gives objects their surreal aesthetic appeal. Simultaneously, during my study I fall visible architectures and kinematic movements. Areoles, spines, molecules, and intercellular scaffolds become metaphorical. My creative challenge is to integrate these recorded structures into a meaningful graphic choreography. If I am successful in my creative assembly, the viewer becomes curious about the metamorphosis before them and becomes a welcomed engaged participant.
"if-notNow, if-then-when-else" is an interactive 3D html5 piece that attempts to marry the theme of climate change, with that of the chaotic mind/unconscious, through the lens of chaotic glitch art and code poetry. The piece opens on a page of movable squares, purposefully reminiscent of digital pixels, but all moving and visually squirming. These boxes can be clicked on to zoom in and back out again, in order to read the coded and glitched images, animations, and poetry.
"if-notNow, if-then-when-else" interactive screen-based artwork (2015)
The unconscious brain often acts as like pattern recognition machine, but our perceptions can be affected by our beliefs, desires, and emotions, and we see some patterns more readily than others. For example, we are highly tuned to see faces, and they can emerge from innocuous patterns as is observed in pareidolia. This artwork explores this theme through imagery, by constructing larger images out of smaller ones. Some component patterns and images emerge readily, while others can remain hidden even after long inspection. The subject of the artwork also deals with recognizing the emergence of new properties within systems, recognizing fraud and duplication within science, and recognizing that our preconceptions and associations with symbols can affect the way we perceive the world.
Built from mosaic elements arranged together to compose cells, organisms, or landscapes, I create pieces the same way scientists use colorful heat maps to portray complex data. Original pictures are dissected, broken up and reassembled, forming a new graphic representation from separate elements. Colors, shapes and patterns combined in organized structures bridge scientific and artistic perspectives to promote a vision that conveys personal perceptions and sensations.
The subjects of my paintings are mostly a conscious selection - I see a subject that I want to paint and I paint it. The environment that surrounds the subject is another matter; it is built through a series of unconscious decisions. It’s a process of letting the background marks develop as reactions to the marks that were made previously. This way I let the structure develop on it’s own without a predetermined direction. I find this method to be more challenging, more personally interesting and it allows a more encompassing statement to be made. I begin painting this way after years of working as a photo realist. This was a very conscious process of selecting a subject from a photograph and reproducing and enhancing the photo. The entire painting was predetermined from the start.
In the ongoing series “But they will not possess you, so much as you will come to possess them,” I am documenting the deflation process of helium filled balloons, using them as metaphors for relationships and the ideas that surround them: reality and appearance, unity and plurality, attachment and detachment; exploring my own sense of loss and fulfillment, and the balloons' overall connection to the human form. Observing the balloon as it cycles through a life of growth, deflation and decay, I capture, record and associate its connection to mortality and humanity.
The subject matter of my work is the ultimate mystery of therelationship between the physical human body and the inner self (or the human spirit). Within my practice I am investigating the representation of the invisible through fragments of the physical body. I am interested in exploring the boundaries between the inner and outer body; between the physical and metaphysical; tangible and intangible, by exploring the tactile and the optical image.
My work relies on processes that make me feel connected to the vast world. By slowly pedaling my bike up and over the Rocky Mountains, or playing music with a rowdy brass and drum band, I appreciates what is possible with the support of fun and creative communities. As a doctoral student of animal behavior and comparative psychology, embroidery serves as a medium to unpack fieldwork experiences and scientific concepts.
Really Large Numbers
artists Chad Stayrook and Julia Oldham
Really Large Numbers is a laboratory that encompasses the individual and collaborative experiments/expeditions of Chad Stayrook (Brooklyn, NY) and Julia Oldham (Eugene, OR). Early in 2011, the two artists spontaneously began to dream about each other as characters in mythical dream adventures. The development of this Dream Thread led them inexorably into a collaborative relationship that combines science, fantasy and dream language to blur the boundaries between the REAL and the unREAL.
The unknown is at the epitome of my work. Unknown suggests a lack of knowledge or understanding, which inherently calls for a journey to a state of known. My art addresses the greatest and most profound 'unknowns' of life: the nature of reality, experience, consciousness and the pursuit of it’s mysteries through science and the humanities.
In my art career, I have used a variety of art media to create works which explore, in a social context, the relationships among art, human experience, and our sense of reality. One dominant direction of this work has been to combine my background in cognitive neuroscience and create what I have called Neural Art, in which I express characteristics of the nervous system in my work. In the four recent paintings here, I have explored the idea of the nervous system as the unconscious source of our everyday experiences.
I am on a mission to understand and redefine the plant within contemporary society. My recent work explores the depth of the unconscious mind in relation to this. Reacting to the repetitive nature of consumerist products, I combine this with common plants sold in stores and boutiques, to represent an endless supply of 'supplemental' yet empty advertising to our psyche.
My art explores the relationship between design, the body as a biological system, technology, and emotion. There is a constant pursuit of engagement between what we know consciously and what we know unconsciously. Perhaps what we know unconsciously can only be expressed via the intricate systems of the body. Color and form exist in a cellular and microbial world where the drama of hue unfolds endlessly into a probing, fluctuating, subatomic range of circles, owl eyes, organic bone structures and the junctures of overlapping edges with line.
One of the premises of quantum mechanics theory is that by the very act of watching, the observer affects the phenomenon: by looking at the art, the audience becomes involved in the creative process.
Inquiry and repetition are the foundation of my artistic practice. While creating a series or a single piece I utilize repeated marks, tasks, and images to explore themes of representation, consumption, destruction, technology, and environment. My results do not often yield conclusions, I do not usually find clear statements; instead, the resulting work becomes a map of the explored territory and a document that records the exploration.