Paul Rumsey and the Seeker of Yesterday

Perhaps it could be said that any meditation on tradition, if be carried through to its consistent conclusion, comes up empty. That the castles of consciousness, to withstand a siege, must forget that their foundations are forever rooted in the air. For each eager, then ever more desperate inquest into authenticity, derived from the longing for some single, unbroken thread connecting you to the past, to some stable, certain, linear, guiding spool that would allow everything else to somehow fall into its rightful place, with time and circumspection these things begin to invite the inquirer to look with some suspicion on what is ‘real’ and what ‘contrived’. As soon as doubt creeps in, the thread is cut, and often cut. It can, indeed, I believe, it must be tied again, if that is what we feel compelled to do, but the consequences of denying that the knots thereafter exist is that you can then never use them to clime back up into, then above yourself, and some greater whole of comprehension.

It is human, indeed, perhaps characteristic of any finite intellect, to seek profound answers to where they come from, where they belong, where are they going, but how could we ever be anything but active participants in the answers to these questions? However, that we feel a certain psychological resonance, here and there, with elements of the past we see, or seek to see within ourselves, seems certain.

It will come as no surprise that for me, part of this tradition has been woven from the fabric of the weird, and so I was pleased to find a contemporary artist who seems to have so effectively characterized some key quandaries of my psyche.

His name is Paul Rumsey. In his own words:

The use of fantastic metaphor and poetic allusion allows me great freedom, to portray any idea from the exterior political to the interior psychological. And the materials I work with give me freedom; charcoal is very flexible, and can be wiped, erased, sandpapered and redrawn. It is open to chance effects that can lead to unanticipated directions and solutions. I make constant revisions and alterations. Even with a medium like pen and ink which would favour the permanent, spontaneous, linear mark, I have found a way (by using sandpaper on card) of reworking, to end up with textures, tones and atmospherics.

For my work to conform to modern taste it should be more gestural, ‘marks on paper’, linear rather than illusionistic. My work begins sketchy and gestural, and some artist friends urge me to leave it like that and not spoil it by wasting weeks bringing it to a more finished state – but I can’t stop myself. I am addicted to the moment when the marks and smudges metamorphose, solidify into an illusion of real space, with solid objects and figures under a unified light and atmosphere. It is only when I feel I can climb into the picture, wander about and touch things that I am happy with it. ~ From Paul Rumsey’s Website, “Artist”.

Philosophers

Triumph of Folly

Bodyhead

Warhead

Libraryhead

The Library-head drawings were in part inspired by Rumsey’s reading of the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges’ story “The Library of Babel”

Toys

Conflict

Crawling City

Building Dream

Egypt

Sphinx

For More Information:

http://www.angelfire.com/pa5/rumsey/

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/07/arts/design/07john.html

http://morbidanatomy.blogspot.com/2008/03/paul-rumsey-21st-century.html

Serafino Macchiati, Spiritualism, and a Lacuna in Wikipedia

The images above, Le visionnaire and Spiritism (Scena spiritica) were done by the Italian artist Serafino Macchiati (1861-1922). I’ve not been able to find out much about Macchiati’s interest in spiritualism. Indeed, the only substantial source of biographical information about him seems to be a site dedicated to two volumes of his works that were produced  by his grandson. I find it exceedingly unusual that, while he was made a Knight of the Italian Crown and produced a series of illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy, there is still no Wikipedia article on him in English, French, German or, most surprisingly, Italian. If anyone knows anything about Macchiati’s relationship to the occult, I’d be curious to find out.

For More Information:

http://www.serafinomacchiati.com/

Facinated by Fractals

[errata: So Mandelbrot coined the term fractal in 1975, not the 1980s. Also have to work on using “um” as a place holder! And… maybe a script would help.]

For More Information:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractal

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_deficit_disorder

http://depts.washington.edu/hhwb/Thm_Mental.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synesthesia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hologram

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macrocosm_and_microcosm

http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Scale-free_neocortical_dynamics

http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273(10)00291-6

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractal_dimension_on_networks

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scale_invariance

Buzsaki, Gyorgy. 2006. Rhythms of the Brain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

http://www.philhine.org.uk/writings/ktul_fractals.html