An Ecology of Awareness…

The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar’…to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged.  – Viktor Shklovsky

Art is where I’m allowed to exercise a kind of analytical awareness. In the euphoric turmoil and hopeful tension of any artistic endeavor, I am keenly aware. My consciousness becomes concentrated. My perception is compounded. I revel in the relationship between texture, color, and position. I witness the interplay of image and text; attentively attuned to the tempo of words in rhythmic succession, wandering in the audible shape of sentences molded into unknown forms, saturated in visceral hues.

The composition of materials cohabitating in shared space becomes an expression of my own subjective sense of place. It provides me with an understanding of my own complicated comprisal. It gives me a glimpse into how all the pieces of myself fit together and how I fit into a larger contextual whole.

There’s an interesting contradiction  here however, in that, creativity clarifies the relationship between people, places, and things, but it does so by taking them out of place and out of context.  In collage, for example, bits of verbiage and imagery are torn from their printed place and pieced together into whole new arrangements as a summons to see the world in ways we’ve never seen it before. By holding things in a kind of paradoxical parallel it can function as a means of drawing our attention to all the complex connections of our inter-relationality. Similarly, when we are engrossed within the fictive unfolding of a story or novel, we are pulled out of the normative patterns of daily living and drawn into what seems to be a suspension of “reality”.  And yet, somehow, on the other side of our literary meandering we emerge to find the radicality of our realness more fully real-ized.

Art interrupts the familiar flow of relationships and interactions in such a way that it makes the concrete-ness of our associations more perceptually pronounced, more easily recognized, and more deeply felt . The fractures and fissures of disjointed and dislocated  juxtapositions awaken us to a more profound sense of being grounded.

When the process of creation becomes a practice of contemplation, art becomes an ecology of awareness. We begin “To think ecologically”, in that, as Levi Bryant explains our thinking is turned towards  “beings in relation,” where “there is always a materiality of interaction”. And, in the unabashed recognition of the ways in which we relate, we are invited to relate differently.

We are each a conglomerate of commingling materials interacting in an environment made up of other amalgamations. Here, it becomes an unavoidable fact that so much of our world and so much of ourselves is made up of hazardous waste. We are relegated to live amongst the rubble, rubbish, and refuse. We are decadent with detritus and debris. In short, we’re all full of shit and everybody poops, so we’d better find a way to see some beauty and truth in it all, or we’ll forever be shit out of luck.

In this regard, the awareness elicited from the creative act can be one of the most profoundly tangible forms of compassion and hope.

I regularly mine the “trash” for materials most others would readily, and perhaps reasonably, abandon. I take cardboard over canvas, newspaper over notebooks. I look for the unsightly instances of worn distress, seeking the symmetry of misshapen tears, because if these discarded scraps can become vibrant and alive, then maybe so can I. And, If we can find hope left in the crinkled jumble of what was thrown away, then perhaps there’s still hope left for us all.

If we can’t find beauty and redemption in things that are broken then salvation is a lie.


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