Sunday, September 12, 2010

5953 Investigation

This time, I asked the students to pick an artwork from Digital Art chapter 1, "Digital Technologies as Tool," and find a relationship with three non-digital artworks (one contemporary, one 20th century, one pre-20th century) through a concept, form, aesthetic, etc.

So, again, I'll participate in the investigation myself...

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I have become sensitive to internal energetic states of the body throughout my two decades of practicing yoga, t'ai chi, and other body disciplines.  Seeing the intangible territories of inner space explicitly represented in two- and three- dimensional form is fascinating to me.

Michael Rees
Anja Spine (1998)

I am intrigued by the depiction of the chakra system in this Michael Rees sculpture created with rapid prototyping technology.  The visceral and physical presence of this form is powerful and full of information that I can easily map onto my own body.  Rees exploration of self-termed "spiritual/psychological anatomy" reminds me of Alex Grey's contemporary Sacred Mirror series.

Alex Grey
Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (1986)
21 oil on linen, 84"x46" (frames are polyester resin, fiberglass, wood, illuminated stained glass, 126"x60")

Like the Rees sculpture, Alex Grey's series of 21 paintings serve as a map of various systems of the body, the chakras being one of them.  It is my understanding that Grey's intention was for the viewer to stand in front of each life-sized figure and "download" the visual information onto their own body.  Systems depicted include muscle, nerve, viscera, lymph, cardiovascular, chakra (as seen above), psychic energy, spiritual energy, universal mind lattice, and others.

Juan Li
Ovarian Kung Fu (c.1980?)

This 20th century artwork by Juan Li is a diagram of the esoteric Taoist alchemical practice of refining female sexual energy for health purposes. Li is an artist and senior instructor in the Universal Healing Tao Center established by Master Mantak Chia.  Like the Rees sculpture and many of Grey's paintings, this image makes visible an invisible system within the body.  Despite the lack of concrete physical attributes, these systems are experienced on an energetic or mental level and can have a profound relationship with the physical systems of the body.

Neijing Tu (Illustration of the Inner Circulation) (1886)
ink rubbing
52" x 22"

This Taoist image was pulled as an ink rubbing from a carved wooden tablet created during the Qing dynasty.  The "inner circulation" here refers to one of the major pathways through which internal energy, or "chi," flows.  On one level, it communicates the classical eastern medical philosophy that the body functions organically, like a garden, with complex interrelationships between the various systems (as opposed to the western school of thinking that the body is more like a machine, with separate parts to be swapped out like parts of a car engine).  This ancient practice of inner alchemy is still alive today, and can be traced through contemporary Chinese medicine and internal martial arts practice.

1 comment:

AisforRandom said...

a friend of mine is in grad school and doing a similar project