Musings on Prayer

Recently I’ve been thinking about prayer and how religious organizations are capitalizing on and exploiting peoples weakness during the corona virus to convert new believers, claims of healing, surviving etc.

Yesterday I just started to write down some thoughts in my journal.

It doesn’t rain because you pray, The sun doesn’t shine because you pray. Disaster doesn’t spare you, your friends or family because you pray. Yo don’t recover from illness because you pray. You don’t enjoy good health because you pray. Your enemies don’t suffer because you pray and you don’t suffer because others pray.

You created God and now you’re unhappy with your creation. What was once the domain of religion is now the domain of science. Still you refuse to believe.

Again, those are just some preliminary thoughts to be fleshed out sometime in the future.

I am a H-U-G-E fan of Nick Cave (the musician). A few months ago I subscribed to his “Red Hand Files” newsletter where once a week he answers a fans question. Questions range from the banal (favorite books?, favorite protest songs? etc) to the more serious (how did you cope with the loss of your son? and in April “A prayer to who?”)

He had some very interesting thoughts on prayer which I want to share.


Dear Patrick,

The act of prayer is by no means exclusive to religious practise because prayer is not dependent on the existence of a subject. You need not pray to anyone. It is just as valuable to pray into your disbelief, as it is to pray into your belief, for prayer is not an encounter with an external agent, rather it is an encounter with oneself. There is as much chance of our prayers being answered by a God that exists as a God that doesn’t. I do not mean this facetiously, for prayers are very often answered.

A prayer provides us with a moment in time where we can contemplate the things that are important to us, and this watchful application of our attention can manifest these essential needs. The act of prayer asks of us something and by doing so delivers much in return — it asks us to present ourselves to the unknown as we are, devoid of pretence and affectation, and to contemplate exactly what it is we love or cherish. Through this conversation with our inner self we confront the nature of our own existence.

The coronavirus has brought us to our knees, yet it has also presented us with the opportunity to be prayerful, whether we believe in God or not. By forcing us into isolation, it has dismantled our constructed selves, by challenging our presumed needs, our desires, and our ambitions and rendered us raw, essential and reflective. Our sudden dislocation has thrown us into a mystery that exists at the edge of tears and revelation, for none of us knows what tomorrow will bring.

In our hubris we thought we knew, but as we bow our heads within the virus’ awesome power, all we are sure of now is our defencelessness. In the end this vulnerability may be, for our planet and ourselves, our saving grace, as we step chastened into tomorrow. Released from our certitude, we present our purest offering to the world — our prayers.

Love, Nick

To check out and subscribe to Nick Caves THE RED HAND FILES – click this link. https://www.theredhandfiles.com

LibraryLibraryLibrary

Continuing with the posts of the past couple of days todays image has a different source.   The base image (bottom) was from the outside of the elevator shaft on the top level of a car park that is used for the Akron Public Library.  I also used the steam engine shot from yesterday to add some curves and texture on the final manipulation.   Many Many layers were used in this process.  I like the Monochrome against the orange and blue of the Library sign.    I can imagine printing this on a large aluminum metal sheet.

LibraryLibraryLibrary smTotally Tubular

… on… question of abstraction….

we live in an over-saturated world of images.  Images are everywhere we go.   In fact they are so prevalent they are becoming  mundane.  Boring.  They’re primarily “pretty” photos of realistic/recognizable subjects (objects, landscapes, people, animals, plants).  Abstraction is seldom seen and seems to be less and less appreciated.   Is there still a place for abstraction?   And what is it?

Salt Ice Asphalt

s0lt 824 0sp70lt

First, abstraction in photography is very different from abstraction in the paint/sculpture arts.   Abstraction in photography is merely the “capture” and/or presentation of any deviation from the perceived norm (no matter how slight) and therefore more passive.   Abstraction in painting/sculpture is very different.  Painting/sculpture is an active medium unlike photography.   In painting/sculpture the abstraction is created compared to documented.  And it’s this creative action that I think gives a viewer pause to consider what “it” is.  Can photographic abstract also be the result of a creative action?  I think it can – but is extremely rare.   Because of the nature of photography; abstraction has become such a generalized category that it has become redundant.

w9t78n on4s or18t

w9t78n on4s or18t

Now about our world.  In addition to being overly saturated with heavily saturated images is also, thanks to technology, is moving at a faster and faster pace.  There is no rest.  There is no contemplation.  Even the internet with its myriad blogs, photo sharing sites, art sites, etc is not conducive to slowing down to consider what we are doing.   The internet has created a culture of clicking “LIKE” and moving on.  In one minute I can look at and “like”/”fave” a hundred photos.

For this reason I think there is more and more a need for true abstraction in the painting/sculpture sense.  Because these type of abstracts are more likely to cause us to slow down (maybe even stop) from time to time and consider what we are looking at and how we feel about it or what it means to us.    So bring on the abstraction.  Deviate from the norm.   Give people a reason to pause and “rest” on your work.

824 8sl0n3s

824 8sl0n3s

The images I’m including today are photos of something people would NEVER photograph.  I went to the park the other day – one of my favorite hangouts to decompress.  I went to photograph some winter scenes etc – you know the kind of stuff everyone photographs that I described at the beginning of this article.   The kind of stuff we DON’T need more of.  But most of the shots I kept were These here today.   Shapes and textures of salt melting ice on asphalt pavement in the parking lot of the park.   For me they have their own intriguing wonder.

Your music moment today is a track titled Awakening by Greek artists (and friends) MK-O from their album ETHER.  For me this song has the kind of energy I feel in these images.  The kinetic energy of salt melting ice.  Check out their website http://www.mk-o.com for more.

 

… on… new creations….

I’ve taken quite a few nature photos lately combined with a new urge to create new works. The two works in this post were both derived from the heavy manipulation/creative edit of the same nature photo. How were these created? All I will say it stems from a sense of play and exploration while working in Photoshop. I hope you enjoy these latest creations.

And for you cryptographers out there I used a simple code to transform the titles themselves into abstractions.  So with a small effort you’ll be able to decipher the titles.  Enjoy.

2r02k43 824

2r02k43 824

mot74rw4lls r4v4n64

mot74rw4lls r4v4n64

Your music moment today is provide by Havenaire. This track is “Calving” from their new album RABOT on the Glacial Movements label.

… on “thin ice”…

As many of you know visually, I “see” in abstract.   It’s just the way my mind works.  Some people see gorgeous sweeping mind altering landscapes but I like to get to the “nitty-gritty” of things.   Looking at the common in a way that makes people stop, question, and consider what they are looking at and how they feel about it.

Abstraction is often confused with surrealism but it is not the same thing.  Surrealism, in my opinion has more to do with pictorialism.  Surrealism shows easily recognizable things in fantastical setting[s] setting up uncommon and at times illogical relationships.  Abstraction on the other hand tends to zoom in on details to the point that the viewer is not sure what they are looking at.  It purposefully alters either in presentation, or creative manipulates the subject to the point of no return focusing on shapes, lines, patterns and spaces which results in more of an emotional/psychological connection for the viewer.  Even if the viewer dismisses the work as balderdash, crap, f’d up, worthless, pointless, etc,  they still have had an emotional response to the work.

The two series I am posting today are examples of my abstract way of seeing nature.  This latest project focuses on images from a frozen lake.  This first series involves subtle manipulation of the image by increasing contrast, desaturating color etc.  It consists of 6 images simply titled Lake Ice #1 – #6.

The second series is the result of trying to figure out what to do with the “bad photos” from that frozen adventure.  I always try to salvage my so-called bad images.  And that salvage process usually involves manipulating them to the point of oblivion.  This series is titled LAKE ICE EXTREME #1-#9 and tells us some valuable things.

  1. There are more “bad” photos than good ones (that’s why there’s 9 in this series and only 6 in the previous series.)

  2. The acronym for this series is L.I.E.  which basically says that what you are looking at is a lie of the mind caused by extreme manipulation of crop, color and exposure.

  3. While you may not recognize what you are seeing; I think we need to ask ourselves, “What is missing?”, “Does what’s missing matter?”, “Out of sight, out of mind?”, and “How does this increase or change our understanding of nature and the world around us?”  And those are questions each individual has to answer for themselves.

  4. Other considerations are “Why square?” – I was able to crop out a lot of the unmanageable parts of the image and the square crop helps us center our focus (in this instance).

  5. Color is a tricky thing.  If I’d left it natural they all would have been a dirty blue with some brownish tones and white.  When I decided to change the color to make the image a little more disorienting  I was surprised to find that each individual image had its color preference.  For example if the image is green (as in #) it’s because that’s the only color that “felt” right.  Honestly the red/purple/blue/yellow options just didn’t fit.   I always find it amazing how once you get started  the artwork seems to dictate it’s own color palette.   I’m curious if painters and other artists feel the same.

  6. I also envision these 9 images displayed together in the following configuration.

    (you can “right click” then open in a “new tab” to view larger versions of individual images for more details.)

…….what I am, what I once was……..

Youth chases after and follows its bliss
The aged remain and rest in their bliss
and neither can tell you where it may be found

Youth is controlled by passion
The aged controls their passion

Youth rushes foolishly head-long to learn
what the aged already know, and have taken years to learn

The error of youth judges the aged
The error of the aged criticizes the youth
And neither respects the other

The aged were once youthful
As the youthful will one day be aged
Neither should be rushed.

IT’S NOT TOO LATE

Deus Ex Machina

G-O-D

THE ULTIMATE APP

WIRELESS.  HANDSFREE.

NO DEVICE NEEDED.   NO POWER SOURCE NEEDED.

THE MENU IS ALREADY WITHIN YOU!
VERBAL AND NONVERBAL OPERATION.
THE ONLY SECURE NETWORK.

IT’S FREE!

GUARANTEED RESULTS*

*While results are guaranteed, satisfaction with those results is not.

…from…notebooks…

Another entry from my journals…….

*********************

MESSAGES FROM THE FUTURE #19

MESSAGES FROM THE FUTURE #19


I feel gravity.

The invisible net
cast over me.
Weighted to hold me down.
Resistence to slow me down,
pressing in on me,
flattening me,
doing its very best to squeeze
and crush the breath out of me.

Having tried to think of God
as freedom, boundless, expansive
Creator of endless possibilities ………

What if God is merely the cage?
The trap, or pen, to corral all that IS free.
A reaction to regret.
Regret of even imagined freedom.

The body is the cage of the spirit.
Gravity is the cage of the body.
Invisible bars to restrain and hold back
the abandoned Tower of Babel.
Like the word cages and traps the idea.
In the beginning was the word…and the word WAS God.

Maybe Atheism is the cure for God!
The destruction of gravity’s cage.
The release of the spirit; free-flying bird.
The soaring on eagles wings.
Seeing, comprehending, knowing
beyond words.

The perfection of silence –
The unspoken truth of all things.
Silence: all that ever was, is and will be.
That perfection that comes immediately after
the last sizzle of water extinguishing flame.
The beauty of darkness and quiet.

Silence has no gravity.

 

 

******* About the artwork: Messages From the Future #19 (created 2013) is a digital, photo-based creation intending to question the spoken and written word. It highlights the paradoxical viewpoint of language as both lie and life simultaneously. A self-negating notion. “Silence is golden.”

Artist Ed Moses

 

http://www.kaltura.com/index.php/kwidget/wid/1_mi9albnp/uiconf_id/8700151

In the video [link above] Ed Moses talks about his early work in the 60’s & 70’s.
My personal take-aways from this talk.

Art is proof that we exist. It is our “mark” that is no different from footprints in the mud or handprints on the cave wall.

Art is a path we travel that documents our journey from confusion to reality. The journey is the goal.

Art is about our attempts to control our environment only to realize we don’t have any control. Or, as he say’s “…realizing that I don’t want to be in control, I want to be in-tune.”

Click the link above for the video. Enjoy.

And if you like the first video here is another great video of this artist.

Luminous City

This is a selection from a series of images (so far totaling 30). In this series I am exploring the edge of image through over-exposure. All these images were taken on a photo-walk in downtown Akron one Sunday morning. Just more of my further adventures in Non-representational, non-pictorial and non-objectivism with the camera as my paintbrush. It was interesting when I submitted these to my printer they contacted me and were reluctant to print them because there was so much white. I assured them that this was intentional as I want to explore the very edge of photography and question what we define as a photograph. I’m glad I insisted. I just got the prints and they are gorgeous!
I’m imagining them all hanging on a wall next to each other much like this presentation here where they create details of a much larger work.

One of my favorite poets is Philippe Jaccottet; from Switzerland (the country of origin of my ancestors). Here are two quotes that Fit this series and the soundtrack that I’ve selected for this presentation.

“White as the absence of colour, or death;
white as the essence of color, or, perhaps,
life transcended.”

“Things can fall apart again at any moment.
I can barely hold on to them, if I hold their shadows.
What I devour like a desirable meal is perhaps no more than absence.”

~ Philippe Jaccottet

The soundtrack I’ve chosen for this is An Ending (Ascent) by Brian Eno.
Enjoy.